UN urges ‘unity and dialogue’ amid Iraqi protest deaths


The United Nations on Friday called for “unity, dialogue and action” in Iraq, where dozens of demonstrators have been killed in recent days as anti-corruption protests spread across the country.

“There is an opportunity to move forward and that the interests of the country must be prioritized above all else,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York, referencing comments from other UN officials. “Dialogue must pave the way to understanding, reconciliation and progress.”

Reports from Iraq suggest almost 50 people have been killed amid a wave of spontaneous anti-government protests that erupted in the Shiite-dominated south and spread to Baghdad and elsewhere.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has called for calm, but it does not appear to have halted Iraq’s worst unrest since the defeat of the Daesh terror group. Protests are not led by any organized political or religious group.

Echoing calls from the UN human rights apparatus in Geneva, Dujarric urged “the Iraqi government to allow for people to freely exercise their right of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

“The use of force should be exceptional and assembly should normally be managed without resort to force,” said Dujarric.

“Any use of force must comply with applicable international human rights norms and standards, including the principles of necessity and proportionality,” he added.
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