Monday, September 12, 2011

Large- Scale Demonstrations In Iraq

Massive demonstrations have reportedly taken place in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, following a thirty- day suspension of protests in Iraq. The protests, led by students, intellectuals and independent politicians, echo the well- publicised demonstrations that dominated the capital every Friday after February 25th of this year.

Protesters organised a series of rallies, which took place on September 9th. They called for an end to institutionalised corruption, as well as the establishment of the long- awaited FAO port, which officials have promised has the potential to bring a significant economic boost to the entire region. Many protesters also called for a public apology from the government, whilst others demanded their resignation, claiming that Iraq’s lack of services, unemployment, and its record of unlawful detention were evidence that they had ‘failed in their duties’. One of the rallies also objected to the visit of Iraqi Speaker Ousama Al Nujayfi and Vice President Al Hashimi to Saudi Arabia.

In anticipation of Friday’s events, security forces closed all entrances to the ‘Green Zone’ (a military term which denotes a 10km squared area of central Baghdad, considered ‘secure’). It has since been reported that the Iraqi Army responded directly to the demonstrations with batons. President Al- Maliki has since said that his government is working to accelerate the building of the FAO port, but little international coverage in the aftermath of the demonstrations only fuels speculation that the government are indeed still operating behind closed doors. Whilst many of the protesters sought a public apology for the suppression of activists in previous months, in the absence of any impartial reporting, we can only presume that administrative reforms are yet to take place.

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