PEN International is concerned at the Iraqi authorities’ decision to block or reduce internet services to millions of Iraqi users. The decision, reportedly taken by the National Security Council, is in response to ongoing protests across southern cities.
The internet disruption has prevented Iraqi journalists and activists from reporting the news to the rest of the world, in addition to blocking communication between Iraqi diaspora and their family members, friends, and colleagues inside the country. Blocking access to the internet is a clear violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 38 of the Iraqi Constitution. The ongoing protests, which erupted in Basra and spread to other cities, are said to be linked to allegations of corruption, inadequate provision of basic services - such as safe drinking water and electricity – and lack of work opportunities.
PEN International urges the Iraqi authorities to restore internet access across the country to enable people to freely access information and express their opinions online, and to allow journalists to properly perform their work. We also call for respect for the right to peaceful protest.