In Rudaw

Ministry of Defense will take legal action against protester killing allegations: statement

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense has said it will take legal action against individuals accusing commanders of “maliciously” killing protesters.

The ministry released a statement on Monday evening refuting accusations circulating on social media against commanders of Iraqi security forces, vowing to notify the juidiciary of those who spread “lies and slander.”

“The Ministry of Defense observed posts of some social media pages targeting the army leaders with malicious charges and deliberate abuse,” the statement read.

“We will take legal action against those who mislead public opinion and promote lies and slander,” the statement added.

“The Ministry of Defense affirms that the final decision will be in the hands of the Iraqi judiciary in the case of the killing of demonstrators,” it added.

Iraq has seen frequent protests since October 2019, with people demanding basic services, jobs, and the fall of the corruption-rife political establishment that has been in place since the 2003 US invasion.

Nearly 560 protesters and security force members have been killed since October 2019, according to data provided by Hisham Dawoud, advisor to the prime minister.

However, human rights monitor Amnesty International  estimates that at least 600 protesters and members of the security forces have been killed and more than 18,000 injured in the protests.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has previously vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Leaders from across the political spectrum have condemned the deaths, but protesters complain that the killers – largely believed to be members of Iran-backed militias- are not being brought to justice.

The government will consider the killed protesters “martyrs,” making the families eligible for compensation, Dawoud said in a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday afternoon.

“The government has directed the martyrs’ office to apply its law on martyrs to the demonstrations,” he said, adding that the protesters have faced “unjustified violence” from security forces.

Two protesters were killed in clashes with security forces last week, when electricity cuts and soaring temperatures prompted demonstrations in central Baghdad.

Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the deaths, demanding answers within 72 hours.

The Iraqi government suspended three soldiers, including two senior officers, in connection with the deaths. Source