According to the Baghdad-based war monitor Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, mass protests in Iraq had left 831 protesters killed and injured over the past 10 days. Mostafa Saadon, the spokesman for the monitor said that the Iraqi government is currently launching “a wide-scale security campaign in search of the activists who took part in the demonstrations in Baghdad and the other governorates.” So far 348 were arrested, but 311 were released after signing a pledge that they will not partake in any further protests.
Mass anti-government protests started across the southern Iraqi provinces two weeks ago. The protesters demonstrate against unemployment, corruption and poor services in the country. Crowds of people in numerous cities stormed administrative buildings, attacked the headquarters and branches of political parties and militias and burned them. The ferocity of protests forced Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to cut short his visit to Brussels for NATO summit to meet with the local officials and tribal leaders in the Southern Iraqi city of Basra in a bid to restore calm.
Shortages of electricity supply combined with extreme Summer heat largely contributed to the protests. This problem escalated even more when Iran cut off electricity supplies to Iraq. In early July, protesters in Basra, Iraq’s largest oil province, began sabotage actions against the key energy companies, demanding work and improved service. After the death of one of the protesters and the wounding of the other three on 8th July near Bakhya in the north of Basra, protests began to grow explosively.
Photo via Libcom