The Campaign to Abolish Retirement Pay for Members of Parliament Scores a Major Victory and Takes a Step to Form a New Civil Movement Named “MUSTAMEROON”
“We Are Continuing!”
The national campaign to “abolish retirement pay for members of parliament”, which was launched in late March of 2013, met its desired goal of ending the high retirement benefits awarded to parliamentarians who have completed their government service. As a result of the awareness created by the campaign and public pressure on this issue the Iraqi Federal Court ordered stopping payment of these benefits.
Since its inception the campaign has organized protest activities and used different methods to build and mobilize public support. It formed coordinating committees in the provinces and districts. Young people of both sexes played an important role in public activities and in organizing through social networking. Activities that were organized included a campaign to collect signatures, distribution of leaflets, banners and posters in the streets of Iraqi cities, and several demonstrations, the first of which was on August 31 and the most recent on November 26. Finally, the campaign decided to sue in the federal court where it won the ultimate victory – a decision in favor of the campaign goals!
The campaign also gained international attention. The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) considered this campaign a crucial step in the long fight against financial and administrative corruption, which is rampant in Iraq and threatens Iraqis’ hopes for reconstruction and development.
Having won their major victory, movement activists held a meeting in Baghdad, on the 5th of November 2013, to plan future steps. After extensive discussion, the participants agreed to launch a civil movement named “We are Continuing!” Also in the Iraqi provinces there was an expanded meeting for the coordinating committees on the 9th of November in the province of Aldionih, where participants supported the idea of continuing to fight corruption, and adopted the same slogan.
The new civil movement now has several goals for its advocacy work and there will be a series of meetings to discuss priorities and identify the focus of the next campaign. Although the group is still calling for the abolition of financial benefits for the many state employees and members of local councils who receive large pensions, the organizers of this growing movement are thinking to build upon what has been achieved and create a platform for other efforts to fight against corruption, the waste of public money, and the resulting lack of services.
One of the goals the civil society movement “We Are Continuing” agreed upon is protecting Iraqi antiquities. Members of the new movement organized a visit to the archaeological area in Babylon under the slogan “Civilization Unites Us.” The movement organizers stated after their visit, “Based on our understanding of the importance of the civilization of Mesopotamia, the first great human civilization … it honors every Iraqi whatever religion or nationality he belongs to.”
Several activities were going on at the archaeological site, including a drawing workshop and a study of the antiquities, which were very interesting to the local Iraqi media. Campaign organizers used the occasion to call upon the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to insure that Iraqi archeological sites are protected. Their demands included the following points:
1- Caring for archaeological sites in all parts of Iraq and their development through establishing and building tourist resorts nearby to support the revival of these sites.
2 – Demanding that the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities request that all countries that have archaeological remains from the civilization of Mesopotamia return them immediately to their original habitat and not keep them in their museums, which must be considered part of a process of looting and stealing Iraq’s civilization.
3 – Respect the archeologists and their training and expand opportunities for them to study outside of Iraq in order to acquire the latest techniques and methodologies in the discipline.
4 – Establish and recognize the 29th of November each year as a day to honor Iraqi civilization.
5- Publish guides that educate people about all the Iraqi archaeological sites.