Death toll climbs to at least 27 in Iraq on day-3 of protests- police, medics
UNTV News • October 4, 2019 • 247
Iraqi security forces opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who defied a curfew in Baghdad on Thursday (October 3) and exchanged fire with gunmen in a southern city, killing two people on the third day of nationwide anti-government protests.
The protests, in which at least 27 have now been killed and over 600 wounded, began over unemployment and poor services but have escalated into calls for a change of government and pose one of the worst security challenges in years.
They appear to be independent of any political party and seemingly took the security forces by surprise.
At least 4,000 protesters gathered in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square and attempted to march onto the central Tahrir Square only to be met with open fire and heavy tear gas.
Police used live ammunition in the Zaafaraniya district of Baghdad, where a protester was shot dead, and there were protests in the northwestern Shula district.
Police said protesters had fired at them in the town of Rifaen near the southern city of Nassiriya where seven people were killed overnight and one more was killed on Thursday.
Fifty people were wounded in Rifae, including five police, they said. (REUTERS)
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday ordered its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports in the country to be on alert following reports of possible deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq by human trafficking syndicates.
In a statement, immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente ordered immigration officials to rigidly screen overseas Filipino workers (OFW) traveling to Dubai which was allegedly used by human traffickers as a transit point for the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq.
Morente’s order came after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) alerted the bureau on the alleged recruitment of OFWs by syndicates through social media.
The BI cited reports on online ads for newly-opened job vacancies in Iraq which falsely claim that the deployment ban in Iraq has already been lifted.
“Immigration officers are directed to exercise extra vigilance in clearing the departure of Filipino travelers bound for Dubai, particularly those who are departing as tourists, and make sure that they are not going to other foreign destinations in order to work,” Morente said in his directive to BI Port Operations Division (POD) chief Grifton Medina.
The immigration chief also directed airport officers to monitor names of several OFWs who were allegedly illegally recruited to work as restaurant waiters in Baghdad.
“Be sure that none of these illegal OFWs disguised as tourists are able to leave the country. They should be stopped and turned over to the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) if encountered, for their protection,” Morente said.
Medina also shared information from the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad, which states that the said recruits were already issued visas authorizing them to work in Iraq.
“There are also reports that Iraq-bound OFWs are deployed there by first sending them off as tourists to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur before they proceed to Baghdad,” Medina said.
The illegally-recruited Filipino workers pay the deployment cost of their recruiters through salary deduction, which according to Morente, is a form of human trafficking through debt-bondage.
“These illegal recruiters will sweet-talk their victims, encouraging them to take the job offers while the costs will be deducted from their salaries,” he said.
“When they get to their worksites, many are enslaved, given meager salaries, and made to work more than they supposed to in order to pay off their alleged debt,” he added.
Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).
Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.
At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.
More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.
Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.
A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.
Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)
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