Iraqi police have fired live ammunition and bursts of tear gas vessels to disperse thousands of protesters in Baghdad on Friday after anti-government demonstrations resumed after a three-week hiatus.
At least one person was killed and more than 200 injured. .
Security forces were stationed on the streets of the capital of Iraq on Thursday night in anticipation. The protests are a continuation of economically driven demonstrations that began in early October and turned deadly as security forces disintegrated, even firing live circles into crowds.
The protesters called on the government to tackle high unemployment, ie. poor public services and corruption, blaming fraud and fighting among political leaders for failing to improve their lives ̵
"We want the government to step down and the political system be completely renewed," a 20-year-old protestor at Tahrir Square in Baghdad told Al Jazeera.
"The whole political elite needs to change because the current system has done nothing for us," added the protester, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.
A 28-year-old lawyer said that Al Jazeera's change should begin with a new constitution.
"We want a new co nstitution. Without that, nothing can change. The constitution created the sectarian crisis we have been living in for years," the lawyer said, requesting anonymity.
Many Iraqis blame this constitution, drafted and approved in 2005, two years after the US-led invasion. , on the sectarian nature of the political system in Iraq.
Reform and Change
Iraqi soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades on Friday as protesters tried to cross a bridge leading to the heavily-fortified Baghdad Green Zone, home to the US Embassy and Iraqi government services.
At least one protestor was killed, the Iraqi Commission on Human Rights said. Earlier, Commissioner Ali Bayati was quoted as saying that two protesters had died, but later clarified only one death.
The victim was hit in the head by a tear gas judge. The Commission stated that 224 people had been taken to hospitals, many of whom had tear gas.
The Supreme Shiite cleric in Iraq, Gran Ayatollah h Ali al-Sistani, called on protesters and security forces to maintain peaceful anti-government demonstrations.
"Real reform and change in the country must be done through peaceful methods," a priest's representative said during a sermon Friday in the Holy City of Karbala.
Sistani, who rarely engages in politics except in times of crisis, stated that security forces should not allow attacks on public and private property.
Natasha Gonaim of Al Jazeera said protesters broke into the Green Zone Thursday night after the barricades were pulled down around the heavily fortified area. She said that to push protesters back to Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, guns, water cannons and tear gas were used.
"People are very upset by the continuing lack of economic opportunity, basic services – such as water and electricity – and what they perceive as a dysfunctional government that is plundering the land of their money. Adding to their anger is the fact that in the first round of protests earlier this month, 149 protesters were killed, "said Ghonim.
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