Iraqi security forces used ‘excessive force’ during protests that killed 157 -government inquiry

A total of 157 people, mostly civilians, were killed because Iraqi security forces used excessive force and live fire. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Iraqi security forces used ‘excessive force’ during protests that killed 157 -government inquiry

  • 149 civilians and 8 members of the security forces were killed
  • More than 70% of the deaths were caused by shots to the head or chest

BAGHDAD: The death toll from week-long anti-government protests that erupted in the Iraqi capital and other cities at the start of the month totalled 157, an official inquiry found on Tuesday.
Baghdad accounted for 111 of the dead, nearly all of whom were protesters, the inquiry found.
Around 70 percent of the deaths were caused by bullet wounds “to the head or chest,” according to the findings, published as Iraq braces for fresh protests on Friday.
The official toll included 149 civilians and eight members of the security forces killed between October 1 and 6, during protests in Baghdad and across southern provinces.
Four security personnel were killed in Baghdad, where clashes initially centered around the iconic Tahrir Square after protesters rallied to demand jobs, services and an end to corruption.
Later unrest in the capital culminated in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, which faced a bloody night of violence.
Authorities formed a high commission of inquiry to investigate, after initially only acknowledging security forces used excessive force in just a few instances.
In its report, the inquiry blamed some deaths on security forces, but also mentioned other “shooters,” without identifying them.
From the start, authorities accused “unidentified snipers” posted on rooftops overlooking protesters and security forces for deaths.
The inquiry also announced the dismissal of commanders across the security forces, including from the army, police, anti-terror, anti-riot, anti-crime, intelligence and national security units.
The commanders were stationed in Baghdad and provinces south of the capital including Diwaniyah, Misan, Babylon, Wasit, Najaf and Dhi Qar.
Their dismissal must be confirmed by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who faces public pressure ahead of the first anniversary of his cabinet on Friday, when fresh protests are expected.
Human rights groups and Iraqis able to post on social media — inaccessible without a virtual private network (VPN) application — accuse security forces of responsibility for protester deaths: either by firing themselves or by failing to protect demonstrators from snipers.

Harvard students walk out of Israeli ambassador talk

Updated 15 November 2019

Harvard students walk out of Israeli ambassador talk

  • The Israeli consul general was giving a talk at Harvard Law School on the settlement project
  • Students held signs that read “Settlements are a war crime” as they silently left the room

DUBAI: Dozens of Harvard students walked out of a talk by Israeli ambassador, Dani Dayan, on the Legal Strategy of Israeli Settlements earlier this week.

They were holding signs which read “Settlements are a war crime” as they silently left the room.

Dayan called the protesters “a bunch of losers” in a tweet after the lecture.

“I’m disappointed that the Harvard Law School would let this kind of propaganda for a colonial project for accumulation by dispossession be framed as “legal,”” a student organizer was quoted by the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (HCPSC).

“This is not only complicit but simply dishonest,” the student added.

Dayan, who is the Consul General of Israel in New York, advocates for the establishment and maintenance of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“Let us be clear, there is a consensus among the international community that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the student quoted by HCPSC said.