Over the past weeks the tensions between the US and Iran escalated with the assassination of general Qasem Suleimani, head of the Iranian al-Quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Iran retaliated with missile attacks on US military targets. The tragic downing of the Ukrainian plane showed how civilians are at risk and disregarded in this escalation.
For months now, people in Iraq and Iran have taken to the streets calling for dignity, human rights and an end to violence, oppression and corruption. The weekend following the airstrikes there were massive protests all over Iraq as well as in Iran. The demonstrators took a clear stand against the actions of the US and Iran, and want to take control of their countries and futures. The voice of civilians is clear- dignity and an end to the oppressive destruction of their bodies, homes and homelands in an endless conflict which they are bearing the brunt for decades. PAX stands in solidarity with the people in the Middle East standing up for their rights and human dignity and condemns the violent repression of protests.
State security cannot trump human security and states can only be stable if they serve their people. PAX calls on all actors to show restraint, to ensure the principles of distinction, proportion, international human rights, sovereignty and necessity are adhered to, and to find ways to restore justice, dignity and peace to an embittered region. Civilians should not pay the price of this escalation. Further retaliation by the Iranian and US governments or by the Iraqi PMF will put civilians further at risk. There is a risk that the peaceful protest movement will be violently repressed or co-opted. Resulting chaos and power struggles could lead to a resurgence of ISIS.
PAX will continue its efforts to support civil society actors in Iraq to build peace and defend human rights, as well as to document and advocate the human security interests of Iraqi civilians. We will also continue our advocacy efforts to restore the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - JCPOA) as well as our ongoing research and advocacy into the use of un-crewed armed vehicles.
We call on the Dutch government to:
We call on the European Union to: