Iraq: GCHR’s 24th Periodic Report on Human Rights Violations in Iraq
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)’s 24th periodic report on human rights violations in Iraq documents a range of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations taking place in the country, in addition to the various violations that have affected citizens, including human rights activists, journalists and media professionals, Iraqi children, as well as some of the peaceful demonstrators themselves.
Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations
On 02 August 2022, the Central Committee for Demonstrations held a meeting in Al-Dabouni sub-district of Al-Aziziyah district, in Wasit Governorate, in the presence of a number of representatives from the central and southern governorates and a large number of protesters who participated in the broad popular movement that began on 01 October 2019. The meeting issued a statement in which it said, "We will come out with a large demonstration separate from the rest of the protesters on 05 August 2022. We call for, through our statement, all the sons and daughters of Iraq to participate and come down strongly under the hashtag: #Friday_To_Overturn_The_ Equation."
In response to this call, on 05 August 2022, hundreds of demonstrators gathered for several hours in Nisour Square, located in western Baghdad close to the Green Zone, which houses the headquarters of the three authorities and most diplomatic missions (main photos above). The demonstrators demanded a complete change of the current political system. A number of other demonstrators participated in this national gathering, including the demonstrators in Al-Haboubi Square in the city of Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar Governorate.
On 27 July 2022, thousands of supporters of the Sadrist movement stormed the Iraqi parliament building and did not vacate it until the evening after the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, asked them to do so.
On 30 July 2022, the Sadrist movement's supporters stormed the Iraqi parliament building again, and held a sit-in inside it, after clashes with security forces stationed in the Green Zone left approximately 125 wounded who received treatment in various hospitals. The Iraqi parliament suspended its sessions after that, after the protesters turned their siege into a permanent sit-in.
These protests came after the coordination framework, which obtained most of the resigned seats from the Sadrist movement's representatives, named former minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani as prime minister.
The Sadrist movement emerged as the most prominent winning force after the last parliamentary elections that were held on 10 October 2021, as it won 73 seats in the new parliament out of a total of 329 seats. Despite this, it was unable to form a new government, so its winning deputies submitted their collective resignation.
On 01 August 2022, thousands of supporters of the coordination framework gathered in front of the Green Zone to protest against the storming of the Iraqi parliament by supporters of the Sadrist movement.
On 02 August 2022, the Sadrist movement asked its supporters to vacate the Iraqi parliament building and continue the sit-in in its vicinity, where they are currently gathering.
On 03 August 2022, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, gave a speech demanding that the Iraqi parliament be dissolved and early elections be held, while at the same time he called on his supporters among the protesters to continue their sit-in.
Previously, the security forces in the city of Samawah, the capital of Al-Muthanna Governorate, suppressed a peaceful march of graduates and unemployed people on 23 July 2022 (photo on the left).
On 27 July 2022, a number of protesters closed the Iron Bridge (the Commission Bridge) and the Qishla intersection in the city of Samawah in solidarity with their fellow graduates and unemployed people who had been repressed, and demanded the dismissal of Governor Ahmed Manfi (photo in the middle).
On 06 August 2022, the security forces used force to disperse a demonstration by residents of Al-Kahla District, Maysan Governorate, in which local residents demanded water, electricity and job opportunities (photo on the right). Reliable local sources confirmed that the local authorities shut down the internet on the same day in an attempt to prevent coordination between protesters to continue their protests.
Targeting journalists who covered the storming of the Iraqi parliament
Journalists and media staff of television channels faced frequent harassment and attacks and were often prevented from covering these events and protests.
On 01 August 2022, a video clip circulating on social networks showed that a protester supporting the coordination framework prevented the official Al-Iraqiya TV team, consisting of journalists Ahmed Aram and Ahmed Majed, from covering "the channel’s association with power," according to this protester.
On 30 July 2022, the crew of Al-Mayadeen satellite channel, consisting of journalists Abdullah Badran, Abdullah Saad and Zaid Khaled Jumaa, sustained various bruises and were transferred to the hospital for treatment, after they were targeted by the security forces with several sound bombs while covering the protests in the Green Zone.
On 29 July 2022, demonstrators affiliated with the Sadrist movement closed the office of Al-Forat satellite channel in Basra, owned by Ammar Al-Hakim, the leader of the Al-Hikma movement, in response to a speech he had delivered on the same day in which he criticised the Sadrist movement's demonstrations.