On May 16, 2020, teachers from the city of Dohuk, located in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, called for a strike. They complained that their wages had not been paid for several months. Before the demonstration even started, Badal Bardawi, a teacher activist and organizer of the rally, was arrested by the security forces. The demonstration gathered around 200 people, mainly teachers joined by a few other public servants sharing their demands, and was dispersed by the riot police. A hundred people were arrested, including eight journalists who covered the event. 15 of the detainees were still detained on May 17, only being released after paying a heavy bond pending their trial, even though they are in financial difficulty due to the non-payment of their wages. The wages began to be paid on May 18.
The city of Duhok is one of the strongholds of the Kurdish Democratic Party, which only democratic part is the name, and which co-directs with its rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Regional Government of Kurdistan. The brutal repression of teachers is part of a long tradition of gagging all dissenting voices, journalists, teachers, activists, who denounce the endemic corruption of the KRG authorities who appropriate economic resources without redistributing them to the benefit of the population, favoring a clan and partisan ruling over the establishment of a democratic system. Education is particularly affected by this situation : teachers’s wages is very low, not enough to make a living and support a family on its own. Their salaries were not regularly paid for several months. It should be noted that the rally was called by activists, since the KRG teaching unions are linked to political parties and therefore playing no role to protest against their policies.
The organisations of the International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggle Network support the struggle of the Kurdish teachers of the Regional Government of Kurdistan, and denounces the arbitrary arrests and the brutal repression that they were subjected to.