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Diplomats, UN call for justice for protesters killed in 'heinous' Baghdad attack

A man sits as he takes part in ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq, November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily
2019-12-07

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SULAIMANI — Diplomatic missions in Iraq have resoundingly expressed their horror at a deadly attack on unarmed protesters near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square that killed at least 23 people on Friday (December 6) and called on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The deliberate killing of unarmed protesters by armed elements is nothing less than an atrocity against the people of Iraq,” Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a statement.

“The perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice without delay,” she added.

Hennis-Plasschaert also urged the “Iraqi Armed Forces to spare no effort to protect the peaceful protesters from violence by armed elements operating outside state control.”

The US Embassy wrote on Twitter that “last night's wanton violence against unarmed demonstrators was appalling and horrific” and called on the government to “take additional steps to protect the demonstrators and hold the perpetrators of last night's attacks accountable.”

“Peaceful demonstrators must have the right to express their views without risk of harm and the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect them,” it added.

In a separate tweet, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for justice for those who had been killed and referenced actions taken by the US earlier on Friday to sanction several Iraqi leaders accused of violence against demonstrators.

British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the killings and called on the government to “take urgent measures to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

European Union Ambassador to Iraq Martin Huth tweeted that he was “outraged and deeply saddened at last night's killings of scores of protesters and security forces by criminal elements.”

He added: “Who are the real vandals?”

Calling the killings “heinous,” Canadian Ambassador-designate Ulrich Shannon took aim at armed groups outside the control of the government, saying in Arabic on Twitter that “it is not permissible in any sovereign country for the state to allow the presence of armed groups that represent separate agendas.”

“The state must protect its citizens in the context of the law. Otherwise, how can we restore stability,” he added.

Both the French and German embassies voiced similar sentiments.

“The guilty will have to be clearly identified and have to answer for their heinous acts,” the French embassy tweeted.

“Our thoughts are with all families who have suffered losses. We wish those injured a speedy recovery,” the German embassy said, while also calling for protesters to be protected.

More than 400 people have been killed since Iraqis began their uprising on October 1 against what they see as a fundamentally corrupt establishment beholden to external powers. Thousands have been injured in the unrest as the government and so-called “third party groups” have used live ammunition, snipers, and tear gas in an attempt put down the protests. A number of people who were killed on Friday were stabbed to death.

(NRT Digital Media)