As elections near, Iraq’s youth distance themselves from vote

By Sofia Nitti

Baghdad, Oct 6 (EFE).- In Iraq, young people under the age of 30 constitute a large part of the population, but they have little to no hope of being able to change anything in their country themselves.

Two years on from the anti-government protests that started in October 2019, many have abandoned their activism due to threats and assassinations.

Just two years ago, the October Revolution began at Tahrir Square, near the Tigris River, in central Baghdad.

Under a shower of tear gas and water jets, for months thousands of Iraqis chanted slogans calling for a country free from corruption and the influence of neighboring Iran.

They demanded basic services such as clean water and electricity, while the violent response by security forces left nearly 600 dead and thousands injured.

Today, the second anniversary of the revolution unfolds without incident. A procession of only a few hundred people reiterates these demands which have never been met. Several are barely 20 years old: a reflection of a country where the average age is 21.

Wahad Abdallah Najim comes forward slowly, his wheelchair pushed by a friend. The 20-year-old was shot in the back during one of the deadliest days of the protests.

The government promised him medical treatment abroad, and Wahad even met Prime Minister Mustapha Al-Kadhimi last month, but he has heard nothing since.

“His entourage had insisted so much that I meet him,” he says, disillusioned. “His government is exactly like any other before. We want a total change in the political system, but it will certainly not come from these elections, which will lead to nothing.”

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