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The New Arab

Hundreds detained in Iraqi Kurdistan amid corruption protests

Thousands of Kurds took to the streets last week in Sulaimaniyah. [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 December, 2017

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More than 600 people have been detained in Iraqi Kurdistan since protests began last week over corruption and the fallout from a failed bid for independence.

More than 600 people have been detained in Iraqi Kurdistan since protests began last week over corruption and the fallout from the region's failed bid for independence.

Thousands of Kurds took to the streets last week in Sulaimaniyah, a stronghold of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), torching tyres and attacking the offices of political parties.

Five demonstrators were shot dead and dozens wounded by security forces in the nearby town of Rania.

Out of 600 or more people detained around 300 demonstrators are being held "without any legal basis" in Sulaimaniyah 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.

September's overwhelming vote in favour of breaking away from Iraq drew stinging reprisals from the central government that have battered Iraqi Kurdistan's already flagging economy and fuelled ire over official graft.

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

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

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

A judge meanwhile ordered the release on bail of Shaswar Abdul Wahid, a former television station head who founded a protest movement, his lawyer said.

He had been arrested a week ago when returning from London.

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