Warning note for regional activists: In Iraq, leaders and organizaers of anti-corruption protests are being assassinated
Translated today by our Mideastwire.com (for a free trial email firstname.lastname@example.org):
On August 31, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Baghdad: “Many activists in the demonstrations sweeping the Iraqi cities have been the object of organized assassination operations and aggressions, without the security bodies managing to identity the sides standing behind them. In Basra in southern Iraq, Sheikh Aziz al-Hilfi was the object of an assassination attempt which caused him to suffer serious injuries, knowing he is one of the activists who participated in the demonstrations against corruption and the corrupt in the Basra province. Also in Basra, Subeih Qassem, the sheikh of the Qaramsha clan, was assassinated in a bomb explosion, and the Basra police said that a remotely-controlled locally-made bomb containing explosives was placed inside the wheel under the driver’s seat, which led to the death of the sheikh and the injuring of another.
“It indicated that the victim had just returned from Iran following a quick visit to his relatives there, while his car was in the parking at the crossing. The police said in a statement that a team was formed to look into the implications of the incident and the reasons behind the targeting of the sheikh, who is considered an active social figure. Activists Ahmad an-Najm and Ahmad at-Tamimi had also been targeted by assassination attempts using silenced guns, at the hands of armed men riding a speeding vehicle. The two activists were on their way to a local radio station for an interview when the incident happened, but they were able to flee the scene without suffering any injuries. Activists An-Najm and At-Tamimi were among the two most prominent protest figures in the protest tent erected near the provincial council building for 16 days, to demand the implementation of the reformatory demands.
“At this level, activist Haidar Salam from Basra, who is participating in the protests to demand rights, said: “The assassination attempts that targeted some activists will not frighten us. We will not relinquish our demands, regardless of the assaults and harassments.” In a televised interview, he called on his fellow activists not to be affected by the threats, to continue demonstrating and to insist on their legitimate demands. In Baghdad, armed men killed activist Khaled Jamil Reza al-Ukeili at his house in Al-Maamel [Factories] region in eastern Baghdad. Sources close to the martyred activist said that armed men attacked the activist when he opened his door, shot him with silenced guns and left to an unknown location. But the official tale, which was conveyed by Spokesman for the Interior Ministry General Maan al-Ahad, said that the activist and two others were killed because of a tribal conflict…
“Demonstrators in several Iraqi cities had been assaulted by armed groups and security forces to prevent the protests and demonstrations, which pushed the prime minister to instruct the security forces not to attack the demonstrations and ensure their protection.”