Day 62 of Demonstration: Seven thousand armed forces

From Demonstrations- Suleymania (photo: one truckload of soldiers coming into the square. Feb21 2011)

Following sixty-two days of continuous protest in Suleimaniya Iraq against corruption within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the government has revoked legal permission for the protest, and a source within the armed Peshmerga Forces told CPTers that forces received orders to shoot to kill any demonstrators today.

The otherwise nonviolent demonstrations in Suleimaniya at Azadi (Freedom) Square ended in major violence on 17 and 18 April. On both days, security forces formed a ring around Azadi Square. Claiming groups of young men throwing rocks had provoked them, the forces entered the square of about 1000 unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators, shooting tear gas and live bullets. They also beat people with batons as they tried to clear square of all demonstrators. At 6:30 p.m., 18 April, the armed forces burned down the stage and platform used by speakers at the demonstration.

Nine people have died and close to 1000 have been injured since the demonstrations began on 17 February 2011. Hundreds have been arrested and disappeared. The independent television station, NRT was burned to the ground in February and the authorities have detained, beaten, kidnapped, and tortured hundreds of journalists.

Today, 19 April, at 11:00 a.m., the Asaish (secret police) took hostage approximately 1000 students from Suleimaniya University who were planning to demonstrate at the Suleimaniya Courthouse.

Seven thousand Peshmerga, Asaish, and Emergency Protection Force loyal to PUK party leaders are positioned throughout the city of Suleimaniya as of this morning, 19 April.