Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

Iraq officials: Protesters surge toward Baghdad’s Green Zone

  • Protesters took over the Khilani square and part of Sinak bridge
  • Iran requested Iraq to close down Shalamcheh border crossing

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security and medical officials say protesters have pushed closer to the Green Zone, Baghdad’s fortified seat of government, after security forces pulled back following a night of violent altercations.
The officials said Saturday that protesters took control of the strategic Khilani Square and part of Sinak bridge leading to the Green Zone, which houses Parliament and several foreign embassies.
Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, Iraq closed its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran to travellers from both countries on Saturday, an Iraqi security source and an Iranian diplomat said.
The security source said Tehran had demanded the closure because of ongoing public protests in both Iran and Iraq. The border would remain shut until further notice but would not affect goods or trade, the security source and the diplomat said.
Officials say a roadside bomb killed three people and wounded 18 late Friday near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Another roadside blast in the southern city of Nassiriya wounded 18 that same evening.
The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.


Human Rights Watch condemns Qatar’s ‘fake news’ law

Updated 14 min ago

Human Rights Watch condemns Qatar’s ‘fake news’ law

  • Those convicted of the crime face up to five years in prison and a fine of more than $25,000
  • Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) both condemned the move to impose tough penalties for spreading false information

LONDON: Qatar came under further international pressure Wednesday over a “repressive” new law claiming to tackle fake news.
Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) both condemned the move to impose tough prison sentences and fines for spreading false information.
Their comments come after Amnesty International said on Monday that the law would “significantly restrict freedom of expression in Qatar.”
“Qatar should be removing legal provisions that restrict free expression, not adding more vague provisions like ‘fake news’ that chill critical public debate on important issues,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad said the Qatari authorities have jumped on the ‘false news’ bandwagon.
“Qatar should rescind this repressive law and focus instead on legislation that enshrines press freedom in line with its international human rights law commitments.”
The new law outlines criminal penalties for anyone who “broadcasts, publishes, or republishes false or biased rumors, statements, or news, or inflammatory propaganda, domestically or abroad, with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion, or infringe on the social system or the public system of the state.”
It says that violators “shall be punished with a maximum of five years in prison and 100,000 Qatari riyals, or one of the two penalties.” The penalty is doubled if the crime is committed in wartime.
Those convicted of the crime face up to five years in prison and a fine of more than $25,000.
The comments from Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have added pressure to Qatar after it introduced a new article on Sunday.

Syria condemned over cluster munition attack on school
Human Rights Watch also condemned a cluster munition attack on a school in Syria by the government at the beginning of this year.
A ballistic missile equipped with a banned cluster munition warhead was launched by the Syrian army at a school on Jan. 1, 2020, killing 12 civilians, including 5 children, Human Rights Watch said.