Human Rights

Students In Tahrir Square Protest Lack of Reforms

Iraq

Iraqi students and journalists continue their protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, amidst lack of real reforms by the Iraqi Government.

Students in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have continued their protest against the Iraqi Government. Although the Iraqi parliament passed a series of legal amendments last month, including to the electoral law, these have been viewed as partial changes in a system that protesters believe needs complete overhaul.

Some of the students have been absent from their studies since protests broke out in October, with many determined not to back down until their goals are achieved.

“We as medical students and students from all majors left our studies since two and a half months ago,” said one student in Tahrir Square. “We left our colleges even though we have work opportunities. We want a new government that does justice to students and graduates”.

Recent tensions between Iran and the US in Iraq, which led to the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader affiliated with the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), and the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, have overshadowed the protest movement in recent weeks.

However, protesters have attempted to galvanise their demonstrations in recent days. This also comes amidst the killing of the two Iraqi journalists Ahmed Abd al-Samad and Safaa Ghali, who were assassinated on Friday evening after covering the protests in the southern city of Basra.

The assassinations caused widespread public outcry and were condemned by numerous officials and organisations. Those close to Abd al-Samad said that he was vocally critical of Iranian-backed factions in Iraq, and used his platform to defend the constant harassment and arrests of journalists covering the Iraq protests.

At the end of December, the Iraqi Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) released a report, which stated that the whereabouts of 56 Iraqi activists, who have played prominent roles in the current protest movement, remain unknown.

Due to increased threats to journalists in the country over the past three months, many journalists and activists have expressed their concern saying that the government has not been able to provide them with any protection for their work.

Some of the protesters in Tahrir Square have stated their denouncement of these attacks and called on media outlets to report what is happening to them.

“Today, Iraqi students, journalists and artists went out to denounce what is happening to medical students and the students of arts and media from suppression and the belittling of Iraqi blood,” said another protester. “Particularly Iraqi blood, there is nothing that seems cheaper than Iraqi blood. They allow it to be shed in every possible way.”

Image: Sofia Barbarani/Al Jazeera