March 18th was dubbed ‘Friday of the Imprisoned’ by various Iraqi facebook pages, which led to several thousands of protesters marching in Baghdad, Ramadi, Falluja, and other cities. This was amidst extreme state security measures, check points (centered especially around the Green Zone) and the use of sound bombs, tear gas, and sometimes live ammunition to break up the demonstrations. The call for a focus on prisons came partially in response to a prison riot that took place in Tikrit on March 13th. Also though, many of the protest organizers from the past several Fridays (the day demos have been held regularly since February 18th) have been locked up, in addition to the fact that Iraq has had a soaring prison population since 2007. Chants heard during marches were ‘Free Government Prisoners!’ and also included ‘Improve Social Services!’ and even ‘Bring down Maliki’s Government!’ and ‘Leave, Leave Occupier!’ Click here for video (audio in Arabic.)
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