Today marks the fourth day since Azadi (Freedom) Square in Suleimaniya Iraq was violently overthrown by military forces following 62 days of primarily nonviolent protests against corruption by the two ruling parties, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). After demands to end corruption were not met, the demonstrators called for the resignation of the KRG president, Massoud Barzani, the Prime Minister, Dr. Barham Salih and the Speaker of the Parliament, Dr. Kamal Kirkuki.
On April 18, the stage from which daily speeches at the demonstration were made was burnt to the ground. Over 1000 demonstrators and many pedestrians caught up in the square trying to flee the tear gas were shot at with live ammunition and rubber bullets, tear gassed, beaten, arrested, and threatened. This author contacted the US Consulate in the capital city, Erbil, by cell phone in the midst of the mayhem. The human rights officer at the consulate could hear the shooting over the phone. The officer gave assurance that Washington was being informed and they were in dialog with every high level official in the KRG.