Uprising sweeps Iraq
A joint report by the Iraqi interior and defence ministries has confirmed that 104 people are dead and 4000 injured; but according to other sources more than 150 people have been shot dead in the recent protests, and 6000 injured. Hundreds are in jail.
It’s a very brutal response to the peaceful protests of the people in the cities of Iraq, and it was executed according to a plan.
The government and the militia forces associated with it know that they face a very explosive situation. They want to use force to suppress the people. It’s a fascist way of reacting to demonstrations.
Some of the militias active in suppressing the demonstrations are directly linked to Iran. People suspect that a militia group called Khurasani with Iranian links is very much involved in committing the atrocities.
They had snipers on the roofs. Two of our comrades were shot in Baghdad. Fortunately, neither has died.
One of them was shot in the leg on the first day of the protests, 1t October. The other one was shot in the face on Friday night, 4 October. Both needed immediate surgery. They are now recovering. In the same hospital where our comrade was treated on 4 October, more than 50 people died from their injuries on the streets.
The main aim of the mass movement is to overthrow the corrupt political regime as the only way to improve their appalling conditions, to have jobs and decent living standards.
The majority of the young people who are rising up have no prospect of a job and secure future.
They are disastrously further impoverished by the neoliberal economic policies of the regime, adopted ever since the first day of occupation of Iraq by the US and its allied Western imperialist powers in 2003.
Apart from economic hardships, they also face a brutal, anti-democratic, Islamic regime which denies them civic and political freedoms.
Religious appeals are no longer working to keep people down.
The demonstrators also target corruption. The level of corruption in Iraq is huge.
In Iraq, the political parties which have members in parliament are not only political parties. Because of their control over parts of the state and its revenue, they have become economic powers. All of them, including the Sadrists and the Communist Party of Iraq, have a stake in this systemic looting of the Iraqi society’s wealth.
The Sadrists and CPI ran together the Sairoun Alliance in the May 2018 elections. The alliance is part of the government and has ministries in the cabinet.
The demonstrators are mostly young people. In the beginning young women participated too, but since the situation has escalated and become more violent, it has become more difficult for women to participate.
Women in Iraq face not only economic oppression but also political and misogynist ideological discrimination, to the extent of complete social exclusion and even enslavement.
The demonstrators on the street represent the majority of the people. That’s the reality, even if some people on the left failed to see it.
They come mostly from the poorer areas in the cities. In Baghdad, they come from the run-down areas in the centre, and from the outskirts where millions of people live in very bad housing conditions.
The movement is strong in the majority-Sunni areas of Baghdad as well as the majority-Shia areas. What is glaringly noticeable is that there is no religious-sectarian sentiment. They all share the same social cause.
The protest has now spread mostly to the majority-Shia areas of the south. In fact, Mosul (Iraq’s biggest Sunni-majority city) started it, although the protests have now been harshly suppressed in Mosul.
Basra also came into the movement very early, on 1 October, but there has been heavy suppression there too.
No political party or group is able to represent the huge masses on the streets. Political parties have tried to use the demonstrations to their benefit, but they haven’t been able to.
It’s not just demonstrations. It’s an uprising. That’s a fact. Where it will go, whether it will succeed or be suppressed, is another matter, but it’s an uprising.
Before the movement started, the Communist Party of Iraq made a statement asking all their supporters not to participate in the demonstration on 1 October. The initiative for the first demonstration on 1 October came through social media, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.
The Sadrists, too, issued statements calling people not to participate.
Sadly, some on the left have also followed suit.
Our group, the Organisation of the Communist Alternative in Iraq, issued a communiqué on 2 October. We said that this confrontation between the masses and the regime has created a new stage in the political and social struggles in Iraq.
The regime and its political parties have been dramatically exposed in this confrontation.
The movement comes not only out of the contradictions in the political system, but also and mainly the contradictions of the capitalist system. It’s a rising against the corruption, ethno- sectarian regime and its neoliberal policies.
After escaping from the problems of Daesh and the rest, now the government is trying to take advantage of that to apply neoliberal economic policies as if we were in California. It’s misery for tens of millions of people.
The windows of freedom in Iraq have been closed by the militias and the political parties and the government. The regime has committed massacres against peaceful demonstrators in a fascist manner. This is a new and dangerous stage in political life in Iraq.
We are part of this mass movement. The people are not only trying to get reforms; they are trying to get rid of this system.
We say that this religious-sectarian and nationalist regime should go.
We call for work, freedom, and equal living standards for all.
We call on the people to organise themselves in councils and committees, in their areas and in workplaces.
The movement is still mainly among the unemployed and those with precarious jobs. But the people who have jobs are supporting them.
We believe in a general strike in Iraq which can bring about change and put an end to the carnage. So far there haven’t been strikes, but if the movement goes on, maybe it will come to a general strike.
7 October 2019