Anti-Government Protests Spread Across Iraq; Reports of More than 40 Killed So Far
Anti-Government protests spread across Iraq this week, with reports of citizen deaths having “reached at least 42”. Citizens of Iraq took to the streets of Baghdad starting on Tuesday this week “demanding economic reforms, jobs, reliable public services, accountability, prudent and impartial governance, and an end to corruption.” The United Nations Secretary General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert says the protester’s demands are “legitimate and longstanding demands… and to bring about immediate and tangible results, is of great importance.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi responded that the Government’s “priorities have been and will remain focused on achieving [citizen’s] legitimate expectations and responding to every just demand for our dear citizens”. Ending his statement, Prime Minister Abdul-Madhi said his “first concern is to preserve the security and stability” of the country. The following day the Iraqi Government enforced a curfew in attempt to keep protesters from organizing. In addition to the curfew, there are reports government authorities “have also cut internet access in the capital and across much of the country.” In a televised speech early this morning, the Prime Minister said the “security measures we are taking, including temporary curfew, are difficult choices,… But like bitter medicine, they are inevitable.”
Protests continue in spite of the imposed curfew, and Iraq’s armed forces and police have begun opening fire on protesters. Reuters reports their local “television crew saw police snipers stationed on rooftops open fire on a crowd, critically wounding at least one protester hit in the neck.” Protester death tolls are reported to have “surged to more than 40”, and the protests’ end does not appear to be in sight.