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تقرير منظمة كردستان لمراقبة حقوق الانسان حول وضع اللتظاهرات في العراق

Calls to change the local government and the rise in fuel prices provoke a new wave of demonstrations.

Initially, the demonstration and sit-in are among the constitutional rights to express opinions and are part of human rights and freedom of thought and expression as the right to peaceful assembly is the gathering of individuals in a specific place. This assembly may be spontaneous or organized in which individuals express their opinions and demand their rights, which is what is happening in Iraq due to the deteriorating conditions. The continuation of corruption and the government's disregarding of the situation generated strong reactions from the citizens. This report will review the demonstrations observed by the monitoring team during the first half of June 2022.

  • Demonstrations in Al-Diwaniyah Governorate

Iraq Without Corruption  # Demonstrations erupted after a call made by media professionals, activists, and Tishreen revolutionaries on social media. At the invitation of the head of the Journalists Syndicate - Bassem Al-Saeedi - to the dignitaries and sheikhs of Iraq and to journalists, media professionals, and activists to go out in a demonstration to dismiss the governor (Al-Shaalan), his deputies and directors of state departments.

Photo (1)

It shows a group of protesters demanding the dismissal of Al-Shaalan

Photo (2)

Another aspect of the demonstrations demanding the dismissal of Zuhair al-Shaalan

The rally began near the Diwaniyah celebrations Square, where the owners of bicycles gathered, and the march started in most of the main streets of the city, and hundreds of residents of the city of Diwaniyah went out with a mass protest march, where they drove their cars downtown Friday, 3/6/2022, at precisely nine o'clock in the evening demanding the dismissal of the governor of Diwaniyah (Al-Shaalan)


In an interview with them, the demonstrators claimed that one of the most important reasons for their demand (was the presence of violations and legal and administrative violations in the administration of the governorate's affairs). In addition to the service deterioration in all sectors of the governorate since taking office until now, deliberate neglect and negligence in the provincial administration and the existence of a financial corruption file in the competent courts,

Initial indications indicate that these demonstrations will continue until the governor's dismissal from office.

who demanded that the alternative should be an independent person not affiliated with any political party).The demonstrators raised Iraqi flags and banners demanding the dismissal of (Al - Shaalan ). And there were some chants at the occasion, including - Zuhair al-Shaalan is invalid Zuhair al - Shaalan corrupt-this was revealed by MP (Mohammed Nuri) about a parliamentary trend to remove (al-Shaalan) in the coming days after the increased number of deputies rejecting to take office, (Nuri ) in his speech, that four deputies have submitted an official request to the prime minister to dismiss (al-Shaalan), namely-Mohammed Nuri, Haider Ali, Faisal Hassan Al-naeli and on behalf of Ghudair Kazim Al-gharabi-as the demonstrators explained about the continuation of protests until the demands are met. As an extension of the demonstrations, hundreds of protesters went out on Saturday, 4/6/2022, heading to the governorate building, renewing their demand for the dismissal of the Governor (Al-Shaalan), where the protesters burned tires as an escalation in ignoring by the central government in meeting their demand, as this event was punctuated by an encroachment. (SWAT forces) security forces beat peaceful demonstrators, and the captain of journalists in the city of Diwaniyah Bassem al-Saidi stated in an interview with him (where he to take charge of

things in the province and to choose active, working, patriotic personalities and personalities who bear responsibility for the next stage, this is what we hope and the governor will benefit.  On the other hand, he described the protest as a state of Health status and democracy. And he also pointed out that the largest countries in the world and democratic countries are witnessing similar protests as France and other countries where they are witnessing burning tires, the process of burning tires and cutting streets and practicing this protest role is a protest message to government agencies, perhaps this message will arrive. We hope that there will be swift solutions and that there will be a response from Parliament and members of Parliament in forming a new local government.  And that the Journalists Syndicate in the city stands with legitimate demands for the protesters).

Photo (3)

Photo of protester Mohammed Qasim after being beaten by security forces

For the third time, protests and demonstrations calling for the dismissal of the Diwaniyah governor were renewed, as hundreds of the city's people went out in a protest march on Friday, 10/6/2022, from Al-Mustafa Mosque, heading to the governorate building in the city. In contrast to the previous demonstrations, our monitoring team observed a large number of journalists and academics, in addition to other classes of society, renewing their demands for the governor's dismissal. This march also included raising Iraqi flags, pictures, and banners calling for dismissal. In addition, a group of deputies who participated in the demonstrations submitted a request to the Prime Minister to dismiss the governor, as the protesters indicated that if the Prime Minister did not respond to these demands, these demonstrations would continue.

