Iraqi Communists condemn repression, say “moment of real change” has arrived
Protesters stand on barriers set by Iraqi security forces to close the Joumhouriya bridge leading to the Green Zone government areas during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. | Hadi Mizban / AP

Iraq’s Communist Party called for a new type of government and for the momentum of the current uprising to continue until its demands are realized as roads were blocked in Baghdad on Sunday.

A party statement branded the current system a “terrible failure at all levels” as mass anti-government protests over unemployment, corruption, and poor delivery of services continued. It claimed that the popular uprising had created “a new reality” with people not coming out on to the streets for “partial solutions and cosmetic reforms.”

The goal of the movement is “getting rid of the existing system of government, the quota system [following the U.S. invasion in 2003, the provisional government set up an inflexible system whereby the key roles are reserved for a Kurd, a Sunni Muslim, and a Shia Muslim], and rampant corruption, of the group that has ruled since 2003.”

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi offered his resignation last week in a bid to placate the popular uprising, but President Barham Salih said this was contingent on Iraqi parties agreeing on a replacement, which could take months to resolve.

The authorities have responded to the widespread protests with violence. At least 250 people have been killed and more than 800 injured as live rounds have been fired on crowds. Despite the oppression, tens of thousands blocked major roads to shut down Baghdad on Sunday, the first working day of the week. Government offices were shut down and students staged sit-ins as the capital ground to a halt.

Protester Tahseen Nasser explained: “We decided to cut the roads as a message to the government that we will keep protesting until the corrupt people and thieves are kicked out and the regime falls. We’re not allowing government workers to reach their offices, just those in humanitarian fields,” he added.

Supporters of the Iraqi Communist Party march during May Day celebration in Baghdad on May 1, 2019. The banners read: “Providing soft loans to women, Ensure a decent living for children, Providing job opportunities for women, Building and developing a better economy.” Added to those political slogans now, six months later, is the demand that the government resign. | Khalid Mohammed / AP

The Communist Party said: “The moment of real change of the status quo has arrived. It begins with changing the government, the mechanisms for its formation and the policy of governance, and ends with establishing a state based on citizenship, true democracy, and social justice.”

The party—which topped polls as part of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun coalition in the 2018 general election—demanded the resignation of the government and its replacement with a new system. Four of its members of parliament—party general secretary Raid Jahed Fahmi, Haifa al-Amin, Muzahem al-Tamimi, and Taha al-Difai—resigned their seats in protest of the government’s violence.

Amin said there must be efforts to bring government security forces who have killed demonstrators to justice. She told Middle East Eye last week: “Special tribunals must be formed to consider all the cases and identify those involved in the firing [of] live ammunition and the use of violence, as well as whoever gave the orders.”

The Communist Party is calling for a transitional government with “exceptional powers” formed outside the current quota system as soon as possible, with a “peaceful and smooth constitutional handover of power” and fresh elections. Political prisoners detained during the uprising must be released, it said, and echoing Amin’s call, again said those who have killed protesters have to be brought to justice.

This article originally appeared in Morning Star. It has been supplemented with additional material.


CONTRIBUTOR

Steve Sweeney
Steve Sweeney

Steve Sweeney writes for the Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist.

     

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