The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 85th Congress in Manila, is deeply saddened by the violent suppression of largely peaceful protests in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq since 1 October 2019, which according to media reports has led to the deaths of several protestors and hundreds of casualties.
Salil Tripathi, Writers in Prison Committee Chair, says, ‘We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Iraq PEN, and all journalists, bloggers and writers in Iraq who are putting their lives at risk by attempting to cover these events’.
The Internet and social media platforms have been blocked in many areas of Iraq, depriving people of their right to access information and to express themselves freely. An indefinite curfew has been declared in several major cities.
PEN calls on the Iraqi government to exercise restraint and take steps to de-escalate the violence, and to restore access to the internet immediately, and thereby respect fundamental rights to peaceful freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of movement.