Today, Friday, hundreds of Iraqi demonstrators commemorated the second anniversary of the start of the massive popular protests that erupted in October 2019.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in several squares in the capital, Baghdad, carrying banners and slogans, recalling the start of the popular protests, as well as pictures of a number of victims who fell as a result of shooting by the security forces during those demonstrations.
Security forces also deployed in some nearby streets, some of which were cut off with concrete barriers.
And they renewed their calls to prosecute those responsible for the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during months of protests that were accompanied by widespread violence.
The Secretary-General of the “I take my right” movement, Mashreq Al-Fariji, said, “The commemoration of that memory is a renewal, and an affirmation of the principles and values that the October protests advocated, and a reminder of its vision, which is represented by a strong, fully sovereign Iraq, where citizens enjoy prosperity, and prosperity, as well as the demands that It was renewed after the demonstrations, which is retribution for the killers of activists, and the demand for the rights of the wounded and injured.”
Al-Fraiji added in a statement to “Erm News” that “the demonstrations in their spirit seek to achieve real change in the regime, through peaceful, legal, and democratic methods, and to penetrate the quota system that exists in the country,” noting that “these arguments will remain able to revive the Iraqi memory.” The necessity for the country to be governed by people who are responsible and befitting Iraq.”
The popular movement began in early October 2019 against the political elite accused of corruption and dependency abroad, demanding a change in the political system based on the distribution of positions among the influential parties in the country.
The protests were punctuated by widespread violence between the demonstrators on the one hand, and the security forces and militiamen close to Iran on the other.
The protests succeeded in overthrowing the previous government headed by Adel Abdul-Mahdi in late 2019, and the Iraqi parliament approved a new election law, in response to the movement’s demands, with the aim of allowing independents and small parties to ascend to parliament.
That memory brought back the most important question for Iraqi activists, about the gains that were made from those demonstrations, and whether they were able to make progress in the way of thinking of the political forces, about the need to make fundamental reforms to the nature of the system and political performance, in general.
Although the demands were to provide job opportunities, end financial corruption, and the rule of societal justice, it called in a fundamental way for the need to restore the country’s sovereignty, and to end Iranian influence through armed arms working in favor of Tehran, and this was represented by the chants that were raised in the heart of the cities with identity Shiites, such as Karbala and Najaf, as well as the burning of the Tehran embassy, as an expression of popular resentment over Iran’s interference in internal affairs.
The activist in the Iraqi protests, Wathiq Al-Mayahi, said that “the memory of the demonstrations will be an occasion to remind that we deserve the best, work for the sovereignty of the country, and preserve its land and sky, as the demonstrations were not only a demand, but their slogans were summed up by (We want a homeland), which means An independent homeland capable of managing itself, away from the interference and influences of neighboring countries.”
Al-Mayahi said during his speech to “Erm News” that “the required change did not happen, and that something relative was achieved, such as early elections and the new commission, but the most important thing is the confidence that the people have gained, that they are able to bring about the required change, through peaceful protest.”
He pointed to “the necessity of recalling the victims of the protest, and emphasizing that the squares are still steadfast on the covenant, values and principles that they called for, and for which they fell.”
About 600 protesters were killed, 30,000 were injured, and hundreds were arrested during the 2019 protests, which witnessed multiple episodes of violence.
Activists and protesters in the country often pointed the finger at armed groups and militias loyal to Iran, as well as some elements in the security forces.
With the arrival of the current Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, to his position last year, he formed a high-level committee, to open the file of the victims of the protests, to investigate the facts to uncover the circumstances of the events, and to announce the parties involved in the violence against the demonstrators.
The second anniversary comes in light of wide political competition, in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections, as it represented the most prominent popular demands, due to citizens’ uncertainty about the outcomes of the 2018 elections, which were subjected to widespread fraud and manipulation.