Friday, June 12, 2020

Will Iraq’s PM Follow Through With Promise To Punish Those That Attacked Protests?

(AP)
On June 11 the Iraqi government announced that it arrested a man named al-Jurithi in Baghdad. He allegedly confessed to burning tents, stabbing a person, killing a man, and threatening people during the capital’s protests. There was no mention that he was connected to any political party, armed group or the security forces, which was probably the reason why he was arrested. Taking on the powers that be could cause major problems for the new administration.

This was the first act of the Kazemi government to fulfill its promise to investigate and bring to justice those that committed violence against the demonstrations. In May a committee was formed to look into the matter. The new prime minister said he stands with the protests but he has been inconsistent so far. In May he sent the police to shut down the offices of Thar Allah in Basra city after one if its guards fired into a crowd. The premier banned the shooting of demonstrators beforehand. In June however, people set a building on fire used by the Najaf governor prompting police to use live ammunition. The PM did nothing about that even though the police are part of the government security forces.

Despite the arrest and Kazemi’s promise to protect them, activists continue to complain about harassment and blame political parties and Hashd units. For example one man was kidnapped in Baghdad and another assassinated in Maysan recently, while a gang entered Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and set some protest tents on fire. Nothing has been done about these incidents. Organizers are also talking about restarting national protests soon, which could bring more violence against them. That will test the Prime Minister to see how he will respond and whose side he really stands with.

SOURCES

AIN, “Urgent Al-Kazemi instructs the formation of a government committee to draw up a list of victims of the protests,” 5/18/20

Aldroubi, Mina, “Iraq makes arrest over attacks on anti-government protesters,” The National, 6/11/20
- “Iraq police raid office of pro-Iran militia accused of shooting protesters,” 5/11/20

Al Hurra, “Killing and burning demonstrators .. Baghdad “announces the arrest” of Al-Jurithi,” 6/11/20

Al Mada, “Protesters accuse parties of deploying militias to distort demonstrations .. And Sadr calls for the liquidation of squares,” 6/11/20

NINA, “Al-Kadhimi orders to emphasize respect for human rights and prevent shootings at protesters,” 5/10/20

Shafaaq News, “Protesters were injured by live ammunition during a fire in a government building in Najaf,” 6/7/20

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