On the afternoon of 6 November, hundreds of protesters marched from Fountains Square and Umm al-Barum Square, assembling at the Naval Command Roundabout in Basra city. Participants attempted to set up tents in order to renew a sit-in demonstration at the symbolic protest site after a longstanding sit-in was dispersed on 31 October. Early on the evening of 6 November, ISF including Riot Police and Emergency Police units clashed with protesters as they attempted to disperse the protest.
As a result, one protester identified as Omar Fadhil al-Thiabi was shot and killed, and approximately 40 others were wounded. No casualties were reported amongst security personnel. According to family members, the fallen protester was killed by an Emergency Police first lieutenant using a pistol at close range. The perpetrator subsequently withdrew behind police ranks. Most of the injuries were suspected to have resulted from non-lethal crowd control measures. The following morning, hundreds of individuals participated in funeral events for Fadhil at Sadiq Mosque in the Zubayr district, and later at the Naval Command Roundabout.
Many considered Fadhil’s death the first demonstrator killed by ISF during a protest since the one-year anniversary of the October Movement. The Ministry of Interior immediately launched an investigation into the incident. On 7 November, Ministry of Interior spokesperson Maj. Gen. Saad Maan announced that ISF “arrested the murderer who frankly confessed his crime”. A later statement identified the suspect as a Basra Police captain. On 7 November, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi condemned the incident, stressing his administration “will not tolerate any of its security members ignoring orders to not use bullets against protesters, as happened in Basra.” Kadhimi confirmed the arrest of the suspect, vowing he will “receive his fair penalty.”
As regularly discussed, Kadhimi’s administration has made great strides to professionalize the conduct of security forces in order to avoid potentially lethal instances of excessive force. This included a directive banning the use of small arms fire against protesters.
For further analysis and discussion please see the full report.