ERBIL — Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani has ordered an investigation into Tuesday's protests in Dhi Qar where three people were killed and over a dozen more injured.
Hundreds of Iraqis last Tuesday took to streets to protest the arrest of a 20-year-old activist who has been sentenced to three years in jail over deleted tweet reportedly criticizing pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq.
During the protests in Dhi Qar's capital Nasiriyah, security forces used live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, leaving three of them killed and at least 21 more wounded.
The imprisonment for Haider al-Zaidi was issued after he allegedly criticized Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the slain deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, in a Twitter post.
However, Zakdi and his father Hamid, 66, say that his account was hacked and deny that he posted the criticism, Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted, adding: "The authorities should immediately release al-Zaidi, halt all prosecutions that infringe on defendants’ basic rights and scrap the law that criminalizes criticizing public officials."
"Regardless of who posted the Twitter message, the Iraqi justice system should not be used as a tool to suppress peaceful criticism of the authorities or armed actors," said Adam Google, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "It is a sad reflection on the rule of law in Iraq that an activist like al-Zaidi gets three years in prison for a Twitter post he says he didn’t write while dozens of officials and armed groups enjoy impunity for killing activists and protesters."