Deadly clashes in southern Iraq between protesters and security forces

(The National) Deadly clashes erupted between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters on Sunday in the southern city of Nasiriyah following the death of two activists and a policeman.

The protests started last Friday after security forces arrested an activist in the city’s Haboubi Square.

Footage showed protesters running and chanting while security forces fired teargas and gunshots at them.

Dozens have been injured.

“One policeman was killed and 33 others were injured during the events that took place today, Sunday, in the city of Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Governorate,” a statement by the country’s security forces said.

Two civilians were killed during the last 48 hours, the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights, told The National.

“People have been assaulted, nearly 40 are injured. Security forces have arrested more than 30 and two activists have been killed,” Ali Al Bayati, a member of the Commission said.

One of them was Haider Ali, an activist and nurse, who was abdicated three days ago.

“Last night Haider’s body was found and was dismembered, we are still waiting for the final results of the security institutions,” Mr Al Bayati said.

The second man, Ali Al Hamami, a senior lawyer and activist was killed in Nasiriyah on Friday after unknown assailants broke into his home.

“Ali died of suffocation after being gagged with tape and his house was robbed,” a statement by Dhi Qar Bar Association said.

The Human Rights Commission said the government must deal directly with representatives of Nasiryah’s community to ensure that protests’ needs are answered.

“The government must acknowledge community leaders such as religious, tribal, social and civil actors to get political agendas,” Mr Al Bayati said.

“We will have an early election in the next few months so it’s important to stabilise the city as the instability in Nasiriyah will be seen in other provinces,” he said.

The Commission has called on Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi to visit the city and follow up on security measures and to ensure that Nasiryah’s economic, social and infrastructure sectors are “secure”.

Mr Al Kadhimi has called for early polls to take place in June 2021, nearly a year before schedule, to fulfil a key demand of the protest movement that erupted late 2019.

Nasiriyah was a major hub for the anti-government protest movement, it was also the site of one of the bloodiest incidents of the uprising, where on November 28 more than three dozen died in protest-related violence.

“We are fed up, no one is listening to us, no matter what we do and say we feel that it won’t change the system,” an activist from the southern city, who chose to remain anonymous, told The National.

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