In this file photo from 2015, Basra residents chant for the creation of an autonomous region. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Protestors in the southern oil-rich province Basra in Iraq in al-Tamimyah area took to the streets to protest lack of services and corruption on Sunday.
A video obtained by Rudaw from the area shows dozens of protestors holding Iraqi flags, standing for a speech by an apparent Shiite religious leader wearing a white turban. The protestors later march together, chanting slogans.
"This gathering of ours is for nothing but to demand reform, and to demand services and not to be neglected. Today, from this podium, a Basra podium, in the name of the heroic al-Tamimyah area, we demand that the local administration come to this area to look at its streets, and services with their own eyes, [if they could] find any. There are no services in this destroyed area,” said the speaker on behalf of the protestors.
Basra is an oil-rich province whose oil forms the majority of Iraq’s oil exports with a port on the Persian Gulf. Despite its resources, the province suffers from negligence. Garbage removal services are not regular. It has previously made attempts for further autonomy from the federal government.
Demonstrations also took place in the capital city of Baghdad to protest lack of services, especially electricity.
The speaker called on the local administration and municipality to pave the streets, saying the locals have given blood and made sacrifices for "their ominous chairs".
"We will continue our protesting until all demands are met,” he added.
The speaker asked locals to consider boycotting elections.
"If you agreed with not going to the ballot boxes until these demands are met, then call on the local administration with your voices and say in one voice 'Yes, yes to service!'"
The speaker and the protestors chanted "No no to corruption!" He called those who haven’t visited the area corrupt, no matter who they are.
"What is this ruling of yours? This is a dictatorial government! This is called dictatorial rule."
The speaker compared the situation between the people and the officials, saying they had full electricity and had confined themselves to their own areas far from the people.
Iraqi parliamentary elections are set to be held on May 12, and officials and candidates are preparing themselves for April 14, when election campaigns are officially allowed to make promises concerning services for the people.