Iraqi security forces and protesters clashed in Baghdad yesterday during demonstrations to mark the first anniversary of mass anti-government protests demanding the ouster of the ruling class.
Thousands took to the streets in Baghdad, some waving portraits of fallen “martyrs” killed in protests last year, with peaceful demonstrations also taking place in several cities in the south including Basra, Najaf and Nasiriyah.
In the capital, protesters hurled rocks as police fired teargas canisters and used water cannons to block demonstrators from bridges leading to the highly-fortified Green Zone, a no-go zone for ordinary Iraqis where government offices, parliament and the US embassy are based.
Some demonstrators managed to scale a towering security barricade erected on the Al-Jumhuriyah bridge across the Tigris River, but were then stopped by concrete walls and security forces, an AFP journalist reported.
Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, the reporter added.
About 50 police and protesters were slightly injured, police and medical sources said. Yesterday’s demonstrations renewed the cross-sectarian, youth-led protest movement’s key demand for the ouster of the entire ruling class accused of corruption, and of being beholden to a neighbouring nation.
“It’s been a year and we still want our country back,” said Batool Hussein, a woman demonstrator in central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, heart of the protests.
“We still want to unseat the corrupt from power, and we still want to know who killed the protesters last year.”
About 600 protesters have been killed and 30,000 wounded in clashes with security forces nationwide since protests erupted in October 2019.
Activists have long complained of a campaign of kidnappings and killings to intimidate them into halting demonstrations.
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