ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Hundreds of people from the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Sunday launched protests amid ongoing demands for better living standards.
During the summer months, many Iraqi cities, chief among them Basra, had been embroiled in protests that continue to rage, intermittently, over poor government services and infrastructure, the lack of electricity, high unemployment, and widespread corruption among state institutions.
Dozens of teachers marched to the city’s governorate building Sunday afternoon, closing down the main road and holding signs seemingly likening the central government, and its previous iterations, to the pre-2003 dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.
“You and Saddam are two sides of the same coin,” one of the signs read. The marchers also demanded improved basic services.
In the city’s northwest, tens of other demonstrators gathered in front of the West Qurna 2 oilfield, reportedly, demanding employment, which they claimed had been promised.
Pictures posted online showed men standing over on knocked over concrete T-walls at the entrance of the oilfield.
On multiple occasions, demonstrators and local activists have called for the province to be turned into an autonomous region as its exports account for 95 percent of Iraq’s oil revenue.
The latest protests come nearly two weeks after unknown gunmen assassinated Sheikh Wissam al-Gharawi, a young Shia cleric and one of the city’s more famous protest organizers.
Over the past few months, several activists have been killed, with security forces reportedly unable to apprehend the suspects.
As a result of the inaction, rumors have spread accusing pro-Iran militia groups of conducting the assassinations, especially since protesters burned many of the Shia factions’ headquarters in southern and central Iraqi cities, including the Iranian Consulate in Basra.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany