Iraqi security forces again fired live ammunition on Wednesday (October 2nd) to disperse protesters in Baghdad, while a third demonstrator died as a result of injuries sustained on Tuesday. another dispersal of protest in the Iraqi capital.
In the face of his first popular test since it was set up almost a year ago, Adel Abdel-Mahdi's government has accused "Aggressors" and "Saboteurs" having "Deliberately made victims". On Wednesday again, the riot police fired live ammunition to disperse the hundreds of protesters with various demands: from the fight against corruption to that against unemployment, including the recent sidelining of a popular general.
Tuesday, a protester was killed on the iconic Tahrir Square of the Iraqi capital, the starting point of the protest movement. After him, another demonstrator was killed in Zi Qar province, south of Baghdad.
In the Zaafaraniya neighborhood in southern Baghdad, where protesters were burning tires on Wednesday morning, an AFP journalist heard the bullets whistle, as it had been for hours on Tuesday in the city center, in the vicinity from Tahrir Square, from where the movement started. According to medical sources, at least ten people, mostly demonstrators, were hospitalized for cases of suffocation, because of tear gas or after being jostled.
"Here, we feel like strangers at home"
The protesters, however, do not intend to let the movement falter. In Zaafaraniya, Abdallah Walid, a 27-year-old laborer, told AFP he was released on Wednesday "In support of the brothers in Tahrir Square"today closed by the police. "We want jobs, better public services, we have been asking for them for years and the government has never answered us"he exclaims, exasperated, on a street where armored anti-riot police are stationed.
"We demand everything: we want a country, here we feel like strangers at home"adds Mohammed Al-Joubouri, who also works as a laborer despite his university degree. "No state is attacking its people like this government. We are peaceful and they shoot ", he says to AFP, in the middle of columns of black smoke rising from burnt tires barring streets of the district of Al-Chaab, in the north of the capital.
Demonstrations against power are not uncommon in Iraq, but since the arrival of the Abdel-Mahdi government on October 25, 2018, no spontaneous appearance has been of such magnitude. Tuesday's mobilization brought together all sorts of disappointed government, from unemployed graduates to critics of corruption. No organization, political party or religious leader has come forward to call for demonstrations that have recently blossomed on social networks.
UN calls for restraint
After Tuesday's death of two protesters and the more than 200 injured by health officials, calls for restraint have multiplied. President Barham Saleh said on Twitter that "To demonstrate peacefully" was "A constitutional right", the police being there "To protect the rights of citizens".
التظاهر السلمي حق دستوري مكفول للمواطنين.أبناؤنا في القوات الامنية مكلفون بحماية حقوق المواطنين, والحفاظ على الأم … https://t.co/pDNibaS2dO
"Our young people want reforms and work, it is our duty to satisfy these legitimate demands"Saleh wrote, while the country was released in late 2017, its last war, the one against the Islamic State (IS), with a bloodless economy and unemployment of 25% among young people.
The UN representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said she was "Very worried" and urged "To restraint". Parliament's Human Rights Commission has denounced a " repression " which is " a fault " and which "The leaders will be accountable". The head of Parliament called for an investigation, as did Moqtada al-Sadr, a very influential Shiite leader who became the herald of anti-corruption.
But, in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, while the relatives of the demonstrator killed in Baghdad were burying him in Sadr City, stirring Shiite stronghold, the spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior, Saad Maan, denounced "Saboteurs" seeking to "Spread violence". Shortly after, Mr. Abdel-Mahdi greeted "Great responsibility and restraint of the armed forces" in front of "Aggressors (…) deliberately killing victims among innocent protesters". This release sparked heated comments on social media on Wednesday morning.