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Another day of violence in Iraqi Kurdistan
Alex Kemman - 18.04.2011 23:35

After another violent day yesterday (17th) in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdish Iraq) the protestors again showed their determination today. They are protesting for 60 days already, mostly nonviontly, but often confrontated by harsh repression.The authorities have tried to stop the protest since day one, but day after day the demonstrators come back to the square which is has been named Freedom square. Today, some streets of the city changed into a battlefield between activists and security forces. Sounds of bullets, the smell of teargass and smoke filled the streets.

15th of April demonstration
15th of April demonstration

15th of April
15th of April

17th of April
17th of April

The street were at the time of being the clash took place
The street were at the time of being the clash took place

Teargass was used extensively
Teargass was used extensively

Bullets too..
Bullets too..

The protestors here in Sulaymaniyah, the second city of Kurish Iraq, call for an end to corruption and nepotism and more freedom in general. The model democracy of the middle east (Iraqi Kurdistan) does not seem to satisfy a large share of the people. Basically, the country is runned by the two ruling parties, KDP and PUK, which are made up of the Barzani and respectively Talibani family. Money dissapears and basic facilities such as electricity are hardly available in this rapidly developing country/region. Criticism is cracked down on and without the right connections making a decent living is hard. The secret forces protecting Kurdish Iraq against the threat of terrorism, are also used to control their own people as well. For example, demonstrations have not taken place in the regional capital of Erbil due the arrests leading to torture and signing false declarations. One major criticism towards the protestors is that an elaborated alternative has not been given, the main call for Barzani (leader of the KDP) to step down and new elections might not lead to a solution. The fear is that one of the opposition parties, whom play a large role in the protests, might do the same of even worse.


Short impression of today (18th of April) between 16.00 - 18.00:

Gunshots echo through the city and the Freedom square is amazingly full after the attempted crackdown on demonstrators yesterday, which led to about 50 wounded of wich seven by bullets. Now again, determined and organized, speeches are held on the square while in the street leading to the main square hundreds of people are in confrontation with the security forces. Smoke of fire and teargass is seen in the distance and once every while an injured or teargassed person gets carried to the safety of the square. That less then an hour ago the police was carrying out attack on the square accompanied by teargass and gunfire is hard to believe. Mostly the guns are being fired in the air, but too often the public is being aimed at.

The city seems to go on in its daily live, but the large presence of security forces and the rifleshots being heard show something is happening. Some streets have been turned into battlefield. Mainly young men fight the police with stones and tires have been set on fire. After the police repression of yesterday revenge was called out. In name of the martyrs it was sweared they will not stop till the government steps down. Certainly, the crowd seems unstoppable. Even when shots are being fired some stand in front of soldiers with their arms wide open, fearless. I haven't seen much of the other confrontations here, since most demonstration days were peaceful, but I am impressed by these casually dressed guys going towards the gunfire. Supposedly, one protestor died today, and about hundred people (including police) were wounded. Amongst others, an 11 year old kid was shot and severely wounded.

The authorities have announced they will not allow any demonstration tomorrow. However, two months of protesting and the persistency regarding earlier diverse attempts to stop them, do not make this a liable option. Another day of violence seems inevitable and who knows how much worse things might get. As the earlier actions of the security forces show they are not trained to cope with these situations. Many are just guys in need of a job. Leading to unpredictable and dangerous behaviour.

(Disclaimer, while I think independent and reliable journalism is of major importance, right now this article does not comply to journalistic standards. I wrote it down fast, because I feel it is shame these things are largely ignored and it seems the situation will worsen soon.)

Useful links:
Website with more news article links:  http://www.shorshiganjan.com
Kurdish filmmaker who has been there from day one:
 http://vimeo.com/sansaravan
Facebookpage: Slemani
More photos of pro-opposition newspaper:
 http://www.sbeiy.com/ku/newsdetail.aspx?id=35720&cat=1

 

Lees meer over: vrijheid, repressie & mensenrechten

aanvullingen
Amnesty international and update today 
Alex Kemman - 19.04.2011 22:44

 http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/independent-investigation-urged-police-violence-iraqi-kurdistan-2011-04-19

Today, thousends of security forces have taken over the city. A curfew is implemented and the protestors's 'freedom' square is filled with military. Again, gunshots were being heard over town all day. Many people have been arrested and the students of the suleymaniyah university were surrounded and attacked by security forces when they protested against the arrests of about 20 buses full of students from another town.

Journalists can hardly report or take pictures because of the harsh repression. Reporters carying camera's have been attacked and their equipment being confiscated. Pictures of the large military/police presence in town seem unavailable.


Analysis Unrest among Kurds 
nn - 20.04.2011 16:49

Divide and rule or autonomy rising

In regards to speculation in the recent weeks we have seen the uprising of thousands of Kurds in Turkey (Diyarbakir/Amed), Syria and now Iraq.
The question of grievances, the desire for self-governance and inspiration taken from 'succesfull' uprisings in the region seems to have sparked. However we must not forget that Iraq's Kurdistan contains major oil-reserves, Syria for years has been a hotbed of anti-US sentiment once branded part of the Axis of Evil and containing strong anti-Israel and pro-Iran factions. In short who will win most and how from the situations or will it once again end like the uprising against Sadam Hussein inspired by the US; crushed, murdered and deprivated.

The People shall govern!
Analysis? 
Alex Kemman - 20.04.2011 20:54

Sorry but the point of your analysis is quite unclear to me?

The autonomy of North-Iraq/South-Kurdistan is almost as a country. The protests are not against the central Iraq government, but against the local regional Kurdish government - KDP and PUK. They do not allow opposition.
Besides, they started protesting the 17th of February, before the Syrian protests right? (correct me if Im wrong).
aanvullingen
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