US welcomes Iraq govt decision to investigate weekend violence

Expressing regret over violence in Iraq, the White House has welcomed the decision of the Iraqi Government to investigate these incidents and hold accountable who were responsible for this.

Updated: Mar 01, 2011, 13:57 PM IST

Washington: Expressing regret over violence
in Iraq, the White House has welcomed the decision of the
Iraqi Government to investigate these incidents and hold
accountable who were responsible for this.

"We understand that more than 25,000 Iraqis exercised
their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and freedom
of expression on February 25. Demonstrations took place in over 40 cities," said Tommy
Vietor, spokesman, National Security Council (NSC).
Overall the demonstrations were peaceful and for the most
part Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) behaved professionally and
with restraint, he said.

"We deeply regret that several protests turned violent,"
he said.

The US has received preliminary reports indicating that
the violence resulted in the death of at least 12 civilians
and the injury of more than 100 civilians and 100 members of
the Iraqi Security Forces.

"We were also deeply troubled by reports that Iraqi
Security Forces detained and beat Iraqi journalists and civil
society leaders during Friday?s demonstrations," Vietor said.

"We note that the government has now issued a statement
pledging that the Iraqi Security Forces will not subject
journalists to such treatment again.

We underscore the need to respect the freedom of the
press, throughout Iraq including in the Kurdistan region," he
said.

The United States welcomes the decision of the government
of Iraq to investigate these incidents and its commitment to
hold accountable those responsible for the improper use of
force and violence, Vietor said.
"We also welcome the decision by the Kurdistan Regional
Government to investigate the use of violence by Kurdish
security forces in responding to demonstrations held in
Sulimaniyah beginning on February 17 and reiterate the need
for accountability," he said.

"We encourage the Iraqi Government and the KRG to respond
to the legitimate grievances and concerns expressed by the
demonstrators," Vietor added.

PTI