First Published: 2011-02-10

 

Lawyers protest against Iraq government

 

Hundreds of lawyers demonstrate across Iraq against widespread corruption, unemployment.

 

Middle East Online

By Nafia Abdul-Jabbar - BAGHDAD

Enough with corruption

Hundreds of lawyers took to the streets across Iraq on Thursday to protest widespread corruption and unemployment in demonstrations inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

The demonstrations in Baghdad, Karbala, Kut, Ramadi and Amara came a day after Iraq's anti-corruption chief said ministers frequently covered up graft in their departments.

In the capital, around 500 people, mostly lawyers but also including some tribal sheikhs, called for the government to open up so-called "secret prisons" to scrutiny and give detainees access to legal counsel, for it to better combat corruption and for increased numbers of jobs.

"This demonstration will not end until our demands are met," Kadhim al-Zubaidi, spokesman for the Baghdad lawyers' guild, said.

"We want lawyers to be protected, the corrupt to be fired, and more jobs for the Iraqi people."

Protesters held up a banner which read, "Lawyers call for the government to abide by the law and provide jobs for the people," and "The government must provide jobs and fight the corrupt."

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both alleged that Iraqi security forces maintain secret prisons, where detainees are not given access to lawyers and subjected to physical abuse, charges Iraq's government denies.

About 500 lawyers and others turned up at two separate demonstrations in the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, to protest against the lack of basic services, such as electricity, water and sewage systems.

"This demonstration expresses the will of the Iraqi people, not just lawyers, demanding that the governor and city chief raise the level of services," said Sajat Hussein, a 30-year-old protester who joined about 200 others outside the Kut city court.

One protester at the other demonstration said the street outside his home resembled a "marsh" after rain because of inadequate sewage facilities.

Iraq's infrastructure for basic services such as water and electricity have been suffering from the aftermath of the 2003-US led invasion and two decades of war and UN sanctions that came before. Corruption has been a persistent problem since dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted in the invasion.

In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, Iraq's anti-corruption czar said that instead of fighting graft Iraq's ministers preferred to hide departmental corruption.

Meanwhile, in the shrine city of Karbala in southern Iraq on Thursday, about 200 lawyers and other demonstrators called for jobs, better services and their full food rations.

Rabia al-Masaudi, the head of Karbala's lawyers' guild, mocked the 12 dollars that the government has been giving out each month to families in lieu of rations that included cooking oil, rice, flour and sugar.

"We reject this amount of money," he said, adding that MPs were getting paid $11,000 per month, while many of the six million families nationwide who depend on government rations were being paid $12 a month in place of their full supplies.

Small demonstrations also were held in the western city of Ramadi and Amara in the south.

 

Washington lauds Iran's role in Iraq

Iran slams boring Netanyahu's continuous lie-spreading in US speech

Saudi executing at 'unprecedented' pace

Libyan militants take control of two oil fields

'Saudi prince' New York apartment on sale for $48.5m

Women protest for peace ahead of Israel election

Concerns rise over civilians’ safety in Iraq military operation

UN invites Libya leaders for crisis talks in Algeria

Israel to double water quota to Gaza ‘within days’

Abbas: Palestinians ready to talk with "whoever" wins Israel election

Fire at Cairo convention centre injures 19 people

US, Iran wrap up three days of intense nuclear negotiations

EU reviews policy in response to Ukraine, Arab Spring

IAEA delegation to hold talks in Tehran on March 9

Tunisia rescues 86 African migrants at sea

Turkish Airlines plane skids off Nepal runway

British former marine 'killed' in Syria

Netanyahu warns Congress: Nuclear deal will free Iran to develop weapons

Bottle of juice vs. outspoken critic of Israel domestic policies

UN approves sanctions regime for South Sudan

Arab states to mull creation of joint force against ‘Islamic State’

Libya tit-for-tat airstrikes target airport, oil terminal

Iran holds memorial service for ‘Afghan volunteers’ killed in Syria

South Sudan general accused of abducting child soldiers

Netanyahu takes fight over Iran nuclear ambitions to Congress

UN delegation meets Aleppo governor to push ‘freeze’ plan

Yemen leader proposes reconciliation talks to be moved to Saudi

Jihadists use urban warfare to slow Tirkit adavance

Libya warplanes strike militia-controlled airport

Egypt court cancels call for parliamentary elections in March

Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Qaeda in Yemen released

South Sudan's oil wells pose environmental hazard

Obama lashes out at Netanyahu over Iran

Tunisia blogger jailed for 6 months for defaming army

US controlling ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels

Two killed in Cairo bomb blast

Erdogan in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia seeks to re-energise foreign policy

Palestinians prepare to lodge first war crimes complaint against Israel

Turkey probes soldier for failure to resist ‘Islamic State’

US envoy to Yemen throws support behind President Hadi

Libya recognized parliament names Haftar as chief of armed forces

How Islamic is ‘Islamic State’?

Separate battles rage on against IS in key border area

Reconciliation with Iran proves far from simple for Hamas

Before UN rights panel, Kerry delivers vigorous defense of Israel