More than 1,000 protesters took to the streets in Erbil, Iraq's Kurdish regional capital, to condemn a new law requiring all public demonstrations to have government permits. Protesters said the law is part of a broader crackdown on free speech in the autonomous Kurdistan region. In the past six months, the government has sued at least 60 writers or media organizations for publishing work critical of the government, according to the Kurdistan Journalists' Syndicate. Aso Karim, a legislator with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the restrictions were necessary because "Iraq is not politically stable." (NYT, Jan. 4)
Spanish National Court judge Fernando Andreu on Jan. 4 issued a writ to pursue an investigation against Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abdol Hossein al-Shemmari for allegedly ordering a July 2009 strike against Iranian exiles at Camp Ashraf in which 11 unarmed civilians were killed, 36 were detained and approximately 500 were injured. Most of the citizens of the camp are members of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest Iranian opposition organization, whose members are considered protected persons under the Geneva Conventions.
Hundreds of Iraqi Christians are fleeing to the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region and particularly the town of Ankawa, which has become a safe haven for the country's Christians, thanks to its special status and privileges granted by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Ankawa, near Erbil, KRG's capital, has a predominantly Christian population and administration, several churches and distinct Assyrian language.
Gunmen stormed two adjacent homes in al-Tahrir neighborhood of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul late Nov. 15, killing the two male heads of the households, the latest in a series of attacks targeting Christians. Simultaneously, a bomb detonated outside a Christian's home in central Mosul, damaging the house's exterior.
Lawyers acting for more than 140 Iraqi civilians are challenging the British government's refusal to hold a public investigations of the treatment of detainees in British-occupied areas of Iraq following the 2003 invasion. The British government has already held one inquiry into claims of abuse, with a second due to hold hearings next year. But Public Interest Lawyers say the two inquiries only cover a fraction of the cases, asserting that at the current pace it would take more than 100 years to hear them all. (AP, Nov. 5)
The Iraqi oil ministry's auction of three natural gas fields last week has been angrily opposed by all the governorates in which they are located, with provincial officials threatening legal action against Baghdad and warning that they will refuse to cooperate with the developers. Bids were granted to companies from Turkey, Kuwait, Kazakstan and South Korea to develop gas fields holding approximately 10% of the country's reserves. The fields in Anbar, Diyala and Basra are primarily being developed for domestic consumption to improve Iraq's feeble power supply, oil ministry officials said.
UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak called Oct. 23 for the Obama administration to launch an inquiry into the role of the US in human rights violations allegedly committed in Iraq. Nowak's comments follow the release of government information on WikiLeaks that included thousands of previously classified documents. Many of the documents purportedly illustrate instances of abuse, torture and murder carried out by US and Iraqi forces.
From Global Exchange, Aug. 17:
The Iraq Debacle: The Legacy of Seven Years of War
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, mark the August 31st withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq with the following evaluation and recommendations: