World Bulletin/News Desk
Human Rights Watch has urged Iraqi authorities to give a government committee charged with probing a deadly raid by security forces on a protest camp last week greater financial and political backing to investigate who is responsible for what it described as an apparently unlawful use of lethal force, Al Jazeera reported.
The group also said it received photos from a separate, parliamentary investigation allegedly taken in the aftermath of the attack that showed the bodies of several men lying in the protest area amid burning cars.
Some have their hands bound and "appear, because of the way the bodies are positioned, to have been executed with gunshots,'' the group said.
The April 23 action against the Sunnis in Hawija who were protesting against the Shia-led government unleashed a backlash of deadly attacks by Sunnis, and battles between gunmen and security forces that have claimed more than 250 lives.
Before the Hawija crackdown, local and tribal officials had been trying to negotiate a peaceful end to a standoff between protesters and security forces.
Authorities had wanted to enter the camp to hunt for weapons and make arrests related to an earlier incident in which a nearby checkpoint came under attack.
Iraqi forces opened fire only after they were attacked, according to the Defense Ministry.
It said 23 people, including three members of the security forces, were killed in the clashes.
Hours after the raid, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the creation of a ministerial committee to investigate the incident. A parliamentary committee is also probing what happened at Hawija.
Human Rights Watch obtained a preliminary copy of the parliamentary investigation's findings, according to the report.
It said the committee determined that the crackdown by security forces on the Hawija camp killed at least 44 civilians.
All were killed by live fire, and at least one of the dead was 13 years old, Human Rights Watch said.
The committee's casualty figures are similar to ones provided by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, who leads the separate ministerial committee that is also investigating the Hawija incident.
Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2013, 17:19