The vice tightens on Iraqi society
Because we opposed the war in Iraq, one year ago; because since then, Iraq has been living through a nightmare, it is out of the question for us to allow a silence which means consent to the crushing of the Iraqi left.
"Father Sunni, mother Shia mother, myself atheist of the John Lennon tendency", says Oday Rasheed, a young film-maker, when he is asked about his ethnic and religious origin. For generations Iraq has been a country that enjoys a long tradition of writing, creation and scholarship. It is not the country depicted for us which, in order to get rid of the barbarity of a military occupation, is rushing to embrace the barbarity of a fundamentalist regime.
Our enemies' enemies are not automatically our friends. To reject the coalition occupation and its puppet Governing Council, even in the guise of "anti-imperialism", is not necessarily to support reactionary, nationalist and religious forces, i.e. the worst enemies of liberty and equality. "After getting rid of Saddam, Iraq should get rid of his ideas", says Yanar Mohammed, of the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq, who has received death threats for her fight against Sharia law. But the USA is supporting the return of Baathist leaders to positions in governement, army and adminsitration.
Left organisations exist in Iraq today - a social movement expressing a social and feminist alternative and rejecting both military occupation and nationalist, ethnicist or religious reaction. Unemployed people who organise a forty-five day long sit-in in front of the office of Paul Bremer, the civil representative of the coalition; women who call demonstrations bare-headed against Sharia law; strikers who expel the corrupt management of their factory; refugees struggling for decent housing and the basic right to live; workers who stop the al Sadr militias taking over their factory: that's the other face of Iraq, the one we hear less about. Every day, struggles, strikes and demonstrations express the radical desire to live and not survive. And what do they face? Bayonets, militias, fatwas, torture...
Going beyond anti-war slogans, it is an urgent task to help develop concrete solidarity with the progressive, secular, social, and feminist movement in Iraq. Unions and women's and unemployed associations lack the means to organise effectively, to spread their ideas across the country and make themselves known internationally, and to put in place the most elementary means of subsistence. Our internationalist solidarity can help them to distribute food or medicine to refugees, homeless, and the poorestpeople ; to acquire offices and means of communication and self-defence; and to organise their struggles and take forward their demands.
A vice is tightening on Iraqi society. Only the social movement can break it! (Solidarite-Irak)