The Brussels International Center for Research and Human Right (BIC) is deeply concerned about the outbreak and severity of the violent protests in Iraq. For the past week, security forces in Baghdad have fired live rounds at protesters defying a curfew, killing over 30 people and injuring hundreds more throughout the country. Protesters are calling for an end to corruption, more jobs and better services around the country. The government has responded with statements that hold no promise, and fighting from both government militias and civilians continues.
The Brussels International Center calls upon the Iraqi forces to immediately cease all violent retaliation against civilians. The violence being carried out on behalf of the Iraqi government has resulted in unnecessary deaths and therefore must end. Furthermore, the decision taken by the government to block access to the internet throughout the country is only repressing people further, and prolonging the protests.
The Iraqi authorities need to credibly and impartially investigate the excessive use of lethal force in Baghdad and other parts of the country where protests turned violent. So long as the government fails to address the protester grievances over deteriorating economic conditions and state corruption, the risk of further violence remains real.
In addition, institutional reforms are long overdue and this could be addressed through effective strengthening of the judiciary and independent oversight agencies. By addressing protesters demands in a peaceful manner, the government would generate new hope for a people who have known war, sanctions, invasion and insurgencies.