Millions of demonstrations calling for early elections and remarkable feminist participation
The right to peaceful assembly and demonstration in the city is guaranteed by several legislations, the most prominent of which is the Iraqi constitution and many laws regulating freedom of speech and the right of individuals to express their opinions and demands. However, due to the policies of the local government and security services, this right has become procedurally and constitutionally vulnerable during the previous and present years. The pressures of the formation of the government and rampant corruption, with the continuation of pressures, pushed citizens in various provinces of Iraq to go out again in demonstrations demanding serious solutions from the government and expediting the holding of early elections, which has become a mass demand to get out of the current crisis, and what is clear and striking is the size of women's participation in demonstrations in general. This report will review the demonstrations monitored by the monitoring team during the first half of August 2022 in in a number of Iraqi governorates.
Demonstrations in Basra Governorate
As an extension of the recent demonstrations in several Iraqi provinces. Several Iraqi provinces witnessed demonstrations by millions, including
The issue of calling for early elections has become a popular demand, and the protest movements are moving in this direction
Basra province, where hundreds of Basra clans, women, men, and youth attended the Bahriya Square near the Basra Governorate building on
Monday evening, 1-8-2022, at five o'clock in the afternoon in the center of Basra in the Al-Tuwaisah area. The demonstrators responded to the call of the leader of the Sadrist movement - Muqtada Al-Sadr - to dissolve parliament and hold urgent elections to form the government in Iraq. The coordination
representative in the statement, Hussein Al-Sharifi, spoke, "We, the sons of Basra, went out in response to Muqtada Al-Sadr to expel the corrupt group and remove it from power, and we demand quick elections to form the Iraqi government. Our peaceful demonstrations will continue until our legitimate demands are achieved."
The demonstrators headed from roundabout Al-Arous street to the tawisa area, where they walked on foot until they reached roundabout - Bahriya square near the Basra governorate building. The demonstrators blocked the street, carrying banners, flags, and photos of the leader of the Sadrist movement - Muqtada al-Sadr-in addition to photos of the deceased in the Tishreen demonstrations Safa Al-Sarai.
There was a presence of media institutions and news agencies, including Al-Madaen News Agency, Al-Marbad TV, Sawt Al-Basra, and Watan TV. One of the demonstrators indicated that these demonstrations were peaceful, and they went out to dissolve Parliament and remove the corrupt - according to the protester - from power. This demonstration is a solidarity march for the sit-in in Baghdad for reform, and it will continue until the demonstrators' legitimate demands are met.
In response to the demands of the demonstrators, some representatives in the Iraqi Parliament, including Deputy Burhan Al-Maamouri, issued an official letter before dissolving the Parliament by holding an extraordinary session with early elections based on the provisions of Article (64) of the Iraqi constitution. For her part, the High Commission for Elections spokesperson, Jumana Al-Ghalai, said that the commission needs six months to prepare for the elections if the requirements are met.
Another aspect of the demonstrations for supporters of the Sadrist movement from the feminist element
On the security front, there was a deployment of security forces to protect the demonstrators, as the security forces were cooperative and professional in dealing with the demonstration and the course of events, as they distributed water to the demonstrators. There was no collision or friction
between the security forces and the demonstrators, and the demonstration lasted for nearly three hours, after which the demonstrators withdrew under the guidance of some of the young men leading the demonstration.
Another demonstration was organized in the Basra Governorate due to the region's high saline level and growing unfitness for human consumption, as well as the persistent power outages that have dogged the area since the start of the summer. It started on Saturday morning, 6-8-2022. It continued for four consecutive days, as many scattered areas in Basra witnessed stops, including (Qibla, Hayaniya, Karma, Kut Al-Hajjaj, Al-Zubayr, and the road linking Basra-Baghdad) (and the Basra Water Department). A protest in which dozens of Basra residents demanded a solution to water salinity and power outages throughout the province. In addition to the deployment of security forces in different areas of the province, media channels like Al-Mirbad and Baghdad were present. The representative of the coordination - Mustafa Al-Tamimi - stated, "We, the representatives of the coordination, demand the government to provide drinking water to Basra Governorate, the city of good deeds and the city of oil, and we demand the provision of electricity. Basra is a great wealth. For Iraq, the state budget depends on Basra by about 90%, and our situation is pitiful, and our stance is peaceful and continuous until our demands are met.”
