We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Latest protests

Iraqi protesters rally in the rain

CNN reports (March 25th): Throngs of demonstrators protested in the rain, rallying in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square against corruption, unemployment, the lack of basic services and the treatment of prisoners.
Several women also turned out at the square to call on the Iraqi government to release sons and husbands who are in the prison awaiting trial or investigation. Some were carrying photos of their loved ones.
At least 15 inmates were wounded after a riot broke out at Baghdad's Rasafa prison, Interior Ministry officials told CNN. Dozens of Rasafa inmates had set tents afire in the prison yard to protest against ill treatment, poor conditions inside the prison and the sectarian bias of some wardens in favor of Shiite inmates over Sunnis, officials said.

Iraqis protest demanding better services, release of prisoners

M&C report (March 25th):  Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Baghdad amid tight security to demand better public services and the release of prisoners held in jail without trial.
Many of those detained are either political prisoners or were arrested following major attacks on the country after the 2003 US-led invasion.
Protesters also chanted slogans urging the government to put an end to corruption and improve services in the country.
1,000 protestors in Diala to support Bahraini people
Aswat Al-Iraq reports (March 25th): More than one thousand protestors went to streets in Diala to show support to the Bahraini people.

Iraqis Take to the Streets, Call for Real Democracy

David Bacon reports for Truth Out (March 25th): Demonstrations have taken place in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk, among other cities, calling on the US in particular to stop its escalating military intervention in Libya. Iraqi unions have been especially vocal, linking the US invasion of Iraq with continued misery for its working people. According to one union representative, Abdullah Muhsin of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), "Eight years have ended since the fall of Saddam's regime, yet the empty promises of the 'liberators' - the invaders and the occupiers who promised Iraqis heaven and earth - were simply lies, lies and lies."
Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, says violence directed against workers and unions is intended to keep a lid on protests against miserable living conditions. "We are still under occupation," he charges. "The new Iraqi army, created by the US occupation, is doing the same job, protecting the corrupt government while we are suffering from the difficulties of daily life."
"There's no electricity most of the time and no drinking water - no services at all," says Qasim Hadi, president of the Union of Unemployed of Iraq (UUI). Eight years after the start of the US military intervention, "there's hardly even any repair of the war damage - there's still rubble in the streets. People are going hungry."

Sunday, 20 March 2011

More protests in Iraq

Iraqis accuse Parliament of neglecting Iraq on account of Bahrain protests

Al-Sumaria reports (March 19th): Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square affirmed that they will pursue protests until achieving their goals.

In Ramadi, hundreds of protesters called for the topple of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s government. 

Protesters rallied in Al Shajariah District, eastern Ramadi, waving Iraqi flags and chanting slogans against the government while calling to improve services in the country. 

Iraq Fallujah residents demonstrate to release detainees

Al-Sumaria reports (March 18th): Hundreds of Fallujah residents demonstrated on Friday calling to release detainees who have not been charged.

Falluja placed under tight curfew

Azzaman reports (March 19th): Iraq’s restive city of Falluja is under tight curfew following anti-government demonstrations and attacks targeting Iraqi security forces and U.S. occupation troops.

Three houses belonging to police officers were blown up and there were demonstrations in the city demanding the release of detainees and implementation of pledges made by the government to improve public services.

Inmates set prison on fire in Iraq’s Tikrit

Azzaman reports (March 16th): Inmates have set their prison on fire in the northern city of Tikrit in protest against ill treatment and worsening conditions.

The 400 prisoners then staged a sit in as plumes of smoke rose from the wards where they languished.

The prison warden, Hatem al-Jibouri, called in anti-riot police to impose order.

In Iraq protests, a younger generation finds its voice

Washington Post reports (March 16th): In recent days, Basaam Abdulrizak, an organizer of the ongoing protests here, has appeared on al-Jazeera and held forth with revolutionaries from Tunisia to Bahrain. But as he’s taken a central role in the demonstrations, the intense 27-year-old has become ever more eloquent about what he considers the cause of his generation: the idea of Iraq itself.
“What we have passed through is like a dark dream,” said Abdulrizak, referring to the U.S invasion and the sectarian bloodshed that claimed relatives, friends and his own youth. “We believe in Iraq as the primary identity, not sect or religion.”

