Posted by: bahareiran | April 12, 2011

Amnesty: Iraq must stop using force on protesters

34 defenseless refugees were killed since Friday April 8 by Iraki forces in camp Ashraf

BAGHDAD, April 11, 2011 (AFP) – Iraqi authorities must stop intimidating and using lethal force against peaceful protesters demanding reforms, jobs, better services and an end to corruption, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

“Eight years on from the end of Saddam Hussain’s long and grossly oppressive rule, it is high time that Iraqis are allowed to exercise their rights to peaceful protest and expression free from violence at the hands of government security forces,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The authorities in both Baghdad and the Kurdistan region must cease their violent crackdowns,” he added.

In a report released on Tuesday, “Days of Rage: Protests and Repression in Iraq,” Amnesty said it documents the use of lethal force by the authorities in Iraq, including the autonomous Kurdish region in the north.

“Iraqi and Kurdish forces have shot and killed protesters, including three teenage boys, threatened, detained and tortured political activists, as well as targeting journalists covering the protests,” the report said.

Amnesty said it had video evidence “showing security forces using excessive force on a number of occasions, firing live ammunition that reportedly killed several protesters.”

Protests against poor basic services such as electricity began last summer, and grew after uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt toppled entrenched regimes in those countries and spread across the Arab world early this year.

Since then, protests have erupted in some part of Iraq at least every week, especially in the Kurdish north.

But unlike unrest and uprisings in other Arab countries, protesters in Iraq have not been demanding regime change, only reforms and better living conditions.

Amnesty listed several deaths among protesters caused by security forces.

On February 16, a teenage boy was among those killed in the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, during protests that began peacefully.

A day later, in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, “live ammunition was fired at protesters, and a 15-year-old boy, Rezhwan Ali, was shot in the head and died instantly,” Amnesty said.

It listed about a dozen deaths in several parts of the country on the February 25 “Day of Rage” demonstrations, when protests reached their peak and spread nationwide.

It said five people were killed in the main northern city of Mosul, and at least six in the nearby Kurdistan region.

Amnesty also condemned Saturday’s Iraqi army raid on a camp of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an Iranian opposition group that set up base in Iraq under Saddam’s rule.

The PMOI said that 33 people were killed and 300 wounded in the incident, but Iraqi security and hospital sources said three were killed.

“The governments in Baghdad and the Kurdistan region must take control of their security forces, investigate their use of excessive force, and the killings and injuries that this has caused, as well as the torture and other ill-treatment of protesters, and hold those responsible to account,” Smart said.

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