Wounded Iraqi protesters face life-altering injuries

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Baghdad, Iraq – Hamza was running for his life the day he was shot in the back by Iraqi security forces while taking part in the country’s anti-government protests. Like most afternoons since the start of the second wave of demonstrations on October 25, he took to the streets of Baghdad with thousands of others, to demand the overhaul of the country’s political system.

Years of public discontent came to a head in October when demonstrations demanding an end to government corruption, foreign interference in Iraqi affairs, unemployment and a lack of basic facilities sparked Iraq’s largest protests in years.

Rights groups have condemned the government for allowing an excessive and “unlawful use of lethal force” against protesters.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last week announced his resignation following an intense day of bloodshed in which 50 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in a crackdown by security forces in southern Iraq.

A mother’s rage

“They will feel God’s wrath,” said Hamza’s mother, umm Hamza, in reference to the security forces that wounded her son.

“The pain is unbearable, so we medicate him,” said umm Hamza over the phone.

“One martyr, one fallen martyr!” yells the protester behind the lens, unaware that while Hamza’s life had changed forever, he would survive the attack.

Iraqi society continues to marginalise its disabled citizens, explained Muwafaq al-Khafaji of the non-governmental Iraqi Alliance for Disabilities Organisation (IADO). “They have difficulties accessing services due to poor mobility facilities … and insufficient financial help,” he said.

IADO puts the figure at approximately four million.

Detention fears

After years of crises, Iraq’s overburdened public health system is struggling to provide adequate care for its patients.

Abu Hassan’s doctor says he cannot predict whether his patient will make a full recovery. But almost two weeks after the attack, Abu Hassan continued to struggle to speak and use his left hand.

“I have to focus to form words. The sound doesn’t come out as I want,” he said slowly. A chronic migraine on the left side of his head has also become a source of concern for the father-of-two.

“My personal life has suffered,” he explained quietly, his voice catching in his throat.

Simple day-to-day routines have become a challenge. The stroke also caused Abu Hassan erectile dysfunction, unsettling his relationship with his wife.

Security forces have responded with live ammunition to disperse the crowds. At least 18 people were shot dead in Najaf after the consulate was first attacked.

Collective patriotism

He and his friends were on that bridge to demand a better life, explained the boy’s mother.

source : aljazeera

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