Protests in Iraq continue despite Prime Minister al-Kadhimi’s call for violence inquiry and release of all detained demonstrators

BAGHDAD / Basra, Iraq – After the first meeting of new Iraqi Government, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced the formation of a commission of inquiry into the use of violence against protesters and pledged to hold accountable those who shed Iraqi blood. He also called for the release of all detainees and said families of the more than 550 people killed in the protests would be compensated by the government.

Al-Kadhimi also announced the return and promotion of Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Sa’adi to head of Anti-Terrorism Forces.

The announcement comes as limited protests resumed in some cities on Sunday after nearly three months of relative calm.

Popular protests resumed on Sunday after fear of the coronavirus and measures to mitigate its spread emptied the streets. Protesters renewed their calls for political reforms and the holding those in the ruling class accountable for their corruption. Several areas, notably Basra and Najaf, saw hundreds of young protesters flock to public squares, demanding the dismissal of regional officials.

According to a security source, a protester was killed by a bullet to the head in Basra Province. Activist said the man was killed by “pro-Iranian armed militias”. Four others were injured, according to local media.

This comes as Iraqi Security Forces announced the arrest of five gunmen belonging to the “Revenge of God” movement after they shot dead a person in front of their headquarters in Basra. Security forces also confiscated rifles and live ammunition found inside the headquarters.

In the capital, dozens of demonstrators gathered at noon in Tahrir Square on Monday, chanting “the people want to overthrow the regime” and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Security Forces, reported an Agence France-Presse correspondent.