Iraqi prominent activist severely wounded in anti-inflation protests in Babylon

Iraqi prominent activist severely wounded in anti-inflation protests in Babylon
A prominent Iraqi activist was seriously wounded when the guards of a lawmaker opened fire on protestors.
3 min read
10 March, 2022
More than two years after the outbreak of the Tishreen uprising, Iraqis continue to demand an end to corruption. [Getty]

Prominent Iraqi activist Dhurgham Majid was severely injured on Tuesday night, when the guards of a lawmaker from the southern province of Babylon fired live munitions on anti-government protestors.

Demonstrators had gathered in al-Hillah, the provincial capital of Babylon, located nearly 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, to voice their grievances over the rise of food prices.

As Iraq is a major importer of Russian wheat and other commodities, the conflict in Ukraine seems to have already affected the costs of staples in the country. 

The Babylon Police Command said in a statement on its official Facebook page that they had launched an investigation into the incident.

“Security forces in Babylon have opened an investigation on the assault of a group of demonstrators, including activist Dhurgham Majid, by the guards of a lawmaker from the province,” read the statement.

It said that “arrest orders have been issued by the judiciary for all the attackers. One of the guards has been arrested and the security forces are chasing the rest.”

The police did not name the Iraqi MP, but Iraqis on Twitter have accused the guards of Suha al-Sultani, a lawmaker from the parliamentary group headed by Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, of being the perpetrators.

 “Five demonstrators were slightly wounded by stones and sticks; Dr. Dhurgham was heavily wounded with a bullet. The injured were transferred to a hospital for treatment,” said the police statement.

The New Arab spoke with al-Sultani, but she declined to answer any questions about the incident, and suggested establishing contacts with the presidency of the Sadrist group in the Iraqi parliament.

The New Arab contacted Hakim al-Zamili, the first deputy of the Iraqi parliament speaker, who is also a Sadrist, but he was not immediately available to comment.

The Sadrist Movement secured most seats (73) in Iraq’s October 2021 parliamentary election, but it has yet to form a new ruling coalition and address longstanding demands for political reform.

According to social media users on Twitter, Majid’s health is now in stable conditions after he underwent surgery. He was seen in a video clip, speaking from the hospital and urging his followers to keep calm. Majid promised that, once recovered, he would continue to pursue “the demands of the people”. 

Contacts were also established with Imtidad, one of the parties emerged from the Tishreen anti-government uprising that broke out in 2019, but no one was available to comment by the time of publication.

Pro-Tishreen demonstrators continue to call for an end to the ruling elites' corruption and impunity. 

According to the Global Corruption Index published in 2021 by the Transparency International international NGO, Iraq is among the most corrupt countries, ranked 157th out of a total of 180.