The first Iraqi Social Forum (ISF) took place in Baghdad, from the 26th to the 28th of September 2013. It was the first large gathering in Iraq based upon the World Social Forum Charter of Principles and, with more than 3000 participants, it was the largest national social forum ever in the Arab World. The Forum included about 170 activities, organized by over 150 Iraqi organizations, and their efforts were supported by dozens of volunteers. International participants from Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Turkey, Bangladesh, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the United States joined the Iraqis to express their solidarity with Iraqi civil society and support the development of social movements in Iraq.
The official opening ceremony of the ISF took place at Baghdad University on 26 September and was followed by a series of “Sports Against Violence” activities including a 5Km-road race, Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, and traditional dancing. The main activities of the Forum on 27 and 28 September, which included workshops, symposiums, plenary sessions, art galleries, tents representing Iraqi organizations and campaigns, and much more, took place at the Baghdad Cultural Center and in the historic Al-Qushla courtyard overlooking the Tigris River. Iraqi youth has been the protagonist of the whole Forum, participating with enthusiasm in all events and organizing the largest gatherings.
An important feature of the ISF was participation from abroad through an “Extended Forum”: via Internet video-connection, activists and organizations around the world were able to establish links and new partnerships with Iraqi civil society, and some activities of the ISF have been live streamed. In addition, solidarity activities were organized in many countries, before and after the Forum. The Extended Iraqi Social Forum started with events in Bangladesh and Pakistan on 17 September and closed with a week of events in Italy on 1-5 October.
The Iraqi Social Forum provided an open space for discussion and dialogue among Iraqi activists on a wide variety of issues, overcoming ethnical and political barriers. There were members of Iraqi trade unions, groups working to protect Iraq’s rivers, women’s organizations, advocates for freedom of expression, spokespeople for Iraq’s ethnic minorities, and youth activists, to name just a few of the interests that were represented. Today Iraqi social movements stress the importance of rejecting violence and militarism while supporting Iraq’s political, cultural, social and economic development. They believe that terror should be opposed by ending corruption, poverty and political repression, not by higher military spending of the Iraqi state.
Together, Iraqi and international participants in the ISF share a mission to create another Iraq based upon nonviolence, social justice and human rights. The Forum did not just proclaim that “another Iraq is possible”, but clearly demonstrated that there is great energy among Iraqi citizens to reform Iraq and promote dignity, democracy and a robust, engaged civil society.
The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative and the Preparatory Committee of the Iraqi Social Forum – October 2013
Download here: Brief report Iraqi Social Forum 2013
drafted by the Iraqi Preparatory Committee of the ISF
Donwload here: Report of Extended Iraqi Social Forum 2013
on the international connections, drafted by ICSSI
And check here: available videos on the Iraqi Social Forum
The Iraqi Social Forum has been financially supported by:
Karibu Foundation, Fondation Assistance Internationale, Barcelona Municipality, Un ponte per…, NOVACT.