Friday, March 04, 2011

Iraqis again storm the streets for change

KUNA reports, "Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators are flowing to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities in what is called 'Friday of Dignity' in protest against poor services and boringly sluggish efforts against alleged corruption and fraud in Iraq." Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that, today, "a crowd of about 2,000 people had descended Baghdad's Tahrir Square by early afternoon, another 1,000 gathered i the southern city of Nasiriyah and about 300 were in the central city of Hilla."


The Day of Dignity follows last week's Day of Rage (image is a screensnap from this report by Jane Arraf for Al Jazeera about last Friday's protests) which saw protests across Iraq with demonstrators often attacked by police leaving less than 30 dead and hundreds injured. The attacks were not just on the demonstrators, Iraqi forces also attacked the press. Physically attacked the press. The groundwork for that physical attack was laid by Nouri who ordered forces to bust into news outlets and journalistic organizations in the days prior to last Friday's Day of Rage. In addition, Nouri also outlawed live broadcasts from Baghdad on that Friday. Through his actions, he sent the message that his government did not respect or support a free press and his thugs then acted accordingly -- in one instance, barging into a Baghdad restaurant and physically attacking four journalists who were eating lunch, beating them in the heads with the butts of their rifles and then arresting them.

Al Mada notes that yesterday a vehicle ban was placed on Basra in anticipation of the protest (in anticipation of curbing the protest) and those violating the ban will not have their vehicles returned until some time after Friday. Basra is where 23-year-old Salem Garuq al-Dosari died last Friday, killed for the 'crime' of protesting.

While bans were put in place, Al Mada notes that the Iraqi Jurists Association announced they would be participating in today's protests and called on the "legitimate" reforms protesters have demanded to be implemented. They also saluted the protesters noting that they have shown strength, that all Iraqis are one people and one destiny. Al Rafidayn reports that the protesters in Baghdad today found Tahrir Square cordoned off by security forces and that blockades were utilized to close down roads and prevent access to areas including the Green Zone and the Sinak Republic Bridge. Osama Mahdi (Kitabat) reports that protesters in Baghdad chanted "Liar Liar Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Liar Liar" and "Peaceful, Peaceful" while carrying flags and banners -- one banner read "Where did the people's money go?" Alsumaria TV adds, "In Diwaniya, hundreds of citizens rallied against weak services in their province and called to dismiss the governor and dissolve the provincial council. Demonstrators criticized the government’s delay in meeting their demands. Protestors called to dismiss governor Salem Alwan along with head of the provincial council and its members on account of their failure to provide their province with basic services, Alsumaria News reporter said."

Al Rafidayn notes that MP Kamal Saadi has invited the protesters to meet with the Parliament on Saturday and discuss their demands according to Jalal Iipoidica who states that a call for this meet up with go out across Facebook.

In one of the saddest developments, Gilbert Mercier (News Junkie Post) observes, "The US media and most world news outlets (including the BBC) have been strangely silent over the situation in Iraq. Of course it can be explained by the fact that our current news cycle is on steroid. Tracking the Arab revolution’s progress is overwhelming even for big news outlets. Libya and the armed revolution to finish off Gaddafi is the big headline, but not for long as it seems that the days of the mad man are counted. Egypt and Tunisia are still in mid-revolution limbo. Both are under military control, but the people are still putting pressure on their respective military to make sure that the revolution doesn’t get hijacked by a military junta." Iraqis will most likely be gain ingored by the bulk of US media but with the White House refusing to support the protests, media lackeys will fall in line and declare it 'non-news'.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon has a new report for In These Times entitled "Divide and Deport: On Immigration, Thom Hartmann and Lou Dobbs Have Much in Common:"

There has always been a conflict in U.S. labor about immigration. Conservatives historically sought to restrict unions and jobs to the native born, to whites and to men, and saw immigrants as job competitors-the enemy.
This was part of an overall perspective that saw unions as businesses or insurance programs, in which workers paid dues and got benefits in return. Labor's radicals, however, from the IWW through the CIO to those in many unions today, see the labor movement as inclusive, with a responsibility to organize all workers, immigrant and native-born alike. They see unions as part of a broader movement for social change in general.
In 1986, the AFL-CIO supported the Immigration Reform and Control Act, because it contained employer sanctions. This provision said employers could only hire people with legal immigration status. In effect, the law made it a federal crime for an undocumented person to hold a job. Since passage of the law, immigration raids have led to firings and deportations of thousands of people in workplaces across the country. In many cases employers have used the law as a way to intimidate immigrant workers, and rid themselves of those trying to organize unions and protest bad wages and conditions.
Transnational corporations invest in developing countries like Mexico, moving production to wherever wages are lowest. Treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement promote low wages, privatization, the dumping of agricultural products, and other conditions that increase corporate profits. But those measures also impoverish and displace people, forcing them to migrate to survive.
When those displaced people arrive in the United States, corporate employers use their hunger and vulnerability to enforce a system of low wages and fear. In this system, corporations are aided by U.S. immigration laws. While they're always presented in the media as a means of controlling borders, and keeping people from crossing them, for the last hundred years they've been the means of regulating the supply, and consequently the price, of immigrant labor.

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