On Friday, a least 42 protesters died in demonstrations and arson of government buildings and the political party headquarters in Iraq. Many of the victims suffocated on flue gas, others were shot. The UN accused the Iraqi police of human rights violations.
At the beginning of the month, more than 150 people were killed in violent protests. The demonstrations had come to a standstill before flaring up again on Thursday night. The protest movement calls for radical reforms, a new constitution and an end to corruption. Activists had called on the population to renewed protests on Friday, after one year of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s tenure.
More than 150 people were killed in violent protests in Iraq during October
Curfews imposed after unknown armed groups torched the government buildings and the headquarters of political parties on Friday. Violent protests spread in several provinces in the south of the country on Saturday night. Parliament announced a special session on Saturday to discuss the demands of the demonstrators and the proposed social reforms by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused the Iraqi security forces on Friday of being responsible for the death of protesters and grave human rights violations in the first wave of protests.
The supreme Shiite cleric al-Sistani warned in his sermon of “chaos and destruction” that could pave the way for “further foreign interference”. He called on the demonstrators to remain peaceful and urged the security forces to maximum restraint.
Every fifth citizen lives below the poverty line
Abdul Mahdi had defended his plans in a televised speech on Friday to stem the anger of the demonstrators. These would have the right to go on the street as long as they do not disturb public life.
According to the World Bank, every fifth citizen lives below the poverty line in Iraq, youth unemployment is around 25 percent. The country, which is considered the second largest oil producer of OPEC, is classified by Transparency International as the twelfth worst state in the world.
Since the beginning of October, more than 150 people have been killed in the violent protests in the country.