A memorial ceremony for two members of the Iraqi Communist Party was held Dec. 1 in the party’s main headquarters in Baghdad, at Andulus Square.

The two men, Abdul Aziz Jassim Hassan and Yas Kudhayer Haider, were shot down at the party’s local offices in Baghdad’s Al-Thawra (Sadr City) district, Nov. 22. The incident occurred after the local ICP held an election rally and motorcade, the first large campaign event in the district for the Dec. 15 national election.

About an hour after the motorcade, a group of armed men in 10 cars blocked the road outside the local ICP office. They stormed the office, shot the two men and then left, shooting indiscriminately, in an obvious attempt to intimidate and terrorize the party organization and the district’s population.

An ICP spokesman said, “The party has called for an urgent investigation into the attack, to punish the perpetrators in accordance with law and justice. It also holds the authorities and the government responsible for providing proper protection for election campaigns, political groups taking part, and the electorate.”

An escalating campaign of intimidation and provocation, organized by gangs of Islamic extremists and other anti-democratic forces, has accompanied election preparations, particularly in Baghdad and Iraq’s central and southern provinces. These include threats against offices of political groups and electoral lists, tearing down banners and posters, kidnapping and assassinating activists and using armed force to prevent election events.

The elections are seen as a critical battleground in determining the balance of forces in the new Parliament. Dominant Islamic forces, eager to maintain their hold on state institutions, have been desperate to influence and manipulate the voting process.

The ICP spokesman said, “Our party is determined to carry on with its election campaigning … to uphold the interests of people, restore security and stability, launch reconstruction process, improve living conditions, prepare the prerequisites for a timetable to end the foreign military presence, and build a prosperous, federal democratic state, based on law and institutions.”