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Commission monitors violence against protesters

Graphic: Headquarters of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, Baghdad

Iraq's NHRI has called for those who gave orders to attack peaceful demonstrators with live bullets to be brought to justice.

Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has established a committee to investigate the killing of more than a hundred people in nationwide protests last week, Rudaw news agency reported.

Protests, which began in the capital, Baghdad, on 1 October 2019 before spreading to southern and central provinces, saw thousands of people rally against unemployment, corruption and a chronic lack of public services.

The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights will be represented on the committee, along with government ministers, members of parliament and the judiciary council.

The committee has been tasked with identifying those who used live ammunition against unarmed protesters and attacked the offices of media channels in Baghdad.

The Commission said at least 108 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded in the protests, which took place in ten provinces across the country between 1-6 October 2019.

Its monitoring teams found the majority of deaths and injuries were the result of live rounds, rubber bullets, stones and tear gas.

In a statement issued on 4 October, the Commission said it condemned "the use of excessive violence, live bullets, tear gas, hot water, severe beatings and indiscriminate arrests by security forces".

These actions "violate the standards rules of engagement, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the commitment of the government and security agencies to protect demonstrations and preserve the lives of civilians".

The Commission also said that security forces and local authorities had sought to prevent its monitoring teams from gathering information and statistics, as well as prevent them from visiting detainees or learning their fate.

In a subsequent statement on 21 October, Commission member Fadhel al-Gharawi said the government should fulfil the promises it made to protestors and implement its reform package.

The Commission also called "for those who gave orders to attack peaceful demonstrators with live bullets and arrest them to be held responsible, whether they are commanders or others, and that they are brought to justice".

The results of government-led investigations should be announced to the Iraqi people "with full transparency and accountability".

Date: 23 October 2019


The Commission has released information from monitoring further protests in Baghdad and other parts of the country between 25-27 October 2019, where it recorded 74 deaths and more than 3,600 injuries. The Commission has stressed the urgent need for the government to guarantee freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peacefully demonstrate, as set out in the Iraqi Constitution.

Image credits

  1. Headquarters of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, Baghdad - Iraq High Commission for Human Rights