A number of activists, teachers, clerics and lawyers gathered in Kirkuk on 12 December to express support for the protesters across the Kurdistan Region and requested the authorities to refrain from using violence and stop killing them.
The gathering was held at Kirkuk Citadel Park.
Muhammad Jaleel, a teacher, read a statement at a press conference during the gathering: “Instead of using force, the KRG must work on meeting the demands of the youth and improving the lives of people. So that the Kurdistan Region doesn’t get into deeper crises.”
“We deeply feel the hardships of the people in the Kurdistan Region […] Teachers, civil servants and members of all classes have taken to the streets to demand their livelihood. But unfortunately, no one is listening to them. Instead of meeting their demands, the authorities answer them with bullets and tear gas and arrest them.”
“We think that peaceful protesting is the right of all people and the authorities must respect them and protect their dignity. But we are against using violence, torching government offices and using force by any side, especially by the authorities,” the statement read by Jaleel said.
Footage of the gathering by activists in Kirkuk
Protests started on 2 December in Slémani over poor living conditions, delayed civil servants’ salaries and corruption in the KRG. Clashes erupted after the authorities cracked down on the protesters, who in turn resorted to rioting, torching numerous party and government offices in several towns.
According to KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, nine people are killed and 60 wounded since the start of the protests.
The activists in Kirkuk requests the KRG to “work on meeting the demands of the youth and improving the lives of people,” to avoid the Kurdistan Region of Iraq plunging “into deeper crises.”
Samal Baziyani, a cleric who was part of the gathering, said: “Silencing people is unacceptable. Neither the law, nor society is for restricting the freedoms of people.”