UN Fails to Criticise Protesters Casualties in Iraq
UN Fails to Criticise Protesters Casualties in Iraq
Since the outbreak of protests in Iraq on October 1, 2019, hundreds of Iraqi protesters have been killed while thousands of others were arrested or kidnapped by the Iraqi authorities. This requires the Iraqi authorities to open a comprehensive investigation into all the killings, kidnappings and torture of Iraqi protesters, which began with the outbreak of protests and to ensure those arrested on the background of taking part in these protests are released and those responsible for violations against these protesters are brought accountable as the Iraqi Constitution gives Iraqis the right to peaceful protests and assembly. In other words, Iraq should respect its own constitution and laws.
Since the outbreak of protests in the country, most these protests have been peaceful in nature. For the first time in nearly a decade and a half, Iraqi were united behind the call to end corruption and improve living conditions, and the claim that these protests were a result of foreign interference are baseless. There was no single political group that stood behind the protests and the Iraqi people as a collective took to the streets and called for unity and life, following years sectarian divisions that brought the society to a collapse. In a report published by the Euro-Med, the group noted: “The slogans and chants of protesters in the streets continued to express their demands at popular gatherings, despite the excessive force and resorting to repressive security measures by the armed militias of the Iraqi government.”
The report, titled “The Iraqi movement: Daring to Kill and An Absent Justice,” highlighted a number of violations Iraqi protesters were subjected to, including eyewitnesses as well as victims, who were injured, kidnapped and tortured by militias or security forces of the Iraqi government. The protests spoke of horror they have been subjected to in a country that was supposed to offer them the right to peaceful assembly. Instead of ending their abject poverty, the Iraqi government responded to these protesters with lethal force. This happened while the international community, be it the US, the EU or the UN stood watching without offering a real help to protesters on the ground.
The Iraqi Constitution of 2005 stressed the importance of respecting the right to peaceful protest and freedom of opinion and expression, yet the Iraqi government didn’t respect its own Constitution, which came to light following the end of the US occupation of Iraq, which started in 2003, and saw ending the rule of Saddam Hussien, which the international community has repeatedly criticized for its lack of democracy. The UN should play a greater role by pressuring the Iraqi government to stop its violations against peaceful protesters and by offering to mediate a deal that will bring this crisis to an end in a manner that serves the Iraqi people.
Confirmed reports have suggested that government militias and security forces have carried out forcible kidnappings to intimidate protesters. These kidnappings aimed to spread fear among protesters to push them to end these protests. In fact, many Iraqi officials have benefited from the status quo and any end of the sectorial rule in the country would put their own interests at stake. This explains why the response of security forces, many of them benefit from the current status quo, was brutal. The same as the UN has sent international investigation teams to investigate specific events that took place in the world such as the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, it should investigate the killings of hundreds of Iraqi protesters outside the law.
The Euro-Med noted in its 15-page report that “Iraqi government forces and armed militias have adopted, since the outbreak of the protests, a number of repressive and brutal methods against protesters, killing hundreds, assassinating dozens of activists, arresting and kidnapping thousands of protesters, and closing a number of institutions and press offices.”
Activist Hassan al-Husayni al-Husayni, who was kidnapped on November 25 by men wearing civilian clothes was found alive in Ibrahimiya region, eight hours after his abduction, with signs of torture all over his body. This is a brutal reminder to the Iraqi people that they are not safe again and can’t speak against their own government because of its widespread corruption. In fact, the UN should send signs to the protesters on the ground that their right to peaceful assembly is respected by pressuring the Iraqi government which is a member state of the UN.
The Iraqi people are reminded again that beatings, electric sticks, humiliation and other means of torture that they grew up hearing about are back to the stage. This is a cruel reminder to people on the ground calling for their peaceful rights. This is the right of any Iraqi young person who dreams of a better future. The UN should work hand in hand with other governments of the world to make sure that corruption in Iraq comes to an end.
The Iraqi authorities, in line with their international commitments, should respect human rights by ending all violations against protesters, and to take needed steps so that Iraqi people feel safe protesting again. The demands of the protesters are legitimate. It is all about ending corruption, having more electricity, and enjoying their very basic life needs on their soil. The UN should realize that this is not something huge to ask for. Therefore, the UN should make sure that the Iraqi government commit to the basic principles of the United Nations on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
The IUNW commends the call urges to work to prosecute all leaders and those responsible for violations committed against protesters, and joins in by “calling on authorities to respect the right of protesters to peaceful assembly as long since it is a constitutional right affirmed by the Iraqi Constitution, and to refrain from using force against them. Those who are involved in such violations often prompt criminal sanctions against them internally or internationally.”
The EU, and countries such as Germany and France, which provides the Iraqi security forces with arms and weapons, should make sure that these weapons are noted used to supress protesters. The UN should pressure these countries to stop arms sales to Iraqi to make sure protesters have more protection.