Baghdad — Hundreds of Iraqis went out to the streets of Baghdad to protest the increased targeted killings of prominent activists and journalists, killing one in a clash between security forces and protesters, leaving more than 12 I was injured. Violence broke out near Tahrir Square in the evening after mostly peaceful demonstrations. According to
Baghdad — Hundreds of Iraqis went out to the streets of Baghdad to protest the increased targeted killings of prominent activists and journalists, killing one in a clash between security forces and protesters, leaving more than 12 I was injured.
Violence broke out near Tahrir Square in the evening after mostly peaceful demonstrations. According to witnesses and Iraqi security forces, Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse the crowd, and demonstrators threw stones at the riot police.
Security officials and a semi-official High Commissioner for Human Rights said one protester was shot dead in the hospital and more than 12 were injured.
Security officials spoke on condition of regulatory anonymity.
The shooting began after security forces first used tear gas to disperse the crowd. According to an Associated Press videographer on the scene, the demonstrators responded by throwing stones and sometimes bricks at the police.
Previously, demonstrators gathered in the square under tight security, including protesters from southern states, including Dhi Qar and Karbala. Over the last few weeks, tensions have increased over more and more frequent targeted killings.
“Today’s protests arose because the weak government failed to keep its promise to bring the murderers to trial,” said activist Kamal Javan at Tahrir Square.
Among the three targeted killings this month alone, many waved the Iraqi flag and hung up a portrait of prominent activist Ehab Wazni, who was assassinated in Karbala. Protesters gave the government two weeks to hold his murderer accountable.
“The government didn’t deliver, we had to march,” said Javan.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that nearly 35 activists have been killed in Iraq since the anti-government protests swept Iraq in October 2019.
Last year alone, 15 Iraqis were killed and there were 30 attempted killings recorded by the Commission, spokesman Alial-Bayati said.
Protesters have expressed resentment that Iraqi authorities have not nominated perpetrators, despite launching several investigations into the killings. They widely believe that the murderers are associated with Iran-backed militia groups, and the government is powerless and does not want to identify them.
“The immunity comes from the failure of the state agency to explain the perpetrators,” said Albayati. “This gives them a green light to continue.”
Many expect the killings to continue as Iraq plans an early election in October, which was a major demand of rebels.
Currently, some of the same protesters are calling for the election to be canceled due to the increased death toll from targeted killings, saying they do not believe in the current system.
“If we have the opportunity to participate in fair and safe elections, we will not delay the elections,” said Jaban. “Unless there is a positive change, boycott the election.”
A recent Human Rights Watch report raised concerns that without justice, killings could prevent Iraqis from participating in elections.
“If authorities cannot take urgent steps to prevent these extrajudicial killings, the apparent horror climate they have created calls for change to participate in the next parliamentary elections. It will severely limit a person’s abilities, “Wille wrote senior researcher Belkis.
Prior to Tuesday’s protest, strong security deployments were seen in central Baghdad.
Iraqi security forces arrested four “intruders” near Tahrir Square in the morning, according to an Iraqi military statement. Individuals reportedly carried weapons and attempted to incite violence.
In October 2019, tens of thousands of protesters, most of whom Iraqi youth, went out to the streets to blame corruption, poor service and unemployment. The demonstrators camped at Tahrir Square for months.
However, the movement had declined by February last year due to the violent government response and the coronavirus pandemic. More than 500 people were killed as security forces used live ammunition and tear canisters to disperse the crowd.
Although protests have declined, targeted assassinations against civil society groups and candid activists continue to create a climate of horror. Many activists left Baghdad to evacuate to Kurdish-controlled northern areas or seek asylum in Turkey.
Contributed by the Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj in Baghdad.