Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New School Strike And Continued Protest Actions In Southern Iraq

Students on strike in Maysan province (Al Ghad Press)


Iraq’s Teachers’ Union called for a new general strike after the first one expired a few days ago. That shut down most of the country’s schools in the south. Speaking of that region, protesters tried to re-start the sit-in camp in Basra, there were more clashes in Dhi Qar, and new demonstrations in Karbala and Maysan.

Iraq’s Teacher’s Union started a new strike. That led most schools and universities in southern Iraq and Baghdad to shut down. On October 27 students in Baghdad walked out of their schools and joined the protests. That was followed by the union going on strike on October 29. That was supposed to last a week, but many students have not gone back to class. The new work stoppage therefore is just making official what is already going on. Having the schools join the protests was a huge boost, and came with other professionals and unions joining in. Initially, almost all of the demonstrators were angry young men. Having the participation of social organizations showed that the protests had finally spread to other parts of the general population. Not only that, but it shut down important parts of the government putting more pressure upon Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi.

Southern Iraq remained the main front in new protest activity. For a second day, people tried to return to the central square in Basra city, which had been cleared out by the security forces. By the middle of the night there were still in the square so this might have been a successful attempt. In Dhi Qar, the mayor of Gharraf had his house burned down, and there was a large gathering in Nasiriya after four people were killed the day before. They shut down four bridges and nearly 30 government offices including the Nasiriya refinery, which again brought live gun fire by the security forces. On the other hand, police in Karbala joined a march in the city. Finally, in Maysan people also closed government offices including the Maysan Oil Company and the Election Commission. Basra was the first province where the security forces shut down a protest site. They are now finding out that keeping the area clear is quite a task. The crowds might have won out and returned to the downtown area. Besides Baghdad, Dhi Qar has consistently had the most clashes between protesters and the authorities. That started in the Shatrah district, but is now happening in other sections of the province. That has led to several deaths. Trying to block government offices has been going on for some days now, and is a new tactic meant to find different avenues to continue on with the demonstrations, since the sit-ins have not been enough to make the government carry out any meaningful change. These types of actions can be expected nearly every day in different provinces each time.

SOURCES

AIN, “Demonstrators shut down a number of government institutions in Maysan,” 11/12/19

Aldroubi, Mina, “Iraqi justice minister hails ‘great efforts’ of government but protests rage on,” The National, 11/12/19

Baghdad Post, “On the order of the people .. Demonstrators close the office of the Iraqi channel in Maysan,” 11/12/19

Al Mada, “Bullets chase protesters in Baghdad and provinces launch new strike,” 11/12/19

Al Mirbad, “Watch the Basra sit-in after returning for the second day,” 11/12/19

NINA, “A Demonstration for Karbala police to support the demands of the demonstrators,” 11/12/19
- “Dozens Of Demonstrators Flock To The Sit-In Square In Basra,” 11/12/19

Sky News Arabia, “Our correspondent: heavy shooting to disperse demonstrators in the province of Dhi Qar, Iraq,” Twitter, 11/12/19

Sotaliraq, “The sit-in closes the Nasiriya refinery and more than 30 government institutions,” 11/12/19

Al Sumaria, “Protesters besiege the house of mayor of Gharraf district north of Dhi Qar,” 11/12/19

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