Freelance photographer for over 19 years, Ricardo García-Vilanova specializes in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. He has reported on the Arab Spring and ISIS conflicts. His photographs have been published in Life, Newsweek, Time, The...
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Protests began in Iraq on 1 October, directed at the government’s failure to deal with unemployment, provide basic public services and end corruption. This escalated into calls to oust the administration and for an overhaul of the political system imposed by the US in 2003 after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Protesters claimed that a small elite were able to keep a grip on political power through a quota system based on sectarian and ethnic identity. Iran was also targeted for its close links with Iraq’s elite and what was seen as its complicity in the administration’s failures. Government forces acted with exceptional severity, firing live rounds and, according to eyewitness reports given to Amnesty International, shooting teargas canisters and smoke grenades directly at protesters. A statement released by the UN on 29 November said that at least 354 people had been killed and 8,104 injured since the protests began. The protests continued into the new year.