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We, feminist activists from around the world, stand in support of our sisters and brothers peacefully demonstrating for basic rights in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
This morning, June 10, demonstrators were brutally targeted with sexual violence and beatings by men who were reportedly bussed in by the thousands to disrupt the weekly protest. Protesters suffered broken bones, knife wounds and beatings. Several women were severely beaten and violently groped; armed attackers attempted to forcibly strip off the women's clothing. The activists, who work with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, report that their attackers were organized and paid by government security forces who used the un-uniformed men to avoid accountability for the violence.
As feminists, we strongly condemn assaults against peaceful protesters and the specifically gender-based violence against women. As in so many of our countries, the use of sexual violence against Iraqi women is designed to terrorize, shame and silence those women who dare to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens and raise political demands in the public sphere. We stand with our sisters who exercise their rights to political participation and dissent.
Today's attacks represent a noted escalation of violence against protesters in Iraq as well as a crime and a fundamental violation of human rights. We call on the government to uphold its obligations to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and to respond to the demands of demonstrators.
World March of Women
Individuals Representing Organizations
Global Fund for Women
Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas
Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling
Center for Women's Global Leadership
PeaceWomen, A project of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Zimbabwe Election Support Network & Zimbabwe Peace Project
Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas
Observatory for Gender, Democracy and Human Rights
IFOR-Women Peacemakers Program
Tlalchinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain of Guerrero
Bosnia & Herzegovina
West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Liberia)
Juliet Were Oguttu
Asia Japan Women's Resource Center
Center for Peace Education
Sameena Nazir Potohar
Organization for Development Advocacy
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
For more information, please visit the MADRE website