Tuesday afternoon student lead protests of the Iraqi government turned violent as protestors were fired upon by Iraqi security forces. The protests were largely spontaneous and concerned largely the country’s high unemployment, corruption and electricity and water shortages. The focal point was Baghdad and the largely Shiite south. That’s where security forces responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, water cannons, and even live ammunition.
In response many of the protestors have called on the government to shut down. To which Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi appeared on television and responded by taking to TV to tell protestors he would take their “legitimate demands” seriously.
Security forces enforced a curfew. According to NPR, Mahdi stated, “the security measures we are taking, including the temporary curfew, are difficult choices.” Additionally according to the Associated Press he promised a basic income for the poor, housing for the homeless, and to take more seriously the fight against corruption.
There has been ample international backlash to the response, with the UN’s OHCHR spokesperson stating, “we are worried by reports that security forces have used live ammunition and rubber bullets in some areas, and have fired tear gas and gas canisters directly at protestors.”