Iraqi Kurds continued their protests against the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) across the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq on December 20, according to local sources. The protestors took on the streets two days earlier to demands their rights and accused the KRG of holding their salaries for months now.
The angry protestors burned the offices of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in several areas including the city of Sulaymaniyah on December 20, according to the Kurdish Rudaw TV.
Kurdish activists also reported that Kurdish Peshmerga, Asayish and PUK security forces targeted the protestors with live fire in several areas.
According to Kurdish health officials, only 5 protestors have been killed, and 80 others have been injured by the Kurdish security forces. However, activists claim that dozens protestors were killed and hundreds were arrested during the last three days.
Commenting on the protests in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi warned that the Iraqi Federal Government will not stand idly by if its citizens in Kurdistan are attacked. The Iraqi PM also stressed its support for the right to protest.
PM @HaiderAlAbadi: We will not stand idly by if citizens in Kurdistan are attacked; they are our citizens. We reject measures that deny them their constitutional right to free speech and to peaceful protest
— Government of Iraq (@IraqiGovt) December 19, 2017
The Movement for Change (Gorran), and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) announced on December 20 that they will withdraw their ministers from the KRG. Gorran also announced that it will give up the post of the Parliament Speaker held by one of its leaders, Yousif Mohammed.
Moreover, the Gorran leadership decided after a meeting held in Sulaymaniyah to suspend the alliance agreement with the PUK. The agreement was reached between the two sides in May 2016.
With the crisis developing in the Kurdistan Region, many Iraqis hold former president of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani the responsibility for this unrest in the KRG. They see the current tension as a direct result of the independence referendum organized by Barzani in September.