Oct 8, 2019

NEW YORK – HRF strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings, arrests, and violence against peaceful protesters by Iraqi security forces and militias. Civilians have been protesting against government corruption since October 1, and pro-government forces and paramilitary groups are responding with lethal force.

More than 6,000 people have been injured and hundreds more detained and disappeared. The crackdown has also targeted journalists in an attempt to control the flow of information, which was further disrupted by a nationwide internet shutdown.

“State-sponsored violence against peaceful protesters demanding fundamental rights is inhumane and inexcusable,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation. “We support the Iraqi people in their demand for accountability from their leaders, and we call on the Iraqi government to pursue a full investigation into the perpetrators of these deadly attacks on civilians and journalists.”

This is the widest protest since the new government led by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi took office in the 2018 legislative elections in a country fractured by years of war, extremism, and rampant corruption. Although the prime minister had promised reform, the Iraqi people feel frustrated by the worsening economic situation and the lack of progress.

“The Iraqi people call on the government to launch an independent legal investigation into the use of violence against demonstrators and we call on the immediate release of those unjustly imprisoned in this crackdown,” said Omar Mohammed, Iraqi historian, founder of news blog Mosul Eye, and Oslo Freedom Forum speaker. “Further, there must be no more military trials of civilians and we call on international leaders to pressure Iraqi officials in this regard.”

As the situation continues to unfold, HRF urges the international community to stand in solidarity with the protesters and support their right to peaceful assembly and free expression.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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