Focus on Iraq at the World Social Forum 2015
By Martina Pignatti Morano (Un ponte per… and ICSSI ) – April 2015.
The World Social Forum has always been an important occasion for international and Iraqi activists to exchange views and plan joint actions, but the Iraqi delegation has never been as strong as this year. More than 25 Iraqi delegates came together, organizing their stay in Tunis and sharing information about their workshops through the Iraqi Social Forum platform. This made it easier for them and international partners of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative to gather in several activities, in which the Iraqi situation and its implications for the international community have been discussed in depth. Two major events have been presented in these session:
- a thematic Iraqi Social Forum on Coexistance and Civil Peace, to be organized in Baghdad in October/November 2015
- a Mesopotamia Water Forum to be organized in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan (part in Turkey) in April/May 2016, within a thematic forum on Democratic Confederalism
An important session with Iraqi journalists and media activists of the Iraqi Network for Social Media has been organized by Un ponte per… on Freedom of Expression, in which threats and attacks on Iraqi media have been denounced. The journalist Nada Omran of the Iraqi Journalists Women Forum gave extensive speeches also on session on women rights, to promote the Shahrazad Campaign, as the ICSSI activist Suzanne De Rouen recalls in her article on international solidarity with Iraqis at this World Social Forum.
The Chances for Coexistance among Iraqi communities has been discussed in two events organized by the Iraqi Social Forum, on Democratic Transition in the country and on the role of Violence and Fanatism in Iraqi culture, politics and society. While internationals were mostly concerned with the threat presented by Daesh, Iraqi activists analyzed sectarianism and fundamentalism as elements widespread in all aspects of Iraqi society and culture, with a clear view that defeating these phenomena is possible through a national strategy. Moreover, it is essential to understand that Daesh will not be defeated by military means but by a political agreement between Iraqi factions, which should include a path of transitional and restorative justice. This topic attracted strong attention of internationals who came to the ISF activities, like representatives of the Norwegian Social Forum national board, who built a collective friendship bond with the Iraqi Social Forum national committee.
Some views presented by the Iraqis can be found in these papers:
- “Tolerance, Reconciliation, Law” and “When Does a Criminal Action Become Genocide? The Yazidis’ Case” by Hadi Aziz Ali
- “Intolerant Tendencies in Iraqi Society”, by Ghailan Al-Joboori
- “Violence, Intolerance and the Future of Civil Peace in Iraq” by Husam Salim
The Save the Tigris Campaign organized its own session on the water crisis in Syria and Iraq. Besides Iraqi activists, a representative of one of the local Kurdish councils in Syria was invited as a guest speaker. The session was very well attended and an extensive Q&A took place afterwards during which participants shared their thoughts and recommendations. In Tunis, the campaign connected with a global campaign against water grabbing, recently founded by COSPE Onlus and other international organizations, in which it has decided to take part. During one of the convergences in which many movements against land – and watergrabbing gathered, the Save the Tigris Campaign presented its casestudy and the advocacy work it has conducted over the past years. It was a very good occasion to share experiences with other water activists from around the globe. At the final convergence for land – and watergrabbing, the campaign succeeded in pushing for the fight against dams as a case of watergrabbing to be included in the final declaration. Lastly, The forum was an excellent occasion for Iraqi and international activists of the campaign to discuss further the way forward and plan upcoming activities. A proposal is being developed jointly with the Mesopotamia Social Forum and the Iraqi Social Forum: a Mesopotamia Water Forum to be organized in spring 2016, to analyze and criticize the current water policy of the governments of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran which are directly connected with conflict issues but also with problematic energy and agricultural policies. It will be an occasion to discuss and develop an alternative approach in the scale of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers which will be oriented along social justice, peacebuilding, access to water for all as a human right and restoring river ecosystems.
For what concerns Sport Against Violence, a successful workshop has been organized, titled “S.A.V.E. a right: Sport & Culture for all – Sport Against Violence Event”. It was meant to be a brainstorming session, to collect and share different ideas on how to use sport and culture as tools to educate people to peace, tolerance, respects of human rights. The Italian association achieved their goal to get in touch with associations from different countries and backgrounds and to stimulate a collective reflection on how to sensitize people to social issues through the organization of sport and cultural events in order to contribute to a social change. This was also a very good chance to meet once again our Iraqi partners of the Iraqi Social Forum and to share with them ideas on how to develop common projects, with the view to organize a Sport Against Violence Event in Baghdad next October, tied to the next Iraqi Social Forum.