Iraqi protesters demand accountability after killing activists | News in the Middle East

Hundreds of protesters in Baghdad demanded an end to impunity after the killing of dozens of pro-democracy militants.

Hundreds of Iraqis have protested in central Baghdad to demand that authorities hold responsible the killings of dozens of activists associated with a long-running protest movement.

More than 70 activists have been targeted in assassinations, assassination attempts and kidnappings since a pro-democracy protest movement erupted against corruption and government incompetence in 2019.

“We are here to say we want to end impunity in Iraq,” Hussein Al-Faili, an 18-year-old student, told AFP News Agency on Sunday from Firdos Square, a key protest site.

“We want freedom!” This revolution started because of this and we will not stop until we win. ”

Dozens also rallied in the southern city of Nasiriya, where tensions were rising after a hospital fire broke out. killed at least 60 people on Monday.

On Friday, Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi announced the arrest of four suspects in the point-blank shooting of a senior academic and government adviser Hisham al-Hashemi a year ago.

Iraqi state television broadcast short clips late Friday of the alleged confession of Ahmed al-Kenani, a 36-year-old police lieutenant, who said he had used a gun to assassinate al-Hashemi.

A security source told AFP Kenani that she was affiliated with Kataib Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian militia.

But Faili said the arrests were not enough.

“We want the big man who ordered the murder,” Faili said.

Iraqi protesters react during a rally calling for support for the principles of justice and accountability [Saba Kareem/Reuters]

Most of the young protesters sang Sunday against “political and treacherous parties” while others remembered tears of their murdered comrades.

Iraq, still battered and impoverished after the 2003 US-led invasion and the ensuing turmoil, has been a battleground for influence between enemies Washington and Tehran, which has supported paramilitaries and politicians.

Activist Shatha Al-Qaisi said, “This campaign … seeks to gain the support of the whole world to stop the bloodshed. It is not a politicized movement.”

The High Commission for Human Rights has said nearly 35 activists have been killed in Iraq since an anti-government protest movement swept Iraq in October 2019.

Many expect the killings to continue as Iraq plans to hold early October elections, which had been a primary demand of anti-government protesters.

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