Iraqi forces shoot dead 13 protesters in renewed crackdown

Iraq Protests

After 8 people were killed on Monday, Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 5 others overnight or early on Tuesday, including one killed with live fire toward a funeral procession held for another who died hours earlier, security and medical sources told media.

Around 300 Iraqis have been killed in demonstrations since the start of October against a Iraqi government they see as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests, above all Iran.

Most of those deaths occurred during the first week of the demonstrations, when snipers shot into crowds from Baghdad rooftops. But after the government appeared to have curbed the use of some deadly tactics, the protests swelled rapidly over the past 12 days.

The new violence flared a day after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed to protesters to suspend their movement, which he said had achieved its goals and was hurting the economy.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Abdul Mahdi said the protests were having an economic impact the country could not afford, and asked demonstrators to refrain from further damaging public and private property.

“There are many ways to express opinions without disrupting public life,” he said.

Abdul Mahdi has said he is willing to resign if politicians agree on a replacement and has vowed a number of reforms. But protesters say that is not enough and the entire political class needs to go.

“After the first wave of protests, we gave the government until Oct. 25 to enact reforms,” a 30-year-old protester, who declined to give his name out of safety concerns, said in Baghdad. “It has failed to do so, (and) all of its proposed reforms were just routine, the same old stuff.”

He said the use of deadly force against protesters had radicalized protesters who initially only wanted “constitutional and legal reforms”. Now they wanted wholesale change.

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