Iraq: GCHR’s 16th Periodic Report on Human Rights Violations in Iraq during the Popular Protests

15.07.21

This is the sixteenth periodic report of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights on human rights (GCHR) violations in Iraq. The report highlights the killings of demonstrators and other peaceful citizens, and the continued targeting of civil society activists and protesters participating in the current popular movement. GCHR also documents the violence that targeted peaceful demonstrators who went out to protest against corruption and poor public services, especially related to electricity shortages in the country, which Iraqis have been suffering from for decades. GCHR also calls for an end to the negligence faced by the wounded demonstrators, many of whom were disabled as a result of the attacks they were subjected to during the protests. This report also deals with the loss of citizens' lives due to the corruption that is spreading in the health system.

Fire at Al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriyah 

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that provision of health and medical care is a human right of all citizens, but the situation in Iraq contradicts this right. On 12 July 2021, a fire broke out in Al-Hussain Hospital, which is used to isolate and treat patients with Covid-19 in the city of Nasiriyah (the main photo), resulting in 60 victims, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

The cause of the fire was the explosion of the hospital's gas system, but specialists confirmed that, "The field hospitals, which were prepared to receive and isolate Covid-19 patients, were built from mobile rooms made of highly flammable materials, and were not equipped with any safety devices." This reflects the rampant corruption that has put the lives of citizens in grave danger. Previous press statements had stated that the number of victims reached 92, and the number of injured exceeded 100.

This tragic accident comes after a similar fire that took place on 24 April 2021, which killed 90 people and injured more than 110 others, in Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad, where patients with Covid-19 were being isolated and treated.

Targeting journalists and media outlets

On 13 July 2021, the Arabic Russia Today (RT) channel announced on its website that the Iraqi security forces had arrested its correspondent in Baghdad, Ashraf Mohammed Al-Azzawi, on the pretext that the license to work of RT’s office in Baghdad had expired. The security forces took him to an unknown location after closing the office and confiscating its equipment. He was released after hours of arbitrary detention. Reliable sources confirmed that the main reason for targeting him was a tweet on the Twitter account of RT’s principal presenter Salam Mosafir, in which he indicated that Iraqis, "are grieving for electricity cuts and fires of corruption and neglect."