Several NGOs Call On Iraqi Gov't To Free 'Arbitrarily' Held Participants Of Protests

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 09th December, 2020) Several NGOs on Wednesday issued a joint statement urging the Iraqi authorities to release activists and participants of 2019 rallies “held arbitrarily”.

Among the associations that joined the call was Amnesty International, FIDH, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Iraqi Network for Social Media, Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy and the World Organisation Against Torture.

“The undersigned organisations call on the Iraqi authorities to fairly, thoroughly and effectively conduct investigations into the cases of detention that have taken place since the start of the popular protests in October 2019 and the forcible disappearance and unlawful killings of dozens of Iraqi activists, journalists, lawyers, and other civil society members, to release those held arbitrarily in relation to their right to free speech or peaceful assembly, and to bring to justice all those responsible for these acts,” the statement read.

The statement listed cases of detentions, arrests and murders of protesters, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists, and stressed that the Iraqi authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government have so far failed to “end impunity” for the perpetrators and investigate the crimes.

Since October 2019, Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces have been rocked by nationwide civil unrest, with protesters demanding an end to corruption, the launch of economic reforms, and an improvement to the living conditions in the country. The mass rallies led to the resignation of then-Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and his cabinet and caused numerous casualties.

Incumbent Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was appointed on April 9 and assumed office in early May, reaching the approval of the Iraqi parliament on the composition of the new government he had proposed. The prime minister pledged to tackle the ongoing economic crisis, release arrested demonstrators and bring perpetrators to justice.

However, tensions between the civilian population and government forces persist.

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