The Iraqi people began their fifth day of protests on Tuesday as tens of thousands of demonstrators packed Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to call for early elections and the removal of the government.
Iraq Declares Curfew in Baghdad As Protests Persist
The demonstrations on Tuesday were heavily motivated by the security forces shooting dead protesters in Kerbala overnight and the prime minister’s refusal to call early elections.
It was the largest gathering in the capital since a second wave of demonstrations against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government and the ruling elite resumed on Friday.
Security forces stationed on the nearby Jumhuriya bridge, lobbed tear gas at protesters who tried to break through to the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions.
“With life and blood we defend you Iraq,” protesters chanted.
The crowd consisted mostly of young men, many draped in Iraqi flags. Surrounding streets brimmed with cars, taxis, motorcycles and tuk-tuks as more people made their way in.
Earlier, trade unions announced that they would call strikes, following the lead of lawyers and teachers.
The latest demonstration took place after a night of violence in the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala, where, according to medical and security sources, Iraqi security forces opened fire on protesters and killed at least 14 people.