It turns out that the demonstrators cut the highway in protest against the power outage
Where the protesters spread on the roads inside the governorate's cities and burned tires and cut off roads in front of the wheels, and they were carrying banners and flags and chanting slogans # No humiliation from us #.
Security: There was no clash between the protesters and the security forces, although the protesters threw stones at the security forces sheltering in shields. However, some demonstrators intervened and prevented their colleagues from throwing stones at the security forces. It is worth noting that
there were no casualties among the security forces. The security forces also called on the protesters to exercise restraint, not to act indiscriminately, and not to damage public property, following the damage in the streets due to protesters burning tires.
On the government side, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Electricity, Ahmed Moussa, stated, "The cause of the power outage is a technical symptom, which is the explosion of one of the circuit breakers and the electric current transformer from the side of the Al-Khor line due to high temperatures. The ministry's spokesperson also mentioned what was circulated about the station burning. The gaseous electric power in Basra and its out of service is false news, and the director of water resources, Jumaa Shiaa, said that climatic changes from rain, torrential rain, and floods that occurred in the Arab Gulf countries affected the water in a direct impact on the increase in salinity in the waters of the Shatt al-Arab. Therefore, there is a trend Quick to solve this problem by increasing water releases.
After the demonstration continued for four days, the demonstration ended after the return of electricity to the province, where the Governor of Basra - Asaad Al-Eidani - supervised the return of electricity while monitoring stations in various parts of Basra.
The governorates of Iraq witnessed millions of demonstrations, including the governorate of Babil, where it witnessed a mass demonstration in which the sons of Babylon, clans, and youth came out in solidarity under the Revolution Bridge. On 1-8-2022, many young people, clans, and older adults gathered under the Revolution Bridge in response to the tweet of - Muqtada al-Sadr - on his
Twitter account; he directed his followers in the governorates of Iraq to go to the squares, stand against corruption, support the protesters' sit-in inside the Iraqi parliament and reject the nomination of - Muhammad Shia Al-Swadani - for the Prime Minister's office. Where one of
Poor living conditions and a lack of fair employment opportunities continue to haunt Iraqi youth
the organizers of the demonstration - Adel Jadan - indicated that, they would continue their demonstrations and sit-ins in the House of Representatives until the rejection of "Al-Sudani” and the expulsion of all corrupt people. The demonstrators gathered from Al-Tayara neighborhood street, where the demonstration appeared from here, heading to the bottom of the Al-Thawra Bridge, and here they reached the
bottom of the Al-Thawra Bridge, raising pictures of the movement's leader - Muqtada Al-Sadr - as well as the Iraqi flags and Ashura banners
In the media, the demonstrations were covered by pages belonging to the people of Babil and news agencies such as Ishtar News Agency, Babil TV, and Hana Baghdad TV. There was cooperation between the demonstrators and the security forces, as they adhered to restraint, and their work was limited to organizing the demonstration without interfering
The demonstration ended with the Maghrib prayer, where the demonstrators dispersed after the end of the prayer and withdrew to their homes following directives from - Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi - one of the leaders of the Sadrist movement.
In the same context, another demonstration took place on Friday, August 12, 2022, when the people of Babil Governorate, including men, young people, and the elderly, went to the demonstration square below the Al-Thawra Bridge. To the bottom of the Revolution Bridge, raising pictures of the movement's leader Muqtada al-Sadr and the banners of the Iraqi flag. One of the demonstrators, one of the organizing committee members, said during the demonstration on Friday, "We are under the will of Muqtada al-Sadr, and we do what he orders us."
