Iraqis seal bridges, roads as protests pick up pace
STRIKING Iraqis sealed off key bridges and avenues in Baghdad and across the south Sunday, boosting a weekslong street movement that is demanding a government overhaul.
Sit-ins have become the go-to tactic for rallies that erupted in early October in fury over corruption, a lack of jobs and an out-of-touch political class.
They have resisted efforts by security forces to snuff the gatherings out and on Sunday, thousands came out across the country after activists called for a general strike.
In the southern hotspots of Kut, Najaf and Diwaniyah schools and government offices were shut as swelling crowds hit the streets.
Protesters burned tyres to block roads in the oil-rich port city of Basra and outside Nasiriyah, prompting security forces to send reinforcements.
In Hillah, south of Baghdad, students and other activists massed in front of the provincial headquarters.
“We’ll keep up our protest and general strike with all Iraqis until we force the government to resign,” said Hassaan al-Tufan, a lawyer and activist.
In Baghdad, protesters expanded their sit-in from the main protest camp of Tahrir (Liberation) Square further north to the Al-Ahrar (Free Men) bridge.
Along with Al-Jumhuriyah and Al-Sinek, that brings to three the number of bridges whose eastern approaches are occupied by protesters.