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Iraq prevents protesters from entering Green Zone in Baghdad

Protesters climb concrete block walls to make their way to the Green Zone during an anti-government protest at al-Khalani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq on 14 November 2019. [Murtadha Sudani - Anadolu Agency]
Protesters climb concrete block walls to make their way to the Green Zone during an anti-government protest at al-Khalani Square in central Baghdad, Iraq on 14 November 2019. [Murtadha Sudani - Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi security forces yesterday prevented hundreds of protesters from entering the Green Zone in Baghdad to demonstrate against deductions in their salaries, Anadolu reported.

Most of the protesters are members of the Islamic Dawa Party, led by former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

A police official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Anadolu that the security services protecting the Green Zone were ordered by the government to prevent the protesters’ entry.

The protesters came from Rafha refugee camp, about 20 kilometres from the northern Saudi Arabian desert, where thousands of Iraqi families have been living since 1991.

They sought refuge in this area when it was occupied by Saudi Arabia following their opposition to former ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. In 2006, parliament ratified the Rafha Act, which stipulates paying monthly salaries for these families and offering them free healthcare, travel and study.

READ: Iraq has a historical opportunity for progress which its Prime Minister must take 

On 22 June, the new Iraqi government led by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi decided to cut these salaries in response to the calls of protesters who had taken to the streets and forced the ouster of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

In a message to parliament, the Dawa Party said security forces’ measures to stop protesters entering the Green Zone “ushers in a real danger and grand conspiracy being plotted against the sacrificing people in the country”.

While the Human Rights Commission described the measure as a “flagrant violation of human rights and international standards”.

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