Release date:: 2019/11/13 20:21
Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq, Jenin Hennes-Blachart, urged the House of Representatives and heads of parliamentary blocs on the need to listen to the demands of the demonstrators and make the required reforms.
“I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be among you today and to exchange views after my opening speech on what I think we all agree is a crucial stage for the people of Iraq.
But before I continue, I would like to continue,” she said. I invite you to join me in a minute of silence, to mourn those who have died and to respect those who have been injured, so I would like you to join me in expressing our appreciation for them and to stand a minute of silence.Thank
you very much. I would like to express my sincere condolences to those families o Whether they are peaceful demonstrators or members of the security forces, our hearts are with you.
And now as we commemorate their loss – their values and demands remain the same. Over the past six weeks, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – peaceful Iraqis – have demonstrated with real, legitimate and clear demands.
These demands cover many issues: an end to corruption, economic growth, employment, reliable public services, good and fair governance, fair elections – and broader reform of the political system including constitutional amendment.
But above all, I think we all agree that many, many Iraqis are demanding a brighter future – and that the country realize its full potential for the benefit of all Iraqi citizens.
But in the meantime, Iraqis have paid an unimaginable price to make their voices heard. Since the beginning of the demonstrations on 1 October, at least 319 people have been killed and some 15,000 peaceful demonstrators and members of the security forces have been injured.
To date, the UN has published two special reports on human rights issues. Despite many promises, the harsh reality is that we continue to receive daily reports of new killings, kidnappings, indiscriminate arrests, beatings and threats. I have said many times – and I will say it again: violence only generates violence. It should end and end now.
“We lost our brothers, our friends, our children. But we had no time to cry. We will not forget. He lives with dignity, freedom or no life. We have started peacefully and determined to continue peacefully,” peaceful protesters told me on Monday. So they said.
Now, with all this in mind, I would like to reiterate, in your presence, the importance of ensuring fundamental rights: above all the right to life, but also the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. I would like to emphasize once again the importance of achieving full accountability and justice at the right levels.
Respect for these fundamental and fundamental rights and principles is, in a sense, a prerequisite for any meaningful form of dialogue or mediation.
True legitimate demands deserve serious responses and effective communication – within this parliament and on the street.
Mr. Chairman referred to the paper that we published a few days ago. Since the protests began, UNAMI has actively engaged with a wide range of Iraqi parties and authorities – including the three presidencies, the Supreme Judicial Council, peaceful demonstrators, members of parliament and union representatives. Based on these discussions, and with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, we have proposed a number of concrete steps as a start – as a step towards confidence-building and reform.
The most important thing to stress is that now is the time to act, otherwise we will lose momentum – we will lose it as many Iraqis demand tangible results.
As a former member of parliament, I think I can say that your role – in your position as members of parliament – elected by the people and also held accountable before them – is very important.
You are important in communicating with people, communicating their voices, and moving forward with fundamental reforms.
We all know that what is most damaging to public trust is over-promises and under-implementation. Nothing is more harmful than to say (a) and do (b). Nothing is more devastating than the climate of anger and fear.
It must also be understood that everyday life has moved to the Internet. The interruption or even complete closure of the Internet and / or social media – in recent weeks – has not only been unfit for Iraq’s potential as a free and democratic society, but has also disrupted the way people practice their lives, perform their work and express their opinion. In other words, unrestricted access to the Internet is a fundamental right in today’s electronic world. I am happy to note that since yesterday evening I have been able to access the Internet so I would like to emphasize that we welcome the return of Internet service throughout Iraq, and we hope that the service will continue and soon will be followed by free access to social media.
Another issue that has received considerable attention in recent weeks is the Iraqi electoral processes.
Indeed, the call for complete change in Iraq’s electoral processes is a fundamental requirement for many. It is a call for an independent and impartial electoral administration.
Thus, with the technical assistance of the United Nations, much work has been done to reach a unified electoral legal framework. Now, without prejudging parliamentary legal procedures, and without going into details now, I would like to emphasize the urgent need for that unified legal framework, which brings together all relevant laws and brings voters closer to candidates.
UNAMI, the United Nations, has also been asked to provide technical support in the ongoing processes of constitutional review and amendment, which ultimately must be accepted by all Iraqis.
What I have seen on the streets in the past few days is the accumulation of frustrations about the lack of progress in the last 16 years. The desire for an Iraqi identity is clear. Young people on the streets are hoping for a better future out of love for their homeland.
Better days for all Iraqis: away from corruption and quotas away from unemployment and lack of basic services. Now these high hopes call for future thinking. The pursuit of private or partisan interests may be strategic, but it is not the right strategy at all.
Please do not get me wrong: drawing a bleak picture is not an end in itself. As I always say, the present situation cannot be judged without putting it in the context of Iraq’s past. But I want to say that the time has come to capitalize on today’s hopes – it is time to prioritize the country’s interest above all else.
Young people demand no more than a better future. I am convinced that you will be part of the solution. The government cannot do this alone. It is a rather collective responsibility, the responsibility of the entire political class.
And yes, I am fully aware of the fact that Iraq’s enormous challenges did not emerge overnight, not just as a result of Iraqi actions. So it won’t be solved “that simple”, right? But this must be possible through determination and decisive action. It must be possible to live up to the challenges and meet the aspirations of young people.
Again, with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty again, the United Nations is ready or will continue to engage with all parties to facilitate a constructive dialogue. We will continue to partner with all Iraqis.
In conclusion, I would like to stress my hope that your choices, actions and statements will allay Iraqi fears – and that your choices will restore hope for a brighter future.