Police shot randomly at hundreds of protesters in al-Hamza district in Iraq’s southern province of al-Diwaniya on Friday, killing one person and injuring four.
The incident came after a statement released on Thursday by the Iraqi parliament condemning the use of violence against demonstrators in Egypt and urged for the respect of human rights.
The protesters who followed up with their demands from a previous demonstration on Thursday called for the removal of al-Hamza head official and for the Iraqi government to provide basic services.
In addition to demanding employment, the protesters carried lamps and small sacks of sugar to symbolize their demands for food and electricity. The ration card system includes only necessary items such as wheat, rice, flour, and the government is mulling to cut the ration food supplies into four items only.
The ration card system was adopted in Iraq after the 1990 U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 661 to impose economic sanctions on the country following its invasion of Kuwait.
In December 2010 the U.N. officially lifted the sanctions against Iraq. It is estimated that government funding for the ration card in 2010 reached around $2.9 billion.
One of the protesters, Mohammed Hassan, 31, told al-Sumaria News that the police has arrested some protesters, and added that demonstration will continue tomorrow until demands are met.
Other witnesses said that the protesters threw stones at the police, burned car tires, and blocked the district’s main road for more than two hours.
Meanwhile, a local official from al-Diwania province, Dakhil Sihyoud, told al-Sumaria News that the police fired shots in the air to disperse protesters blocking the main road which he called “international” for connecting the southern part of Iraq to the center of the country.
“The provincial government does not mind any peaceful protest that respects the law,” Sihyoud said, adding "provincial government formed a council to meet with the protesters to hear their demands, sit down to negotiate and execute the plans together with the protesters.”