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Iraq’s human rights commission calls on Baghdad to fulfil promises to protesters

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The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq on Monday called on the federal government in Baghdad to fulfill promises it made to protestors and implement its reform package.

The announcement comes after a recent wave of violent, nationwide protests which began in early October. The demonstrations have reportedly led to the deaths of at least 100 people and thousands more injured.

Security forces cracked down on protesters, with many accusing them of using excessive force and gunfire to prevent the demonstrations from spreading.

The central government in Baghdad also imposed a curfew and cut internet connections in many southern provinces where the unrest was taking place.

“We call on the government to implement its promises in the reform package, and to give the Iraqi citizens the rights guaranteed by the constitution,” Fadhel al-Gharawi, a member of the Iraqi human rights commission, said in a statement.

“We call for those who gave orders to attack peaceful demonstrators with live bullets and arrest them to be held responsible, whether they are commanders or others, and that they are brought to justice.”

Violence permeated protests since they began in Baghdad and spread to major southern cities, marking the worst instance of instability since the so-called Islamic State was defeated nearly two years ago. Many were killed by direct sniper fire.

On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said his government was committed to improving living conditions and affirmed that an investigation into the deadly demonstrations would be announced “soon.”

The Iraqi human rights statement underlined the need for authorities to announce the results to the Iraqi people “with full transparency and accountability of all the negligent who caused this humanitarian tragedy.”

“The families of martyrs and the wounded should be compensated,” it added, “and all detainees should be released.”

Activists have told Kurdistan 24 that another major demonstration is planned for Baghdad and other cities on Oct. 25. This follows the Shia religious observance called Arbaeen, during which millions of worshippers will be marching to holy sites in Iraq.
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