|The security forces were out in large numbers to deter any protests
Demonstrations originally began in Sulaymaniya on February 17, when thousands of young people came out to Saray Square calling for a number of reforms such as a new government, and an end to corruption. Things quickly got out of hand when they headed for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarters, one of the two ruling parties, and started throwing stones. That led guards to fire into the crowd, killing two people and wounding 47 others. That did not deter activists who came out to the square again the next day, and started a sit-in that lasted two months. In May, the government decided to end them, by sending in the security forces to beat and arrest the protesters, and push them out of the square. Since then, there had not been any activity in any part of Kurdistan until July 15.
After May, the demands of the protesters were taken up by the Kurdish opposition parties, but nothing came of it. In fact, the three opposing parties recently walked out of talks. Some of the activists objected to the negotiations to begin with, claiming that only they spoke for the Kurdish people. Because the two months of protests and the discussions with the ruling parties have not brought about any concrete change, a new wave of protests could’ve been predicted. The KRG’s response with the security forces was also something that could have been foreseen. Whether the organizers can break through the security forces is the question now, because without outside pressure, the regional government is unlikely to make anything but cosmetic reforms, while they hold onto power.
1. Alsumaria News, “Kurdish security forces arrested ten people who were preparing to break a demonstration in Sulaimaniya,” 7/15/11
Alsumaria News, “Kurdish security forces arrested ten people who were preparing to break a demonstration in Sulaimaniya,” 7/15/11
Asaad, Dana, “unrest in kurdistan,” Niqash, 2/21/11
Aswat al-Iraq, “Strict security measures in Sulaimaniya to face new demonstration,” 7/16/11
Hennessy-Fiske, Molly, “IRAQ: At least two protesters dead,” Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times, 2/17/11
MESOP, “Stop the Whipping in Sulaimaniah / The Federation of Civil Society Organizations,” 7/16/11
Saifaddin, Dilshad, “Kurdistan’s ruling parties to voice stance on opposition’s suspension of talks,” AK News, 7/14/11
- “Sulaimaniya: Youth group calls for revival of protests,” AK News, 7/14/11