Day 13 of Demonstration: Protests turn to public mourning

For the past two days, the protests in the central square of Suleimaniyah, redubbed “Freedom Square,” have taken the form of public mourning. P1020591 Last Saturday, 26 February, the protest resulted in two deaths and eleven wounded as security forces opened fire on the crowd shortly after a sound bomb apparently went off behind the stage.

After Saturday's violence, protesters and security forces publicly reconciled, with many soldiers reportedly throwing down their weapons, crying they would not shoot at their brothers. The protest on Monday saw a vastly reduced military presence.

Protesters on Sunday attached lists of names—of those killed, wounded, and arrested during demonstrations for the past two weeks—to a wall on one end of the square. Next to these lists is a list of lawyers working pro bono to defend those arrested. The lawyers' group is also working with Amnesty International, which last week called on the Kurdistan regional government to rein-in militias affiliated to political parties responsible for the deaths.

The peace fence, which had been forming a line between protesters and security forces, continues to meet each day to strategize and adapt to new realities. On Sunday, these meetings resulted in the decision to join the protest as normal participants. The protest organizers invited them to form a human “peace wall” again starting Wednesday, 2 March.

Also on Monday, a parliamentary delegation visited the demonstration to listen to protesters' demands. The ruling parties, however, were not represented in this delegation.