Demonstrations, repression, and arrests of MPs and journalists in Kurdistan Region of Iraq

SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq — The authorities of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) have arrested journalists, political activists, and MPs from the New Generation Movement during demonstrations across the KRI.

The anti-corruption demonstrations were sparked by New Generation’s demand that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) do more to hold the corrupt accountable and reform government institutions amid dropping living standards in the region.

Security forces used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets on the protestors on Saturday and detained several opposition MPs.

Security personnel also prevented the media from photographing the crackdown.

Head of the New Generation Movement in the Iraqi Parliament Srwa Abdulwahid held a press conference on Sunday in Baghdad to address the violent crackdown on the protests. She decried the KRG’s suppression of peaceful demonstrations, saying that 600 people had been detained in a single day.

Abdulwahid confirmed that KRI authorities arrested MPs of the New Generation Movement and even surrounded the house of a female MP and did not allow her to leave.

She stressed that the party rejects such violations and they will continue to call for demonstrations until the demands of the people of the KRI are met.

The U.S. Consulate General in Erbil stated via Twitter that it was concerned over the detention of journalists and members of parliament and called on the KRG to “review these actions”.

Human rights organizations frequently criticize KRG authorities for making arbitrary arrests, putting down demonstrations, and undermining press freedoms.

The KRI has long been ruled by the competing Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by the Talabani family, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by the Barzani family, who have exerted much effort to portray the region as a relative refuge of stability and tolerance in an otherwise tumultuous country.