Demonstrators rebuke Iraq's Sudani-led government

Demonstrators rebuke Iraq's Sudani-led government
New leadership for the October protest movement will be announced in the near future, an Iraqi activist told The New Arab. 
3 min read
26 October, 2022
People gather in Tahrir Square to stage a demonstration marking the third anniversary of the pro-reform protests on 25 October 2019. [Getty]

Hundreds of Iraqis on Tuesday gathered on the streets to commemorate the 2019 October public protests and express refusal of Iraq's prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.

On 1 October 2019, thousands of Iraqis held large demonstrations in Baghdad, calling for an end to corruption among Iraq's ruling elites and Iran's hegemony through its affiliated political parties and militias.

 The demonstrations entered a new vital stage by 25 October of the same year, after large crowds from Iraq's southern provinces joined the protest movement.

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Mohammed Afluk, an Iraqi activist, who fled to the Iraqi Kurdistan region two years ago because of threats by Iran-backed militias, told The New Arab, "Tuesday's demonstration in Baghdad might be seen as a revival of October protests, but in fact, the October revolution is not dead. Nevertheless, these two days, 1-25 of October mean a lot for us, they include many sorrowful memories of the killing of our friends."

"The main purpose of the demonstration is that Iraqi youths are also refusing the ruling Iraqi political system and the challenge of the next Iraqi consensus government of PM designate Mohammed Shia al-Sudani," Afluk added. 

The Iraqi parliament is expected to vote to entrust al-Sudani's government by Thursday or early next week.

Video clips posted online showed Iraqi security forces beating up the peaceful demonstrators, including women.  

 The number of the demonstrators was not as activists previously said, as Fayaq Sheikh Ali, a veteran Iraqi politician and key supporter of the protest movement, called on his supporters to boycott the demonstration, claiming that the Sadrist Movement of Iraq's firebrand Shite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is exploiting the situation.

For his part, Afluk indicated that the protest movement is currently without central leadership, with a group of activists from different ideologies running the movement. He also stressed that soon new leadership for the October Protest movement will be announced.   

The peaceful demonstrations in 2019 turned bloody, with over 800 protestors killed by Iraq's security forces and militias. Thousands of others were injured.

Demonstrators, mostly from the younger generation, camped out in the capital's Tahrir Square and other public squares from October 2019 until early 2020, condemning endemic corruption, poor services, and unemployment under the former Iraqi government led by Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was forced to resign and was replaced by Mustafa al-Kadhimi. 

Three years later, however, those responsible for the killings during the nationwide anti-government demonstrations have yet to be held accountable.