Since October 1, 2019, nearly two years ago, young Iraqis have taken to the streets and asked the government to provide basic services for citizens. It all began in Tahrir square in the middle of Baghdad and soon the uprising spread in most of the central and southern provinces. With the support of most Iraqi, the October movement was attended by tens of thousands of Iraqis protesting in Tahrir Square, and with widespread protests and public support, “the October Protestors” demanded fundamental change in Iraq’s governing system.
Iraqis are the only support of the protestors in Baghdad and other provinces. The protests resulted in more than 1,000 martyrs and 25,000 injuries, including 5,000 people with disabilities, at the hands of security agencies and armed groups, known as ”the third party”, but did the protestors’ demands, or some of them, come true? In this report, many people in the October uprising responded to the Rudaw NetWork.
“I participated four days after the protests began, we set up the “Sumeriat” tent, the tent was like a platform and our place for the meeting, there we had the seminars, discussion and exchanging about our opinions, and we were preparing food for our colleagues who participated in the uprising and as a store for the food and medical materials. Because I graduated from the Fine Arts Department, I often painted and wrote the days of the uprising, my house is near Karada in central Baghdad, despite I was too young, continued to participate until the end of the uprising and destruction of the tents, I was there daily from early morning to the late at night. My family had no idea about my participation, and when my mother found out, she joined us with my brother until the last day of the uprising. We wanted through this uprising to make a total change so that Iraqis could regain their dignity inside and outside of Iraq; otherwise, it is shameful that the Iraqi passport is the second-worst passport. The grudges among the Iraqi people as a result of sectarianism and backwardness that prevailed in society after 2003, surfaced as a result of crises and the behavior of corrupt parties, and I believe that Iraq is the home of civilizations, scholars, and creators that does not deserve that” Safa Jamal said, from Baghdad province.
“We have achieved a lot, even if it is part of our demands, and we are still working with our colleagues to fundamentally changing in the system, shut down corrupt parties, and return Iraq to Iraqis. On a personal level, I have found a large number of real friends in Tahrir Square, who are friends of blood and sacrifice, whom I will never forget, and if the uprising returns, I will be at the forefront of the participants, with the financial and moral supports by Iraqi men and women” she said.
“I wish to be able to go back to Baghdad, to our homeland, as we, my mother and I left to Erbil, where we feel safe and stable for fear of the militias being pursued because we were active in the October uprising,” she said.
“I participated in the protests in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, and lost my right eye as a result of a bomb blast, I do not regret my participation in the protests because we were and still now we are right. Some Iraqis have faced great disappointment, especially from some of October protestors who agreed with political parties to trade in our sacrifices” Hisham Al-Samir said from Basrah Province.
” I was disappointed that even some of our close colleagues accused us of wanting to destroy Shia rule in Iraq with the support of western embassies, and I am disappointed in the employees and businessmen who attacked us because we had cut off traffic in Tahrir and Khalani squares and affected in their economic interests, and we feel disappointed with the tribal sheiks who took over the corrupt parties against us, and with all these sacrifices, today I am in Erbil and I cannot visit my family in Basrah because I am threatened by the armed militias,” he said.
“Despite the disappointments, the October uprising was a big step towards breaking the barrier that had created fear for Iraqis, However, October has created a major jump in breaking the barrier of fear from Iraqis. Yes, there is disappointment and despair from Iraqis, Today; we are in a shameful situation. Most of our young people have been displaced in other provinces, especially in the provinces of the Kurdistan Region, and most of the wounded need treatment inside and outside of Iraq. And there is disappointment with the counter-media that distorted the facts and accused us of various descriptions.” Ahmed Al-Washah said he was one of the leaders of the October movement in Baghdad.
“We will continue sacrifice to fulfill our demands, we will announce very soon the formation of leadership for a large and powerful organization that includes the youth of October protestors, and we consider political parties and armed militias to be our enemies. The leaders of the corrupt parties claim to support our demands and trade our victims with their militias who shot us” he said.
”We have not achieved anything in the concrete level, meaning all the Iraqi demands for fundamental changes, which are also the fight against corruption and unlicensed weapons, but we have been able to express our opinions, the divisions in the October tent and the appearance of multiple parties were a great disappointment to me, and he revealed that the Iraqi meeting around one leadership is a very difficult issue, I feel regretting the bloodshed throughout Iraq on a personal level and the great sacrifice by our young people’s lives, we didn’t get what we did to the uprising,” Ali Al-Habib said, from Wasit Province.
“Unfortunately, our people are disappointed by the fear and pressure of the political parties to trade in our cases, but what gives us the patience we have been rightful. We are currently working to prepare for the biggest demonstration next October, two years after the major October uprising” he said.
“I am the only woman who was protesting against the corrupt parties in Diwaniyah province, which threatened me and my family, we faced beatings as a warning bell and pressure to give up on my activities and leaving Diwaniyah, as I left Diwaniyah today, I live with my son and daughter in Erbil after I lost my job on “Zahra Diwaniyah” radio, I was working in “They are for Human Rights” organization, then gave up on my position in the organization, because of my participation in the demonstrations, writings, and programs against the corruption. I am very disappointed in the Iraqis who did not stand with us enough, and some of them, unfortunately, betrayed us bravely” Maha Nasir said, from Al-Diwaniyah Province.
“Today we feel disappointment with the Iraqis, the worst thing for us about someone who sold himself and worked as a link between the protestors and the politicians’ side who infiltrated us, they traded with our sacrifices in our difficult situations in which the participants of the uprising lived, Many times, unfortunately, felt remorse,” Ali Al-Khayal said, from Baghdad Province.
“The results by the young people of October uprising have achieved will remain in the conscience of the history, and our sacrifices will intimidate any future governments to respect the demands of the Iraqi people and consider it as a red line that cannot be crossed, and that is why we will continue our uprising until major changes are made,” He said.
“I left my province, participated in the October 26, 2019 uprising in Tahrir Square. Of course, the events created the general change in the system of governance, implementation, and citizens’ demands. The opposition Medias and corrupt parties have done everything in their power to create a gap of trust between us and the sectors of our nation that they supported us strongly at the beginning, but unfortunately, Iraqis quickly got bored and did not continue. For more than 50 years, the Iraqi people have gone through several war situations, dictatorship, economic and security crises, and they do not believe the changes through peace that we applied in our uprising. Some friends have blamed us in the past and still because we followed peaceful paths without raising weapons against those who killed us. I do not regret my participating in the great mass uprising, which I consider an important step towards change.” Hani Mohammed said, from Diyala Province.
It is important to point out that more than 70 activists faced assassination or attempted assassination in October 2019, in addition to dozens of activists being kidnapped for a short time.