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Bill Would Have Criminalized Wide Range of Peaceful Expression

In a win for online freedom in Iraq, in February the Iraqi parliament said it will stop pushing forward a cybercrimes draft law until after it is amended so that it protects rather than infringes upon free speech. As it stood, the law would have…
Woman holding up a sign in Arabic
News

Important Step, but More Action Needed to Rein in Continued Attacks

(Beirut) – On February 15, Iraqi authorities detained at least four men, with alleged ties to a unit within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashad, formally under the control of the prime minister) who are alleged to have killed at least four…
Ali Naseer Alawy, after armed masked men beat him and used an acid mixture to try to remove a tattoo on his arm.
News
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate daily against the military junta in Burma (also known as Myanmar). Many Burmese people have expressed their opposition to the military's takeover of the democratically elected government – but they need the…
Mandalay University graduates bow their heads as they hold posters of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, a 19-year-old woman fatally shot by police on February 9 in Naypyidaw, during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, February 14, 2021. 
News

Foreign Minister Should Raise Issue of Attacks on Civil Society

Foreign Minister Ann Linde’s trip to Moscow this week, the first one during Sweden’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), comes as Russia is in the midst of a severe human rights crisis. Last month’s arrest…
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, meets with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde in Moscow, February 2, 2021.
News

Release All Kidnapped and Detained Peaceful Activists

(Beirut) – Eight organizations released the following statement today calling on the Iraqi government to investigate the detention of activists and others since the start of the 2019 protests and to free all those held arbitrarily for peaceful…
Protesters marching in Al-Tahrir Square Tunnel in Baghdad, Iraq.
News

Lawmakers to Decide on Abusive Cybercrimes Measure

(Beirut) – Iraqi lawmakers are considering a draft law on information technology crimes that could be used to stifle free expression, Human Rights Watch said today. Free speech is already under attack in Iraq, and on November 23, 2020 lawmakers…
The opening session of Iraq’s new parliament on September 3, 2018 in Baghdad, Iraq.
News

Lack of Action After Torching of TV Station Raises Fresh Fears for Reporters’ Safety

A well-known TV station in Baghdad was torched by protesters after it broadcast a music concert during Ashura, a Shia holy day which was underway at the time. The offices of Dijlah TV station, which has …
The office of Dijlah TV station in Baghdad was badly damaged after it was torched by protesters on August 31, 2020.
News

Unlawful Action Allegedly Politically Motivated

(Beirut) – Kurdish authorities have unlawfully closed two offices of a private media outlet, NRT, for over a month, apparently for covering protests and for broadcasts critical of the ruling party, Human Rights Watch said today. The Kurdish…
The NRT headquarters in Sulaymaniyah, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
News

Hundreds of Protesters Dead Since October 2019; No High-Level Prosecutions

This version of the news release has been updated to indicate that the 560 killed during the demonstrations includes protesters and security forces. (Beirut) – Unidentified gunmen have since August 14, 2020, assassinated two protesters and…
Protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration outside the provincial council building in Basra, Iraq, August 17, 2020. 
News

Reform Penal Code, Other Laws

A spike in violations of the right to free expression during widespread protests at the end of the former government’s term in office and during the Covid-19 pandemic underscores the need for Iraq’s new government to reform its laws, Human Rights…
Woman holding up a sign in Arabic
Report
  Summary Authorities are continuing to use vaguely worded laws in places throughout Iraq, including in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, that allow prosecutors to bring criminal charges for opinions they object to. Authorities in areas…
News
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has been in office only a month, but he has wasted no time in taking on some of Iraq’s most serious human rights issues more earnestly than many of his predecessors. While these moves are a positive sign, Al-…
Woman holding up a sign in Arabic
News

Fire Teargas, Live Ammunition; Destroy Medical Tents

  (Beirut) – Iraqi security forces have attacked medical workers for treating protesters since protests began on October 25, 2019, firing on medical workers, tents, and ambulances with teargas and live ammunition,…
Security forces smashed the windows and mirrors of an ambulance that had been transporting injured protesters to hospital in Baghdad on October 25.
News

Total Security Force Killings Since Protests Resumed at Over 100

(Beirut) – Security forces have fired teargas cartridges directly at protesters in Baghdad, Iraq on numerous occasions since protests resumed on October 25, 2019, killing at least 16, Human Rights Watch said today. The dead are among the…
Protesters in Tahrir Square arrange the tear gas canisters that security forces fired at them in Tahrir Square in different patriotic constellations.
News

Anbar Province Detains, Harasses People for Facebook Posts

(Beirut) – Authorities in Iraq’s Anbar governorate are suppressing the right of residents to show support for demonstrations elsewhere in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. In recent days, they have arrested two men for merely…
Counterterrorism officers arrested Sameer Rashed Mahmoud from his home on October 26 for posting on Facebook that students and government employees in other governorates should strike to support fellow Iraqis participating in protests elsewhere in the cou
News

Attacks on Fleeing Demonstrators, Ambulances, Media

(Beirut) – Iraqi security forces have used excessive and unnecessary lethal force in confronting at times rock-throwing protesters, killing at least 105 and wounding over 4,000 since October 1, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today…
Mourners carry the flag-draped coffin of a protester killed during a demonstration in Najaf, October 8, 2019.
News

Security Forces Suppress Demonstrations on Economic Crisis

(Erbil) – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) security forces detained at least 84 protesters and four journalists in late March, Human Rights Watch said today. Many of the detentions appeared to be arbitrary, either because persons…
Riot police use teargas to disperse hundreds of civil servants who gathered during a protest against reduced monthly salaries in Erbil, Iraq on March 25, 2018. © 2018 Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
News

Freedom of Assembly Suppressed

(Beirut) – Kurdistan Regional Government security forces detained participants in December 2017 protests around Sulaymaniyah and forced them to sign statements promising not to criticize the government. The detained protesters were held for up…
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headquarters in Ranya showing considerable damage following demonstrations from December 19-23, 2017, on the streets of the town. © 2018 Belkis Wille/Human Rights Watch
News

Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
News

Officials on Both Sides Shutting Media Outlets

Violence between Iraq’s Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government escalated after Kurds voted for independence in September. Yet despite their many differences, authorities on both sides have one thing in common – a fondness for…
Protesters attend a demonstration against the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Sulaimaniya in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Dec. 18, 2017.