Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 February 2020

Iraq protests: 16 countries condemn government’s use of force on demonstrators

Tensions flared at weekend, with at least 17 people killed in three days

The embassies of 16 countries, including the US, on Monday condemned Iraq's use of force against protesters.

The missions urged the government to guarantee “credible investigations and accountability” into the strife that has killed hundreds of people.

The other countries were Britain Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

More than 600 people have been killed in Iraq's anti-government protests that started in October, the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq and Amnesty International said.

Renewed violence occurred over the weekend, with attacks by security troops and Iran-backed militias.

They overran protest centres in Baghdad and southern cities, killing at least 17 civilians and wounding 250 over the past three days, civil activists and the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said.

Populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr last week withdrew his support for the Iraqi uprising, pulling out protection for demonstrators and allowing a government crackdown to crush the protest movement.

The 16 countries said their ambassadors “condemn the excessive and lethal use of force by Iraqi security forces and armed groups since January 24 against peaceful protesters, including in Baghdad, Nasiriyah and Basra".

“Despite assurances by the government, security forces and armed groups continue to use live fire in these locations, resulting in deaths and the injuries of civilians, while some protesters face intimidation and abduction.”

The ambassadors called on the Iraqi government to “respect freedoms of assembly” and the right to protest peacefully.

They also urged protesters to keep demonstrations peaceful.

“The ambassadors call on the government to guarantee credible investigations and accountability for the more than 500 deaths and thousands of injuries of protesters since October 1.”

Updated: January 28, 2020 02:01 AM

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