Assassins kill Iraqi activist in Nasiriyah as protesters torch party, gov. offices
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two unidentified gunmen shot and killed an activist in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah amid an uptick in assassination attempts and kidnappings of notable members of anti-government protests that swept the nation close to three months ago.
Witnesses told Kurdistan 24 the gunmen were riding a motorcycle as they intercepted activist Ali Al-Assami’s, opening fire on him and killing him instantly. The incident took place on Friday.
His family has said that Assami was preparing for his wedding that was to come in a few months.
Assami’s assassination sparked anger among Nasiriyah protesters, who, later on Friday, headed to the headquarters of political parties that are widely seen as affiliates of Iran and set them ablaze.
A well-informed source said the demonstrators set fire to the party office of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militias, the Islamic Dawa Party, and the Badr Organization, as well as the Iraqi Special Operations Regiment headquarters.
Life in Nasiriyah has been idle since a violent crackdown on protesters led to the deaths of dozens in the city, with demonstrators rejecting calls for the resumption of work by public servants.
These killings continue despite Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani’s condemnation of continued crackdown on demonstrations. Sistani has also called for an early election as the Iraqi parliament missed its constitutionally mandated duty to nominate a replacement for Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who resigned amid national anti-corruption demonstrations.
So far, nearly 500 have reportedly been killed in the protests, mostly peaceful protestors by security forces or Iran-backed militias in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and well over 27,000 wounded. Many have been killed after riot police have used live rounds or have fired military-grade tear gas canisters directly into crowds.
On Wednesday, the national parliament in Baghdad approved several articles of a new draft election bill but failed to pass it, adjourning until the next session on Monday. Electoral reform has been among one of the protesters' top demands.
The draft law indicates the electoral system would change to one that is a mix between direct voting and electoral lists, the latter of which protesters have rejected, saying it gives the parties too much power to disregard electoral decisions voters make.
Earlier in December, parliament passed a law that reorganized the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the body that oversees Iraqi elections.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany