Iraqi Government Murders Dozens of Protesters

Ryan Lau | @RyanLau71R

Over the past five days, Iraqi citizens have taken to the streets in protest. The country’s largest movement of its kind in years, thousands are calling for Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign.

Iraqi security forces have since viciously attacked the protesters, killing dozens and injuring thousands more. Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights reports that as of Saturday, at least 99 protesters have died as the Iraqi government shoots them with rubber bullets and live ammo alike.

Iraqi Forces Assault, Kill Protesters

In the below video, which @realsadaam posted to Twitter, a protester lays dead after a security official killed him. The video is highly graphic and audiences should take caution when viewing.

Baghdad’s Tahrir Square has become one of the central protest locations. Recent videos from demonstrators feature frequent gunshots as the government’s forces continue to rain bullets down on their political opponents. The below video shows mostly unarmed protesters, many of whom are wearing masks, marching down the street with flags. But contintually, their actions have been met with tear gas and gunshots.

Additional video footage shows sparks flying as the Mahdi regime fires at will, seeking to quell the dissenters. Though some protesters have lobbed canisters of tear gas back at their assaulters, Iraqi security forces clearly hold the heavy ammunition, going so far as to deploy rocket launchers for use against the people of Iraq.

In spite of these events, Mahdi has shown no signs of meeting the demands of the protesters. He has stood behind the actions of his security forces, asserting that there is no simple solution to the marchers’ demands. However, the only explicit demand is that Mahdi resign.

Many believe that the Mahdi regime is intentionally targeting media groups within the country to prevent coverage of the massacre. Several organizations faced attacks Saturday night from “armed men in black”, says one news analyst within the country.

According to George Washington University professor and news correspondent Joyce Karam, few stations are covering the attacks; those that do face violent blowback.

Off the Grid?

While the demonstrations have been occurring, Iraq has faced widespread internet blackouts. It appears that the government has intentionally cut internet access off from the people, who have thus been largely unable to share their situation with the outside world.

After 78 hours of shutdown, users were able to briefly access the web. Most users were still unable to access social media, but some used VPNs to evade this. But just two hours later, Iraq cut the cables again, reducing connectivity from 60% to 27%, the approximate level at which it has sat since late Wednesday.

Iranian Involvement

Those two hours, though, have proven extremely valuable for those trying to spread the story. Since then, countless posts have surfaced across the web detailing the offenses that Iraqi forces have committed; some actually claim that Iranian forces are behind some of the violence.

This originates from Baghdad, where protesters Saturday found Iranian passports inside of some of the vehicles that attempted to halt the marches. Iranian officials have had a presence in Iraq for some time now. Though Mahdi has tried to control them in the past, some are now suggesting that he is either complicit in these actions or using the forces against his people.

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