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Hundreds Arrested in Iraqi Kurdistan Since Anti-Corruption Protests Began Last Week

Hundreds Arrested in Iraqi Kurdistan Since Anti-Corruption Protests Began Last WeekHundreds Arrested in Iraqi Kurdistan Since Anti-Corruption Protests Began Last Week

At least 600 people have been arrested since protests began last week against authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan over corruption and the fallout from a failed independence push, lawmakers said Tuesday.

They said hundreds of them were still being held over the unrest, which saw protesters torch offices of political parties in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Ekurds Daily reported.

Five demonstrators were shot dead and dozens wounded by security forces in the town of Rania, located in Sulaymaniyah Province, a week ago.

The protests have ebbed in recent days in the face of tight security.

Out of the 600 or more people detained, up to around 300 protesters are still being held “without any legal basis” in Sulaymaniyah Province, said Sarwa Abdul Wahid, a lawmaker with the Goran opposition party.

They “were not brought before a judge and did not see their families or lawyers”, she said, alleging mistreatment of the detainees, mostly young Goran supporters.

Another Kurdish lawmaker, Hoshyar Abdallah, said hundreds of people had been arrested.

The speaker of the regional parliament, Yusuf Mohammed Sadiq of Gorran, announced his resignation at a news conference on Tuesday, saying he had received death threats without elaborating.

He had been unable to fulfill his duties for the past two years in any case because of political divisions that have paralyzed the Kurdish parliament since 2015.

Kurdistan is considered as the most corrupted part of Iraq. According to Kurdish lawmakers and leaked documents billions of dollars are missing from Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil revenues. A Kurdish lawmaker said in March 2017 that $1.266 billion from oil exports and Iraqi Kurdistan’s revenue has gone missing over the last three months.

In October, Iraq’s National Security Council announced that a probe has been launched into Kurdistan’s lucrative oil revenues and officials in the region who might have illegally monopolized the market. “The corrupt will be exposed and the funds recovered,” said a statement from the council in October, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

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