by Savan Abdulrahman – Iraqi Kurdistan
Hsen Ali Hsen, a young thirteen-year-old tissue paper seller in Kalar who works to help cover his family’s living expenses, was shot in the neck during the spontaneous protests that have been taking place in Iraqi Kurdistan. He was not participating in the demonstrations but was working as normal when he was severely wounded.
Due to the intensity of the protests, seven protesters and an officer of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were shot dead. Many others have also been wounded or arrested. Hsen Ali is one of several people who have been wounded during the protests, even though he was uninvolved in the protests. In an interview with the VOA, Hsen said: “I was working when there was gunfire. I was scared and ran. I hid myself under a tank for nearly fifteen minutes. Then, when the sound of gunfire ceased, I ran again, but suddenly I was shot and fell to the ground”.
Hsen’s father is thirty-two years old. He has eight sons and two daughters and said: “I decided to have many children, because I felt like it increases the Kurdish population and nationality. If I had my own house and I wasn’t obliged to pay rent, I would never let my children go out and sell tissue paper on the streets”.
Interviewed in a research documentary by Kurdish Media, Hsen Ali states that he wants to go to school and become a doctor: “I want to become a doctor and rescue people, because the doctors rescued me”. Hsen and his siblings were deprived from getting an education because of his family’s unstable economic situation. Alan Hama Saeed, the Education Minister in the Kurdistan Region, stated on his social media platform that “by an order from Masrour Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Hsen’s education will be settled. He and his siblings will receive the help they need”. He also added: “I made a personal phone call to the family and Garmian’s Education manager in order to proceed with their registration”.
For over a week, there has been a wave of protests in Iraqi Kurdistan, especially in Sulaymaniyah and the towns around Sulaymaniyah. Most of the protesters have been young people. Some were involved in burning down several political headquarters and government institutes as acts of rebellion. Despite this, no clear alternative to the current economic and political situation has been presented to the people of Kurdistan and their main needs are not being provided. The people’s anger is being held at bay through the threat of force by the security forces.