The Tuk Tuk newspaper, based in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and published by protesters, has published its sixth edition as demonstrations across the country enter their second month.
Protests across Iraq have now been going on for two months. During this time, protesters belonging to what is now being called the Tishreen (October) Revolution have become increasingly organised. The protesters, which were initially criticised for now having a solid set of demands or vision, have increasingly coordinated their efforts, coming up with an increasingly coherent set of demands.
As part of streamlining demands and visions across the movement and in an attempt to prevent false information being spread, the protest movement started publishing the Tuk Tuk newspaper, which has just published its sixth issue.
For the protesters, the newspaper is not only a means to spread information, but a very symbol of the protests themselves. Located in Tahrir Square in the heart of Baghdad, publishers of the newspaper serve as a central coordination hub for the movement and as a means of resisting clampdown by the authorities which have become increasingly prevalent in recent days, with the death count rising as a result.
Indeed, the publishers of Tuk Tuk, as well as the wider protest movement, are aware of the efforts to cut the lines of internet communication between Iraqis, as well as with the wider world, eventually returning to the pre-protest status quo. For the protesters, such an option has become unacceptable. The role of Tuk Tuk in this context is to offer an alternative line of communication and information.
Those working for the newspaper are, for most part, not professional journalists but volunteers. They not only contribute to the content of the paper but also distribute it by hand. Outside the work of Tuk Tuk, many of them are also involved in helping the protest movement in other ways. Volunteers for the paper are also involved in providing food for the protesters and offering other comforts to help sustain the movement. Elsewhere, doctors and nurses have also participated in the protests to help injured demonstrators.
The paper’s efforts come amidst renewed pushback against the authorities who have recently redoubled their efforts to push the protesters out of public areas and bridges. Numerous bridges, which serve as choke-points across Baghdad, have witnessed clashes between security forces and the demonstrators, with the protests showing no signs of abating.