Following their participation in the latest protests, two activists were assassinated in their home in Basra by unknown assailants.
Two activists, Hussein Adel Madani and his wife Sara Madani, were shot and killed on Thursday after masked gunmen stormed their home in the city of Basra, southern Iraq. Their deaths come amid growing protests in Basra and other provinces in central and southern Iraq, including in the capital Baghdad.
Both Hussein, who was a cartoonist, and Sara, were well-known to protesters. According to reports, the two were last seen helping injured protesters who had been struck by tear gas in Wednesday’s protests.
While the perpetrators are unknown, other activists have accused militia groups of conducting the attack, with some saying that impunity is rife among such groups. Despite the local security forces allegedly launching an investigation, this is unlikely to placate those in Basra who now fear for their safety during these protests.
The incident recalls memories of the assassination of several Basra activists, including Suad al-Ali who was shot dead in September 2018, following her efforts in organising the 2018 Basra Protests.
Beginning in Baghdad, Basra, and several other provinces, demonstrators have been demanding an improvement to services, increased efforts against corruption, and, in some cases, for the fall of the Iraqi Government.
While the protests were initially peaceful, they have grown increasingly violent, with security forces firing life ammunition towards protesters and protesters throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces and setting fire to government buildings.
According to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, at least 19 protestors and security officers have been killed, and an estimated 1041 people have been injured since the start of these protests on Tuesday.
Several bombs were also heard on Wednesday evening in Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the government’s headquarters and many international embassies are located.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a warning against its citizens travelling to Iraq, while the Iran has closed its two crossing points, Khosravi and Chazaba, on the border with eastern Iraq.
Owing to the growing violence and instability, the Iraqi Government has since enforced a curfew on citizens in Baghdad, Hilla, Najaf, Maysan and Dhi Qar provinces and blocked social media sites to prevent large-scale information from leaking out.
With protests continuing into Friday and not showing signs of abating, pressure is growing on the government of Adil Abd al-Mahdi, who has held meetings with leading political figures to discuss a way out of the current crisis.
The Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, also called on representatives from the demonstrators to attend tomorrow’s parliamentary session to voice their concerns and demands, although this invitation was rejected by the protesters.