Iraq Board Update
In March and April, Covid thwarted our plans to take a delegation of families who’d had members killed by the Iraqi government security forces to appeal to Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric to issue a fatwah outlawing such violence. Since protests broke out in Baghdad and other governorates across southern Iraq in October 2019, in just a few months, the excessive use of force by government security forces and armed militias has resulted in 2,000 deaths, over 27,000 injuries, and 2,800 arrests.
Instead, on 15 May Crisis Action organized the first-ever virtual briefing for Iraqi activists and human rights defenders since the eruption of the Iraqi October revolution more than nine months ago. The event, titled “The Iraq Protests: Challenges and Future Directions,” was organized in collaboration with the Iraqi Al-Amal Association, and supported by Impunity Watch (IW) and the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), with the aim of giving Iraqi human rights activists, protestors and lawyers the platform to call on the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, to renew efforts to investigate violations committed against protestors and to compensate the families of protestors that have been killed, maimed or injured by the excessive use of force by state security forces.
More than 100 participants joined, including journalists from outlets such as The Financial Times, Agence France Presse, NPR, The National and Middle East Eye; representatives from the Swedish, Dutch, French, U.S. embassies and EU delegation in Iraq; NGO representatives; Iraqi activists and academic researchers. The event generated increasingly rare media coverage of leading protestors and human rights defenders from across Iraq and was welcomed by Iraqi activists, who affirmed the opportunity to represent their experiences and message, as well as media and political representatives who valued the rare diversity of perspective.