Toronto

Hundreds rally in Toronto to call for Canada to denounce violence in Iraq

About 400 people gathered in downtown Toronto on Saturday to call for an end to the violence against Iraqi protesters by government security forces.

Demonstrators call for Canada to denounce violence against unarmed civilians

Five women hold up their placards in support of Iraqi protesters. About 400 people rallied on the steps of Old City Hall in Toronto to express solidarity. (Brendan Sylvia/CBC)

About 400 people gathered in downtown Toronto on Saturday to call for an end to the violence against Iraqi protesters by government security forces.

The demonstrators, who stood on the steps of Old City Hall, waved Iraqi flags and held placards that read: "Save the Iraqi People." Many of the demonstrators were Iraqi Canadians. "Yes, yes, yes, yes for freedom," they chanted.

Ray Siger, an organizer of the rally, told reporters that the demonstrators in Toronto want the Canadian government to take a stand against human rights abuses and violations in Iraq. He said Canada should denounce the violence against unarmed civilians.

"We are calling on the Prime Minister for Canada to take its rightful place against human rights violations," he said, adding that the those protesting in Iraq are a coalition of young people of different sects, united in the goal of ending what they see as government corruption. 

"What we want to show the world is that today it's a different revolution ... We want to show them that the Iraqi people love peace and not the wars that have been imposed on them."

Iraqi Canadian Shayma Aldabagh was among those who attended Saturday's demonstration. She just arrived back in Canada after visiting Iraq.

"Being there and just seeing the good, bad and the ugly — it makes you so overwhelmed ... The voices I heard back in Tahrir, I feel I am responsible to make them heard here and elsewhere. There is a very huge international silence about what's happening."

At least 341 protesters have died in massive protests in Iraq since Oct. 1, according to the Associated Press. Thousands have been injured. On Saturday, Iraqi security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds in Baghdad, killing one person. 

Thousands of Iraqis have demonstrated in Iraq in recent weeks against state corruption, unemployment and a lack of basic services. They also want electoral reforms in Iraq.

The Canadian Iraqi House, which helped to organize the protest, said in a recent Facebook post that it sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Nov. 18 that asked Canada to speak out.

For Alsabagh, though she's been back in Canada for about a week, the solidarity amongst protestors back home keeps her hopeful of what Iraq could be.

"It's a dream."

The protesters waved Iraqi flags and chanted slogans on Saturday. They want the Canadian government to take a stand against human rights abuses and violations in Iraq. (Brendan Sylvia/CBC)
A woman at the rally holds a placard in show of concern over violence against unarmed civilians. (Brendan Sylvia/CBC)

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