demonstrations against corruption repressed, at least two dead

In Baghdad, more than a thousand protesters gathered to denounce corruption and demand jobs and public services.

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Demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, on 1 October. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

In Iraq, demonstrations against corruption and to demand jobs and public services were repressed by the police, Tuesday 1st October. In Baghdad, the capital, the police force violently dispersed the first major social movement facing the government in place for almost a year. A civilian was killed and more than two hundred people were injured – one hundred and sixty civilians and forty law enforcement officers, the Iraqi health ministry said.

A protester was also killed in Zi Qar province in southern Iraq. Two other demonstrators and twenty-five members of the security forces were wounded, said the province's director of health, Abdel Hussein Al-Jaberi.

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More than a thousand protesters had gathered. "Thieves robbed us"chanted the protesters, whose country is ravaged by corruption and wars, and affected by a chronic shortage of electricity and drinking water for years.

The police used water cannons, tear gas and fired rubber bullets at the crowd. Journalists from Agence France-Presse also saw the police fired from live bullets from a disused high tower that overlooks Tahrir Square, a traditional meeting point for demonstrations, and the Al-Joumhouria bridge. which leads to the "green zone" where the US embassy and the Parliament are.

Twelfth most corrupt country in the world

Traditionally, the processions take the direction of the "green zone", but until June they were barred from access by concrete walls and military checkpoints. Since then, the area has been open to all, and authorities fear the entrance of protesters, which could paralyze the institutions there.

Iraq is the twelfth most corrupt country in the world according to the non-governmental organization Transparency International. According to official reports, since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, corruption has swallowed at least 410 billion euros, four times the state budget and more than twice the gross domestic product (GDP) of Iraq.

Among the protesters, on Tuesday, some called under a cloud of Iraqi flags to launch an unlimited sit-in and to maintain the mobilization to obtain "The end of injustice" and "Services and jobs". Others have also called for "The fall of the regime".

In addition to slogans demanding work for young people – whose unemployment rate of 25% is twice the national average – and public services, demonstrators held up posters of support for General Abdel Wahab Al-Saadi. The latter, the boss of counterterrorism, elite units created and armed by the Americans, was sidelined last week by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, provoking an outcry against a decision seen by observers as favorable to pro-Iran factions in Iraq.

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