By Zewa Dawod
Is one of the fundamental human rights which includes; freedom of speech, or of the press, and the right of people to peacefully assemble. It is a principle which supports the freedom of individuals or a community to article their opinion without any fears of legal sanctions. Freedom of speech is recognized in international and regional human rights laws, as all human rights organisations adopt this right as a fundamental right which should be respected. It is also considered fundamental in any democratic system, which means that any democratic government must adopt and respect this freedom.
Considering the case of Iraq; Iraqi constitution also adopts Freedom of speech in article 38 including (freedom of expression, freedom of press and freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration). BUT, the Iraqi democratic government (as it considers itself) is violating the freedom of speech and expression in many different ways. Suppression, violence and crimes against humanity such as spraying hot water, firing live bullets, throwing stun grenades and tear gas directly against the peaceful and non-violent protesters. All these brutal acts are committed against civilians, press, activists and anyone who is supporting the demonstrations In Iraq.
With the increase of the waves of demonstrations, the tensions in all protested governorates also increased and reached its peak. Last week became one of the bloodiest times since the beginning of demonstrations, as many cities in Iraq witnessed the rise of massive killing towards demonstrators precisely in Nasiriyah and Najaf, which resulted more than 45 martyr and 200 injured. The peaceful and non-violent protesters are demanding an end of the corruption that has dominated the political science since 2003 and demanding as well their basic and fundamental rights and freedoms. But unfortunately their peaceful demonstrations are met with suppression and brutal acts from the side of the government by Iraqi security forces and unknown armed forces.
Despite the fact that the list of legitimate demands of demonstration is rich with important goals, there is no actual response from the government to these demands. However, the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abul Mahdi on 30 November is not of great importance as the demonstrators believe this resignation would not change the situation and definitely would not solve the problem. Adel Abdul Mahdi was not more than a small part of an entire corrupted political system and the protesters will continue their peaceful demonstrations until all their demands are met.
UN Iraq representative Jeanine Hennis condemns continued violence by Iraqi authorities during the conference of the United Nations Security Council held on Tuesday, 3 December 219. She confirmed the demonstrations are peaceful as protesters are unarmed and protesting for their own rights and nation yet the authorities in Iraq resorted to excessive force against peaceful demonstrations. She stressed on the importance of respecting and guaranteeing fundamental human rights said “I wish to reiterate the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights. Above all the right to life, but also the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression”. In her presentation she condemns the acts of the government towards freedom of speech and accused authorities in Iraq of having something to hide by of shutting down media outlets added “Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech”
The democratic government of Iraq is killing, imprisoning and targeting not only protesters and activists in demonstrations fields but also people who are supporting demonstrations through their social media accounts. According to the reports of some local and national news channels more than 400 murdered and 19,000 injured including both protesters and security forces. The number of victims and injured people due to the suppression of the government is increasing every day since the beginning of October, and the suppression of the brutal government is getting more violent day by day. Iraqi authorities are committing all kinds of violence acts and crimes against humanity to shut down the spark of demonstrations. As a democratic country, Iraqi government should respect, protect and response to the demands of the peaceful protesters instead of targeting them.