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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Iraqi protest over missing prisoners
Relatives of the missing protesters
Analysts say the protest was an unprecedented move

In Baghdad, dozens of relatives of prisoners not released after Saddam Hussein's amnesty on Sunday have held an unauthorised demonstration.

Political analysts have described the demonstration as an unprecedented display of dissent.

Abu Ghuraib prison
The authorities claim Abu Ghuraib prison is empty
The protesters were demanding information about what had happened to their family members.

The Iraqi authorities said they had released almost all prisoners and Iraqi television reported on Monday that Iraq's jails were empty.

In Iraq the only public demonstrations allowed are ones that are officially sanctioned. This one was extraordinary because it was not.

The demonstrators turned up unannounced outside the Ministry of Information, demanding to know the fate of their relatives.

Some said they were waiting for news of family members jailed for over a decade.

Mixed message

Although they mixed what they said with chants of support for Saddam Hussein, one political analyst described the demonstration as unprecedented.

He said he believed there must be some sort of organisation behind it.

It follows another unprecedented event - Saddam Hussein's amnesty of prisoners on Sunday, including political prisoners.

The only exception were murderers who had to be first forgiven by the victims families, and those convicted of spying for Israel or the Americans.

No official figures have been given for how many were released, but it is estimated that in all, tens of thousands of prisoners were freed.

But while many families have been celebrating, some prisoners have not come home.


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