First Published: 2013-02-03

 

Iraq protesters win first demand: Release of 3,000 prisoners

 

Top Iraqi minister says authorities have released 3,000 prisoners over past month in bid to appease weeks of angry demonstrations.

 

Middle East Online

Thousands of prisoners are still behind bars

MOSUL (Iraq) - A top Iraqi minister said on Sunday that the authorities had released 3,000 prisoners over the past month in a bid to appease weeks of angry demonstrations in Sunni-majority areas of the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani's announcement is the latest in a series of government steps to curb the protests against the alleged mistreatment of the Sunni minority at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

"We have released 3,000 prisoners from Iraqi prisons in the last few weeks, and we transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces," Shahristani, who heads a cabinet committee tasked with addressing protesters' demands, said during a visit to Mosul, a Sunni-majority city.

The two issues -- Sunni detainees being wrongfully held and poor treatment of female Sunni prisoners -- were among several that demonstrations in the north and west have focused on since they began in late December.

According to Shahristani, around 30,000 people are in Iraqi prisons, including those convicted of a range of offences and those being held without charge.

He estimated that about 17,000 were either convicted or accused of crimes unrelated to "terrorism."

The remaining 13,000 were around 6,000 convicted of terror-related offences, and a further 7,000 being held without charge or accused, but not yet convicted, of terror offences.

Shahristani was speaking after meeting Sunni tribal chiefs, religious leaders and representatives of demonstrators in Mosul, one of several cities where rallies have been held.

Protests have also called for reform of anti-terror laws that demonstrators say are used to target Sunnis, and in recent weeks they have increasingly called for the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

 

Bloodshed in Gaza surges amid no truce

Major western powers call for Libya ceasefire

UN warns buying oil from terrorists could lead to sanctions

Syria rebels advance towards Hama military airport

Emirates airline to avoid flying over Iraq

Italian fire-fighting planes to come to Libya rescue

US-Israeli ties sink to new depths over Gaza war

Air Algerie crash black boxes sent to France

Warning of Tripoli catastrophe after huge oil depot blaze

US, UN call for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt army kills 14 jihadists in restive Sinai Peninsula

Calls for temporary Gaza ceasefire fall on deaf ears

Yemen army foils new Qaeda attempt to seize military posts

Investigators need ‘few days’ to probe cause of Algeria plane crash

Tunisia army suffers more losses in open war with terrorism

Jihadists advance amid escalation in Syria anti-regime offensive

Iraq Shiite militia takes bloody revenge against ‘Islamic State’ in Baquba

Fierce clashes kill at least 38 people in Benghazi

Israel resumes devastating military assault on Gaza

Thousands face famine as food security situation worsens in Somalia

Death toll in Gaza climbs as fragile ceasefire reveals destruction

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires for second time in one week

‘Islamic State’ jihadists dynamite Shiite shrine in Mosul

US evacuates embassy staff in Libya over ‘real risk’

Investigators begin 'difficult' probe into Air Algerie plane disaster

Armed men snatch Head of Baghdad Provincial Council

‘Islamic State’ beheads Syrian soldiers in Raqa

Kerry in Paris for talks on long-term Gaza truce

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory

Iran confirms arrest of Washington Post correspondent

Somali 'Shebab commanders' killed in AU offensive

Paris: survivors of Air Algerie jet crash 'unlikely'

Jordan shots down drone near Syria border

Gaza civilian toll spiralling to above 800

UN urges Europe to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

From Israel with ‘virus’: Death threat letter reaches Palestinian mission in France

Ordeal of ‘apostasy’ woman ends with departure from Sudan

Another bloody day as Israel targets civilians in UN-run school

‘Islamic State’ launches multiple attacks on Syria army

Attack on Egypt army post bears fingerprints of foreign intelligence

Harassment of Christians escalates in Islamist-run Sudan

Air Algerie plane goes missing over Mali