Several international organisations have been calling on the Iraqi government to end the significant loss of Iraqi lives as the death toll has exceeded 100. This should be done by ordering Iraqi security forces to stop using excessive violence against peaceful protesters. Organisations have been also calling on the government to end the blocking of internet and social media.
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Marta Hurtado stated that, Iraqis have been protesting in recent days against unemployment, government corruption and the lack of the basic needs of daily life. According to the statement most protesters are unemployed young people who want economic and social justice.
Hurtado said in the statement, the Iraqi government should address people's complaints. The authorities are obliged to make the utmost effort to support their people by addressing their demands, such as providing young people with job opportunities, as well as basic needs. Government authorities should guarantee people’s right to freedom of expression by allowing them to express their concerns peacefully.
In her statement Hurtado said, “We call on the Iraqi government to allow people to express themselves freely, as well as grant them the right of peaceful gatherings. Resorting to force should be extremely rare. If there is any use of force, it must be in accordance with international human rights standards. It is forbidden to use violence and weapons against protesters, unless it is the last resort in the case of protection against a risk of danger of death or severe injury. The relevant authorities must thoroughly investigate incidents where there were deaths and injuries due to the use of extreme violence.”
According to Hurtado, the UNHCHR is concerned about the detention of some journalists who were covering the protests. Two of the three reporters who were arrested were later released. Such arrests would deter other journalists from reporting on the situation. The Commission is worried about the blocking of internet services in most parts of the country, as this contravenes citizens’ right to freedom of expression, thus leading to the fuelling of tension among Iraqi people.
UN Watch reported on the lack of human rights in Iraq. Security forces in Basra killed protesters who wanted nothing but clean drinking water, electricity and an end to government corruption. The report said that Iraqi citizens faced extremely difficult conditions. They live with non-stop terror attacks and assassination of public figures; therefore they prefer to flee the country and its wretched conditions.
Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, UN Watch’s 2019 Ambassador for Peace stated during the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, that certain Iraqi minorities such as Assyrians, Yazidis and other oppressed minorities suffered from ethnic discrimination in her country. Iraq which was once known as the cradle of civilisation, has now become a graveyard for ethnic and religious diversity.
Idan said that Iraqis believed their government was more loyal to Iran than to its own people. There are streets in Iraq named after Khomeini who killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis during the ten-year war between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) has issued a report in which it confirmed the excessive use of violence and weapons by security forces against peaceful protesters. Among the weapons used were stun grenades, rubber bullets and gas-tear bombs.
According to AI, it is totally unacceptable for Iraqi forces to attack protesters with violence resulting in deaths and the injuring of many protesters. Lynn Maalouf, AI’s Middle East Research Director said that the Iraqi authorities must hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account. “(the government) also must conduct a serious investigation regarding the matter, an investigation which should yield credible results, not a superficial one,” Maalouf said.
AI reported that international human rights law and policing standards limit the use of stun grenades to specially trained officers in very specific circumstances that do not include public gatherings. The organisation is also worried about the random detention of protesters and journalists in several Iraqi governorates such as Basra, Baghdad and Al-Najaf.
Maalouf said, AI had been calling on the Iraqi government, since the beginning of the protests, to immediately reverse all the illegal acts and measures taken against Iraqi citizens.
“Such draconian measures underscore the lengths to which the government is prepared to go to silence protests, away from cameras and the world’s eyes. By doing so, authorities blatantly violate domestic and international laws that they have committed to respecting, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” Maalouf said.