By Amnesty International.
Internet Cut to Stop Protesters Posting Images of Security Force Attacks
Amnesty International has learned that the Iraqi authorities have disabled internet access shortly before the security forces have attacked – and in some cases killed – people protesting over unemployment and inadequate government services across the south of the country.
In the past week, witnesses in Basra governorate have reported to Amnesty that security forces have been using tear gas and live ammunition against peaceful protesters. At least eight people are reported to have died in the protests so far, according to the Iraqi Health Ministry. Witnesses also reported peaceful protesters being beaten with batons, cables and plastic hoses in violent attempts to disperse them.
Trusted sources have told Amnesty they believe internet access is being deliberately cut off to prevent protesters and human rights activists from sharing images of the excessive force being used by security forces. One source in Baghdad told Amnesty:
“When there is no internet, people are being beaten and killed because we can’t upload it. Iraqis now know the value of social media. We need it to raise our voice.”
Protests in Iraq erupted on Sunday 8 July and the internet was cut late at night on Thursday 12 July. Although access was mostly restored on Monday, the signal reportedly remains weak across the country and several social media platforms remain blocked.