  •  It is noteworthy that these demonstrations lasted for several days, and a large number of journalists and media professionals participated in them. However, the demonstrations were not covered by media channels, as the role of the media was limited to social networking sites and Diwaniya channels. As for security, the reactions of the security forces varied. In the first demonstration, the demonstrations were peaceful, no use of violence by the security forces was observed, and no significant clashes occurred. The security forces' role was confined to providing protection for the gathering and assisting with its mobility. The matter differed from the second demonstration, where the demonstrators burned tires to convey their peaceful protest messages to government agencies.

    Furthermore, after the burning, the security forces called fire brigades to extinguish the tire fires, and the security forces dispersed the demonstrators, where some violence occurred during the demonstration. The security forces stampeded and beat the protesters to disperse the demonstrations, including the fall of one of the demonstrators, a demonstrator-Mohammed Qasim - after being severely beaten and taken to the hospital for treatment. However, the demonstration soon ended without loss of life. The demonstration remained peaceful during the subsequent demonstrations.

     

    • Demonstrations in the provinces of the Kurdistan region

    The continuous rise in gasoline and fuel prices has become a worrying concern for citizens in Iraqi Kurdistan, especially taxi drivers, public transport, and people with limited incomes, which has negatively reflected on the prices of various materials. Despite the protests of citizens and their grumbling and objection to this insane rise in prices, the pace of price increases is still escalating. To express their indignation, many taxi drivers came out in demonstrations demanding the government deal with the constant rise in gasoline prices, as it negatively affects them, and it came to the point of cutting public roads in more than one area in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. One of the protesters from the drivers expressed that the rise in prices has dramatically affected his work, as he has to wait in a long queue for several hours. Taxi drivers have demanded that the price of gasoline be set at (500) dinars per liter, like the rest of the provinces," noting that "taxi owners are one of the most affected groups by this increase, which negatively reflected on their daily resources."

One of the protesters said that we are suffering from both the low rate of our salaries and the high price of gasoline, an essential material that the government should subsidize, not vice versa. One of the demonstrators pointed out that the rise in gasoline prices is because the regional government does not subsidize gasoline, as happens in the rest of Iraq. Most of the refineries operating in the region belong to the private sector and not the government, and therefore gas stations are forced to buy gasoline from outside the quotas set for them by refineries, which makes the price of gasoline in the region higher compared to other Iraqi provinces.

Photo (4)

A number of demonstrators make statements to the media complaining about the Kurdistan Regional Government's high fuel prices

Photo (5)

Part of the context demonstrations in Chamchamal demanding the Kurdistan Regional Government reduce fuel prices

Another demonstrator pointed out that most of the gasoline in the region is of poor quality and sold at high prices and that the limited quantity that comes from Baghdad will not solve the problem but rather make the matter worse because it will be sold to certain stations and not to all stations. This leads to significant congestion at these stations. As for the government, no government response has been issued to these demands, and there are no indications of reducing gasoline prices. As for the media, it was limited to social networking sites. As for security, no presence of security forces was observed in the demonstration.

  • The reasons for the demonstrations / the demands of the demonstrators

By reviewing the demonstrations and events in several Iraqi governorates, the most prominent reasons that led to the start of the demonstrations can be reviewed as follows:

 

  • Demanding the dismissal of the governor of Diwaniyah, Zuhair Al-Shaalan, as he was accused of corruption
  • The high prices of fuels in the governorates of the Kurdistan Region.

 

Notes on the security authorities’ handling of gatherings:

 

The demonstrations, in general, were peaceful, with an economic and administrative focus. We can interpret these demonstrations and protests as a description of the alarming reality of the situation and the country's administrative weakness. The security authorities treat them differently, as they usually do, as they feel peaceful, but they use violence against the demonstrators in other situations. This behaviour by the security forces can be taken as a negative security indicator in carrying out its duties in protecting the demonstrators. In the region, there is an apparent disregard for the demonstrations. So no presence of the security forces is observed during the demonstrations.


Kurdistan organization for human right watch

www.KOHRW.org

Email: Reports@kohrw.org