Algeria to probe video of police beating protesters

A demonstrator wearing a mask gestures during a protest demanding the removal of the ruling elite in Algiers, Algeria July 5, 2019. The day marking the country's independence day. (Reuters)
Updated 07 July 2019

Algeria to probe video of police beating protesters

ALGIERS: Algerian police said Sunday they had opened an investigation after a video circulated online appeared to show protesters being beaten by security forces.
Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Algiers on Friday, the latest in weeks of rallies against the ruling class amid an ongoing political crisis in the country.
In a video widely circulated on social media, two men are seen on the ground being beaten by police officers with batons.
Police chief Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba ordered a probe into the footage “showing clashes with police forces probably during the protest on Friday,” the Directorate General for National Security (DGSN) said in a statement.
The DGSN stressed “the need to investigate... to determine liability and take the measures required by law,” in a message on its Facebook page.
Scuffles broke out at the end of the Algiers rally when police officers grabbed the Berber flag — banned from protests — from demonstrators’ hands and removed it from streetlights.
There was a major police presence at Friday’s rally as demonstrators continued their push for a political overhaul following ailing leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika quitting in April in the face of mass demonstrations.
Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah has called for a national dialogue to pave the way for elections, but demonstrators want top figures from Bouteflika’s era to step aside before polls are held.


Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

Updated 19 min 1 sec ago

Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

  • Basra saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field

BAGHDAD: Anti-government demonstrators in southern Iraq shut roads to two major ports and a key oil field Wednesday, port officials and AFP correspondents said, leading to a brief operational halt.
Correspondent in oil-rich Basra province saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field.
Trucks waiting to load up goods from the ports could be seen waiting empty behind crowds of demonstrators.
Khor Al-Zubair is used for some heavy crude exports but also to import fuel products like benzene, while Umm Qasr is the main entry point for food and medicine into Iraq.
“Export and import activities have stopped because trucks cannot enter Khor Al-Zubair or Umm Qasr ports,” one official at Basra’s port authority said.
A second official later said the route to Khor Al-Zubair had been reopened but Umm Qasr remained shut.
Sit-ins have become a go-to tactic for Iraqis demonstrating against their government since early October.
Protesters have shut the road to Umm Qasr several times, causing a delay in offloading operations that on one occasion forced around a dozen ships to unload their cargo in another country.
Road closures have also impacted heavy crude from the Qayyarah field in northern Iraq from reaching Khor Al-Zubair since earlier this month.
The prime minister’s office has warned security forces “will not allow” protesters near key infrastructure, and riot police have forced roads open in deadly crackdowns.
More than 330 people have been killed since rallies erupted on October 1 in Baghdad and across the south.
In the capital’s main protest camp of Tahrir (Liberation) Square, thousands gathered Wednesday to express their ongoing frustration.
Top leaders and political parties have focused their efforts on hiring drives, more welfare and a new electoral law as immediate measures.
Parliament met late Tuesday to discuss a draft voting law that proposes downsizing the house from 329 seats to 251, shrinking districts and distributing votes according to a complex hybrid system.
But the United Nations mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said the draft law needed more work.
“The draft electoral legislation — currently under review by the Council of Representatives — requires improvements to meet public demands,” it said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
UNAMI chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged lawmakers to pass legislation that “will reflect the public appetite for a new and different way of conducting politics.”
Protesters have so far been unimpressed by the government’s proposals and large crowds — most of them students — turned out on Wednesday.
“Last night’s session serves their own interests, not those of the people,” said Younes, a 28-year-old protester.
Crowds have spilled over from Tahrir onto three main bridges that lead to the western bank of the Tigris, where key government buildings and embassies are based.
On Tuesday night, they tried to cross two of the bridges to reach the so-called Green Zone but security forces deployed on the bridges fired tear gas to keep them back, a security source told AFP.