Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called over the weekend for participation in today's protests. Many heeded the call. How did the government respond? ALJAZEERA reports:
Iraqi police fired live ammunition and volleys of tear gas canisters to disperse thousands of protesters in Baghdad on Friday as anti-government demonstrations resumed after a three-week hiatus.
At least one person was killed and more than 200 wounded.Security forces were deployed on the streets of Iraq's capital city on Thursday night in anticipation. The protests are a continuation of the economically driven demonstrations that began in early October and turned deadly as security forces cracked down, even firing live rounds into crowds.
This after the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, declared on Tuesday, "Iraq has come a long way, it is essential not to further undermine its many achievements. A climate of intimidation and fear is unworthy of Iraq’s potential as an open and democratic society. The UNAMI report highlights shortcomings and measures to prevent them in the future."
The October 22nd, Human Rights Special Report that Hennis-Plasschaert was referring to is entitled [PDF format warning] "Demonstrations In Iraq." From the report:
This special report, prepared by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), outlines preliminary findings and key human rights concerns regarding the demonstrations that occurred in Iraq from 1 to 9 October 2019. Violence during demonstrations caused at least 157 deaths and 5,494 injured people, including members of the Iraqi Security Forces.1 Factfinding conducted between 1 and 16 October indicates the occurrence of potentially serious violations of human rights.2
UNAMI received credible reports of violations of the right to life, including deliberate killings of unarmed protesters and excessive use of force by units deployed to manage the demonstrations. This report also highlights concerns regarding the widespread use of repressive measures to limit publicly available information on the demonstrations, including arbitrary arrests, threats and harassment, confiscation of equipment, deletion of footage, attacks against media outlets as well as blanket restrictions on the dissemination of information through shutting down internet and blocking social media.
The international and domestic legal framework applicable in Iraq guarantees the right to life, the right to liberty and security of persons as well as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring the Government not only to allow assemblies to take place but also to enable peaceful protest, with measures in place to protect demonstrators.
UNAMI urges the Government to take concrete steps to prevent human rights violations and abuses during future demonstrations, to ensure accountability and to facilitate an enabling environment for the general public to exercise its rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
UNAMI calls on all demonstrators to exercise their right to assembly in peaceful and non-violent ways, in keeping with the law.
With at least one dead today and over 200 injured, there's no evidence that the Iraqi government bothered to read the UN report, let alone act upon its suggestions.
"Almost 150" David Greene said on NPR's MORNING EDITION this morning. Why? The United Nations? Generally considered a reputable body, an official body, whose figures are trusted. So if the UN says 157 dead and 5495 injured in the previous protests this month, why does NPR think the United Nations is serving up fuzzy math? Jane Arraf was reporting from Baghdad as the protesters began assembling.
Jane Arraf: The main one is centered on a bridge that leads to the Green Zone where the US and other embassies are and government ministries. And that's [distortion in audio] police are focused on keeping protesters out of. So they've been firing tear gas that's wafting all over -- including to the edge of the protests where we are. Those booms you might be hearing in the background? Those are sound bombs. But it's not deterring the protesters because Friday prayers ended just recently and there are thousands and thousands of people [arriving? coming?] in here. They are waving Iraqi flags and shouting slogans, calling the government to fall. I was just talking to a man in front of me. He has leg he lost to fighting ISIS and I asked him what he wants? And he said, "I want my country back." And that's the feeling that a lot of these people [have], that they've gotten nothing that they've been promised.
In this report (different from above), Jane insisted that the government was not firing on people. Really?
In addition, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters on Friday to disperse thousands of protesters on the streets of Baghdad, sending young demonstrators running for cover and enveloping a main bridge in the capital with thick white smoke. One protester was killed and dozens were injured in the first hours of the protest, security officials said."
The first one killed is said to have been hit with a tear canister. The video above is supposed to be of that protester after he was hit.
In fairness to Jane, the use of "live shots" and "rubber bullets" may have taken place as more protesters assembled. Her reports were both filed (the two for NPR above) as the protesters began assembling. The bullets may have taken place after the assembling was complete and the protests were in full swing. Yesterday, Jane Tweeted:
Mustafa Habib Retweeted
At least two people have died as protests intensified in Iraq, with security forces using tear gas to repel demonstrators from approaching government buildings Friday, a member of the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq has told CNN. The official added that at least 95 other people were suffering from the effects of exposure to tear gas."
AFP: 2 dead as Iraq anti-government protests resume
NIQASH journalist Mustafa Habib reports:
Click here for Mustafa's most recent article on the protests.
So now we have @JoeBiden's campaign officially endorsing the launch of an effort to buy him the primary election through a super PAC that can collect unlimited cash from corporations and billionaires
In the US, the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues as does Biden corruption. War Hawk Joe had denounced SUPER PAC funding . . . until he couldn't raise money. (His big donors have reached the legal limit and Joe's campaign struggles to reach out to Middle America and lower income citizens.) Maggie Severns (POLITICO) explains, "Joe Biden's campaign has opened the door to super PAC spending on his behalf in the Democratic primary, reversing an earlier, self-imposed ban on outside backing as Biden struggles to match rival presidential candidates in campaign cash." Others pursuing the nomination are speaking out.
Warren is talking to you @JoeBiden. It’s deeply disappointing that you’re reversing your stance on Super PAC support during the primary. The path to beating Trump is not a movement powered by big money donors. It’s a movement powered by PEOPLE and Warren is leading it — not you.
The turnabout is another sign of how Joe says one thing and does another.
In a stark reversal, Joe Biden's campaign has effectively dropped its opposition to receiving assistance from super PACs, opening the door for wealthy supporters to spend unlimited amounts of money to try to boost him in the Democratic primary
The following sites updated: