KDP, PUK exchange of accusations killing protester

Kifri, 10 December 2020 – protester shot dead, another wounded – photo: KirkukNow

Layla Ahmad

The father of a slain youth (Shivan Muhammad) in Kifri has filed a legal complaint, while security personnel belonging to PUK and KDP accuse each other of the shooting.

21-year-old Shivan Muhammad Shukur was shot in the head during protests in Kifri on 10 December 2020.

On that day, protesters set fire to the headquarters of the Change Movement (Gorran) in Kifri and attempted to do the same with the KDP headquarters in the town. The headquarters of the PUK was also torched on 7 December and a protester was shot dead.

Kifri 2

People witnessed they opened fire which led to my son being martyred

Shivan’s father, Muhammad Shukur, told KirkukNow: “We have filed a legal complaint against Peshmerga’s Brigade 136 and its commander, which is Haji Usman, because it was them who had come to the district and shot at protesters.”

“We have many witnesses; people witnessed they opened fire which led to my son being martyred.”

Muhammad Shukur says that Shivan had been at home when the protests were ongoing and the family sent him to bring back his brother home. “Little did we know he would be martyred himself.”

“They shot him in the market of Kifri, where there aren’t any party offices, including KDP’s.”

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Shivan Muhammad (21) – shot dead during protests

Shivan was a third-year history student at Kalar Education College. He has four brothers, one of whom was wounded on the same day Shivan was killed.

“I request the court to punish the culprits in accordance with the law so that they don’t bring catastrophe on any other family. My son did not storm any party office or building; he did not torch any building; he was 100 metres away from the protesters when he was shot at and killed.”

On the same day, another man (32-year-old Muhammad Azeez) was wounded by a gunshot. He was sent to a hospital in Slémani City and is under intensive care.

Shivan’s body was on the ground near KDP headquarters, and that is evidence that our combatants were not at that location

Major General Haji Usman, the commander of Brigade 136 of Unit 70 of the Peshmerga Armed Forces, in a statement to KirkukNow, denied the accusation and threatened to sue.

Major General Haji Usman said: “Our forces [were sent] to protect government buildings from being torched by protesters. The direction of the protests later changed towards the KDP headquarters, and there was a lot of gunfire at that location. After one hour, one of them was killed and another was wounded.”

“Our forces did not open fire [with] 100% [certainty]. Had we opened fire.. the best evidence… we would have protected the headquarters of our party [PUK] and would prevent it from being burnt down. It is clear who opened fire. Shivan’s body was on the ground near KDP headquarters, and that is evidence that our combatants were not at that location.”

On their turn, KDP officials and combatants in the town accuse the PUK of the shooting.

Kifri, December 2020 – a road is blocked by protesters – photo: KirkukNow

Kochar Rostam, a KDP official, told KirkukNow: “The protests were not in front of our headquarters and we haven’t opened fire. And the statement from the family of the martyr is clear and has filed a complaint.”

Rostam’s family had posted a picture of themselves bearing arms and threatened protesters of confrontation if they would attempt torching the KDP headquarters.

“The authorities, the security apparatuses, the family of Martyr Shivan and the people of the district all know that it wasn’t KDP [members] who opened fire,” Rostam said.

Rostam accused Peshmerga’s Brigade 136 of the shooting in a Facebook post.

it wasn’t KDP [members] who opened fire

“The family of Shivan’s father are our relatives, they are from our village and we belong to the same tribe. It wouldn’t hurt me more if my own brother was killed. That’s why we assure you that the shooting has nothing to do with us and the place of the shooting was far from the KDP headquarters,” Rostam added.

On 2 December demonstrations started in Slémani City and subsequently in other Kurdish towns and cities in the province and beyond in the following days. Protests turned into riots after a crackdown by security forces.

The reasons behind these protests are the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) failure to pay civil servants’ salaries, poor living conditions, lack of job opportunities and inadequate basic services.

At least 8 people have been killed so far and dozens have been detained.

The KRG’s Foreign Relations Department announced on Friday (11 December) that 9 were killed and more than 60 wounded.

bawki shvan
Kifri December 2020 – Muhammad Shukur at his son’s funeral
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