Thousands of Iraqis marked the second anniversary of the October revolt today, with communists organizing huge rallies calling for political reform. The demonstration today, organized under the slogan “we want a homeland,” comes ahead of the Iraqi general election, which the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) is pushing to boycott. It claims that the vote lacks legitimacy and accuses the present administration of being corrupt, claiming that the election is going to take place as violent attacks and killings of nonviolent protestors continue with impunity for the perpetrators.
Protesters marched to Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, waving Iraqi flags and holding photos of young people murdered during the brutal crackdown on protests in 2019, which resulted in almost 600 deaths and over 30,000 injuries. As they continue to urge the government to bring those guilty to justice, banners with messages such as “We want to see the killers behind bars” were carried aloft. They did, however, denounce what they called “corrupt parties and politicians,” imploring Iraqis to “do not elect those who killed me.”
Since the revolution began, more than 70 activists have been murdered, and others have been abducted and vanished for brief periods of time. Many of those who took part in yesterday’s demonstration endorse the communist-led boycott demand, having lost faith in parliament’s ability to effect change. “We went out today as peaceful demonstrators to commemorate October 1, the anniversary of the government’s massacre of peaceful youth,” Ibrahim, 20, said.
“We will not participate in the elections because they will produce the same corrupt regime as before, and the corrupt parties will return,” he continued. Protests began two years ago in response to rising popular outrage over government corruption and a lack of employment and public services. The mass movement sought the abolition of the political system imposed on Iraq as a result of the US-led invasion and occupation. It uses sectarian quotas based on religious views to assign seats, and parliament is frequently unable to function as parties seek to build coalitions in order to establish a government.
Last year, Iraqi Communist Party MPs resigned from parliament in protest at the government’s inability to put an end to the murdering of activists, accusing the government of instilling fear and tyranny. Those who came to the streets yesterday pledged to topple the government, saying that “the revolution will spread faster than the coronavirus, and there is no vaccine for it.”