Ten years after the 2003 war in Iraq, social movements need to evaluate the effects of such intervention that was widely opposed by global civil society, generating massive anti-war protests all over the world. Many of these groups, NGOs, unions and single activists will meet in Tunis on 26-30 March for the World Social Forum, that this year celebrates the achievements and discusses the problems faced by Arab revolts in the past two years. Website in English, Arabic, Spanish and French: www.fsm2013.org

World Social Forum 2013 Tunis

Resisting the counter-revolutions of conservative and authoritarian governments is top objective in the agenda of the forum. Iraqi social movements and civil society organizations, which are once again witnessing a wave of popular protests in Iraq and bloody repression by the government, have much to say on the issue. They need to coordinate their initiatives with those of other social movements, in the region and internationally. Internationals also need hear about the new course that Iraqi people desire for their country, and the campaigns for human rights and democracy that are being organized, by courageous activists who every day risk their life in the struggle. The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative invites international and Iraqi organizations and activists to participate in joint activities at the WSF in Tunis. We registered the following activities through our partner organizations:

  1. Iraqi civil society campaigns, towards an Iraqi Social Forum in 2013

This round table will include Iraqi and international activists who run joint campaigns through the Iraq Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, to discuss about initatives of Iraqi NGOs, workers unions, social movements, independent media agencies who struggle to build just peace, defend human rights and promote social justice in a context of extreme violence. In 2011, within the wave of Arab revolts, Iraqi people took the streets to protest against the new authoritarian government that does not meet people’s needs. In 2012 they started marching again in the streets of several Iraqi cities with similar claims and are now being heavily repressed. In 2013 they plan to hold the first Iraqi Social Forum in Baghdad and will launch officially the process at the World Social Forum in Tunis, in this activity. They will also present campaigns against impunity of private military companies in Iraq, against privatization and lack of transparency in the oil sector, to defend workers rights, freedom of expression, and Iraqi ownership of their resources. International organizations that are willing to support and stand in solidarity with Iraqi people are welcome to participate.

  1. Freedom of expression in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq: towards a regional coalition

This is a space for discussion and strategizing to build a coalition for freedom of expression in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq, and the Maghreb-Mashrek in general. We must defend freedom of expression for civil society and independent media in order to resist counter-revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and authoritarian governments in Morocco and Iraq. A regional coalition in MENA countries with support of international partners can increase local civil society capacity to carry on its struggle and advocate for legal frameworks that guarantee access to information and freedom of expression. The Italian organizations www.unponteper.it and www.yabasta.it are supporting this effort. Iraqi and international organizations working on freedom of expression and freedom of press are welcome to participate.

  1. Comparing strategies of anti-dam struggles: a call from Save the Tigris campaign

Save the Tigris and the Iraqi Marshes campaign will bring together people working on anti-dam advocacy campaigns to reduce the unacceptable and unnecessary price of dams paid by people displaced, by communities downstream, by the natural environment and by our cultural heritage. Save the Tigris Campaign is part of an international effort to save the World Heritage on the Tigris River, particularly the ancient settlement of Hasankeyf in southeast Turkey and the Marshes of Mesopotamia in south Iraq, from the impacts of the Ilisu Dam being constructed by the Turkish government. We want to engage global environmental networks, people working in the global water movement and the global anti-dam movement, and plan joint initiatives like boycott and legal action against companies who are involved in building some dams. For example the Andritz corporation is supplying equipment for three dams: Belo Monte (Brazil), Ilisu (Turkey) and Xayaburi (Laos). How can affected peoples unite to have a stronger voice against this company? What can we learn from campaigns in other places against other companies and governments? How can we all support one another?

4.   Sports for Peace

Participating in sports activities and organizing a city run at the World Social Forum venue to advertise the Iraqi Marathons organized by Iraqi civil society in Erbil (since 2011). The first Baghdad Marathon will be organized in 2013 to open the Iraqi Social Forum and give visibility to civil society activities. This initiative in Tunis has been proposed by our partner organization Baghdad Marathon, with other groups promoting people’s access to sports.

For more information, and to join these activities, write to: icssi.project@gmail.com