Five dead as Iraqi students and schoolchildren join anti-government protests

Iraq’s security services announced a curfew from midnight to 6 am in Baghdad

Five protesters were killed in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Monday, as thousands took to the streets in the latest round of nearly month-long demonstrations.

Iraq’s security services announced the imposition of a curfew from midnight to 6am, as crowds once again gathered in Tahrir Square to protest unemployment, corruption and a lack of services.

Thousands of students and schoolchildren made up much of the protesters across southern Iraq on Monday, defying threats by the education minister and prime minister, who called for them to stay away from the protests.

“No school, no classes, until the regime collapses!” protestors shouted in Diwaniyah, 180km south of Baghdad.

The southern province’s union of universities and schools announced a ten-day strike “until the regime falls”, as many professors followed their students into the streets.

Footage released on social media appeared to show security forces beating female students in Baghdad.

More than 200 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of October, including more than 70 killed since last Thursday.  

At least 8,000 have been wounded.

Lawyers also joined the protests on Monday.

In a statement, the Iraqi Bar Association said its members would be on strike from 30 October until the demonds of the protesters were met.

“[We] stand by the Iraqi people and support their demands to end the despicable quota system that led the country to this state of bad and serious deterioration, and to strengthen their claim to their national rights, and build a state of law and constitutional institutions and towards a better life for all Iraqis,” said the statement.

The association said that, following an extraordinary meeting, it was “calling upon all lawyers in the Republic of Iraq to refrain from pleading before all courts of all kinds and degrees, and in any legal capacity, whether it is a lawyer assigned or chosen.”

It added that teams would be “formed by lawyers for the purpose of defending peaceful demonstrators [who are] arrested and detained.”

Curfew imposed

The military said cars and foot traffic would be barred in the capital for six hours starting at midnight.

The move sparked concern security forces want to clear out main gathering places like the capital’s Tahrir Square, occupied by demonstrators for four consecutive nights.

Security forces there have relied heavily on tear gas to keep protesters from storming the Green Zone, which hosts government offices and foreign offices.

But protesters had otherwise been allowed to set up tents in Tahrir and taken over multi-storey buildings there since Thursday in a marked departure from the response to protests during the first week of this month.

Young protesters gathered on Monday morning in the southern cities of Nasiriyah, Hillah and Basra. 

In Kut, most government offices were shut for lack of staff.

Source ; News Agencies

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