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Iraq Government Report on Violence against Protestors Faces Rejection

Iraq Government Report on Violence against Protestors Faces Rejection

Thursday, 24 October, 2019 - 07:30
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators gather during a protest after the lifting of the curfew, following four days of nationwide anti-government protests that turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq October 5, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani/File Photo

A report issued by an Iraqi government inquiry panel into violence at public protests earlier this month, which left dozens killed and thousands injured, was on Wednesday met with a wide range of reactions.

Many rejected the report, saying it stokes further public anger.

The report, which said more than 70 percent of the deaths were caused by shots to the head or chest, held senior commanders responsible but stopped short of blaming the prime minister and other top officials.

Protests over high unemployment, poor public services and corruption erupted on Oct. 1, prompting a violent security crackdown. Protesters blame graft and infighting among political leaders for failing to improve their lives even in peacetime, two years after ISIS was declared defeated in Iraq.

“The committee found that officers and commanders lost control over their forces during the protests (and this) caused chaos,” the panel said in its report.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi established the committee to look into the bloodshed, and he has also promised a cabinet reshuffle and reforms including steps to fight graft, and provide government jobs and land to university graduates.

But critics said his gestures were vague and appear unlikely to defuse public anger over rampant corruption. Renewed protests are planned for Friday after an almost three-week hiatus.

It was also noted that the panel’s conclusions did not correspond to reports put forth by subcommittees in provinces elsewhere. The total number of those wounded differed drastically, in addition to the government report failing to indicate who carried out attacks against television stations and blamed five armed gunmen who were arrested and then released on bail.

The report recommended that the Baghdad operations commander in charge of the response to the unrest and dozens of other senior security officials be dismissed and put on trial.

Its recommendations, however, must be approved by Abdul Mahdi before being referred to prosecutors for possible trials.

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