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.

 

Regional tensions rise in Kurds’ independence vote

Erdogan threatens Iraqi Kurds with border closure, oil block

US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa

Iran shuts border with Iraqi Kurdistan

Dubai set to become first city with flying taxis

Iraq Kurds start voting in historic independence referendum

UAE announces plans for region’s first nuclear reactor

Putin to visit Erdogan this week for Syria, Iraq talks

Sudan vows to step up efforts to improve US ties

Turkey to launch intervention into Syria — and maybe into Iraq

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ dies in Abu Dhabi

Palestinian unity government remains unlikely

Emirati man fights his employer to serve in country’s army

Palestinian PM to visit Gaza next week

Saudi advisory body to tackle female driving ban

Turkey denies closing Iraqi border in response to Kurdish vote

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US

Kurds ready for contentious vote in Iraq

A Kurdish state: Reality or utopia?

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Iran defies US, tests missile

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote