Iraq occupation watch
August/September 2003

Iraq: Unemployed demonstrate

Baghdad, July 30--On Tuesday, July 29, the demonstration and the march began from in front of the Union [of the Unemployed's] office. About 1000 people marched towards the former Presidential Palace where American forces are currently stationed, while chanting and demanding jobs or unemployment insurance of $100 for each unemployed person.

At the end of the march, the protesters staged a sit-in in front of the Palace. Today, July 30, at 1:30am, the US forces attacked the sit-in protest and arrested Ghasam Haadi, the President of the Union of Unemployed in Iraq and 18 other members of the Union. The US forces brutally assaulted and beat them up the arrestees.

To protest against this repression, many Union members came to the location of the sit-in, and while chanting and repeating their demands, they too were assaulted by the American forces. The American soldiers intended to disperse the demonstrators and remove their tent. However, the protesters circled around the tent and prevented the American forces from coming near the tent. As the result of this resistance, the American forces retreated and requested to negotiate with the representatives of the protesters. Immediately, a group including Sabah Ahmed, Vice President of the Union, Yanar Mohammed, one of the founders of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, and Moayad Ahmed, a member of the Political Bureau of the Workers Communist Party of Iraq met with the American officials. In this meeting, the representatives of the unemployed workers insisted on the immediate release of all arrestees, their right to protest without any coercion or hindrance by the American forces, and assurances that their demands will be met. Later, at 2 pm, the Americans released all the arrestees, and a new group of representatives was formed to continue with the negotiations and follow up with the unemployed workers' demands.

(From a statement by the Workers Communist Party of Iran, a sister organization to the Workers Communist Party of Iraq, which has led in organizing the unemployed.)

55 leaders of unemployed arrested
Baghdad, August 2-Yesterday night at 11:30 p.m., the U.S forces have arrested Qasim Hadi and 54 others of the leadership and members of the Union.

The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq has been continuing a Sit-In Protest yesterday, for the fifth day in a row, when the U.S troops arrested them for the second time.

The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq strongly condemns and denounces the arrest of its 55 members. It announces its determination to continue its protest until its demands are addressed and met.

We appeal to all international organizations, all workers unions and humanitarians to strongly condemn the arrest of our members and to demand the immediate release of all the arrested unconditionally and to support the union's demands.

Our Union will do its best to expose the practices of the U.S., as an occupying force in Iraq, and its indifference to the agony of the masses in Iraq.

We call upon all media outlets to meet with our arrested people (who have been detained at the old Presidential Palace) in order to cover the suppressive practices of the U.S. forces in Iraq.

(Statement of the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq, August 2, 2003.)

Opposition to occupation banned
June 16, 2003--Almost unnoticed outside Iraq, the senior US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has issued a proclamation outlawing any "gatherings, pronouncements or publications" that call for the return of the Ba'ath party - or for opposition to the US occupation....

The Guardian (UK), June 16, 2003,3604,978096,00.htm

Professor: failures are deliberate
"While NYU's Noah Feldman helps to write the Iraqi constitution, other American scholars are engaged in even more troubling relationships with the occupation regime. Perhaps the most egregious involves a professor from a major West Coast graduate school who has become one of Bremer's top intelligence advisers. When privately asked by a leading American activist in Baghdad why the US can't get basic services up and running when Iraqis were able to do so within weeks after the 1991 war (in which Baghdad was much more heavily bombed), he replied: "When you make a dog hungry he'll follow you." The professor/intelligence adviser frankly acknowledged that his phrase alluded to the goal of breaking the occupied population, in the manner of Israel's tactics in Palestine."

"... according to [Jodie] Evans, [founder of Code Pink and an organizer of Occupation Watch]... "It's so bad - much worse than anyone in the US can possibly imagine - that people are saying not just that things were better before the war, but even during the war."

Mark Levine, "The Peace Movement Plans for the Future," July 2003 Middle East Report. Full article at:

Lieutenant: Racism helps us kill
Ft. Knox, Kentucky and Mosul, Iraq, June 20-In a New York Times article on an American soldier accused of a grenade attack on sleeping officers in Kuwait in the first days of the war, a few revealing details emerged. Soldiers testified from Mosul, Iraq, about why they thought the accused, Sergeant Hasan K. Akbar, was the one who instigated the grenade and shooting attack which killed two officers and wounded 14 others.

"Several soliders testified that, in the weeks leading to the attack, Sergeant Akbar worried about his comrades 'raping and plundering' Muslim civilians. "...A defense lawyer, Capt. Jackie Thompson, pressed Lt. John Evangelista, the officer in charge of Sergeant Akbar's platoon, on why he tolerated bigoted remarks.

"For every war this country has fought, soldier have used terms to refer to the enemy," Lieutenant Evangelista replied. "It's not easy for a soldier to kill a human being, sir."

(But the Times never said what bigoted remarks were being tolerated, or whether they could have led Akbar to believe that his comrades would 'rape and plunder Muslim civilians'.)

(Jeffrey Gettleman, "Court-Martial is Backed in Fatal Grenade Attack," New York Times, June 20, 2003.)

Women's rights or soldier rapes?
July 15-Commenting on the Iraqi Ruling Council, and the tiny number of women appointed to it, Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition activists condemned the whole process: "No-one has voted for these women to represent them, just as there have been no elections for the Iraqi people which have led to the establishment of the Iraqi Ruling Council.

"This is an open imposition of a government that the majority of Iraqi people are excluded from. They have not had the opportunity to vote or voice their views. The American administration is in Iraq simply to establish a cheap labor market and somewhere for their companies to function and make huge profits over colonised Iraq and its working population.

"They have no interest in listening to what is happening to Iraqi people, in particular women. They do not what to know if women have been raped, abducted or killed and they will not raise questions about them. They do not want to have women's rights activists-struggling for freedom, equality, and an egalitarian society-to be included in their meetings or to voice the opinions of secular women and men that they are representing. They will therefore be prevented from exposing the realities of the suffering of Iraqi women at the hands of both US/UK soldiers and the Islamic groups. U.S. soldiers have started raping women in villages. ...

"There is hope, however. Iraqi people are becoming more organized and mobilising themselves. They are setting up workers' unions, unemployed unions and women's rights organisations. Many others are on the way to be established with thousands of members. These are the real people of Iraq-the grassroots majority which has been ignored. We hope that all people who believe in freedom will give their full support to the Iraqi people and back them in their struggle for a system of equality to be established in Iraq."

Houzan Mahmoud, "The imposed Ruling Council on Iraqis has no legitimacy!" in Equal Rights Now! paper of the Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition, July 15, 2003, #4.

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