Iraqi Government Sends Mixed Signals as Protests Continue

On Friday Iraqis will take to the streets again in mourning over the 29 peaceful demonstrators who were killed last week in Baghdad’s Day of Rage. Among the protesters killed was a 14-year-old boy. As in previous protests, demonstrators will also demand political reform, an end to corruption, and jobs as well as clean water, food and electricity.

In an effort to prevent demonstrators from reaching Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on February 25, bridges and roads leading to Baghdad were closed off, a curfew was set in place and Al-Maliki said on television that Al-Qaeda operatives might be shooting people at the protests. Thousands of soldiers and riot police were deployed in the streets of Baghdad on the days of protests. Later “forces fired water cannons, sound bombs and live bullets to disperse crowds,” according to the Washington Post.

As February 25 approached Amnesty International and other human rights organizations called on the Iraqi government to respect the rights of protesters to assemble peacefully. Protesters who demonstrated before the Day of Rage had been attacked, beaten and stabbed by gangs. Besides the beatings, detentions and killings of protesters, Al-Maliki’s government detained around 300 peaceful demonstrators.

Yet in response to continuing protests across the country Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has given government ministers 100 days to eliminate corruption or be fired, according to CNN.

Stephanie McCrummen writes in the Washington Post, “Crowds forced the resignation of the governor of the southern province of Basra and the entire city council of Fallujah.”

Journalists continue to be targeted for their work—one was shot dead last week, while many others are beaten, detained, threatened and even tortured. The television station Aldiyar was closed by security forces on February 27 and seven of its staff were arrested for covering the protests. Hadi Al-Mahdi, who runs a radio show with a Facebook page, told NPR reporter Kelly McEvers about his detention. There are also reports that journalists have been given bribes—land plots and car loans—in order not to cover the protests.

Al-Maliki’s government apologized for the detention of journalists on March 1, promising to protect the freedom of the press and to regain reporters’ trust. Friday will tell if these promises will be kept.

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3 thoughts on “Iraqi Government Sends Mixed Signals as Protests Continue

  1. Recent social events in the Middle Eastern countries, have led millions citizens from west to questioning their own democracy.
    If there is something in which some critics from our democracy feel identified; is with this opposition to totalitarianism and the collapse of our economic, political and social changes that in the obsession with power, has led us, for years, to political corruption, letting our politicians into their inability to react.
    This great crisis and also the failure of past commitments with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have left paralyzed the ONU and Europe democratic right of intervention in Arab countries; leaving, therefore, millions of women and men alone helpless and also oppressed and terrified by the cruelty and violence their own leaders apply against them.
    This is a reality that Tunisia lived first and later Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Libya and Iran.
    As long as our society begins to suffer from the failure of our democracies, and is revealing the grotesque hypocrisy about our system, that is more concerned to the new immigrants wave and the economic consequences of Libyan oil that the slaughter and destruction taking place now.
    At this historic moment, Gaddafi and his son are struggling to maintain the untenable tyranny of his regime under the evidence of a massacre foretold, the same nightmare that maybe tomorrow, in case of a popular revolt, could cause Iranian regime against its people.
    Arab societies have decided rise up; even risking their lives against the nightmare that has been living for decades, giving an example of what should be the true Western values.

    If anything is clear, is the courage, the peoples unity and the irrevocable need to a great social transformation that young crowd is claiming.
    A new Arab world is being born and with it, a new democratic future.
    This time may not be sufficient to impose trade and criminal sanctions to governments in conflict, It is absolutely necessary a real system change with the full world involvement, not only the UN, if not all neighbouring countries with their armies, as for Egypt and Tunisia which have already won this revolution.
    To the Arab world, both, the Libya’s victory or Iranian regime fall, would be a radiant victory towards a new future for this reason itself, it is essential a real external involvement and support.

  2. Recent social events in the Middle Eastern countries, have led millions citizens from west to questioning their own democracy.
    If there is something in which some critics from our democracy feel identified; is with this opposition to totalitarianism and the collapse of our economic, political and social changes that in the obsession with power, has led us, for years, to political corruption, letting our politicians into their inability to react.
    This great crisis and also the failure of past commitments with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have left paralyzed the ONU and Europe democratic right of intervention in Arab countries; leaving, therefore, millions of women and men alone helpless and also oppressed and terrified by the cruelty and violence their own leaders apply against them.
    This is a reality that Tunisia lived first and later Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Libya and Iran.
    As long as our society begins to suffer from the failure of our democracies, and is revealing the grotesque hypocrisy about our system, that is more concerned to the new immigrants wave and the economic consequences of Libyan oil that the slaughter and destruction taking place now.
    At this historic moment, Gaddafi and his son are struggling to maintain the untenable tyranny of his regime under the evidence of a massacre foretold, the same nightmare that maybe tomorrow, in case of a popular revolt, could cause Iranian regime against its people.
    Arab societies have decided rise up; even risking their lives against the nightmare that has been living for decades, giving an example of what should be the true Western values.

    If anything is clear, is the courage, the peoples unity and the irrevocable need to a great social transformation that young crowd is claiming.
    A new Arab world is being born and with it, a new democratic future.
    This time may not be sufficient to impose trade and criminal sanctions to governments in conflict, It is absolutely necessary a real system change with the full world involvement, not only the UN, if not all neighbouring countries with their armies, as for Egypt and Tunisia which have already won this revolution.
    To the Arab world, both, the Libya’s victory or Iranian regime fall, would be a radiant victory towards a new future for this reason itself, it is essential a real external involvement and support.