Human Rights

Iraq: Government Launches Committee To Investigate Protest Violence

Iraq

The Government of Iraq announced the formation of a committee to investigate how and why over 100 people - mostly protesters - died during the recent demonstrations across the country.

Although the protests that gripped Iraq over the course of early October have ended, numerous questions surrounding the events remain. Chief among these questions is how and why the protests left over 100 people – majority of whom were protesters but also included members of the security forces – dead. In a bid to answer these lingering questions, the Iraqi Government has announced that it has formed a committee. The committee will coordinate with the security agencies across provinces, corroborating and investigating claims to determine what really took place.

Baghdad, Najaf, Babil, Diwaniya, Muthanna, Dhi Qhar, Wasit, and Maysan. Among the specific incidents being investigated are the attacks perpetrated by masked gunmen on several TV stations. The committee will collect eyewitness accounts and conduct an investigation to understand which side initiated the violence.

The work of the committee is important towards fostering and renewing trust to the Iraqi Government. Many protesters and activists across Iraq blame the security forces for the escalation and violent response which included sniper fire and rockets. Although Iraqi parliamentarians announced that a number of the snipers – accused of firing at both the protesters and the security forces – have since been arrested, people are likely to be sceptical of the claims made by the government. As Haitham al-Khazali, a researcher and political analyst, noted, the committee’s findings need to be clear and convincing. Any outcome based on hearsay will likely be dismissed by both the protesters and the government. The committee itself, however, will be hard-pressed to make a full investigation, as it has only two days to present its findings.

All this comes amidst an atmosphere of tense calm across Iraq. The protests came to an end after the Iraqi Government proposed several reform packages. The packages have bought Baghdad some time, but many Iraqis remain vary about “prosthetic changes” and made it clear that this is the government’s last chance to enact reforms. With a number of activists calling for protests to start again on the October 25th, the findings of the committee may set the mood for what is to come.