Iraq’s cutting back compensation sparks anger among Rafha demonstrators

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Iraq’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, who took office in May, decided to cut back the compensation paid to members of the Rafha community. Al Kadhimi took to the decision owing the country’s worsening economy, rising deficit and to detect fraud in salaries and welfare payments. Rafha community, also referred to as Southern Shiites, used to receive monthly payment from the government under a law, which bind the authorities to pay compensation to political prisoners from the Saddam era.

The Rafha members, launched a failed revolt against the former dictator Saddam Hussein in January 1991, when the Gulf war was about to end. Their major motive was to weaken S. Hussein’s regime and in the process they also gained control over the country’s southern towns by ousting regime’s Sunni troops and by dragging members of Saddam’s Baath party to the lamp posts for hanging.

What triggered protests against the government this week was Iraqi’s PM’s decision to stop paying the compensation to every member of the revolter’s family and rather decided to limit the payment to only one member of the family. This led to further protests on Sunday which in turn sparked another controversy as Iraqi soldiers reportedly shot dead two men on the outskirts of Baghdad, as per local media reports.

On Monday, Iraqi military denied killing anyone during the Rafha protests. As per the reports, police fired to scare away the demonstrations who were heading towards Baghdad’s Green Zone, a government district that is mostly not accessible for to ordinary Iraqis.

Army spokesman Yehya Rasoul said that the military sent back the buses full of demonstrators for not adhering to coronavirus restrictions. The army “repelled” protestors who tried to attack the country’s armed forces, without using weapons and “without a single casualty”, Mr Rasoul said. He added, “The security forces are committed to preserve the constitutional rights of peaceful demonstrators.”

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