Punishment hardens in Iraq, Washington calls for elections

The protest, launched on October 1 to demand the fall of a power deemed corrupt and incompetent, has killed 319, according to an official report.

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Protesters in the streets of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, Sunday, November 10. Hadi Mizban / AP

Three protesters were killed in southern Iraq and dozens more were injured by law enforcement officers firing into central Baghdad, a battlefield where hundreds of protesters were still , Sunday, November 10.

The challenge, launched on 1st October to claim the fall of a power deemed corrupt and incompetent, at a time seemed to shake the authorities. But after more than a month of mobilization and 319 deaths, according to an official report announced Sunday morning, their ranks are tighter than ever. The majority of the political forces have even agreed to end the protests that consume the leaders and the powerful Iranian neighbor, considered as the architect of the Iraqi political system eaten away by patronage.

Read our report: Students, mothers, activists … in Iraq, women engage in demonstrations

The risk of a "bloodbath"

After this agreement for a "Return to normal life", security forces have intensified repression in a country cut off from the world for a week, without Internet or social networks. In Nasiriyah, three new demonstrators were killed in the evening by bullets from the security forces and nearly two hundred wounded, while in Baghdad, on Khallani Square, near Tahrir Square, waves of demonstrators shots in a cloud of tear gas.

The protesters say they are determined, despite the arrests and kidnappings in their ranks, and sound bombs exploding dozens, especially at night, shaking the entire center of Baghdad. The parliamentary human rights commission has called the authorities to account, denouncing shootings from rooftop snipers and wounded "Shooting shots and hunting weapons".

Protesters now fearful of dispersal of Tahrir Square and Amnesty International fears "A bloodbath", the mission of the United Nations Organization in Iraq (Unami) proposed Sunday night a plan to end the crisis. First of all, while many in Iraq denounce "A new republic of fear", the Unami calls for the release of all arrested protesters.

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"Stop violence against protesters"

It also calls for light to be shed on the kidnapping of activists and doctors – which human rights defenders see as acting on behalf of the state as well as armed groups. The Unami Roadmap also proposes a referendum on a constitutional reform within three months, a review of the electoral law within two weeks and new anti-corruption measures in the twelfth most corrupt country in the world.

These amendments, however, are far from the demands of the protesters, who now demand the end of the political system as it was created after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and aspire to a new Constitution and a completely renewed political class.

For its part, Washington on Sunday called on the Iraqi government to organize "Early elections" and to lead a "Electoral reform". The White House also asked that "Stop violence against protesters". "The United States is gravely concerned by continued attacks on protesters, civic activists and the media, as well as restrictions on Internet access in Iraq", she wrote in a statement.

Read our report: "We must remain united until the fall of the regime": in Baghdad, the protest of Tahrir Square resists repression

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