In recent weeks, thousands of people have demonstrated in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: Ali Hilal


Protesters in Iraq demand peace

In recent weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets and demonstrated in Iraq. The people are protesting against corruption and for peace. Iraqi security forces have met with protesters with gunfire and tear gas.

At midnight on October 1, in Tahrir Square in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, protests broke out. It's been a violent month in Iraq, thousands of people have been injured and over 250 people have died. The protests erupted as a result of corruption, unemployment and socio-economic problems in the country. For several months, for example, citizens have been waiting for non-payment of salaries, especially teachers and medical staff.

Majid Ali, a 44-year-old teacher living in Basra, is one of those taking part in the demonstrations. In an interview with Utvecklingsmagasinet, conducted via Skype, Majid Ali says that according to him, the government has stolen money from the population for several years and lied that they will pay salaries. Majid Ali also believes that the government has given empty promises that the whole country will have access to electricity.

- There is still no electricity or water in some parts of the country. Salaries have not been paid. This time the people could not take it anymore. They are tired of the government's lies. It is time for the government and Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi to resign, says Majid Ali.

The protests have spread in the southern parts of the country, from Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to Basra. The death toll continues to rise, as do the number of injured. People demonstrate while security forces fire at them and throw tear gas grenades. The people are crying out for peace and want the government, including Iraq's current prime minister, Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, to resign. Adil Abd Al-Mahdi refuses to resign and instead wants new elections to be called in January.

Injured protesters are being rushed to hospitals by tuk-tuks as ambulances reach Baghdad Square in Baghdad. Photo: Ali Dab Dab

The people are united and help each other during this dark period. Our tuk-tuk drivers are role models who drive while tear gas is thrown at them. Today I am on site at Tahrir Square to help the injured. It is my duty, the 22-year-old medical student Ali Hussein tells Utvecklingsmagasinet.

In the midst of the violent demonstrations, tuk-tuks, three-wheeled vehicles that are common in Southeast Asia, have become a symbol of insurgency and peace in Iraq. The drivers of the tuk-tuks are considered heroes. These young men and women risk their lives as they drive through tear gas and shootings to pick up injured protesters.

The demonstrators are being driven to the nearest hospital because ambulances cannot get to Tahrir Square due to the crowds. Driving a tuk-tuk is often the drivers' only source of income, despite the fact that they are shaken to the hospital for free.

At Tahrir Square, there are student doctors, pharmacists and nurses to help the injured. The volunteers hand out drinks, food, mobile phone chargers and gas masks to the protesters.

Ali Hussein says the protesters are not afraid of death. According to him, everyone who dies is a hero.

- The demonstrations will continue until the government resigns. No one will move, let the security forces shoot at us. We are not afraid, says Ali Hussein. 

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