Amnesty International on Sunday called on the Iraqi government to “rein in security forces” after reports of more deaths amid ongoing nationwide protests in Baghdad and other provinces.
Iraqi media quoted medical sources on Sunday who said seven people were killed and nearly 100 injured when demonstrators tried to reach the fortified Green Zone in the capital of Baghdad.
According to Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, since they began in early October, widespread protests in Iraq have resulted in the deaths of at least 300, while some 12,000 have been injured.
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, called on Iraqi authorities to “immediately order an end” to the use of “excessive force” against demonstrators.
“There have now been at least 264 protester deaths across the country in little over a month,” Morayef added. “This is turning into nothing short of a bloodbath—all government promises of reforms or investigations ring hollow while security forces continue to shoot and kill protesters.”
The Amnesty director urged the Iraqi government to protect its citizens, who are exercising their right “to gather and express their views.”
“This bloodbath must stop now, and those responsible for it must be brought to justice.”
The protests over the past month reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, including high levels of unemployment, the dismal state of public services, and widespread government corruption.
Demonstrators are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say fails to address their needs, but, rather, serves the interests of a small governing elite.