US condemns use of violence in Baghdad

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27 May 2021

Peaceful rally in Baghdad ends in violence as security forces open fire on demonstrators killing one and injuring several more

On 25 May, what began as a peaceful anti-government protest ended in brutal violence when security forces fired guns and tear gas to disperse the crowds in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad. One demonstrator was shot dead, and dozens more were gravely injured, according to security and medical sources. The violence in Tahrir Square this week was described as reminiscent of the chaos of October 2019, when nationwide protests erupted calling for the then Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to resign. In a statement issued by the State Department spokesman Ned Price, the United States have expressed their utmost condemnation of the acts of violence used against the demonstrators.

The protests were triggered by the killing of activist Ihab Jawad al-Wazni in the Shia city of Karbala earlier this month, the last victim of a string of recent targeted killings against activists in Iraq. According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, around 600 demonstrators and 35 activists have lost their lives in targeted killings. On Tuesday 25 May, thousands of people took to the streets calling for an overhaul of the country’s political system, and demanding accountability from Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi for the murders of dozens of Iraqi activists shot dead in different parts of the country. The perpetrators have yet to be identified but activists and demonstrators are united in blaming unnamed Iran-backed militias; they have, in the past, denied any involvement.

With national elections looming in October, the government of Prime Minister al-Kadhimi has pledged to investigate the assassinations and crack down on what it considers to be criminal armed groups trying to destabilise the country. But the feeling amongst most Iraqis is one of disenchantment, as 68 year old Abu Marwan indicates, “my son has no future, my country has no future. I’m old, my life is over, but I want a future for this generation.” With such sentiment becoming increasingly more widespread,many are calling for a boycott of the upcoming election.


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Author: Giulia Ferrara; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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