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Rights Group: Iraqi Authorities Unjustly Detaining Reformers


Protesters hold slingshots during clashes with riot policemen in Sulaimaniya, 260 km (162 miles) northeast of Baghdad, April 18, 2011

Protesters hold slingshots during clashes with riot policemen in Sulaimaniya, 260 km (162 miles) northeast of Baghdad, April 18, 2011

U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch says Iraq's central government and northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish administration have been unjustly detaining protesters calling for reforms.

In a report released Thursday, the group says authorities in Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan are keeping their citizens from demonstrating peacefully. It says Iraq needs to make sure that security forces and pro-government gangs stop targeting protest organizers, activists and journalists.

Human Rights Watch highlighted what it says are several recent cases. It says Iraqi soldiers raided the offices of a Baghdad rights group on May 28, handcuffing, blindfolding and detaining 13 activists before releasing four of them.

In another case, Human Rights Watch says eight armed and masked men in Iraqi Kurdistan beat up a protest organizer whom they grabbed from a street on May 27.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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