While authorities announced the nationwide curfew, at least ten demonstrators lost their lives in Baghdad following Sadr supporters’ protests.
As Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters demonstrate in Baghdad and other areas of southern Iraq in response to the cleric’s declaration of his “conclusive departure” from politics and the closure of the majority of his offices and institutions, at least ten persons have been killed.
Ten Sadrist protester was killed, a security officer informed, as security personnel tried to retaliate against protesters who had broken into several government facilities.
On Monday, Sadr announced his ultimate resignation and the suspension of all institutions with the exception of the Holy Shrine, the Noble Museum, and the Al-Turath Authority. He stated he had “chosen not to engage in political matters.”
Following the declaration, followers of Sadr started marching towards the government facilities in Baghdad’s Green Zone, a strongly protected area that is home to the parliament as well as other important institutions and offices.
They seemed to have scaled the gates outside the Monument to the Unknown Soldier and broken inside the Republican Palace structures, according to video and images shared on social media. Sadrists may be seen swimming in the palace’s pool in certain photographs.
The chant “the people want the overthrow of the regime” was initially connected to the region’s 2011 Arab Spring anti-government rallies, according to local media.
By Monday evening, reporters on the site had heard both live gunfire and tear gas being deployed. Twenty security officers were hurt when they faced protesters, a senior military official in the Green Zone informed reporters.
On their way to the Green Zone, forces connected to Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam armed group were also spotted.
“Our course of action has not yet been chosen. The demonstration is presently being driven by the protestors’ own will. Nothing has been decided as of yet,” reporters were informed by a senior Saraya al-Salam commander.
Recently, Sadr’s supporters have been occupying and camping in the area outside the parliament building in an effort to pressure the government to call fresh elections.
Since the sparsely attended elections in October 2021, which have so far failed to produce a new administration, the nation has been engulfed in political impasse.
The majority of seats gained by Sadr’s MPs in that election withdrew in June as a result of the failure of talks to create what he dubbed a “majority administration.”
After Sadr’s decision to resign, his office released a second public statement saying that from this point forward it was “absolutely prohibited to raise slogans, banners, political chants, and others in the name of the Sadrist movement” and that Sadrists would refrain from participating in media or social media campaigns.
The governorate’s gates were sealed off, and the Iraqi security forces declared a lockdown for the whole city starting at 3.30 p.m. Later, the curfew was extended to all governorates, starting at 7 p.m.
They also urged moderation in order to “avoid conflicts or the shedding of Iraqi blood” and urged Sadr’s followers to “withdraw promptly” from the Green Zone.