Sunday, March 06, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

As noted before, among those organizing protests in Iraq has been the Communist Party. On Friday (The Day of Dignity), Iraq saw more protests. Many efforts were made to try to cut down on the protests. The Worker-Communist Party of Iraq issued a press release (it's in Arabic) Friday noting that you couldn't enter Baghdad from the north on Friday, the main gate had been shut. In addition, early Thursday, hotels on Batwaiyyin Street were ordered not to provide rooms to young people because they might be protesters. It noted that Iraqi forces in "heavy" combat gear stormed Tahrir Square Tuesday night at 9:20 Baghdad time and that on Friday, Hummers and other security vehicles surrounded Tahrir Square. These efforts to cut down on the protests were made by Nouri al-Maliki. (Note, you can click here for the English lanaguage version of the site; however, it is not up to date and you won't find any of the many press released issued in the last few weeks.)

The Communist Party's efforts to organize protests have not gone unnoticed. And in "free" Iraq, that means you make Nouri's hit list. Dar Addustour reports that the Communist Party headquarters in Baghdad -- where the party produces their newspaper, among other things -- were forcibly evacuated early Sunday morning (midnight) with Iraqi troops surrounded the bulding and insisting they required no judicial orders to do what they were doing. The Communist Party's Jassim Hilfi states that Iraqi police and Iraqi military took part in the operation. Hilfi notes that they have paperwork demonstrating they have the right to be there -- real estate documents. Al Mada reports on the forced evacuation and notes the Communist Party was provided with no reasons as to why they were being thrown out or why the Iraqi military was involved in the operation. Again, the Communist Party produces their newspaper there. On Friday, at least five journalists were attacked in Basra by security forces. There are ongoing attacks on the press. With what's known at present, it would appear likely that the Communist Party is being punished both for their role in organizing the (legitimate) protest and for attempting to exercise their free press rights via their newspaper. On the journalism aspect, Suha Sheikhly (Al Mada) adds that the Friday protests are leading people to ask if Iraq needs a national stop the violence campaign in order to protect journalists from Iraq's security forces? Ahmed al-Khafaji, Undersecretary for the Ministry of the Interior, issued a statement declaring that Iraq cannot succeed without a strong fourth estate (press) and that a free press is necessary and must be protected if Iraq is going to be a democracy and leave the era of dictatorships in the past. He called for the development of a "culture of human rights" among the people. Academic Dr. Kazem Mikdadi is quoted calling for a national campaign and stating that Article 38 of the country's Constitution must be respected (their free press clause) and he said that, too often, Iraqi police and Iraqi military do not see their job as protecting the protesters -- or their role as protectors of the people -- but instead they see themselves as protectors of those in power. And that is "free" Iraq via the illegal war, the US government and their installed puppets.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4442. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD still lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4442.

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Basra roadside bombing resulted in multiple deaths today and cites Ali al-Maliki (Basra security head) as the source for the statement that a US military convoy may have been "the intended target." DPA counts 8 dead and twelve injured. Reuters notes 2 students were shot dead in Baghdad, 1 man was shot dead in Mosul in front of his home, 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul, 1 corpse (high school student) discovered in Sinjar, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one police officer and one civilian, a Mosul grenade attack injured six people, a second Mosul grenade attack injured five people, 1 police officer was shot dead not far from his Mosul home and, dropping back to Saturday for the rest, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 man and left his wife injured, a Hilla roadside bombing claimed 4 lives and 1 man was shot dead in Iskandariya.

Meanwhile protests continued in the Kurdish region and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that overnight (Saturday night/Sunday morning) "masked" assailants set fire to the tents protesters were using in Sulaimaniya but that did not deter hundreds from protesting today and, in yet another attack on the press, Dank Radio was attacked and equipment stolen or destroyed.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest went up earlier tonight. I'm switching the time on his comic (after this goes up) so that it will be at the top of the site until the morning entries for tomorrow. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

International Women's Day: Celebrating the struggle against oppression

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by Sarah Ensor

International Women’s Day, which marks its 100th anniversary this year, is now celebrated across the world on 8 March.

Some use it to emphasise sisterhood against women’s oppression. For others it is a chance to celebrate women’s achievements.

There will be events to celebrate women in business and politics, and raise awareness of women as survivors of domestic violence, rape and war.

The best will see discussions about the struggles of working class women for equality, and of the idea of International Women’s Day as an event to celebrate the struggle of women workers.

Everyone agrees that women have come a very long way since the first International Women’s Day in 1911. Its history is one of working women joining with working men to fight oppressive employers and the system.

Clara Zetkin, a revolutionary socialist in the German Social Democratic Party, first proposed it in 1910. Zetkin had been elected leader of the Women’s Bureau and had won the argument that socialists must campaign for the vote for working class men and women.

Zetkin chose 8 March because on that day in 1908 some 15,000 women workers in the needle trades in New York marched. They were demanding the vote, better pay and a life worth living.


The Socialist Party of America then declared the first ever National Woman’s Day, celebrated in the US on 28 February 1909.

Later that year the New York Shirtwaist workers went out on strike in “the uprising of the 20,000”. Some of the very young immigrant women had voted to start a union and were immediately sacked.

When their jobs were advertised other workers walked out. They picketed the company for five weeks facing down attacks from the company’s hired thugs and police harassment.

Union officials tried to bring out other workers but then Clara Lemlich, a young worker, addressed a mass meeting crowd in Yiddish, the language most of them spoke.

She called for a general strike against the long hours, insulting bosses and disgusting conditions. This inspired a walk out by 20,000 garment workers across New York.

The strike saw a debate between wealthy reformers who supported the action and socialists, who intervened in the dispute. Socialists argued that the women garment workers had the same concerns as their male co-workers.

This meant that a united fight involving working class men and women was the only way to win real change.

Terrified that they would lose a fortune in the next fashion season, the employers finally agreed to a shorter week, paid holidays and to pay for all the workers’ tools.

It was a fantastic victory.


It was these struggles that socialists wanted to celebrate when Zetkin proposed International Women’s Day at a conference of socialist women in Copenhagen in 1910.

The disaster of the First World War wrecked the workers’ movement as social democratic parties across Europe sided with their own ruling class against other rulers.

But it was working class women and men who marched during the war for “bread and peace”.

Then in Russia in 1917 women again demanded bread and peace in demonstrations that began the February revolution, leading to the overthrow of the dictator, the Tsar.

When International Women’s Day was raised again in the 1970s it came out of the struggles against all forms of oppression—racism, sexism, women’s oppression and homophobia—and against imperialism and the Vietnam war.

Now the revolutions across the Middle East have seen women and men striking and protesting together against crushing poverty and brutal dictators.

The women who have played a key role in Western governments over the last three decades—such as Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Angela Merkel—were happy to do business with these tyrants.

The struggles of today mean that International Women’s Day can again be an event when we learn from the struggles of the past.

This can help us organise for women’s liberation from capitalism—and the ruling class men and women who benefit from our oppression.

For Socialist Worker meetings on International Women’s Day see page 12

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