Protests were held in towns and cities across Iraq Feb. 25, with marchers filling Baghdad's Tahrir Square in a national "day of rage." In Mosul, three were killed when security forces fired on the crowd. Four were also killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Haweija, a town north of Kirkuk. (AlJazeera, DPA, Feb. 25)
Thousands of protesters filled Tahrir Square in the center of the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah on Feb. 22, in an ongoing campaign against the two entrenched political parties that have divided power in the Kurdish autonomous region (KDP and PUK). Three young protesters have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Sulaimaniyah since the campaign began last week. Demonstrators carried banners reading, "Don't Forget Hosni Mubarak," referring to the Egyptian president who was overthrown after massive protests on Cairo's Tahrir Square. In a bid to prevent further violence, several demonstrators wore white shirts inscribed with the words, "Wall of Peace," and stood between the bulk of the protesters and security forces.
Three protesters were killed in street clashes in the cities of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan Feb. 18. Apparent supporters of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) looted several offices of the Goran opposition party. Protests against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment in several cities across Iraq also left more than 100 people wounded. (Middle East Online, Feb. 18)
What authorities call a "tribal dispute" between Arabs and Turkmen over land near Iraq's oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk left three people dead and several more wounded several others Feb. 11. The incident began with a protest by Turkmen against Arabs who were building houses in the village of Basheer. (Reuters, Feb. 11) Six were killed and 22 wounded in three car bomb attacks in Kirkuk on Feb. 9, in what authorities said was an attack by Ansar al-Islam on the Kurdish militia Asayish. (NYT, Xinhua, Feb. 9)
Iraq operates secret prisons and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them, Amnesty International said in a report released on Feb. 8. An estimated 30,000 men and women remain in custody in Iraq, some in secret facilities operated by the ministries of defense and interior, asserts the report, titled "Broken Bodies, Broken Minds." "Iraqi security forces use torture and other ill-treatment to extract 'confessions' when detainees are held incommunicado, especially in detention facilities—some secret—controlled by the Ministries of Interior and Defence," the report said.
Hundreds of protesters marched in cities around Iraq Feb. 4, inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the region. The government's failure to provide basic services topped the list of grievances, with complaints of food, water and power shortages. The biggest demonstration took place in al-Hamza, a poor town Shi'ite town south of Baghdad, where marchers were estimated by authorities at over 1,000. (CNN, Feb. 3)
Three bombings near mosques in central and northern Baghdad on Nov. 13 killed two people—hours after US Vice President Joe Biden arrived for meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other senior officials. One bomb exploded near the Husseiniya Shi'ite mosque in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, killing one and wounding four. Another went off near the Abdel Qadir Gilani Sunni mosque, also in the city center, killing one and wounding five. A third exploded near al-Assaf, a Sunni mosque in Adhamiyah in the north of Baghdad, wounding four.
The powerful Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ended his self-imposed exile in Iran and returned to his stronghold hometown of Najaf in central Iraq this week. Al-Sadr fled Iraq in 2008 after the government issued an arrest warrant for him. His return was seen as evidence that his faction struck had struck a deal to have the warrant cancelled in exchange for al-Sadr's movement joining the new government led by Nouri al-Maliki.