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 Protest Organizers Shut Offices

استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي اذهب الى الأسفل 
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الدولة : العراق
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عدد المساهمات : 37598
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تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
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مُساهمةموضوع: Protest Organizers Shut Offices    الثلاثاء 08 مارس 2011, 12:43 am

Protest Organizers Shut Offices




Two political parties that led demonstrations in Baghdad over the past two weeks said on Monday that security forces controlled by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had ordered them to close their offices.The actions came amid growing concerns that Mr. Maliki, who is backed by the United States, is using force and other measures to stifle this country’s democracy.

Officials for the Iraqi Nation Party and the Iraqi Communist Party said in interviews that dozens of armed security forces had come to their offices in Baghdad on Sunday, two days after nationwide protests calling for better services.Although the parties do not have any seats in Parliament, they are outspoken critics of the government and helped organize the protests in Baghdad.

Mithal al-Alusi, the leader of the Iraq Nation Party and a former member of Parliament, said that on Sunday officials from Iraq’s federal police force, on orders from Mr. Maliki’s office, arrived at his office and ordered him to leave.

Although the Communists were told their buildings were being requisitioned for government use, Mr. Alusi said he received no explanation why he was being evicted. He said he would try to persuade Mr. Maliki and his cohorts to reconsider the order.“He is breaking the Constitution; he is breaking the law,” Mr. Alusi said.

Mr. Alusi said that high-ranking members of Mr. Maliki’s Dawa Party spoke with him five days ago, and urged him to align with them. But Mr. Alusi demurred, saying that he had already given interviews standing behind the protesters and had sent his members into the streets to march with them.“We support the demonstrations,” he said. “We are in the streets with our people.”

Jassin Helfi, a high ranking Communist Party leader, said that at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning about 60 security forces in about a dozen vehicles came to the party’s headquarters and the office of the party’s newspaper.

The forces said they had received an order from the Baghdad Operation Command, a special brigade controlled by Mr. Maliki, saying that they had to close their offices within 24 hours, Mr. Helfi said.The forces, Mr. Helfi said, did not have any documentation and did not provide an explanation for why the party had to close their offices.

Party officials demanded they provide some sort of documentation and the forces returned about an hour later with a letter signed by Mr. Maliki, Mr. Helfi said.The Iraqi government denied any political motive behind the evictions, and said it was not restricting the parties’ rights to protest or air their grievances against the government.

Ali al-Moussawi, a government spokesman, said the parties had “overtaken” government-owned buildings that were needed by Iraq’s Defense Ministry. Clearing out the Communists and the Umma Party was simply part of a long-standing plan to turn over the offices back over to government use, Mr. Moussawi said.“The Constitution guarantees the activity of all political parties,” Iraq’s Cabinet said in a statement.

But critics said the raids appeared to be the government’s latest attempt to crack down on dissenting voices behind demonstrations that have called for anti-corruption reforms, better public services and more accountability from leaders. Scores of reporters and demonstrators were beaten or arrested after nationwide rallies earlier this month.

“This is part of the violations of public freedoms and human rights,” said Hanaa Edwar, an activist with the civil society group Al-Amal. “They feel that these demonstrators are terrorists. Political parties not loyal to their policies are being attacked. And for what?”

The evictions came as a few hundred protesters in Baghdad marked the one-year anniversary of Iraq’s national elections with a “day of regret” — a modulation of the violent “day of rage” rallies earlier this month that ended with nearly 20 demonstrators dead and dozens wounded and arrested.

In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, a traffic circle and park that has become a focal point for the protesters, about 200 people stood behind skeins of yellow police tape and shouted “We want our rights!” and vented their disillusionment at Iraq’s leaders and the problems plaguing this troubled democracy.

“We had a hope for the best” said Rana Hadi, 24, who said she voted for Mr. Maliki and his coalition. “But we were wrong. Nothing happened. Nothing changed.”Although bombings and power outages are still a daily occurrence, violence has dropped sharply over the past year, with 184 people killed across the country last month, and electricity production and oil output have both ticked up.

But a year after the elections and three months after Iraq’s leaders finally ended a long political standoff and formed a government, Mr. Maliki has still not finalized his government, and is still personally overseeing the powerful army and police forces.

Cracks continue to form that could undermine the partnership government. On Monday, eight members of the multisectarian Iraqiya coalition announced they were splitting off to form their own party, a new fracture in a large coalition backed by many of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

In Tahrir Square, some demonstrators dyed their index fingers red and thrust them into the air, a bitter echo of the purple-stained fingers that smiling Iraqi voters, emerging from the polling stations, had waved on election day.


By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and JACK HEALY,
The New York Times.



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Kurdish unrest in Iraq




Masked attackers burned tents of protesters overnight in the main city of Iraq's Kurdistan region, police said Sunday.Hundreds of demonstrators gathered later in the day in Sulaimaniya for another protest against Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan regional government, witnesses told CNN.The unrest in northern Iraq that erupted three weeks ago has killed five people and injured 158 so far, the head of the emergency health department, Dr. Nozad Ahmed, said.

According to police officials, several empty tents erected by protesters at Bardagi-Sara central square of Sulaimaniya were set on fire before dawn. The attack was under investigation, the police officials said.Some protesters blamed the attack on Kurdish security forces, who denied any involvement.

Separately, the head of an independent Kurdish radio station said Sunday that gunmen attacked the broadcast facility and destroyed or stole equipment overnight.Azad Othman, the head of Dank Radio, told CNN that the attackers stormed the station in Kalar, a town 150 kilometers south of Sulaimaniya. Security officials in Sulaimaniya said they were investigating.

It was the second attack on an independent broadcaster in Kurdistan in the past two weeks. On February 20, masked gunmen attacked and burned NRT TV, wounding a guard, according to police officials and the broadcast company.

NRT, the first independent television station in northern Iraq, started broadcasting on February 17, and was the only station to air footage of shots fired at demonstrators on the first day of the protests, according to a company statement.

Protesters in the Kurdish region, mostly in Sulaimaniya, are demanding political reforms from Barzani's regional government and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party. Like protests in other areas of Iraq, the demonstrators also complain of corruption, unemployment and poor public services.

On Thursday, Barzani gave a televised address in which he called on the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament to study the possibility of holding early general elections in the region. The previous regional election took place July 2009, with the next one currently scheduled for 2013.

Barzani expressed his admiration for the young people of Kurdistan for displaying political maturity in airing their demands through peaceful demonstrations. But he urged them to avoid resorting to violence, which he said would tarnish the image of the Kurdistan region.Previously, he blamed the protests on a "very small group of people determined to undermine the stability of the region."

From Mohammed Tawfeeq,
CNN
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Protest Organizers Shut Offices
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