06 May 2021
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Journalists and civil society groups detail human rights abuses committed during Iraqi Kurdistan protests.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 04:43

JOURNALISTS and civil-society groups in Iraqi Kurdistan detailed the human-rights abuses committed by regional government forces during the recent protests in a meeting with the United Nations on Monday.

People jailed during anti-government demonstrations that spread across the region earlier this month raised their concerns with the UN representative to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

The meeting follows protests and demands for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to resign, amid accusations of nepotism and corruption levelled at the duopoly that rules the autonomous region in northern Iraq: the Barzani-family-led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by the Talabani family.

Both are accused of running networks of patronage in the areas under their control, and anger has grown at what is seen as a broken political system that allows two families to dominate the region.

At least nine people, including two children, were shot dead in the protests by government forces, while media organisations were shut down and journalists threatened and jailed.

Speaking about the meeting, journalist Abdulla Mala Nuri said: “We frankly told Plasschaert about all the failures of Kurdish parties in power, from arresting, beating and killing protesters to suppressing media outlets, death threats and kidnapping activists and journalists in Erbil and Duhok, using coalition ammunition against protesters, the lie of democracy, party militias, border-crossing smuggling, the phoney parliament and government, the $28 billion (£20bn) debt and the fake disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.”

Regional Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has continued to insist that “foreign hands” are behind the protests, blaming Syrians and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for stoking unrest.

But the protests are largely unorganised, led by disaffected Kurdish youth fed up with years of austerity and lack of decent services while their rulers live in palace-style mansions.

Mr Barzani blames the problems facing the region on a dispute with the Iraqi central government over payment of its part of the federal budget, leaving public-sector workers without pay for months.

Source: Morning Star

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