April 19, 2011
A number of student protesters are being held captive within an Iraqi Kurdistan governate, Ekklesia has heard from peace workers in the area.
Following 62 days of continuous protest in Suleimaniya, Iraq, against corruption and tribal rule within the Kurdistan Regional Government, legal permission for the protest has been revoked.
A source within the armed Peshmerga Forces has now said that they have been given orders to shoot to kill any demonstrators.
The otherwise nonviolent demonstrations in Suleimaniya at Azadi (Freedom) Square ended in major violence on 17 and 18 April 2011.
On both days, security forces formed a ring around Azadi Square. Claiming they were provoked by groups of young men throwing rocks, the forces entered the square which has been filled with an average of 1,000 unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators , shooting tear gas and live bullets, beating people with batons and clearing the square of all demonstrators.
At 6.30pm local time on 18 April, the armed forces burned down the stage and platform used by speakers at the demonstration.
Nine people have so far been killed and close to 1,000 injured since the demonstrations began on 17 February. Hundreds have been arrested and disappeared.
The independent television station NRT was burned to the ground in February and hundreds of journalists have been detained, beaten, kidnapped and tortured.
Today (19 April) students from Suleimaniya University planning to demonstrate at the Suleimaniya Courthouse off 60 Meter Highway were taken hostage by Asaish and are currently being held in Qularaisy Village, just outside of Sechnar.
Seven thousand Peshmerga, Asaish, and Emergency Protection Force loyal to PUK party leaders are positioned throughout the city of Suleimaniya, reports Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org).