Iraq’s NHRI continues to monitor protest-related violence
Graphic: A staff member of the Commission's monitoring team at a demonstration
“The main challenge is how to keep our people, the monitoring staff, secure,” IHCHR member Dr Anas Abbas noted.
Nearly 550 Iraqis have been killed in protest-related violence since anti-government demonstrations began in Baghdad and other provinces in October 2019, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) reported to AFP.
According to the IHCHR, 543 people have been killed since October, including 276 in the nation's capital.
Seventeen members of the security forces are among the dead, according to IHCHR figures. The remaining number are all protesters or activists, including 22 who were assassinated.
Up to 30,000 more have been wounded during the rallies, according to medical sources.
The IHCHR has also documented more than 2,700 arrests, with 328 people still detained. Another 72 Iraqis are categorised as disappeared.
"The main challenge is how to keep our people, the monitoring staff, secure."
IHCHR member Dr Anas Abbas describes some of the challenges facing the Commission's staff as they conduct independent monitoring in a dangerous and volatile environment.
AFP noted that Iraq's national human rights institution has been the only reliable source for figures on protest-related casualties. However, it has faced pressure and intimidation to stop reporting.
The IHCHR has reported that many of the wounded or killed were shot by live rounds.
However, Iraq's government has repeatedly denied its security forces are shooting at the protesters.
Others have died when military-grade tear gas canisters have pierced their skulls or chests, after security forces improperly fired such equipment, AFP reported.
In addition, the United Nations has said unnamed "militias" are responsible for the recent campaign of threats, assassinations and kidnappings in the country.
Date: 8 February 2020
Source: AFP/Jordan Times
- A staff member of the Commission's monitoring team at a demonstration - IHCHR