Iraqis mourn death of murdered activist; govt. summons Western envoys


Hundreds joined the funeral procession for the slain Iraqi civil society activist Fahem al-Tai on Monday. Mr. al-Tai was killed in a drive-by shooting in Iraq’s shrine city of Karbala late Sunday while returning home from protests.

Hundreds joined his funeral procession Monday, carrying 53-year-old Tai’s coffin through the city’s streets.

“We will not forget our martyrs,” read one sign carried by tearful protesters.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned four Western envoys over their condemnation of a deadly attack against protesters at the weekend.

More than 450 people have died ever since the country has been gripped by more than two months of rallies against corruption, poor public services and a lack of jobs.

The country is expected to see widespread protests on Tuesday, marking two years since Iraq defeated the Islamic State group jihadist group.

Demonstrators are seeking a comeback after an attack on a major Baghdad protest site left 20 protesters and four police officers dead, sparking nationwide outrage.

The British, French and German ambassadors to Iraq condemned the violence in a meeting with caretaker premier Adel Abdel Mahdi, who resigned on Dec 1.

“No armed group should be able to operate outside of the control of the state,” the envoys said in a statement, urging the government to “urgently investigate”.

In response, Iraq’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned all three ambassadors as well as their Canadian counterpart, who had similarly condemned the violence.

The ministry said their comments were an “unacceptable intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs”.

A diplomatic source told AFP the envoys were “not surprised” at having been summoned, particularly after the PM had defended his government in response to their criticism at the earlier meeting.

In addition to those killed, dozens of protesters went missing after the attack on the parking complex and have yet to resurface, their relatives told AFP.

Demonstrators have for weeks complained of being monitored, threatened and harassed in an intimidation campaign aimed at blunting their movement. (Source: CNA)