On January 21st “The Democratic Movements” of Iraq met in Baghdad to focus on “Iraq’s Current Political Crisis and Vision to Overcome It.” The many organizations and political activists attending the meeting discussed several proposals, including a national campaign for civic peace and a call to establish an Iraqi Social Forum as part of the World Social Forum movement.
Support for the Iraqi Social Forum [ISF] follows a decision at the ICSSI 3rd Conference, held in Erbil in October 2011, to encourage Iraqis’ involvement in the World Social Forum. Since then, Iraqi civil society organizations have successfully participated in the South Asian Social Forum in Dhaka and the Maghreb Social Forum in Marrakech. Follow-up meetings will be organized to involve all social movements in Iraq in the ISF.
At the Baghdad meeting, our colleague Vian Al Sheikh from the Tammuz Organization for Social Development made the following speech:
Another Iraq is Possible with Peace, Human Rights, and Social Justice
Our country faces many crises: those we have inherited from the former regime, those left behind by the occupation, and those created by our current system of government, which like all the governments after 2003, considers sectarian identity to be the foundation of the political system. So today we suffer under a political system based on the hated sectarian quota system that threatens to divide our country and our people, a system that is a tool for the large sectarian parties to gain money and power.
At this moment the outlook is so dark, the crisis is so bad, that there seems to be no solution, because sectarian division has increased corruption, fear, illiteracy, disease, and insecurity here in our lovely home. We do not see in the proposals of the politicians in power any fundamental solutions, because their proposals seek only to perpetuate these false principles – to get money and distribute benefits through a quota system that divides people.
But let me say, “There is another vision we can offer to our citizens!” This is the vision that another Iraq is possible – an Iraq of peace and security, an Iraq of civic values and true democracy. This vision will respect human rights and promote Iraqi dignity. We have not seen this possibility, because we have not yet really worked to make this vision a reality.
We thought a lot about analyzing Iraq’s situation and its crises. We didn’t think enough about the rise of social movements in Iraq, the movements for change that are unquestionably growing. These social movements offer us great hope, that they can unite and transform Iraq.
A united movement would promote true democracy that guaranteed our right to make real choices, have fair elections, and organize for the change we want. It would ensure our right to work, to enjoy security and a prosperous life in a good home.
Dear ladies and gentlemen: We as civil society organizations must work to unite the social movements in Iraq and join them to the larger World Social Forum. This is how we will promote development, fight poverty and need, protect our land that is turning into desert as the supply of water decreases, and struggle for equality, human rights, and social justice.
The World Social Forum movement has had great successes, especially in Latin America, and it is widely respected in many countries. This success was achieved as people struggled daily to address their problems and challenges with clear vision. This worldwide movement is organized horizontally or non-hierarchically. Social forums that focus on individual countries can learn and benefit from the rich experiences of others in many different places. The Iraqi Social Forum will be our creation; it will unify Iraqi social movements in a way that respects our culture and focuses on our needs. And, when the Iraqi Social Forum is linked to the World Social Forum, it will show that Iraq is a part of the civilized world, our culture is a part of human culture, and at last our struggles are part of a worldwide struggle to obtain true justice.
My dears: We cannot depend solely on our abilities as individuals. We must to organize to ensure success for Iraqi society. We must not bet on the current rulers’ solutions. Those who seek power, wealth, and privilege have only increased Iraq’s crises and may create even more. Our bet should be on the worldwide democratic social movements that promote human needs and rights. Then we can build the new Iraq that we want. United we will see “another Iraq is possible,” where we all enjoy peace and dignity.
All to work for “another Iraq is possible!”
This speech was published by the media office of Tammuz Organization.
Watch a video of the meeting of “The Democratic Movements.”