'When will the bloodshed stop?' - notes and prayers on Iraq's Wall of Wishes

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By Reuters
'When will the bloodshed stop?' - notes and prayers on Iraq's Wall of Wishes
An Iraqi woman demonstrator pastes a note with her wish at a wall of wishes, during ongoing anti-government protests, at the building called 'the Turkish Restaurant Building', in Baghdad, Iraq November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily   -  Copyright  KHALID AL-MOUSILY(Reuters)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The small white post-it note was stuck to the wall amid thousands of other sticky squares, each bearing a wish, a comment or a prayer for the future of Iraq.

“When will the bloodshed stop in my country?” someone had written in neat Arabic script.

Just off Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, ground zero for a protest movement that remains unbowed despite the deaths of hundreds of demonstrators in a government crackdown, protesters have set up a “wall of wishes”.

“I wrote: ‘I used to hate Iraq before October 25, now I’m proud of it’,” said Fatima Awad, 16, naming the date last month when protesters first tried to storm the Green Zone of government buildings on the opposite side of the bridge across the Tigris that leads from the square.

“Before, we did not have a future, and no one would protest because everyone was scared. Now, we’re all gathered at Tahrir Square,” she said.

The anti-government protesters accuse the government of corruption and squandering the national wealth. At least 339 people have been killed since the demonstrations began in October. Most of the victims have been unarmed protesters shot with live ammunition.

A note on the wall says simply: “We want the government to change.” One note calls for the execution of a hated politician; in another, a young man says he wants to finish his sports college.

Activists set up the wall at an abandoned public bathroom. They now plan to compile the wishes in a book.

“We formed a team with a group of youth and we worked with the spirit of one team, as active as bees in a beehive,” said Sattar Judeh, a writer who helped set up the wall.

“It was the activity that the people liked the most and interacted with the most: the Wall of Wishes.”

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Mark Heinrich)