Iraqi activists have called for nationwide anti-government protests on Tuesday, May 5, despite ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown and other restrictive measures. Local media reports state that organizers in Baghdad, Babylon, and Dhi Qar governorates are calling for one million demonstrators to rally in the streets. The scale of the protests remains unclear due to the restrictions, though protests have taken place in recent weeks despite them.
A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Demonstrations broke out in Iraq on October 1, 2019, to protest alleged government corruption, inadequate provision of public services, and a lack of job opportunities. Following weeks of relatively calm demonstrations, violence resumed on October 24-25, coinciding with the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to the government issuing them to produce a report on the members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) that were responsible for firing at civilians during previous demonstrations. An estimated 670 people have been killed and over 24,400 people have been wounded since the protests began.
Individuals in Baghdad are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, anticipate a heightened security presence, budget ample travel time, and obey instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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