Iraq protests intensify after killing of activist

Iraq protests intensify after killing of activist
Thousands of people have attended the funeral of a prominent Iraqi activist who was killed by unknown gunmen, as students continued their protests in Baghdad and Al-Kut despite a crackdown.
2 min read
13 January, 2020
Protests continued in several Iraqi cities [Getty]

Unknown gunmen have killed a prominent Iraqi activist who has taken part in anti-government protests in southern Iraq.

Hassan Hadi Muhalhil, aged-58, was shot four times in the town of Souq Al-Shuyukh in Dhi Qar province.

Thousands of protesters took part in Muhalhil's funeral in the provincial capital, Nasiriyah, calling for an end to killings of activists opposed to the government and accountability for security and government officials responsible for their deaths.

At least 511 people have been killed in Iraqi anti-government protests since they began in October 2019, according to the Iraqi ministry of health, and more than 20,000 have been injured.

Protesters are angry about high rates of corruption, unemployment and poverty in Iraq as well as the sectarian-based system of government.

In Baghdad on Monday, university students continued their protests outside the ministry of higher education, after security forces tried to violently disperse them the previous night.

They chanted that they would not leave the area until the ministry rescinded a decree, issued on Sunday, ordering students back to class and warning them that they would be punished for not attending.

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School and university students have skipped classes in order to protest against the government and form a key component of the protest movement.

In Iraq's Wasit province, south of Baghdad, 60 protesting students were injured on Sunday after security forces used tear gas and bullets against them.

Protests were ongoing on Monday and students stormed security forces' barricades. They called for the sacking of local officials and security officers in the province.

The protesters closed off many of the streets in the provincial capital Al-Kut, burning tires and clashing with security forces who tried to prevent them reaching government offices in the city.

The anti-corruption demonstrations had been overshadowed recently by spiralling tensions between the US and Iran, which led each country to carry out strikes against the other's assets in Iraq at the beginning of this month.

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