Baghdad and southern Iraqi provinces witnessed on Tuesday sweeping anti-government rallies protesting corruption, poverty and unemployment. Riot police clashed with the demonstrators, leaving many dead and injured.
On the main Tahrir Square in Baghdad, riot police used excessive force, tear gas and opened fire to disperse protesters killing at least three and wounding over 70.
Some 3,000 protesters had descended on the square with Iraqi flags draped over their shoulders or wrapped around their foreheads.
A government statement, on the other hand, said one person was killed, and that 40 members of the security forces were among those injured. They did not say where the death took place.
While the Ministry of Health declined to provide any clarification on the exact number of deaths and injuries, human rights official Ali al-Bayati told Asharq Al-Awsat that dozens of injuries were caused by security forces using water cannons and tear gas, and that a human rights worker present at the demonstration was injured.
On another note, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim ordered the suspension of work at the Iraqi consulate in the Iranian city of Mashhad following the attack on Iraqi diplomats. The move is the first of its kind for post-Saddam Iraq.
“Alhakim directed to suspend the work of the Consulate of the Republic of Iraq in Mashhad against the background of the attack on Iraqi diplomats,” an official statement said.
Another document issued by the Iraqi consulate in Mashhad showed that Iranian authorities arrested and assaulted two Iraqi diplomatic staffers.