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The dark world of privatised warfare

Mike Phipps reviews Route Irish, Ken Loach’s new feature about British mercenary soldiers in Iraq.

War is a profitable business for some. The latest collaboration between writer Paul Laverty and director Ken Loach probes the murky world of private security contractors, which operate with impunity throughout Iraq.

By 2007, these companies outnumbered US troops in the country. In the last five years, they have been involved in two hundred “escalation of force” incidents, where they opened fire on men, women or children they considered to be a threat. The most notorious case was in 2007, when mercenaries working for Blackwater killed 17 Iraqi civilians in an unprovoked massacre in Baghdad. As British and US troops withdraw, it’s increasingly these private contractors that represent the latest phase of the occupation of Iraq - which makes Route Irish all the more timely.

The film follows Fergus (Mark Womack), an ex-SAS soldier and security contractor, who persuades his best friend Frankie - played by stand-up comedian John Bishop - to join him in the lucrative world of private security. When Frankie gets killed on Route Irish, the highway from Baghdad to its airport - “the most dangerous road in the world” - a grief-stricken Fergus determines to get to the bottom of his friend’s death. In the process, he unearths a massacre which puts him on a violent collision course with those determined to keep it covered up.

It’s a dark, bleak and brutal piece of work, pulling no political punches and never losing sight of who the real criminals are. As Paul Laverty, who wrote the screenplay, pointed out, “While lowly contractors gambled with lives and limbs on Route Irish, the Chief Executives of those same companies made fortunes.” There’s a lot of focus in the film on how war brutalises those involved, many of whom suffer from long-term post-traumatic stress. At a particularly poignant moment, Fergus tells Frankie’s widow Rachel (Andrea Lowe), “I just wanted my old self back. I wish you had known me then.” The experience of war has left him deeply damaged, unable to form human relationships.

But the film also focuses on the impact of the conflict on Iraqis. Iraqi musician Talib Rasool plays Harem, an Iraqi exile living in the UK, who helps Fergus unravel the murderous events that led to the killing of his friend.

Route Irish is a far cry from Loach and Laverty’s last offering, Looking for Eric, which is a feelgood movie by comparison. I suspect that mainstream reviewers may pan it or just ignore it for not fitting into the accepted narrative. All the more reason to make sure you see this hard-hitting, highly political piece of cinema.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Latest Iraq protests


Iraqis rally in Baghdad, media banned from live coverage

Al Sumaria reports (March 8th): Hundreds of Iraqis rallied on Monday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in protest against lack of services. Demonstrators are calling to dissolve the provincial council and bring all parties involved in corruption to justice. 

Iraqi security forces banned media from covering manifestations live on air.

Iraq Shuts Office of Protest Organizers

NY Times reports (March 7th): Two political parties that led demonstrations in Baghdad over the past two weeks said Monday that security forces controlled by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had ordered them to close their offices. Officials for the Iraqi Nation Party and the Iraqi Communist Party said in interviews that dozens of armed security forces had come to their offices, two days after another round of demonstrations.

Iraqi Kurdish protesters to press demands for freedoms and transparency
Azzaman reports (March 11th): Tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds have risen against their factional leaders, demanding transparency and more freedoms.
The demonstrations have so far concentrated in the Kurdish Province of Sulaimaniya but anger and resentment of policies pursued by the Kurdish region’s government are triggering unrest across the current Kurdish administration.

Iraq Kurds protest, man tries to set himself ablaze

Reuters report (March 11th): A protester tried to set himself on fire in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish zone, where demonstrators have camped out on a square to call for the ouster of the powerful regional administration.
Protests were also held in several other Iraqi cities, although numbers were smaller than in previous weeks and there was no major violence.

Iraq protesters call for jobs and better services

AFP report (March 11th): Hundreds of Iraqi protesters demanded jobs and better basic services, in the latest challenge to the government as a wave of popular uprisings sweeps across the Arab world.
Some 500 protesters turned up in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and about as many in the city of Fallujah west of the capital.


