Skip to main content

Unrest marks Iraq's 4th anniversary of October 2019 protests

Gunfire and unrest mark fourth anniversary of October 2019 protests in Iraq
2 min read
02 October, 2023
Demonstrators called for uncovering the identities of those who killed hundreds of Iraqi youths during the 2019 nationwide anti-government demonstrations.
The demonstrators were waving the Iraqi flag, and chanting nationalist anthems as well as anti-government mottoes. [Reuters]

Hundreds of Iraqis in the capital city of Baghdad and other provinces gathered for peaceful demonstrations on Sunday, 1 October, to mark the fourth anniversary of the October 2019 anti-government protests, but the demonstrations became violent later in the day.

The demonstrators waved the Iraqi flag and chanted nationalist anthems as they came together before Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

"Our demonstration was to reject the tyranny that we have faced from Iraq's successive governments for the last 14 years," said Abdul Ghani Ghasban, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Iraqi newspaper Sada al-Taghir and a political analyst, during an interview with The New Arab. "We will continue our demonstrations in the coming days, with the demands of these crowds including changing the constitution, uncovering the identities of those who killed the October revolutionaries in 2019, and other routine demands."

Ghasban noted that although the demonstration was peaceful and they had obtained a formal permit from authorities, security forces violently cracked down on the demonstrators.

"Yes, it is true that some clash might have happened with the security forces, but this does not mean they should pursue the youths into the capital's streets and alleys," he remarked.

According to video clips posted on social media, gunfire could be heard as young protesters scattered for their lives from the square in the Iraqi capital's downtown area.

On 1 October 2019, thousands of angry Iraqis held large demonstrations in Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriyah and several other provinces in the western and southern parts of the country.

The demonstrators called for an end to corruption among Iraq's ruling elites, Iran's hegemony in the country, and the removal of its affiliated political parties and militias.

Live Story

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

Iraq's security forces and militias used lethal force to suppress the protesters, killing over 800 protesters and injuring thousands.

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