Iraq: Anti-government protests turn deadly | DW News
Iraq: escalation of anti-government protests
Demonstrators demanding political change blocked roads and blocked government buildings
Anti-government rallies in Baghdad on Sunday blocked roads and government buildings, escalating in a series of rallies that began a month ago demanding political change.
Tens of thousands of people have gathered in recent days in Tahrir Square in Baghdad and in cities in southern Iraq to protest the political system that emerged following the 2003 US invasion and overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein, shutting down markets, factories, schools and universities.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi called for closed institutions, saying threats to oil facilities and road closures cost Iraq millions of dollars and drive up consumer prices in the country.
“It’s time to get back to normal,” Iraqi leader said.
Thousands of students skipped classes to take part in protests, accusing the country’s leaders of rampant corruption, high unemployment and poor public services. Syndicates of engineers, doctors and lawyers supported protests.
On Sunday, demonstrators blocked roads around the main protest site with burning tires and barbed wire. On one of the barriers, the demonstrators unfurled a banner with the inscription “Roads are blocked by order of the people.”.
Since early October, security forces have fired live tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators, killing at least 256 people. After a short break, protests resumed on 25 October. They were accompanied by frequent clashes on two bridges that lead to the fortified Green Zone, where government buildings and several foreign embassies are located..
The government has proposed a number of reforms, including more jobs and additional social benefits. It also proposed to hold early elections as soon as the new law on voting procedures is passed..
Nonetheless, demonstrators continue to challenge the government..
“We decided to launch a campaign of civil disobedience because we are annoyed by the government’s lies and its promises of so-called reforms,” a striking government official, Mohammad Asadi, from the southern city of Nasiriyah, told AFP..
The protest movement has no leaders, no organizational structure, and demonstrators do not act as a united front.
Nevertheless, the movement attracted participants from a wide variety of confessional and ethnic backgrounds in the country..
Iraqi parliament approved a bill to abolish benefits and privileges for high-ranking politicians, including the president, prime minister and cabinet members, but the move had little or no impact on the demonstrators.
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