Wednesday, October 23, 2019

In Iraq, the violence of the repression against the protest spreads out

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The protesters accused the Iranian Shiite parties and their armed factions of playing a role in suppressing the movement and attacking journalists.

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Iraqi security forces are seeking to evacuate protesters in Baghdad on 6 October. Hadi Mizban / AP

Hundreds of harder and harder videos appeared on social media on Monday evening, 7 October. Thanks to a partial lifting of Internet cuts imposed for more than four days, young Iraqis who have been demonstrating since 1st October against the authorities hastened to download and retain this evidence of the crackdown they are facing in Baghdad and the southern Shiite of the country. Testimony of the increased use of force since Friday, many images show young men falling bleeding, mowed, some in the head or heart, by the bullets of the riot police who face them or by those of invisible snipers .

On Sunday, the movement began to wear out in most hotbeds of protest after two days of particularly deadly repression and the announcement by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi of a series of 17 immediate social and economic measures to quell the dispute . But she did not go out. After more than 110 deaths and 6,000 injuries, according to a recent official report, the desire to avenge the blood shed by the "Martyrs" feeds the anger. In Sadr-City, a Shiite neighborhood of four million people a few kilometers from downtown Baghdad, protests continued Monday night. The day before, violent clashes between the demonstrators and the police had killed 15 people.

Read also Violence in Iraq: President Saleh calls for "stop climbing"

The particularly heavy toll of this explosion of violence in the bastion of Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr, who called for the resignation of the government, has given rise to a rare mea culpa of the military command. The latter acknowledged "Excessive use of force" and announced to have "Started to hold accountable officers who made these mistakes". So far, the government and the Ministry of the Interior – whose forces are at the forefront of the demonstrations – have been denouncing "Saboteurs" and "Malicious hands" behind the attacks and deny any involvement in the deadly crackdown.

Call for restraint

In a televised address on Monday night, President Barham Saleh described'Unacceptable' attacks on protesters and the media, and called security forces to restraint. About 15 local and international media were attacked by unidentified gunmen, who damaged the equipment and sometimes molested the employees. Journalists were threatened with reprisals if they continued to cover the movement. Activists have gone into hiding for fear of kidnapping or assassination after the killing of a militant and his wife in Basra on Thursday.

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