Iraq forms panel to investigate protester killings
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi said on Saturday that his government had formed a committee to investigate the deaths of protesters in recent demonstrations.
His announcement comes a day after top Iraqi Shia Muslim cleric Ali al-Sistani set a two-week deadline for the country's authorities to bring to justice those who shot at protesters in the anti-government rallies that rocked Iraq this month.
Abdel-Mahdi said the formation of the committee was in response to al-Sistani's call.
Violence erupts during protests in Iraq
Iraqis ushered in October with anti-government protests in Baghdad. These quickly deteriorated into violent confrontations resulting in hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths. Unease remains in several cities. By Cristina Burack
Days of violence: despite promises of reform by the government, protests against corruption and mismanagement in Iraq continue. Once again on Friday people gathered in central locations in the capital Baghdad, as well as in the south of the country
Protests without end: following days of violent protests, a curfew was supposed to provide peace and quiet - after all, at least 100 people have died and some 1,600 have been injured. However, many demonstrators ignored the curfew and spent the night outside to protest further
Protests without a party: these are by no means the first protests against the difficult living conditions in Iraq. In some places, there are only four hours of electricity a day, and according to the World Bank, youth unemployment stands at 25 percent. Iraq's most senior Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani called for "serious reforms" before it was too late
Lockdown: there is already talk of the first protests "without flag, without posters and without party slogan". They were, however, obviously fanned by the dismissal of a popular general, Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi. In Baghdad, the demonstrators tried to enter the so-called Green Zone. Numerous government buildings and embassies are located in the high-security district
Allegations of police violence: security forces have been using tear gas against demonstrators since the beginning of the protests. The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva also fears that police officers have been using live ammunition and rubber bullets. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi came under fire when he praised the security forces and blamed the unspecified "attackers" for the violence
The country's president, Barham Saleh (photo, March 2019), reiterated his condemnation of the violence and called for "restraint and respect for the law". "Peaceful protest is a constitutional right granted to citizens," Saleh stressed. The Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi Parliament criticised the "repression" of the protests
The panel comprises representatives of several ministries, security agencies, a top judicial authority, a human rights commission and parliament, according to Abdel-Mahdi.
"The committee aims at reaching objective and verified findings to bring the culprits to justice," he added in a press statement.
At least 108 people, including eight security personnel, were killed in the week-long protests in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, according to official figures.
On 1 October, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of several provinces in the oil-rich country to protest against corruption, lack of jobs and poor services - in particular access to electricity and clean water.
The protests come one year after Abdel-Mahdi took office in Iraq, which is still grappling with a lengthy U.S.-backed military campaign against the Islamic State extremist group. (dpa)