Rudaw

  In Global, Rudaw

Baghdad protesters plan for June resumption of anti-government protests

Protesters have begun preparing for a new wave of anti-government demonstrations which they hope to resume on June 1, after several months of relative calm.

“We will resume stronger on June 1 and persevere until we secure the rights of the martyrs and have all the arrested demonstrators, detained in secret prisons of which no one knows anything about, released,” protester Marwan Hussein told Rudaw from Baghdad’s Tahrir square.

While some defied government lockdown orders to come out onto the street in recent weeks, protest organizers halted demonstrations in March amidst the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Iraq.

A number of protestors remained camped in protest hotspots like Tahrir Square, but their numbers have dwindled, significantly decreasing the number of clashes with security forces and armed groups aimed at dispersing demonstrators.

“The politicians are asleep under cool air conditioners. Their children live an extremely happy life. And this is our life under scorching hot weather,” says Hussein.

He says poverty and a lack of employment drove him to join the youth-led movement that swept across large swathes of Iraq’s central and southern provinces to decry rampant corruption in the political system, as well as foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.

He lost his hand to a tear gas canister fired by security forces at protestors in October, but remains committed to demonstrating in hopes that a better future is on the horizon.

Hussein and fellow protesters have begun crafting riot shields out of iron barrels to protect themselves from violence at the hands of security forces.

Protestors have been met with deadly violence, including live ammunition and military grade tear gas canisters. At least 600 protesters and members of the security forces were killed and more than 18,000 injured over the months since the movement emerged in October, according to human rights monitor Amnesty International.

Iraqi’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi promised several days after being sworn into office earlier this month to hold security forces responsible for killing protesters to account. Source