Students join Iraq protests, defying govt and parents

DIWANIYAH, IRAQ (AFP) – Students and schoolchildren hit the streets of Baghdad and southern Iraq yesterday to join escalating calls for the government to quit,

defying the education minister, legal threats and even their parents.

“No school, no classes, until the regime collapses!” protestors shouted in Diwaniyah, 180 kilometres south of the capital.

The capital and the country’s south have been rocked by a second wave of rallies over perceived government corruption, unemployment and poor services.

The resulting clashes have often turned deadly, with more than 70 killed since Thursday.

On Monday, Diwaniyah’s union of universities and schools announced a 10-day strike “until the regime falls,” with thousands of students and even professors flooding the streets.

Several local syndicates, including lawyers and engineers, also joined the movement, with picket lines preventing government workers from reaching their offices.

They came out despite higher education minister’s warning on Sunday that academic life should “stay away” from protests, after around a dozen schools and universities in Baghdad had joined sweeping rallies.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi even threatened any further disruption to schools would be met with “severe punishment.”