Iraqis march to demand punishment for slain activists

Tahrir Square, Baghdad was the scene of recent protests

By Ahmad Al Jabbouri 

May 26, 2021

Iraqi activists protested in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces on Tuesday, demanding the punishment of those involved in the killing of activists murdered during the last year.

Sky News reported that Iraqi youths have been protesting on social media for a few days with the slogan “I am a martyr … who killed me?” The purpose of these demonstrations is to fulfill the demands of the 2019 demonstrations, which called for social justice and providing a dignified life.

Demonstrators chanted “Who killed me?” On Tuesday evening, they gathered in Tahrir Square, Ferdows, and Al-Nasour Square in central Baghdad. According to security sources, many protesters from Najaf, Karbala, Diwaniyah, and Nasiriyah cities where government critics had been shot dead by “unidentified gunmen” in recent weeks, took part in the protests and joined together in Baghdad.

Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “We sacrifice our lives for Iraq”, “People want to overthrow the regime” and “Revolution against the parties”.

During a clash between protesters and riot police, Mohammad Bakir, who had come to Baghdad from Diwaniyah was shot in the neck and died at the hospital.

 

Hospital sources confirmed that 13 protesters had been injured by tear gas and at least five officers were hit by hand-made grenades.

Two weeks ago, Ehab al-Wazni, a well-known critic of the Iraqi government and organizer of anti-government demonstrations in the city of Karbala was shot dead. Just one day later, Ahmad Hassan, a reporter for the Alforat TV channel, was shot and is still in a coma.

Widespread protests against the Iraqi government and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias began in October 2019. Since then, more than 70 anti-government activists have been the victims of assassinations by unidentified gunmen. The Iraqi government and judiciary have so far not accused any person or organization of planning the attacks, and no one has claimed responsibility for the assassinations.

However, many opponents say that the security agencies know the perpetrators but do not identify or punish them because of their dependence on Iran. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa al-Kazimi, who is at the same time the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, announced his support for the demonstration. But still, the opponents believe he is guilty of these assassinations.

Strategy for boycotting parliamentary elections

Iraq has been plunged into political and security instability since 2003, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime by the US military and its allies. Power in this country is practically in the hands of a few limited groups. Opposition groups in Iraq are calling for the disintegration of the “ruling class”.

Dissatisfaction has risen in Iraq, especially since the defeat of ISIS in 2017 and the inability of the government and parliament to restore political stability, security, and economic prosperity.

So far, 17 political parties opposed to the government have boycotted the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for October. Opponents say independent candidates have no chance of entering parliament to change the current status quo.