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#KOHRW’S STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROTESTS  IN IRAQ

Kurdistan Human Rights Watch calls on the Iraqi government to investigate the killing of protesters and the detention of activists

Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (KOHRW) offers its condolences to the families of the victims and martyrs of the Nasiriyah protests and the wounded in Diwaniyah. We are monitoring the situation closely to determine the factors and individuals responsible for the aggravation of the situation to this level that led to "killing" and wounding protestors. The security forces must immediately stop using lethal and unnecessary force against the protestors. The Iraqi authorities must abide by Article 3-38 of the constitution, which permits the right to peaceful assembly as stated in international human rights law. The government has a responsibility to ensure the protection of protesters as part of its obligations to the international community and the law.

In the past few days, volunteers and teams of Kurdistan Organization for Human Rights Watch (KOHRW) have been monitoring the violations in the protests in Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah and Baghdad. The main demands of the protestors in Nasiriyah are the dismissal of the current governor and his deputies and the installation of a non-partisan figure acceptable to the Nasiriyah community. They also demanded to expedite the disclosure of those involved in the killing of protestors and the release of all detainees, and they have also requested to put an end to all malicious charges against activists and protestors. As for the main demands of the protestors in Diwaniyah were the dismissal of the current governor, the corrupt members of the provincial council, department directors, and to bring former governor to justice, and the deadline for this demand is 72 hours from the date (3/1/2021). While the main demands of the protesters in Baghdad were accountability of the protesters ’killers and the disclosure of the investigation of the (death gang) in Basra, in addition to demand the disclosure of the results of the investigation into the disappearance of the activist (Sajjad Al-Iraqi) and the rest of the disappeared. The current government was expected to deal with the protests and protestors to higher standard because this government came as a result of the October 2019 protests.

As a result of the protests, the following violations were monitored and documented over the past few days:

• Seven (7) protestors were killed.

• More than 124 wounded from Nasiriyah and 17 wounded from Diwaniyah.

• The security forces used excessive and unnecessary force on many occasions against the protestors, to an excessive extent.

• Monitoring the use of a personal pistol against the protestors in Nasiriyah and the shotguns against the protestors in Diwaniyah.

• The difference in these protests is that security personnel and other parties fired live round ammunition directly into the bodies of the protestors. At least 7 cases were reported to have been hit by bullets directly on the body.

• The government imposed a partial curfew in Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, and many other governorates.

• The security services began arresting activists without judicial decisions in Nasiriyah.

KOHRW urges the Iraqi government to take the following necessary measures with the aim of avoiding further loss of life:

1. Immediately stop using violence against protestors and start providing better protection for protestors.

2. Initiate investigations into violations and hold the authorities and institutions of officials / security personnel accountable through fair, transparent and public judicial procedures.

3. Provide fair compensation to the victims of the protests and their families.

4. The release of detainees who were arrested without a judicial decision.

5. Speeding up the channels of communication for peaceful negotiation with the representatives of the protestors and responding to their just demands.

6. That the government employs qualified and well-trained personnel to protect protesters and deal with protests to ensure the right to the peaceful assembly of citizens.

7. The Prime Minister must issue a number of reassuring messages to the protestors demonstrating that protecting their lives would be the government's responsibility