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UN documents nearly 500 deaths and 120 enforced disappearances during anti-government protests in Iraq

May 23, 2020

The United Nations has verified a total of 490 deaths, 7,793 wounded and 123 enforced disappearances, 25 of which are still unsolved since protests against the authorities in Iraq began in October 2019. An episode that almost plunged the country back into chaos.

The protests began in October to demand the government’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament and the reform of the political system introduced after the 2003 US invasion. The violent suppression of the protests exacerbated the conflict and Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi finally resigned in November.

Now the new prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi comes to power after almost a year and a half of political paralysis and has vowed to investigate the violence of unidentified security forces and paramilitary groups against demonstrators and to release them to detained activists.

UN documents nearly 500 deaths and 120 enforced disappearances during anti-government protests in Iraq
UN documents nearly 500 deaths and 120 enforced disappearances during anti-government protests in Iraq

Although the UN has documented nearly 500 deaths, it must be said that Iraqi humanitarian organizations believe the number is much higher. In February, the Iraqi High Independent Human Rights Commission (IHCHR) reported more than 550 deaths, including thirteen members of the security forces. Others, such as the War Crimes Documentation Center in Iraq, reported 660 deaths in the middle of the month.