Protesters in Iraq are facing an assault from two fronts in making their demands and voices heard. First, they have to worry about security forces attacking–possibly killing–them, and they have to worry about police not protecting them.
In the early hours of February 21 dozens of men, some wielding knives and clubs, attacked about 50 protesters who had set up two tents in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. The assailants stabbed and beat at least 20 of the protesters who were intending to camp in the square until February 25, when groups have called for national protests similar to the “Day of Anger” in Egypt. The attack came directly after the police had withdrawn from the square, and witnesses suggested the assailants were in discussion with the police before they attacked.
Iraqis have a right to be angry. When there’s so much corruption, no drinkable water, lack of electricity, a bad health care system, growing unemployment, rampant hunger among the majority, a foreign power devastating your country to take its oil, a horrible massacre from a private security company, and now with your country’s own security forces attacking you instead of protecting you for demonstrating for better change, yeah, you’re gonna be visibly upset.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may have “vowed not to ignore the protesters’ demands,” but they “are meaningless when we see vicious attacks like the one on February 21.”