ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Protesters in Iraq’s Basra have called on the government to respect their rights and hold accountable those security forces which use force against demonstrators.
As protests across southern Iraqi provinces enter the third week, people in Basra on Sunday called on the central government in Baghdad to end its use of force against demonstrators who argue they are exercising fundamental human rights.
Reporting from Basra, Kurdistan 24 correspondent Shivan Jabary spoke to several demonstrators who complained that security forces are using excessive force and detaining people merely because they are on the streets calling for their demands to be heard.
“This is the blood of a protester; he was killed on Saturday by security forces,” a man holding a blood-stained shirt told Kurdistan 24.
“We are here calling for our rights; we are calling on [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi to meet our demands; we are calling for basic services (electricity, water); come kill us, we want our rights!” Another protester exclaimed.
Baghdad claims the weeks-long demonstrations are illegal because protesters “don’t have official permits.”
On Friday, Amnesty International said Iraqi authorities had intentionally cut off internet access shortly before security forces attacked, and in some cases killed, protesters.
Internet service has been largely suspended, and social media sites blocked since demonstrations against a lack of basic services, unemployment, and poor living conditions began on July 8.
#HappeningNow: Protesters to Kurdistan 24: “We are here calling for our rights; we are calling on Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi to meet our demands; we are calling for basic services (electricity, water); come kill us, we want our rights!” #IraqProtests #Basra pic.twitter.com/nRgLkXvvyp— Kurdistan 24 English (@K24English) July 22, 2018
“The parliament has not done anything for us yet,” one protester in Basra told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday. “We have called on the government to meet our demands for over four years. We want this failed system to leave, and for our people to be free.”
At least 12 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured since the protests began.