Iraqi forces used lethal force against protesters: HRW

HRW says security forces beat during or after arresting protesters
BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces used excessive and unnecessary lethal force against protesters in the southern city of Basra against high unemployment and poor public utilities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the New York-based rights group said it investigated eight protests, in six of which security forces allegedly fired live ammunition, wounding at least seven protesters.
According to the NGO, security forces also threw rocks and beat at least 47 people, including 29 during or after arrest.
“The Iraqi authorities need to credibly and impartially investigate the apparent excessive use of lethal force in Basra, even where protests turned violent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
“So long as the government fails to address protester grievances, the danger of further bloody protests remains real,” she added.
The protests first erupted in Basra, where demonstrators decried poor public services, high unemployment and chronic power shortages.
Recent days have seen the protests spread from southern Iraq to a number of other cities and provinces, including the nation’s capital, where the government has cut Internet access and banned several social media platforms in hopes of preventing the protests from escalating further.
At least 14 protesters have been killed and scores injured since the protests began three weeks ago.–AA

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