Iraqi protesters accuse security forces of detaining, beating demonstrators
Canadian Press reports (March 11th): Several Iraqis among a crowd of protesters in Baghdad accused security forces of detaining and beating them for taking part in earlier demonstrations calling for better services and a corruption-free government.
The new accusations came from three protesters gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square — one of at least four demonstrations Friday morning in major Iraqi cities. The largest rally was in northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, with an estimated turnout of 4,000.
Protester Sami Majid, 23, said he was among crowds during a deadly demonstration in Baghdad on Feb. 25, which was billed as the Iraqi "Day of Rage," when he was detained by police who held him at a military base in the capital's east.
"They beat and kicked me, then forced me to sign a commitment that I would not participate in demonstrations or raise riots," Majid said. He joined about 300 other protesters at Tahrir Square who held the soles of their shoes in the air — a sign of disrespect in the Middle East — and shouted, "Liar, liar, Maliki!" in an affront to the prime minister.

Iraqi activists' torture allegations spark fears for detained protesters

Amnesty International reports (March 10th): A group of anti-government protesters missing since they were arrested this week in Baghdad are feared to be at risk of torture, after other recently released protestors told Amnesty International they were tortured in detention.
At least 10 people were detained on Monday while returning home from a Baghdad protest against unemployment, government corruption and poor social services. 
The arrests came as other protesters who were detained last month told Amnesty International that they were tortured in detention. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

This week's protests

Iraq authorities 'using violence and bribes' to curb dissent

The National reports (March 2nd): Authorities in Iraq are using a mixture of strong-arm tactics and financial persuasion to prevent anti-government protests gaining momentum.
Army and police units have beaten, arrested or threatened scores of political activists and journalists, their colleagues say. Meanwhile, government security and intelligence agencies are trying to root out the organisers of the protests, especially those who are using the internet in an attempt to organise another mass protest.
Hussein Abdul Hadi, a blogger who helped to arrange the "Day of Rage" march in Baghdad, said: "The intelligence services are collecting information about activists and after the demonstrations they have been making arrests and detaining people."

Protesters say Maliki is using special security forces to shut down demonstration

Washington Post adds (March 4th): Witnesses in Baghdad and as far north as Kirkuk described watching last week as security forces in black uniforms, tracksuits and T-shirts roared up in trucks and Humvees, attacked protesters, rounded up others from cafes and homes and hauled them off, blindfolded, to army detention centers.
Entire neighborhoods - primarily Sunni areas where residents are generally opposed to Maliki - were blockaded to prevent residents from joining the demonstrations. Journalists were beaten.
Protesters converge on Iraq capital
Al Jazeera reports (March 4th): Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to protest against corruption and unemployment, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.
Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad's bridges ahead of the protests.

Iraqi forces use water cannon to disperse protests

Reuters report (March 4th): Iraqi security forces used water cannon and batons to disperse protesters in the southern oil hub of Basra as thousands of Iraqis rallied around the nation against corrupt officials and poor basic services.
In central Basra around 700 protesters near the provincial council building were forcibly removed by Iraqi soldiers and police after they refused to stop demonstrating.
A Reuters reporter at the scene said some journalists were also beaten by security forces. A vehicle ban was in effect.

Journalists detained in Basra 
Aswat-al-Iraq adds (March 4th): Security forces dispersed a demonstration in front of the Basra council after clashes with protestors, eyewitnesses said, noting that a protestor was wounded and a number of journalists were arrested.
“Security forces used force to disperse demonstrators, wounding one of them, and detained a number of journalists, mainly channels and news agencies’ reporters,” eyewitnesses told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Iraqis protest again, this time in 'Day of Regret'

Washington Post adds (March 4th): With a curfew on cars and bicycles, security tight and a recent history of security forces shooting, beating and detaining demonstrators, around 2,000 people were gathered for protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square by noon Friday.
Once again, they held up signs saying, "All of Us Are One Nation" and "More Services" and "No No to Corruption." Small protests were forming in several cities across the country, including Basra, Dhaqar and Najaf.

