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Iraq activists plan protests to mark one-year anniversary of anti-government uprising with face masks, sanitizer Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Iraq activists plan protests to mark one-year anniversary of anti-government uprising with face masks, sanitizer

Protests swept Iraq's capital and central and southern provinces last year [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has weakened the anti-government protests this year but activists are determined to mark the first anniversary of their movement.
Iraqi activists are this week gathering in the capital Baghdad to mark the anniversary of the country's bloody anti-government uprising, which saw hundreds of protesters killed by security forces.

October 1 will mark one year since demonstrators first took to the streets calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and an end to government corruption and economic mismanagement.

The anti-government protests were met with a heavy-handed response by security forces and Iran-linked militias, with tear gas and live fire killing more than 700 demonstrators and injuring thousands

Violence against protesters further galvanised the movement, transforming it into a wider anti-sectarian call for an end to damaging Iranian and American influences in the country.

Demonstrations have been muted since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, limited to holdout activists continuing sit-ins in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and cities across Iraq's south. Sporadic protests have broken out in recent months, however, in response to the assassination of activists and civil society figures.

Anti-government activists have pledged to rejoin in the capital and central and southern provinces on 1 October despite the looming presence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Demonstrators hope to send a message to the government Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi formed in May this year.

That message is "the revolution continues, even if the pandemic is temporarily allied with you [the government]", activist Sajjad Hussein explained.

Activists across the country are coordinating to ensure a united and strong response, Hussein told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

"Thousands of protective masks and sanitisers will be provided for those wishing to participate," the activist added.

Observers of the country are weary of potential clashes between rival political factions, in addition to the spectre of violence from security forces.


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