Normalization underway in Kirkuk amidst investigation into recent protests

Normalization underway in Kirkuk amidst investigation into recent protests
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In Iraq's Kirkuk city, the first phase of a normalization process has begun with military withdrawal from Kurdish areas, initiating investigations into recent protest clashes that resulted in fatalities and injuries

The first stage of the normalization process has been achieved in Iraq’s Kirkuk city with the withdrawal of military and armored vehicles from Kurdish neighborhoods, facilitating the restoration of free movement into and out of the city, Iraq Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Saxewan Abdullahsaid on Tuesday.

In an interview with Rûdaw, Abdullah highlighted that this normalization process comprises several phases. The initial step was the removal of forces that besieged Kurdish neighborhoods. Following this, the second phase involves the deployment of investigation commissions to the city in September to probe the demonstrations that erupted earlier that month, which unfortunately resulted in the deaths of four Kurdish citizens and left 16 others injured. The identification of the security forces involved and the initiation of legal proceedings mark important strides in this phase.

Recalling the tragic events of September 2, where four citizens were killed as a result of gunfire opened on Kurdish protesters, Abdullah mentioned, "The Security and Defense Committee of the Parliament will travel to Kirkuk today to prepare a report on the incidents, which will be presented to the Parliament Presidency Bureau."

Abdullah also noted that they have identified two security officials who opened fire on the demonstrators. "We have handed over all the documents and video footage concerning the security forces involved in the killing of four Kurdish youths on September 2 to the Iraqi Prime Minister and the Security and Defense Committee of the Iraqi Parliament," he affirmed.

In related news, Deputy Chairman of the Iraq Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, Segvan Sindi, told Rûdaw that they would be inspecting the city today. Sindi stated, "The purpose of our visit to Kirkuk is to investigate the incidents that resulted in the martyrdom of four citizens and the injury of 16 of our citizens. We will conduct several discussions and investigations in the region, including meetings with local citizens, and administrative and military officials in the city."

During the session held on September 9, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament commissioned the Security and Defense Committee to visit the city to investigate the incidents in Kirkuk.

Back on October 16, 2017, the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces had entered Kirkuk and emptied a building belonging to the KDP, converting it into the Operations Command headquarters. On August 25, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammed Shia al-Sudani ordered the building to be handed back to the KDP.

On August 27, a group of Hashd al-Shaabi supporters and Arabs brought from neighboring cities erected tents and held a vigil in front of the building, which was formerly KDP's, blocking the Kirkuk-Erbil highway to traffic.

This blockage prompted Kurds to gather in the Rahimawa area yesterday, organizing a demonstration to demand the reopening of the Erbil-Kirkuk road. The protest took a tragic turn as security forces opened fire when Kurdish protesters approached the area where previous demonstrators had blocked the roads. The clashes resulted in four fatalities and 16 injuries, including three police officers.