General: Iraqi Kurdistan: Repressive policies by the authorities continue amid ongoing popular protests


Citizens of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq continued their popular demonstrations in December which called for the overthrow of the government, a solution to the financial crisis, and the elimination of rampant corruption. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has documented violations related to the demonstrations in the second week of December, including many on International Human Rights Day, marked worldwide on 10 December.

On 09 December 2020, after demonstrations were renewed in various districts and sub-districts of Sulaymaniyah Governorate, the regional authorities continued to arrest civil society activists and peaceful demonstrators in the region’s three Governorates - Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah. As of today, a number of activists and protesters are still in prison.

Summary of the most important events on 09 December 2020:


- In Qaladiza district, popular demonstrations demanded the overthrow of the government, and there was a clash between some demonstrators with the security forces. Also, for the first time, a group of Peshmerga (Kurdish military forces) joined the ranks of the youth demonstrating against the regional government.

 - The demonstrators in Dokan district of Sulaymaniyah Governorate blocked the main Dokan road and prevented the passage of cars and security forces.

 - Demonstrations were renewed for the second day in a row in Said Sadiq district.  

 - Security forces used tear gas in Rania district to disperse the demonstrators, who included some members of the Peshmerga and security forces, from the district itself, and clashes occurred.

 - Demonstrations were renewed in the Piramagrun sub-district and the demonstrators demanded the government be overthrown, among other demands.

 - The mayor of Penjwin district participated in demonstrations and was among the ranks of those who gathered on the main street of the city (top photo on the left).

 - After a group of young civil society activists in the Shiladze sub-district of Amadiya district in Dohuk Governorate called for mass demonstrations on 08 December 2020, the security forces raided their homes and beat them with various means and in front of their families' eyes, before they were arrested and transferred to the prisons of the security forces.

 -  Among those arrested were Mahmoud Rikani (photo on the right), Yousif Rikani (photo in the middle), Kovan Rikani (photo on the left) and others whose names were not disclosed by the security forces.

 - Despite the arrests, the demonstration took place after 4 p.m. on 09 December 2020, in the main street of the sub-district in front of the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and protesters chanted the words “freedom ... freedom” in the face of the military and security forces present, who then dispersed the demonstration by force (top photo on the right).

 - Lawyer and civil society activist Pashtiwan Aziz (photo on the left) was arrested by the security forces in Hajiawa sub-district of Rania district in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, on charges of participating in the demonstrations.

 - On 09 December 2020, the security forces arrested the journalist Karzan Tariq (photo on the right), a correspondent for the Kurdish satellite channel NRT. He was released on 12 December 2020, after his equipment was confiscated.

Summary of events, demonstrations and arrests during the period from 10 to 14 December 2020: