By Haamid B. al-Mu’tasim – It is a very heavy budget that comes from four days of demonstrations in Iraq, which unfortunately no one in the West has spoken about or is talking about.
60 people died and at least 1,600 people were injured among the demonstrators, mostly young Iraqis who demand a non-corrupted government, work, essential services such as water and electricity, better management of the immense wealth of the country.
Begun spontaneously last Tuesday, with the passing of time the demonstrations of young Iraqis have become ever larger.
The attempts of the Government of Baghdad to limit the rallies, even going so far as to impose a permanent curfew, 24 hours a day, were useless.
On Thursday, Iraqi youth gathered at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, challenging the curfew. After the evening prayer their number increased further. None of the young Iraqis, however, committed acts of violence.
However, this did not prevent the Iraqi police from first attempting to disperse the crowd with charges and then, with a truly criminal decision, starting to fire on the crowd.
The budget, as I said, is very heavy. At least 60 young Iraqis died and more than 1,600 were injured, many of them in critical condition.
According to eyewitnesses, police officers executed at least two people with a gunshot to the head.
The UN office in Baghdad immediately asked the Iraqi government for explanations about this absurd massacre and it was answered that the police reacted after snipers had opened fire on them by killing two policemen. A blatant lie. The demonstrations were picturesque but never violent.
“Iraq has become a cursed country,” said Jalaal, a young Iraqi Shiite demonstrator. “There is no work, no electricity, people die of hunger and disease. This is not acceptable in a country that should be among the richest in the world. There is too much corruption and while the people die, few get rich,” Jalaal concluded.
At first some Iraqi journalists and bloggers tried to resume the demonstrations and interview the demonstrators, but first they were blocked by the police, then failing to do so they were shot.
The most important Shiite authority in the country, the Great Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, also intervened on the extremely harsh repression. He first urged both sides to put an end to the protests, then declared that politicians and administrators had not done their duty by putting their personal interests before the collective interest.
“The government and the political parties have not met the people’s needs to fight corruption,” al-Sistani said in a sermon delivered by his representative Ahmed al-Safi in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.
The influential Shiite religious Muqtada al-Sadr was also very harsh and asked his political force to bring down the government and go immediately to new elections. “The bloodshed of young Iraqis cannot be ignored,” al-Sadr said in a statement.
Iraq also finds itself in a difficult position caught in the midst of the growing tensions between the United States and Iran and risks becoming yet another zone of Iranian influence, all at the expense of a population that needs everything but to find itself entangled in a war that does not concern it.