UN Secretary-General slams Iraqi forces for killing protesters

“There can be no excuse for violence—from any quarter.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed the Iraqi government and its security forces for killing protesters amid a fresh wave of nation-wide demonstrations on Friday.

Guterres made the remarks in an address to nations whose populations are protesting against their governments, but he singled out Iraq, in particular, for violence against its civilians.

“We deeply regret the number, the large number of people that have been killed,” he said at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

Guterres reported that there were “substantial violations of human rights” in Iraq and stressed that they “need to be clearly denounced and condemned.”

“Security forces must act with maximum restraint, in conformity with international law,” the UN chief added.

“There can be no excuse for violence—from any quarter.”

Demonstrations across Iraq began calmly on Friday but quickly turned violent, eventually resulting in the death of 42 people.

Read More: Death toll in Iraq protests rises to over 40 as demonstrations continue

Friday’s chaos followed several days of calm after a week-long wave of deadly protests, which left at least 140 people dead and thousands more injured.

In the days following the first surge of protests, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi attempted to calm demonstrators with promises of reform and a cabinet shuffle. 

So far, such moves have failed to quell the anger of the public, which continues to call for a complete governmental overhaul amid shortages of public services, high rates of unemployment, and chronic institutional corruption.