Savan Abdalrahman – Iraqi Kurdistan
Since Tuesday of last week, protests in Sulaymaniyah and the towns neighbouring Sulaymaniyah province continued to grow fuelled by anger against corruption and economic crisis.
During the protests seven young protestors and a Peshmerga were shot dead. Inside Sulaymaniyah the protests were stopped by the widespread physical presence of security forces in the main public gathering areas of the city, mostly in front of Sarai Azadi and Public Park where the main protests usually take place. Security forces also drove through the city in convoys preventing any gatherings from beginning.
Most of the more active protests took place in the towns outside and around Sulaymaniyah. Due to the interaction and clashes with the security forces and the protestors, seven protestors were killed by gunfire. The names and details of all of the dead protestors are still unknown but their photographs have been spreading on social media.
Two of the protestors were killed in Saidsadiq, two were killed in Takya, one in Darbandikhan and others in Kifry and Chamchamal.
One of the young protestors who was killed in Takya district, has been named as Hiwa Farhad, a student from the Law Department in Sulaymaniyah University.
According to a statement of one of his friends on social media Hiwa was “One of the students who gained the highest marks in school in Kurdistan region.”
At the same time, Awat Talib Majeed, one of KDP’s Peshmerga personel was shot dead in Chamchamal and other security forces were wounded.
In Penjwin, 5 headquarters of political parties were burnt down. In Garmian six party headquarters and five governmental institutes were burnt down, also in Takiya two party headquarters were burnt down.
The house of Dyari Rafiq, the governor of Saidsadiq was burned by the protestors and he immediately fled Saidsadiq along with his family.
On the 9th of December, Peshmerga forces of Balak refused to return to their duties in Garmian and Kalar.
They were ordered from their headquarters to move against the protestors but they stated “If you continue to force us to go against the protestors, we will leave the military station and return home. We will not shoot our own family and relatives.”
At the same time in Ranyia the security forces spread out through the city preventing people from gathering.
In Chamchamal, Darbandikhan and Kalar another day of protests began and the protesters faced live gunfire from the security forces.
Today, along with a journalist colleague in Sulaymaniyah, we drove through the city centre in order to observe any gatherings by the protestors. Instead, we saw many security and police forces which parked their cars in front of Sarai Azadi and some of them walked across to the people to prevent them from gathering in numbers. The atmosphere seemed calm, we sat for nearly one hour, without bringing our cameras and recording equipment out.
There is no clear and organised date and times for the protests and this is what makes it different from other demonstrations. The protestors do not belong to any party or do not have a specific ideology. They are civilian people who are exhausted as a result of the corruption that has been going on for years.
What will happen to the protests tomorrow and into the future is unclear.