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A Desperate al-Maliki Resorts to Violence Against Peaceful Protests

by Mike Powers

January 26, 2013

As the Iraqi Thawra revolution enters its second month of protests, the al-Maliki government responded today with both savage violence and repression around Iraq when confronted by Friday┤s "No Retreat" rallies.



   It was reported that in Fallujah at least 10people were killed and more than 100 were injured, among them many children and a journalist. The number of the deaths continues to increase as some of the injured die. The shooters, identified as army troops, were called in from Baghdad to prevent delegations from other parts of Iraq from joining the massive demonstrations. The hospital in Fallujah has appealed to citizens to donate blood to treat the wounded in this emergency. In his sermon in Fallujah today, Mohammed al-Dulaimi, who led Friday prayers, warned al-Maliki that "He should stop neglecting our demands and stop violating our rights. Otherwise, the volcano will explode." Demonstrations were reported in other cities including Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul and Baquba, Baghdad, Kerkuk, Haweeja, and other places. Reports say that many were injured when the army clashed with protesters in Mosul. In Baquba Hassan al Zaidi, a tribal chief explained "the government should respond to the demands of protesters, before we start a revolution and put an end to the government". In the Shiite holy city of Naji, south of Baghdad, Sheik Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji a high-ranking member of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council political block, worried that the protests could lead "to the collapse of the entire political process in Iraq" was forced to admit that the protests were not sectarian.

   In anticipation of the growing support for the protest demands in other parts of the country Uday al-Zaidi (the well-known brother of the famous shoe thrower against George W Bush) and Qusay al-Khaffiya, two of the leaders of the present wave of protests, were arrested in Basra. They had been mobilizing support there during the last 10 days. Uday Al-Zaidi has been released later, but nothing is known about the fate of his still arrested friends. Arrests were made by the Security Forces in Tarmiya, just north of Baghdad, and in the Diyala region. The security forces threatened the Imam of Sheik Dhari Mosque in Abu Ghraib and stopped people from attending Friday prayers,

     Al-Maliki is becoming increasingly more isolated, more desperate and more dictatorial. He arrogantly continues to deny the national and non-sectarian nature of the protests and instead blames terrorists, remnants of the Baath Party and foreign interests in the region. For this purpose an attempt to enforce a news blackout can be seen in many areas including Mosul in Nineveh and in the south where the army prevented the media from covering the protests.  Western media continue at least indirectly to support his position by describing the demonstrators, if they report them at all, as Sunni protests, despite the banners for "Iraqi unity, no to sectarianism". Numerous Shiite religious and tribal leaders have endorsed the protests. The Iraq Civil Society Solidarity Initiative ((ICSSI) issued a statement in support of what they termed "the popular protests in Iraq demanding an end to corruption, sectarian conflict and injustice". It stressed that "freedom of expression and freedom to organize peaceful demonstrations are human rights that must be guaranteed".

      In response to the massacre against these civilians today in Fallujah, the Deputy Minister of Defence has announced that he will appoint yet "another committee" to investigate what happened! It is the same ministry that sent troops to Anbar in the first place with orders to try to stop the demonstrations. The already appointed 7-man cross-political party committee of ministers in the green zone parliament has in effect collapsed as politicians not seriously interested in justice squabble for their own political purposes. Some of them are obviously worried that the anger of the Iraqi people is developing into a demand to replace the political process imposed by the US occupation in the illegal Bremer constitution that is the core reason for this dysfunctional misgovernment. They realize that it is not only al-Maliki┤s days that are numbered if the demands of the protesters are not met immediately. The people on the streets continue to make it clear that there is no going back. Al Ahram summed up the mood of the people in Iraq in their analysis of the changing landscape in Iraq and the growing demand heard in the protests: "Leave, Leave! The people want to overthrow the regime!" It seems they have no other choice if their demands are to be realized.


Mike Powers is a member of the  Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm and the International Anti-Occupation Network (IAON). He is a member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee 



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