Iraq Kurd protesters tear-gassed, MPs detained
Security forces in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets Saturday to disperse anti-government protesters and detained seven opposition lawmakers, an AFP journalist and an official said.
The opposition New Generation party had called for demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah and other cities in the country's north in protest against deteriorating living conditions, alleged corruption and authoritarian practices by the regional government.
Dozens of police vehicles were deployed to the centre of Sulaimaniyah, and security forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets once several hundred protesters had gathered, an AFP correspondent reported.
Security forces stopped journalists from taking images of the crackdown.
Six New Generation lawmakers in the federal parliament in Baghdad who were preparing to join the protests, and another from the regional parliament, were taken in for questioning, the bloc's chief Srwa Abdulwahid told AFP.
One of those detained, Ribar Abdelrahman, told AFP later that he and two others had been released.
حلبچة تنتفض على عائلتي البارزاني والطالباني الحاكمتان بعد سنين من المتاجرة بقضية حلبچة في المحافل الدولية والمحلية الا انها لليوم مدينة مدمرة واهلها يعيشون بحالة مزرية والاموال تذهب لجيوب العوائل الحاكمة#كردستان_تنتفض pic.twitter.com/9LCirsy7YU— 𝒉𝒂𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒓 (@hyd_64) August 6, 2022
هل بلغ مسامع رئيس مجلس النواب العراقي أن عدداً من أعضاء المجلس اعتقلتهم السلطات في أقليم كردستان؟— واحد بغداد 🇮🇶 (@O2FCB) August 7, 2022
هل يعلم رئيس مجلس القضاء الأعلى أن نواباً يتمتعون بالحصانة البرلمانية أقتيدوا إلى سجون الأقليم في مخالفة قانونية صريحة؟#كردستان_تنتفض pic.twitter.com/7JMZLZ9AT9
Human rights associations regularly criticise Iraqi Kurdish authorities for carrying out arbitrary arrests, suppressing protests and attacking press freedoms.
Keen on projecting an image as a relative haven of stability and tolerance in war-battered Iraq, the autonomous region has long been dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by the Barzani family, and the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by the Talabani clan.
The crackdown in the Kurdistan region comes as supporters of powerful Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr have been holding a sit-in in the gardens around parliament in Baghdad's normally secure Green Zone, home to government and diplomatic buildings.
The cleric's supporters occupied the legislature last Saturday and remained inside the building for several days, protesting against a rival Shia bloc's pick for the premiership.