Iraqis get the Tahrir spirit

Last Friday's day of rage shows Nouri al-Maliki is in danger of becoming the Mubarak of Baghdad

  • As the walls of fear are being knocked down in one Arab country after another, the ugly concrete walls "of separation and intimidation" erected by the US-led forces in Iraqi cities have become a target of protesters. During last Friday's "day of rage", 29 people were killed by security forces. Another day of protest is planned for this Friday (4 March) "to honour the 29 martyrs". The regime's tactics – which include the shooting of peaceful demonstrators – show that the post-occupation edifice built by the US is not much different from the assortment of American-backed dictatorships across north Africa and the Middle East.
    It was George Bush who – referring to Syrian troops in Lebanon – declared that free and fair elections were not possible under occupation. Iraqis for once find themselves in agreement with him as they question the legitimacy of elections under occupation that produced a toothless parliament with no more power than Egypt's under Mubarak.
    Like all regimes threatened by mass uprisings, Iraq is a police state that shows its true face once challenged by the people. And the more radical the challenge, the more violent the reaction. In Egypt and Tunisia hundreds were killed and thousands injured to bring about the downfall of Ben Ali and Mubarak. But the most radical demand – the regime's overthrow – has yet to be tested.
    In Iraq a majority of Friday's protesters wanted to "reform" rather than overthrow a "corrupt" regime. However, the lesson the regime appears to have drawn from the great uprisings sweeping the region is to anticipate and act to stop people, especially in Baghdad, from congregating in large numbers.
    Extraordinary measures were taken to prevent people converging on the capital's Tahrir Square. All of Baghdad's many bridges over the Tigris – linking the two halves of the city – were closed, all vehicles and bicycles banned. New concrete blast walls sealed off Jamahiriya bridge, which leads to the hated Green Zone. A city of over 6 million people had been turned into a massive site for police and army encampments and fortifications.
    Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, was clearly motivated by fear of the masses, declaring that although he was in favour of protecting the right to protest, he thought it best that in future people should gather only in Baghdad's football stadium or al-Zowra'a park – rather than march for rallies in Tahrir Square. Presumably he was petrified by the thought that a great banner, similar to the one that adorned Cairo's Tahrir square, would go up proclaiming: "The people want to overthrow the regime".
    For its part, the world's biggest US embassy – the power behind the throne – took the unprecedented step of broadcasting in Arabic, on state TV, a thinly veiled threat to protesters not to go too far in their demands. The US, it stressed, fully backed the "democratically elected" regime, while supporting the right to peaceful protest. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama must be pretty confused as to which dictatorship they should now abandon and which to prop up.
    Maliki has so far made four state-TV broadcasts. In the first two he urged people to stay at home, because "Ba'athists and al-Qaida terrorists" had infiltrated the protesters and were planning to kill them. In the third, he was visibly shaken, thanking the protesters and promising reform "within one hundred days". Lastly, he implied the state would react violently andeven torture journalists if they wanted to "overthrow" him and his regime, because he was "democratically elected".
    His accusations that the protesters were "Ba'athists" was answered with the most popular chant of last Friday: "Nouri al-Maliki is a liar." Other slogans asserted: "The people's oil is for the people not for the thieves"; "We want dignity, jobs and services"; "No to terrorism, no to Saddam's dictatorship, and no to the dictatorship of thieves"; "No to the occupation"; "We are not Ba'athists, repression is Ba'athist"; and an old favourite of many previous rallies, "Sunnis and Shia, this homeland we shall never sell". In Iraqi Kurdistan, where at least six were killed, protesters demanded that Kurdish leaders Barzani and Talbani must follow Mubarak.
    The Iraqi struggle for "dignity and freedom" is even more difficult than that of Libya's heroic people. It faces 50,000 US troops (plus tens of thousands of contracted mercenaries) and Iraqi forces numbering over 1.5 million. The indifference of the BBC and other media is conspicuous and hypocritical, particularly following the torture of four Iraqi journalists.
    However, inspired by the uprisings of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, Iraqis have embarked on a new phase in their struggle.