Four killed in Baghdad as Iraq protests see no letup

Iraqi demonstrators gathered at a Al- Tahrir square watch the World Cup 2022 Qualifier match Iraq v Iran, in Baghdad, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

Four killed in Baghdad as Iraq protests see no letup

  • ‘We’re not leaving, even if this lasts 40 years’

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces killed at least four anti-government protesters on Thursday as they sought to push them back to their main camp in central Baghdad, police and medics said, but demonstrations resumed at the same spot later in the day.

The violence shattered two days of relative calm in Baghdad after weeks of bloody unrest that has killed more than 300 Iraqis as politicians grapple with the biggest challenge in years to their grip on power.

The mass protests, which began in Baghdad on Oct. 1 and spread through southern Iraq, are an eruption of public anger against a ruling elite seen as enriching itself off the state and serving foreign powers, especially Iran, as many Iraqis languish in poverty without jobs, health care or education.

Police and medical sources said the clashes killed four, three of whom were struck in the head by tear gas canisters. The fourth died from wounds sustained from a stun grenade explosion. Another 65 were wounded, many from live ammunition.

Protesters held their ground and gathered in the same area later on Thursday as security forces lobbed tear gas over a concrete wall erected to barricade off the demonstrations.

Dozens choked on the gas and were evacuated by ambulances and tuk tuks, or treated at makeshift medical centres in Tahrir Square.

On another main street protesters used old cabinets, empty petrol drums and steel sheeting to set up their own barricade near Jumhuriya (Republic) Bridge.

“We’re reinforcing in case the security forces make another push later,” said Abbas, a teenager helping to erect the makeshift barrier.

Security forces have tried to tighten the noose around Tahrir Square demonstrations. They took control of many of the surrounding streets earlier in the week.

Security officials have said forces are planning to seal off the square and carry out an arrest campaign to kill the protests’ momentum.

Thursday morning’s clashes appeared to have emboldened some, however. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Hayder Ghareeb, a medical volunteer. “What will they do, kill everyone in the square?”

At Tahrir Square late on Thursday, elated protesters watched their soccer team beat Iran 2-1 in a live match on a giant screen, apparently inspired by the performance. “Iran, Iran, we step on you!” they chanted, setting off fireworks to celebrate.

“We young people are tired and things aren’t great: We have no jobs, we have no salaries,” said Hussein, a young protester who wore a spent tear-gas canister around his neck. “We’re not leaving — even if this lasts 40 years.”

Lebanese women march in Beirut against sexual harassment

Updated 13 min 29 sec ago

Lebanese women march in Beirut against sexual harassment

  • Protesters call for law allowing Lebanese women married to foreigners to pass their citizenship to their husbands and children
  • Women also protest against sexual harassment and bullying

BEIRUT: Scores of women marched through the streets of Beirut on Saturday to protest against sexual harassment and bullying and demanding rights including the passing of citizenship to children of Lebanese women married to foreigners.
The march started outside the American University of Beirut, west of the capital, and ended in a downtown square that has been witnessing daily protests for more than seven weeks.
Nationwide demonstrations in Lebanon broke out Oct. 17 against proposed taxes on WhatsApp calls turned into a condemnation of the country’s political elite, who have run the country since the 1975-90 civil war. The government resigned in late October, meeting a key demand of the protesters.
“We want to send a message against sexual harassment. They say that the revolution is a woman, therefore, if there is a revolution, women must be part of it,” said protester Berna Dao. “Women are being raped, their right is being usurped, and they are not able to pass their citizenship.”
Activists have been campaigning for years so that parliament drafts a law that allows Lebanese women married to foreigners pass their citizenship to their husbands and children.
Earlier this year, Raya Al-Hassan became the first woman in the Arab world to take the post of interior minister. The outgoing Cabinet has four women ministers, the highest in the country in decades.
Lebanon is passing through a crippling economic and financial crisis that has worsened since the protests began.
During the women’s protest in Riad Solh Square, a man set himself on fire before people nearby extinguished the flames. His motivation was not immediately clear and an ambulance came shortly afterward and evacuated him.
Also on Saturday, outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri appealed to more countries to help Lebanon in its crisis to import essential goods. The request made in a letter to the leaders of Germany, Spain and Britain, came a day after Hariri sent similar letters to other countries including Saudi Arabia, US, Russia and China.