Human Rights

Iraq: Protesters Refuse To Back Down Despite Repression


Young people are continuing to come out to the streets in protest across various cities in Iraq despite the harsh reaction from the security forces.

Almost four months have passed since protests broke out in Baghdad and other cities in the south of Iraq against the central government. A series of political and geopolitical developments have taken place since then, and the protesters have been met with a harsh response from the security forces, however, these incidents have not affected the resolve and perseverance of the demonstrators.

The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) has been observing the unrest and violence in the country since the outbreak of the protests. Hundreds of protesters have thus far been killed, with several thousands injured. In addition, dozens of individuals have been subject to kidnappings throughout. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have condemned the violence, which has in itself led to the government losing legitimacy in the eyes of the protesters.

A number of weeks after protests had been taking place, Adil Abd al-Mahdi resigned from his post as prime minister. The government has since failed to nominate a new figure to the post. Several nominations have been speculated, however, none of them has been met with approval neither by the protesters nor by the government.

“We have specific demands. We want a prime minister who is just, independent and does not belong to any of the political parties. At the same time, we want early elections to take place”, specified a protester in Basra.

The protests in Iraq saw added momentum following the geopolitical developments taking place within the country concerning the US and Iraq. Iraqi militia groups connected to the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) and the US military launched missile strikes against one another and the former commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed on Iraqi soil. This led to a wave of demonstrations demanding an end to foreign interference in Iraqi territory and a strengthening of Iraqi sovereignty and independence.