September 20, 2021

Assassinations in Iraq: hundreds of demonstrators demand ‘an end to impunity’

‘No to political parties! No to the militias! ‘ We chanted several hundred people who demonstrated, Sunday, July 18, in Baghdad to demand ‘the end of impunity’ in Iraq, where dozens of opponents and activists have been killed or kidnapped since the popular uprising of October 2019 .

Waving Iraqi flags and holding up portraits of murdered ‘martyrs’, protesters, including many students who had participated in the 2019 uprising, marched through the center of the capital under heavy police surveillance before listening to chants and reading from a poem by one of the most emblematic activists of 2019, the young artist Safaa Saray, killed by a tear gas canister received in the head in Tahrir Square, epicenter of the protest in Baghdad.

Since the uprising, repressed in blood (600 dead, tens of thousands injured), many militants have fled Iraq or have taken refuge in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, in the north of the country, for fear of reprisals.

The killings and kidnappings of militants have never been claimed, but the demonstrators point the finger at the powerful pro-Iranian militias, essential in Iraq, and are indignant that no one has ever been held to account.

‘We want the killings to stop’

‘We want freedom, that’s why we started the revolution in 2019, and we won’t stop until we get it,’ 18-year-old student Hussein al told AFP. -Feili.

‘We want the killings to stop, we want a country free from militias and Iranian stranglehold’, for her part launches a young woman, dark glasses and mask on her nose, the only way not to be recognized and risk harm. retaliation, she laughs.

>> To read: Assassinations in Iraq: dissonant voices threatened with elimination before the elections

Asked about the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday of the arrest of the killer of famous Iraqi researcher Hicham al-Hashemi, whose assassination shocked Iraq in July 2020, many protesters shrug their shoulders: ‘we want the sponsor ‘, summarizes Hussein al-Feili.

Dozens of people also demonstrated in Nassiriya, a rebellious southern town.

The event was organized by an online campaign ‘Stop Impunity in Iraq’, launched by activists from the diaspora and inside the country.

Small symbolic gatherings were also held in Paris, London or Helsinki, according to videos posted on Twitter by the organization.