Police forces crack down on Sulaimani protestors with tear gas, arrests

23 hours ago Dilan Sirwan – 4. Dec 2020 – RUDAW – Also in Kurdistan

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Teachers protesting their months-delayed wages in the Kurdistan Region’s eastern city of Sulaimani were hit with tear gas and arrests by police on Thursday, according to sources.

The civil servants and those standing in solidarity with them gathered at the city’s Saraa square, the epicenter of Sulaimani’s anti-government protests back in 2011 for a second day in a row, demanding their delayed wages from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Several activists and journalists have been arrested according to a Rudaw reporter in Sulaimani. Reporters for Sulaimani-based NRT TV were allegedly detained and arrested, according to the outlet.

Footage released on social media show clashes between protestors and security forces, with protestors retreating due to the firing of tear gas into the crowds.

“Security forces opened fire using kalashnikovs,” teacher Abdulkhaliq Mawati, told Rudaw’s Snwr Majid on Thursday afternoon, saying there were no casualties.

Videos show protestors chanting against the city’s police forces, calling them “slaves”, along with slogans against the government, describing politicians as “thieves”.

Shirin Amin, a Gorran movement Kurdish parliamentarian, was carried away from the protests due to the usage of tear gas, according to photos circulating on social media.

The protests come weeks after teachers in Sulaimani and Halabja provinces went on strike over unpaid salaries on the first day of school in late September.

The protestors mainly consist of teachers and other civil sector employees, who have not received their salaries for the past two months. The protestors are also protesting wage cuts, and the government’s failure in delivering salaries for several months previously.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani announced Wednesday morning that they will begin to pay salaries for October on Thursday, with KRG spokesperson Jutiar Adil announcing the government was “forced” to take out a $205 million loan for the payments. However, this did not stop protestors in Sulaimani from taking to the streets for another day of demonstrations.

The KRG announced plans to cut civil servant salaries back in June.

According to the decision, all employees earning more than 300 thousand Iraqi dinars a month would have their salaries cut by 21 percent.

The KRG has failed to deliver October and November salaries to public employees on its payroll after Baghdad refused to send Kurdistan Region’s budget share upon the recent passing of a controversial fiscal deficit bill.