09/06/2018, 10.20
IRAQ
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Basra: Fresh clashes between police and demonstrators with more dead and wounded

Yesterday a man died in the clashes between agents and demonstrators. The previous day there were six victims, dozens injured. The police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowds. Water crisis and disservices have exacerbated the citizens. Twenty thousand people in hospital due to water pollution. Al-Sadr speaks of "infiltrated vandals" among the people in the square.

Basra (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the clashes between citizens and security forces in Basra, southern Iraq, another demonstrator was killed (at least 25 injured, some of them seriously), after the six victims already registered on 4 September.

This is reported by the local leader of the provincial council of human rights, according to which the police opened fire against defenseless people. Some witnesses speak of bullets and tear gas at the height of man exploded by agents against several thousand demonstrators, who had gathered outside the headquarters of the regional government.

The southern Iraqi metropolis has long been hit by a severe water crisis and is the scene of street demonstrations. Citizens protest against the poor quality of public services, unemployment (10% according to official figures, but with peaks up to 60% among young people) and endemic corruption. The Basra region includes around 90% of the country's hydrocarbon resources; however, only 1% of the workforce comes from the area.

Because of the bloody protests, as early as last July the local Church had decided to suspend cultural activities and catechism, to protect faithful. At the time the local archbishop Msgr. Alnaufali Habib Jajou had warned of a possible escalation of the protest.

The UN special envoy for Iraq Jan Kubis called for "calm", inviting the authorities "to avoid a disproportionate, lethal use of force" against protesters. He also asked the magistracy to "investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the explosion of the wave of violence". The government, concludes the UN expert, must "do its best" to respond to the legitimate demands and rights of citizens.

The protests are motivated by the pollution of groundwater and drinking water, which have caused the hospitalization of at least 20 thousand people in recent weeks. Speaking on the matter the outgoing Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi ensured that "real ammunition" would not be used. The radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks of "infiltrated vandals" among the demonstrators.

The demonstrations that have engulfed the city show in all its reach the state of abandonment in which Bassora, in the extreme south of the country, near the border with Kuwait, and the exasperation of its inhabitants in front of the impunity of the corrupt. One thing above all: in the elections last May, the city registered one of the highest abstention rates.

The rivalries and factional struggles in Baghdad, which have paralyzed parliamentary work since the beginning of the work, the vain promises of the authorities and calls for dialogue have exacerbated the population. "I do not care to know who has the duty to do it - says Bashra resident Mehdi - what I want, simply, are the basic services".

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