Thousands took to the streets in the Iraqi city of Mosul March 22, the day after an overcrowded ferry capsized in the Tigris River, killing more than 100 people. “Our demand is the governor’s resignation,” a protester told Kurdistan 24 news station at the action. “All officials must be dismissed,” another added.
Most of those who drowned were women and children, who were taking the boat to an amusement park on Umm Rabaen to celebrate Nowruz, the Kurdish and Persian New Year’s holiday and Mother’s Day. Several dozen are still listed as missing. The vessel was overloaded to five times its rated capacity, according to the Mosul Civil Defense Authority. It was traveling after heavy rains and a water release from a dam upstream made water levels high and the current strong. The ferry flipped over onto many of the passengers.
Working people in the city, who’ve lived through real economic difficulties since the destruction wrought by Islamic State’s seizure and occupation, the battle to throw IS out, and official mismanagement during the recovery, were outraged. When Nawfal al-Akoub, the provincial governor, came to the area he was met by people throwing rocks at his convoy. As his car sped away, it hit two people who had to be rushed to the hospital.
“We are protesting today for over 100 people who died because of corruption, destruction and greed,” one woman said in tears.
In response to the public outcry, Iraq’s parliament met two days later and voted overwhelmingly to fire the governor. An Iraqi court issued a warrant for Akoub’s arrest.