In 2015, four years after the Arab spring, the World Social Forum (WSF) will gather again in Tunis, from March 24 to 28. This international meeting of social movements, unions and NGOs that share an alternative vision for the world, based on social and environmental justice, has definitely moved its axes from Latin American, where the process started in 2001, to the Mediterranean area. The huge challenges to be faced and discussed have to do with counter-revolutionary governments, the spread of fundamentalism, the military reaction of Western powers which ignites new conflicts, and the closure of “Fortress Europe” towards immigrants.
Holding a forum in an Arab country was meant to give a huge push to social movements in the region, and signals were positive in 2013: more than 30.000 people took part in the opening demonstration in Tunis, thousands of youth acted as protagonists of the forum, a public University has been opened as a free space for social movements.
Somehow, this recalls the success of the first ever Iraqi Social Forum, that has been organized in 2013 in Baghdad in a public space, opened for free to the Iraqi civil society, led by the youth. Indeed, while years ago Iraqi delegations at social forums were small groups, invited by international organizations, this year about 45 Iraqi organizations autonomously registered themselves to take part in the WSF in Tunis, or to organize parallel activities in Iraq within the Extended WSF. This development marks the greater inclusion of Iraqi civil society in global movements and can be partly seen as a success of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, which was created precisely to strengthen these links. Iraqi organizations recognize today that their civil struggle against sectarianism, militarization, human rights violations and environmental degradation require wide alliances.
Anyone endorsing the charter of principles of the WSF can take part in the event and register through the website https://fsm2015.org/. Activities which have been registered so far by member organizations of the Iraqi Social Forum and their international partners of ICSSI focus on:
- Promotion of tolerance and coexistance in Iraq, combating sectarianism and hate-speech
- Comparing transition paths to democracy in Iraq and the Arab world
- Global solidarity with the Iraqi civil society campaigns
- The water question and armed conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Turkey
- Freedom of Expression in the Mediterranean area
- Sports against violence
Iraqi women will surely take part in events and assemblies organized by international movements for women rights, who always proved to be very participated and politically powerful in social forums. Let us remember that in August 2013, when car bombs exploded every day in Baghdad and international activists were wondering if they should take part or not in the Iraqi Social Forum, the first one who booked her flight with no hesitation was a woman activist from Bangladesh. Quazi Baby of PDAP (read her account here) declared that if the Iraqi people invited us and asked for solidarity we could not renounce, and 16 other people then accepted to go from all continents. This is the spirit of the World Social Forum that ICSSI wants to keep alive, therefore we invite you all to meet the Iraqi delegation in Tunis!
By ICSSI, February 2015