Kurdistan Regional Government security forces detained participants in December 2017 protests around Sulaymaniyah and forced them to sign statements promising not to criticize the government, Human Rights Watch said today.
The detained protesters were held for up to eight days without being taken before a judge and were forced, before being released, to sign commitments not to protest or be critical of the government on social media. The KRG’s Asayish forces also detained three journalists who were covering protests, apparently for their work.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government’s response to protests goes far beyond its right to arrest and prosecute people responsible for violence,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The KRG forces’ heavy-handed tactics appear to be an attempt to silence criticism despite the official narrative that the authorities respect citizens’ rights to speech and free assembly.”