Protester killed as Iraq cracks down on electricity demonstrations
The protester, named as Muhammad Sattar al-Delfi, was filmed as he was run over by security forces in Baghdad, where scores have been demanding electricity amid power outages. Videos that emerged online showed his funeral.
At least 10 other demonstrators have also been injured in the ongoing protests, The New Arab’s sister Arabic-language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
Member of the Human Rights Commission Ali al-Bayati said the killing brings Baghdad back to square one.
“The Iraqi government is repeating previous methods and behaviour in dealing with protesters. The continued delay in providing services to citizens will lead to continued protests and an emergence of a new era of demonstrations,” al-Bayati said in a statement.
“The current situation in Baghdad and other cities that are angry at a deterioration of services needs an operation room to resolve the crisis, not security operations to kill the demonstrators,” he added.
The movement was sparked on Friday night in Baghdad’s Al-Wahda district where the electricity supply has been scarce with just four hours of power per day.
Security forces quickly intervened to disperse the protesters using live bullets, forcing them to withdraw from the streets. The demonstrators vowed to return if the government is unable to supply electricity to homes in the area the following day.
Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed ,local Al-Wahda official Saad Al-Lami said the problem goes beyond Baghdad’s borders.
“The areas on the outskirts of Baghdad suffer from a great lack of services, specifically short hours in which electricity is provided to citizens amid high temperatures.
“Iraqis do not have any option but to protest against the government that has failed to provide electricity 18 years after the US occupation. Over the last few years, Iraqis have suffered with this crisis and the Ministry of Electricity as well as all officials in the country continue to dismiss it as it were an unsolvable puzzle,” Al-Lami added.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity blamed the crisis to technical issues caused by “terror attacks” designed to sabotage power lines.
Anti-government protests to campaign against corruption, poor public services, and widespread poverty and unemployment erupted in October 2019.
Since then, Iraqi security forces have used lethal force to disperse the protests, killing and injuring thousands of people, although current Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has vowed to protect the right to peaceful protest and punish members of the security forces who have killed protesters.