Saturday, 1500 Iraqi orphans are planning to march in Baghdad to demand their rights. With over 1 million orphans across the country after the devastation caused by the American war on Iraq, they will demand that the government address the urgent needs of these children. Twenty civil society groups from several provinces are involved in organizing the march.
Iraq has seen a number of demonstrations in the past week– as Hadi Jalu of Iraq’s Journalistic Press Freedom Observatory told Deutsche Well this week when asked if the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries would spread to Iraq:
Hadi Jalu: Absolutely. Just think that we share the same culture and language as well as the same problems: corruption, unemployment, mismanagement, poor infrastructure, attacks on freedom of expression…The recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere have given the Iraqis hope and strength to raise the same issues in the streets.
Speaking of a demonstration by journalists he helped organize:
The initiative came from several fellow journalists. We organised a peaceful march through Facebook and Twitter. We also broadcast our message through different radio channels and newspapers. It was a peaceful march in support of the Egyptian people in their uprising against Mubarak.
Although there are the parallels I mentioned before, there is also a very big gap between us. In Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen we are dealing with leaders who have been in power for decades but our representatives have been elected by the Iraqi people. For the moment, people in Iraq are not asking for a change of government, they are protesting for the improvement of dire living conditions most of them have to cope with.
Demonstrations in Iraq may not be calling for a change of government but they have faced violent responses from government forces. As reported yesterday by Abdus-Samad of GorillasGuides at MyFDL yesterday:
Peshmerga forces sent to Sulaimaniya by Barzani at Talabani’s request opened fire on anti-corruption demonstrators. They opened fire with out warning and killed two of us 45 of us were wounded badly enough to need medical treatment.
Friday, protests continued in Sulaimaniya as well as in Basra where:
Hundreds of protesters blocked a bridge in the southern Iraqi city of Basra Friday, demanding an improvement in basic services in the area.
One of those protesting in Basra told Al Jazeera:
We’re living in miserable conditions, no electricity, dirty, muddy streets. We have to make changes. We should not be silent,” said Qais Jabbar.
Two demonstrators were also killed in Kut, in southern Iraq on Wednesday and many have been wounded across the country.
A new website created by unnamed Iraqi youth features both a list of demands and a map showing the locations where demonstrations have occurred so far.
Their demands, listed in a letter to the Governor and council in Kirkuk:
To ensure communication and building a democratic society you raise the demands of our people:
1. The provision of the ration card items and improve the quality of that is distributed monthly.
2. Attention to the provision of essential services like water, electricity, gasoline and paving the streets ….
3. Provide health insurance to citizens, especially children and adults age
4. Activation of the oversight role of civil medical clinics Rates
5. Building factories and laboratories in order to eliminate unemployment
6. Promote the idea of small projects for young men and women and give the grant money from the petro-dollar.
7. Development of agricultural policy and the promotion and expansion of the agricultural sector and to give loans to farmers and their training on Alasalbeb and modern methods.
8. Increase the proportion of women in decision-making positions to eliminate corruption.
9. Provide the salaries of social welfare and interest of the poor.
10. Recruitment and the inauguration of positions on merit and competence.
11. Activating the role of the Integrity Commission to hold accountable the corrupt and the corrupt in conservative circles
12. Guarantee freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful demonstration.
“People want the rights of citizens” “People want to implement promises” and “the people want to stop corruption” and “the people want activation of the judiciary”