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Iraq: Committee to Investigate Tear Gas Used in Protests

Iraq: Committee to Investigate Tear Gas Used in Protests

Tuesday, 12 November, 2019 - 08:15
Demonstrators gather at a protest during a curfew, three days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq (File Photo: Reuters)

Iraqi Interior Ministry announced the formation of a governmental committee to find out the types of tear gas used against protesters, dozens of which had been arrested since Saturday.

The Interior Ministry announced it had established an investigative committee chaired by Minister of Health Jaafar Allawi to find out the types of tear gas used in the demonstrations.

“The situation in Baghdad is normal, and in the coming days, closed bridges within the capital will be opened,” announced Interior Ministry Spokesman Khalid al-Mahna.

Mahna indicated that almost all demonstrators agree to peaceful protests, and the number of victims announced by media is exaggerated. He pointed out that the Health Ministry is the only body that announces the real figures of the victims.

Commander of Baghdad Operations, Major General Qais al-Mohammadawi announced that security forces arrested 31 people, indicating that they collected weapons from the vicinity of the demonstrations. He also indicated that the security element that fired guns in the air in al-Rashid Street had been arrested.

Mohammadawi reiterated that the security forces will not attack Tahrir Square, nor will they disperse anyone by force, noting that the concrete barriers were put to protect the demonstrators.

He said that the forces stopped using tear gas 9 days ago and that they only use smoke bombs. He called for differentiating between protesting and blocking bridges, which doesn’t do the country any good.

The Maj-Gen explained that since Sunday, authorities have arrested 31 persons, 20 of which will be released soon, adding that some people used Molotov cocktails against the security services. He asserted there are no foreign nationalities among the demonstrators or detainees.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) announced on Monday that 134 protesters and members of security forces were killed and injured in the province of Dhi Qar.

The Commission issued a statement indicating that its teams monitored the “unfortunate events” that took place in the province near the Directorate of Education and the Teachers' Union between the demonstrators and riot police. It added that 4 people were killed and 130 other of the security forces and protesters were injured.

The Commission documented the arbitrary arrest of 34 demonstrators, adding that a number of the protesters tried to close state departments.

IHCHR condemned all forms of violence and the misuse of tear gas, Molotov cocktails, stones and sharp objects by security forces and several demonstrators, which caused casualties among both sides. It called on the demonstrators to cooperate with security forces to restore life to public facilities, schools, universities, and all departments to promote human rights.

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