This ship carrying migrants docks at the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania. AP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Some 500 Kurdish migrants have been jailed by Romanian police for more than a month on charges of border transgression with each sentenced for a five month jail term.
Soran Hama Rasheed, among the imprisoned at Horia prison in the Romanian city of Arad spoke to Rudaw by phone saying “we were nearly 500 migrants when arrested aboard Romanian buses a month ago and later transferred to the Horia prison in Arad city.”
Rasheed described their situation as “terrible” and said each was held “in solitary confinement for 20 days.”
“And now the court has issued verdicts against us ordering our imprisonment for five months," he lamented.
He urged the international organizations to help release them.
According to him, the bulk of the jailed migrants are from Raniya, Qaladze, Kalar and Sulaimani with a few from Erbil. Children are also among them, he said.
“They treat us very badly, not giving us necessary clothing and food. They only feed us boiled potatoes,” he described their situation.
Hawzhin, whose sister is among the imprisoned along with three kids and husband said they even retained a lawyer for assistance, but he failed to release them.
Explaining their conditions as “awful”, Hawzhin said the detained migrants are allowed to come to the prison’ courtyards only “four hours a day, spending the remaining 20 hours inside jail cells.”
Migrants crossing the Black Sea and reaching Romania end up being arrested by Romanian coastguards.
In the past few days a Kurdish migrant died in an incident at sea.
The Romanian government opened a case to follow up on the death to investigate forces present at the spot. It remains unclear whether or not the migrant drowned by accident or purposely took his own life in the waters fearing the Romanian police.
Ari Jalal, the head of Kurdistan branch’s Iraqi Migrants Federation, confirmed with Rudaw that tens of Kurdish migrants trying to reach Europe were arrested in Romania.
“They have even been forced to sign their return by the Romanian authorities and they have no way to return,” Jalal said.
He added they obtained reports indicating torture the migrants suffered at the hands of Romanian authorities.
“According to reports we obtain, police torture women in front of their children and husbands,” he added, reiterating that “the security forces are treating the migrants terribly. They are not even treated in line with the law and regulations of migrants’ rights.”
Asked about measures their federation might take to help rescue the migrants, he said they spoke with the Iraqi ambassador to Romania, but “due to the funerals of Mam Jalal, he was not in the office, so necessary research has not been completed yet.”
Jalal Talabani, former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan died in Germany on October 3.