Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

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Thousands protest across Kurdistan Region to demand salaries and end to austerity measures

By ICSSI, 29 September 2016.

School and university teachers, civil servants and thousands of people took to the streets in planned demonstrations throughout the Kurdistan Region earlier this week to protest ongoing salary cuts and delayed wages.

Various local media reported demonstrations were held in Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, Darbandikhan, Kalar, Kifri, Ranya, Koya, Qaladze, Chamchamal, and Khurmal, among several other locations in the Kurdistan Region.

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The peaceful demonstrations, which took place on September 27, corresponded with what was supposed to be the first day of the new school year. The ministry of education later announced that day that the start of the school year would be delayed until October 1.

In the city of Sualymaniyah, protest organizers called for the resignation of the minister of education, the scrapping of austerity measures and the lifting of taxes and fines on poor people, Kurdish media Rudaw reported.

On Wednesday, the majority of directors of schools in Halabja governorate announced a 10-day strike in protest of the salary delays and cuts, Sulaymaniyah-based NRT media reported.

Salaries of civil servants have been beset by delays since 2014.

The Kurdistan Region has been struggling to cope with a severe economic crisis that has been ongoing for more than two and a half years.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly stated they cannot make the payments because of the numerous crises they are grappling with, including the sinking price of oil on the international market and the ongoing war against Daesh (ISIS).

Under a reform package intended to revitalize the economy, the Kurdistan Regional Government introduced unprecedented austerity measures. Under the austerity measures, teachers’ wages in the Kurdistan Region have been reduced between 40-70 percent, Rudaw reported.