Iraqi protests: Death toll reaches 63

Iraqi protests: Death toll reaches 63
Confrontations between protesters have left 63 people dead and nearly 2,600 wounded.
Baghdad, Oct 27 (IANS) | Publish Date: 10/27/2019 12:18:12 PM IST

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Saturday for a second straight day of protests to demand jobs and better public services.

Confrontations between protesters have left 63 people dead and nearly 2,600 others wounded, according to Ali al Bayati, a member of the governmental Iraqi Commission for Human Rights, the Efe news reported.

Security force members were among the causalities, the interior ministry said, while denying that police have used live ammunition against protesters.

As night fell on Saturday, authorities cut power to the area of Baghdad that includes Tahrir Square and riot police moved in to dismantle the tents in which protesters had planned to spend a second night.

Around 30 people were hurt in the operation to clear the camp, an interior ministry official said.

Friday marked the return of the mass demonstrations that rocked Iraq at the start of this month amid anger over unreliable electric and water service, lack of economic opportunity and pervasive corruption.

The Higher Ministerial Committee formed to investigate civilian deaths during the initial protests revealed in its final report that 157 people perished, including eight members of the security forces.

Tahrir Square was the scene of the largest protest in Baghdad on Saturday.

Protesters, most of them young people, waved Iraqi flags and chanted slogans such as “They are all thieves,” apparently referring to the country’s political class.

One of the protesters, an unemployed 26-year-old university graduate named Ahmed Abdalamir, said that Iraqis have run out of patience with the “lying” government and its poor management of the oil-rich nation’s resources. “I live in a wealthy country and the wealth goes to the people in power and their parties. But the ordinary citizen has nothing, only the lack of everything,” he said.

Among the many people bringing food and drink to the protesters in Tahrir Square was Ebtisam Abdala, 23, who graduated from university three years ago and can’t find a job.

She said that she and her mother prepared food for the people in the square out of support for those “who demand the right of all Iraqis to leave in a worthy country.”

This week’s protests came days after influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that people had the right to take to the streets.


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