Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani has called on the Baghdad government to launch a thorough investigation into the wave of violence during recent protests against corruption, staggering youth unemployment and poor public services, which started in the capital and then spread to other cities.
In today’s Friday sermon, Hojjatul Islam Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaie the representative of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Karbala explained the views of the supreme Marja about the use of force against demonstrators in recent events in Iraq. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani emphasized his condemnation and opposition to attack peaceful demonstrators as well as a number of security forces, and stressed his condemnation of setting fire to some governmental institutions and private properties, and hoped that everyone is aware of the dangerous consequences of the use of violence and anti-violence in the current protest movements and avoid it under any circumstances.
But what happened in the following days resulted in unprecedented increase of violence and targeting many protestors by snipers as well as apparent attack on some media outlets in order to prohibit the broadcasting of what was occurring during demonstrations. Whilst the officials announced that they have issued strict orders to security forces not to shoot directly at the demonstrators, thousands were martyred or injured by being hit directly in Baghdad, Nasiriya, Divania, and other cities in scenes which showed unbelievable cruelty.
The government and its security services are responsible for all the bloodshed in protests in the past days, whether they are from innocent citizens or security forces, and they (government and security forces) cannot evade being responsible. They are responsible when some security agents use violence against protestors more than it is necessary, be it due to disorder of demonstrators or not listening to their orders or not being capable or due to lack of training in dealing with public demonstrations to avoid casualties. They are responsible when illegal armed agents target protestors in the presence of security forces and attack specified media to frighten their workers. They are responsible to protect the citizens, governmental institutions, public properties against some limited number of infiltrators who did not wish demonstrations to remain peaceful.
Therefore, the religious authority (Marja) condemns the bloodshed of innocent and heavy violations in all its forms and condoles with the families of martyrs and wounded, and stresses his solidarity with legal demands of protestors, as has been described in previous protests. And asks the government and judicial service to properly investigate about whatever happened during demonstrations, and then introduce to people and prosecute those agents who issued orders or directly targeted them. And do not refuse prosecuting, arresting and administrating justice to them, and this must be done in a specified time, for example two weeks and this must not be delayed like declaring the results of previous investigation committees.
The supreme religious authority (Marja) has no special connection with any of the present political parties in power and only supports people and defends their rights, and only approves whatever was stressed at the time of the formation of the government in April 2006 after the first parliament elections to the effect that “he does not soften his attitude towards any individual or side who causes damage to public interests of the Iraqi people. And observes the actions of the government and whenever it is necessary points to existing deficiencies and his voice is with the voice of the oppressed and deprived Iraqi people and (he) does not recognize any difference between them from any tendency or any tribe or race. There is no force or ability except from Allah (SWT).