The same demands during the demonstration were to dissolve parliament, remove corruption from the authority, and call for early elections. This demand is the same as what was stated in the tweet of the movement's leader - Muqtada al-Sadr - where he called for the dissolution of parliament, the establishment of early elections, and support for reform. In the media, the demonstration was
covered by several news channels, including Al-Iraqiya and Al-Rasheed Satellite Channels. As for security, the demonstrations continued to be peaceful, as there was peaceful cooperation between the demonstrators and the security forces. The demonstration continued until sunset when the demonstrators performed the Maghrib prayer, and after completing the prayer, they gradually withdrew, according to the direction of the movement's leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Hundreds of Sadrist supporters in the Diwaniyah governorate staged a peaceful demonstration on Monday (1/8/2022), where the gathering took place in front of the Mustafa Mosque building. Demonstrations in the governorates, where the call included supporting the demonstrators in the Green Zone by peaceful demonstration, each in his governorate, this afternoon and at five o'clock exclusively, except for Najaf.
In response to the call by Saleh Muhammad and to support the sit-in in ParliamentParliament, hundreds of people came out in front of the Mustafa Mosque building, heading towards Diwaniyah Martyrs' Square, passing through Al-Mawakeb Street in the city of Diwaniyah to make their voice heard
The Sadrist movement is counting on public support to achieve the reform demands that the movement is calling for, including the dissolution of Parliament and early elections
Some clans in the city of Diwaniyah announced their full support for the Sadrist movement's demonstration (the Ashura revolution), and among these clans were (Al-Awabid, Al-Bo Khazal, and Al-Khaza'al).
Furthermore, the supporters of the Sadrist movement expressed their most important demands, which are:
One of the essential slogans that the demonstrators raised, #No, no to corruption, the second city of Hussein, the proud province of Diwaniyah, announced its support for the Ashura revolutionaries to save Iraq from corruption and spoilers, the honorable sons of Diwaniyah, Iraq brings us together. Shala' Qala) the honorable sons of Diwaniyah # This assembly was peaceful as the assembly movement was within peaceful frameworks and was free from any manifestation of violence. The demonstration ended with the establishment of the Maghrib prayer and the protesters' return to their homes.
On the other hand, the Sadrist movement's supporters demonstrated renewed the same demands and the same organization, as hundreds of people went out on Friday, 12/8/2022, in front of the Mustafa Mosque building, and then went to Ahrar Al-Diwaniyah Square, passing through Al-Mawakeb Street in the city of Diwaniyah. In an interview with the Monitoring Team, one of the demonstrators stated that the reason for their departure today is to express their support for (Muqtada al-Sadr's) reform project to change the political system in Iraq, declaring not to back down until their demands are met.
In the media, the demonstrations were broadcast on social media and the presence of Al-Shahd News Agency and Al-Buraq Agency. As for security, the security forces have committed themselves to their professionalism in dealing with the demonstrators. Furthermore, the monitoring team's work found that the authorities fulfilled their obligation to facilitate peaceful gatherings by closing streets, redirecting traffic, and protecting the assembly from harassment.
On 6/8/2022 on Saturday, at precisely five o'clock in the evening, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Mawlawi Street to Bab Al-Saray in the center of Sulaymaniyah and Rania district. Most of them belonged to the party - the new generation - in addition to a percentage of independent citizens after the lawsuit that was launched for the demonstration through pages on social media, which belong to the leader of the New Generation Party - Shaswar Abdul Wahid called for demonstrations in all Kurdistan governorates, similar to the demonstrations in the central and southern governorates
Despite the peaceful demonstrations, the security forces did not adhere to professionalism in dealing with demonstrators, which can be expressed as a negative indicator of the performance of the security forces in the region.
According to one of the demonstrators, one of the reasons that led to their going out in the demonstration was unemployment, corruption, poor services, high fuel prices, especially for gasoline, the non-distribution of salaries on time, the lack of opportunities to recruit graduates from colleges and institutes, in addition to the refusal to transfer teachers and staff—contractors for permanent owners in government institutions.
