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Iraq: 8 killed in Sulaymaniyah protests

Smoke rises after protesters set fire to some political party buildings and government offices in Seyitsadik district during protests due to salary delays in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on 7 December 2020. [Fariq Faraj Mahmood - Anadolu Agency]
Smoke rises after protesters set fire to some political party buildings and government offices in Seyitsadik district during protests due to salary delays in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on 7 December 2020. [Fariq Faraj Mahmood - Anadolu Agency]

Eight people have been killed during ongoing protests over deteriorating living conditions and delayed salaries in the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq since 3 December, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reported yesterday.

The body said in a statement: "Kurdish security forces used tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live bullets, which resulted in the killing of eight people and wounding 54 others."

The commission called on all parties to "exercise restraint" and give priority to the language of dialogue". It also called on the demonstrators to cooperate with security forces to protect public and private property in the Sulaymaniyah Governorate.

"Salaries are a constitutional and human right, and the federal government and the [Kurdistan] regional government must immediately develop solutions to respond to the legitimate demands of the demonstrators," it added.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the use of "violence" against the protesters in Sulaymaniyah.

On the same day, Kurdish security authorities imposed a curfew in the governorate and three surrounding areas for a period of 24 hours with the aim of "maintaining security".

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masrour Barzani, accused protesters of "sabotaging stability".

The regional government has been struggling to pay the salaries of civil servants due to disagreements with the federal government in Baghdad over the management of oil wealth.

The region's financial crisis has been exacerbated by the decline in oil prices due to the coronavirus pandemic.

READ: Iraq president calls on Kurdish officials to respond to protesters' demands

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