The statement came after Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an investigation into the video, filmed during the era of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.
It shows several officers surrounding a teenager who has been stripped bare while an officer shaves the teen’s head with a sharp object. In the background of the recording, security personnel are heard hurling insults and otherwise verbally abusing the boy, who is surrounded by full-grown men in military fatigues.
Kurdistan 24 could not verify the authenticity or exact date of recording.
The teen appeared in a later video clip, lying on a hospital bed and receiving first aid from injuries he had sustained, apparently shortly after the incident. The victim said that security personnel had "dragged him in the street" and "tortured him."
This is not the first recent instance of such an incident in the country. On other occasions, members of various security forces have treated those in their custody in similarly humiliating ways. Activists say that the teenager who appeared in the video is one of the participants in the recent resurgence of protests, but the Ministry of Interior said that he had been arrested on charges of theft.
"The person who appeared in the video and was violated was arrested at the Directorate of Anti-Crime of Baghdad… for stealing a motorbike," the Interior Ministry statement wrote. "The incident of the assault by law enforcement officers took place about 20 days before the date of his arrest."
The ministry added that the teen lodged a complaint "against those who carried out this heinous, unprofessional, and unethical act."
The statement also indicated that officials had uncovered "the identity of the perpetrators of this criminal act" and had begun "procedures for arresting them to complete the investigation" into the affair. It also confirmed that Prime Minister Kadhimi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, had ordered the dismissal of the head of the law enforcement division.
Kadhimi [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] on Friday his intention to hold early national elections in the summer of 2021, one of the main demands of those taking part in the massive and sustained protest movement that has been raging since October. The parliament contended the premier’s decision later that day, but the viability of a vote in favor of the proposal has yet to be settled.
Over the past week, Iraqis again took to the streets to demand, among other things, an improved standard of living and improved public services, especially electricity in the sweltering summer heat as temperatures in many parts of the country top 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
On July 26, a confrontation between Iraqi security forces and protesters near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the main hub of demonstrations since last year, led to the deaths of two demonstrators and injury of roughly a dozen others.
The Ministry of Interior on Thursday released a statement on the killings. It said that, based on eyewitness and forensic reports, "the investigation concluded that the two protestors were killed by pellets from personal hunting rifles, fired by three members of the security forces."
"The investigation judge has ordered the arrest of the three" security personnel. The ministry noted that federal police forces stationed at the protests had fired live rounds in the air to disperse the demonstrations, against the direct orders of the prime minister.
It added that the ministry had "formed a committee to identify and to hold to account those who acted negligently in this matter and to refer them to the judiciary."
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