HEADLINES:

One hundred arrested at salary protest in Duhok; strict security measures in place

Hours after organizers arrested at their homes
Protest against salary disbursement delays in Duhok on May 16, 2020 (NRT Digital Media)
2020-05-16

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SULAIMANI — Teachers and public sector employees protested in Duhok on Saturday (May 16) over delays in the disbursement of their salaries, with strict measures taken by the security forces to contain the demonstration.

An NRT reporter said that the protesters gathered in Azadi Park just after 3 p.m. as planned, but that the security forces intervened to prevent additional people from joining.

Approximately one hundred people were arrested, including organizers and participants, according to an outlet affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

Blocked from joining, some demonstrators gathered on nearby streets.

Some scuffles broke out during the arrests, according to video sent to NRT.

In the hours before the demonstration, organizers Badal Barwari and Omed Baroshky were arrested at their homes in the city.

During the demonstration, the security forces prevented reporters from entering the park to interview protesters or use their mobile devices to collect video.

According to observations, some members of the security forces were dressed in civilian clothes. During past protests, plainclothes officers have assaulted demonstrators.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is under tremendous budget pressure amid historically low oil prices and a budget transfer freeze implemented by Baghdad, leading it to delay payments to some public employees.

Last month, doctors across Sulaimani and Halabja governorates went on a week-long strike after they went two months without pay during the coronavirus outbreak.

Former political prisoners and people with disabilities have also protested over delayed payments of social benefits.

Many people in the Kurdistan Region rely on the government for their incomes. The government's inability to make payroll raises the specter of increased civil unrest.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 7:52 p.m.