Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Baghdad curfew lifted, almost 100 dead in protests

Iraq protests Youths carry away a protester injured during clashes with riot police in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square
Patty Aguilar | 07 October, 2019, 12:34

The latest attacks took place in the wake of several protests against Adel Abdul Mahdi-led Iraq government.

At least 93 people have been killed and almost 4,000 injured in four days of clashes between protesters and security forces, according to Iraq's Human Rights Commission.

The protesters set fire to tires and security forces were chasing them, according to witnesses. Shots were also heard in the area.

Abdul-Mahdi said in an address to the nation that the protesters' "legitimate demands" had been heard, adding that the security measures used against the demonstrations were like "bitter medicine" that needs to be swallowed.

Iraqi security forces rest in Tahrir square after the lifting of the curfew, following four days of nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq on october 5, 2019.

Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters in the Iraqi capital and in a southern city on Saturday, killing at least nine people and wounding 39 as thousands of protesters took to the streets and set fire to political party offices, government and human rights commission members said. It was unclear if the eight protesters were included in that toll, which is the first time the ministry had announced such statistics. He said an investigation was under way to determine who was behind the most deadly day of violence, in Baghdad on Friday.

The violence is an unprecedented test for Adel Abdul Mahdi, a mild-mannered veteran politician who came to power a year ago as a compromise candidate backed by powerful Shi'ite groups that dominated Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Sunday's decree also ordered the construction of 100,000 new housing units, following September's launch of demolitions of houses in informal settlements, which are home to three million Iraqis nationwide.

In response to staggering youth unemployment, which has reached round 25 per cent in keeping with the World Financial institution, the federal government mentioned it might create new jobs and enhance advantages for these with out work.

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By Sunday afternoon, the protesters, mostly young men, were scattered in side streets near Sadr City.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric whose coalition won the largest number of seats in last year's parliamentary elections in Iraq, has called on the government to resign.

Jaafar Raad, an unemployed 29-year-old Iraqi who has frequently protested, is also storing dozens of images and videos to release once the blackout is lifted.

But there was no quorum for the session after the largest bloc boycotted the session at the behest of its leader, influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

On Sunday morning, the situation had been calm in Baghdad, though with lighter traffic than usual.

Iraqi security forces arrive in Tahrir square, central Baghdad yesterday.

The largely spontaneous protests over chronic unemployment and poor public services that erupted in the capital on Tuesday have escalated into a broader movement demanding an end to official corruption and a change of government. Clearly, the bourgeois-clerical rulers of the Islamic Republic fear that the revolt in Iraq can serve as a spark to reignite the mass protests of the Iranian working class that broke out in 2017-18 against unemployment, falling living standards, and sweeping social cuts.

A protester gestures during a demonstration in Baghdad where there have been violent demonstrations against the government for five days. "We don't want anyone to speak in our name", one protester told AFP on Friday.

Authorities have asked protesters to give them time to implement reforms. "This must stop. I call on all parties to pause and reflect", Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert tweeted Saturday night.

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