Thousands come out to mark anniversary of popular protests in Iraq

Protesters, who marched in several cities renewing their demands for an overhaul of Iraq’s political system and an end to corruption, were met with police repression

October 26, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

Thousands of Iraqis in different parts of the country took to the streets on Sunday, October 25, to mark the anniversary of the popular protests of 2019. The protesters marched in several cities renewing their demands for an overhaul of Iraq’s political system and an end to corruption. 

Police used water cannons and tear gas on protesters in Baghdad injuring many. In several places, the protests continued through the night and into early hours of Monday.

On October 1, similar anniversary protests were held in which thousands participated. The protesters gave an ultimatum to the new government led by Mustafa al-Kadhimi to fulfill its promises of investigation into the killing of protesters or face renewed agitation.

After assuming office in May, prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had announced a tough stand against corruption. He had also declared fresh elections to the Iraqi parliament in June next year.

Earlier in March, the COVD-19 pandemic had forced the protestors to discontinue street demonstrations. Since last month, however, many of them have been coming out in the streets again.

Supporting the demonstrators, the Iraqi Communist Party issued a statement on October 22 on its website saying “October 25 is not just an occasion for remembrance of the martyrs and the massive sacrifices, but it is is also a moment of persistence and continued giving to free the people from the grip of the corrupt and influential system. It is an occasion to challenge and renew confidence that the masses are able to [reclaim] their rights.”

More than 500 people were killed in the protests which broke out in Baghdad and in cities across the south of the country last year against the failure of the government to provide basic amenities, jobs, widespread corruption and rising poverty in the country.

The protesters demanded an end to all foreign intervention in the country and an overhaul of Iraq’s political system. The then Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi was forced to resign as a result of the protests.