Renewed protests in Nasiriyah demand release of detained activists
The southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah has witnessed renewed protests, calling for the release of activists and detainees.
Iraqis have been protesting against government corruption since October 2019 and many activists have been detained or killed.
Hundreds of people descended on the centre of Nasiriyah, which is the capital of Dhi Qar Governorate, and called on authorities to release detainees and put an end to abuses suffered by activists and their families.
The protesters also called on the government to hold accountable those individuals who had killed protesters.
Chanting crowds assembled in al-Haboubi Square, which has served as a central rallying point for protests in Nasiriya.
Protesters shouted slogans including “Where are you Sajjad? Today the square wants you,” as they demanded to know the fate of a prominent activist who was kidnapped in September last year.
Sajjad al-Iraqi was snatched in Dhi Qar by unknown persons and his disappearance prompted the government to launch a military operation to find him, but to no avail.
Protesters were angered by a lack of results and blamed the government for their failure to find Al-Iraqi and other protesters who have gone missing.
In the capital Baghdad, protests erupted in solidarity with demonstrations taking place in Nasiriyah.
Many residents of Dhi Qar have reacted angrily to recent comments by the province’s governor.
In a televised interview, Nazim al-Waili said that the missing activists could still be alive, but refrained from committing to actions that would secure their release.
Waili went on to say that former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was not responsible for violations committed against protesters and that if he were to visit Nasiriyah, he would be welcomed by the city’s residents.
Angered by his comments, one Iraqi Twitter user said, “It is not among the powers and duties of the governor to decide who is innocent and who is accused! A free and fair judiciary is the one that decides who is innocent and who are the criminals, or the accused!”
Mahdi was forced from office by popular protests in November 2019, but remained as a caretaker prime minister until May 2020, during which time thousands for protesters were killed or injured.