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Established in 2006 as a Community of Reality

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Iraq protest movement threatens to erupt again after two killed

chouchou
chouchou
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Iraq protest movement threatens to erupt again after two killed Empty Iraq protest movement threatens to erupt again after two killed

Post by chouchou on Mon 27 Jul 2020, 9:32 am

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A nationwide protest movement in Iraq over government corruption and incompetence threatens to erupt again after two demonstrators were killed in Baghdad early on Monday after being shot with tear gas canisters during clashes with security forces.

On Sunday, rallies were staged in the capital and across several southern cities as anger mounted over power outages while temperatures exceeding 50 degrees overwhelmed electricity generators.

In Baghdad, dozens clashed with security forces in Tahrir square, the epicentre of the protest movement that began in October but died down in recent months as measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic came into force.

An AFP correspondent saw the burnt remains of tent structures in the square on Monday morning.

"Two protesters died this morning. One was shot with a tear gas canister in the head, and another in the neck," a medical source told AFP on Monday.

The two victims are the first since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who had promised a dialogue with protesters, took office in May.

In a statement overnight, his office acknowledged "unfortunate events" in protest squares, but insisted security forces had been instructed not to use violence unless absolutely necessary.

It said the government would carry out an investigation into Sunday’s events, but activists online were already comparing Kadhimi to his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi, who resigned following months of protest-related violence.

Around 550 people were killed in the violence with another 300,000 wounded, many of them by security forces using military-grade tear gas canisters that can pierce the human skull if fired directly rather than lobbed at an arc to disperse crowds.

"Overwhelming evidence points to a pattern of Iraq’s security forces deliberately using these heavy tear gas and smoke grenades to kill, rather than disperse, protesters, in direct violation of international human rights law," Amnesty International said in March.

There was virtually no accountability for those deaths under Abdel Mahdi. Kadhimi had pledged to publish a list of all the victims, carry out investigations and open a dialogue with protesters.

He also pledged to release all prisoners who were arrested while protesting as long as they had not be involved in bloodshed. However, this promise hit a roadblock when Iraq's High Judicial Council later announced that it would only release protesters if they had not committed any crimes.

According to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, at least 98 protesters have been detained in Iraq's state prisons, while dozens more remain missing.

A cartoon shared online on Monday morning showed a caricature of Abdel Mahdi handing over tear gas canisters to his successor.

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chouchou
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Iraq protest movement threatens to erupt again after two killed Empty Two killed in Iraq as anti-government protests reignite

Post by chouchou on Mon 27 Jul 2020, 9:34 am

Two anti-government protesters were killed by security forces and dozens injured in Baghdad late on Sunday, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said, during a new round of demonstrations against corruption and poor public services.

The latest protests were triggered by electricity cuts in the searing summer heat and growing grievances over a lack of basic services and widespread unemployment.

It is the first demonstration since Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi took office in May. Tension between the security forces and the demonstrators soared when dozens of protesters cut off the road connecting two main intersections, at Tayaran Square and Tahrir Square.

Human rights monitors said that officials disguised in ordinary clothes opened fire using live ammunition on the demonstrators, who burned tyres and chanted slogans about power cuts in the scorching summer months.

Anti-government protests erupted last October in Baghdad and spread across the south after angry Iraqis took to the streets demanding better employment opportunities and public services, including electricity and water.

More than 600 demonstrators were killed and thousands injured by security forces using live fire and tear gas.

Pressure from the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in November.

Prior to joining office, Mr Al Kadhimi vowed to meet demonstrators’ demands by holding early elections and investigating protester deaths. Yet the new prime minister has had to deal with a catastrophic economic crisis triggered by a decline in oil prices caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ali Al Bayati a member of the Independent Iraqi Human Rights Commission, told The National that the government must hold the perpetrators to account and should urgently respond to protester demands.

“We condemn the violence used by the Iraqi Security Forces and remind the government about its commitments to the constitution on protecting citizens and the right of freedom of expression,” Mr Al Bayati said.

The United Nations Mission in Iraq welcomed the government’s commitment to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable for attacks on demonstrators. “Iraqis are in a difficult place facing many challenges. Their right to peaceful protest must be protected unconditionally,” the mission said in a statement on Twitter.

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