The rally began on time by chanting slogans by the New Generation party against the authority and accusing it of negligence and neglect, which led to unemployment, widespread corruption, poor services, and high fuel prices
Sulaymaniyah province protesters
The demonstrations that were launched, despite their peacefulness, were not spared the violent reactions from the natural forces. The security forces were heavily present in the demonstration hours before the start of it, and as soon as the demonstration started, the security forces started using violence to disperse the demonstrators and beat them. They did not spare members of the House of Representatives in the region's parliament from these abuses. Although the parliament member now enjoys immunity, that did not protect them from arrest. Several parliament members affiliated with the New Generation Party were arrested, in addition to the arrest of some media professionals and journalists present at the demonstration for covering it.
As for the media, media channels were present within the assembly, where several news channels were present, including NRT, RUDAW, media agencies, and journalists, and this assembly was widely circulated on social media platforms. Unfortunately, the demonstration did not last long, as the security forces intervened to disperse the demonstrators using force, as some activists were arrested and imprisoned. As for the government, no official statement was issued in this regard.
Dozens of employees and employees of the Directorate of Reform of Women and Children in Erbil gathered on 1/8/2022 in front of the directorate's building located on One Hundred Metric Street in Erbil without obtaining official permission to gather to protest against the increase in official working hours. The demonstration began in coordination with the employees during official
The nature of the demonstrations in Erbil, regardless of their subject matter, was characterized by being a purely feminist
working hours. Protestors gathered in front of the main street at ten in the morning, which led to a narrowing of the movement of vehicles in the street and created a state of congestion. It lasted for three hours after the demonstrators gradually dispersed, with the end of the official working hours at one in the afternoon.
The demands of the demonstrators were directed to the Director General of Correctional Facility in the Kurdistan Region, where they demanded that he cancel his decision to increase the official working hours from working 24 hours every three days to working for 24 hours every two days.
The protesters added in their demands that if working hours are not reduced and returned to their previous status, they ask the director to place them and transfer them from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to the Ministry of Interior. In addition, they demand the privileges of the military, such as danger allowances, considering them as military affiliates, and granting them military ranks, because they wear military uniforms and deal with convicted and arrested women and children, and that their lives are at risk during work hours and when they deal with prisoners. Moreover, they work during holidays and official occasions and are not covered by official holidays.
One of the female demonstrators - indicated that their situation in Erbil correctional facility is different from that of Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk reformatories because the reformatory in Erbil includes convicts and detainees ages over 18 and that they are not military but are employees of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and that they do not receive the privileges granted to the police. However, the Minister refused the request, and a representative of the female demonstrators requested to meet the Director General to discuss their demands, but her request was rejected.
Governmentally, there were no governmental responses to these demands, as no official government official came to the assembly site. However, some of the protesters negotiated with the director of Erbil's reformatory about their demands. Who indicated that the decision is effective and is being implemented in the governorates of Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, so they must comply with it. One of the female demonstrators also added that the reformatory director threatened us to register protestors as absent for four days due to their non-compliance with the official working hours and their demonstration, as these days are deducted from their salary. Security: No presence of the security forces was observed, as no security forces came to the assembly site, except for the security forces for the protection of the reformatory, which were initially on the site and who generally dealt with the demonstrators without friction with them. In the media, several media channels, such as (NRT, Payam, Speda, and several active pages on social media) came to the assembly site and covered it. As a result, the assembly was peaceful. The demonstrators- employees of the reformatory, went out and assembled peacefully in front of the reformatory without any friction or violence with the security forces already present.
The reasons for the demonstrations / the demands of the demonstrators
By reviewing the demonstrations and events in many Iraqi governorates, the most prominent reasons that led to the start of the demonstrations we can review them as follows:
Notes on the security authorities’ handling of gatherings:
Initial observations of the security forces' interaction with the demonstrators indicate that the security forces in the southern and central governorates deal with more excellent professionalism compared to the security forces in the Kurdistan Region, where no violent reactions were recorded by the security forces in southern and central governorates, despite the recurrence of demonstrations and their continuation. However, demonstrations in the region were dealt with violently and harshly, a discussion that did not spare even the deputies who enjoy legal immunity. This behavior can be considered a dangerous indicator of the reality of democracy in the region. In addition, the lack of professionalism in dealing with the demonstrations by the security forces may have unimaginable repercussions in the future.