Demonstrations continue in parts of Sulaimani governorate despite ban on ‘unauthorized’ protests

Death toll at nine
Residents in Kifri district protest on December 10, 2020 (NRT Digital Media/Screenshot)

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SULAIMANI — Protesters angry over deteriorating economic conditions, public sector salary cuts and delays, and unemployment resumed their demonstrations in parts of Sulaimani governorate on Thursday (December 10), while bans on travel between towns and unauthorized protests remained in force.

Protests were reported in Ranya, Qaladze, and Kifri amid heavy deployments of the security forces, who were trying to disperse demonstrators.

Head of Shahid Khalid Hospital Saman Ahmed told NRT that one protester was killed in Kifri on Thursday, bringing the death toll to nine.

Another demonstrator was severely injured in the city and was later transferred to a hospital in Kalar.

The current round of protests began a week ago on December 2 in Sulaimani city, before spreading to nearby towns.

In recent days, the demonstrations have become increasingly violent, with the security forces using live bullets. Protesters have burned numerous party and government offices, including those belonging to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Change Movement (Gorran).

At least nine people have died since Monday, including seven protesters, a KDP cadre, and a Peshmerga who died of a stroke while monitoring a demonstration.

The KRG’s Higher Security Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that the security forces will no longer permit unauthorized protests.

Late on Wednesday, the committee announced the extension of the 24-hour curfew restricting travel between cities and towns in Sulaimani and Halabja governorates that began at midnight on Wednesday by another 24 hours, which will expire at 12:00 a.m. on Friday.

Over the course of the year, the KRG has had trouble to pay public sector workers, missing several monthly disbursements entirely and cutting others by nearly a quarter. Budget disagreements between Erbil and Baghdad, a lack of job opportunities for many young people, and economic disruptions caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated the situation have left many families in the Kurdistan Region struggling.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 6:44 p.m. EBL