Monday, August 13, 2012

Mass arrests, State of Law protests protests, and more

Mass arrests continue in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports 15 people arrested in Kirkuk today with 'most' arrested for "terrorism." Five were arrested in Diyala Province for "terrorism" -- the smaller number may result from the fact that mass arrests in Diyala Province have been going on for months now and there is a much smaller pool from which to arrest.

Another increase is noted by Dar Addustour, the increase in the use of silencers in assassinations as documented by the Ministry of Interior with a marked increase in the last weeks alone.  Kitabat has a piece on the topic where they noted that the hit man must be quick and fast and the silencer clearly aids in that.   AFP reports that the Islamic State of Iraq "has claimed 28 attacks between mid-June and the end of July."  Kitabat adds that the Ministry of Human Rights has released figures stating that 70,000 people have died since 2003 from terrorist attacks while another 250,000 have been injured from them.   In other official figures, Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province states that Iran's actions of cutting off the flow of water into the province has resutled in the destruction of over 6,000 acres of farming and orchards in Diyala Province.

Al Mada reports that another attempt at voting on the provincial election law is expeccted shortly according to MP Mohammed Kayani.  One solution to the gridlock, Al Mada notes in another article, is to increase the number of people serving on the Electoral Commission.  That's a move favored by some.  Currently there are nine spots on the Electoral Commission.  The issue of women on the commission is being raised.  The UN has stated that the commission must be representative and that includes with regards to women.  July 19th, Kobler appeared before the UN Security Council and stated:

As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities.  The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however.  In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners.  UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist. 

The Turkmen made clear over the weekend that they expect to see representation on the commission or they will block the bill from becoming a law.  Alsumaria notes that there is a call for a Turkmen and Shabak force to protect the two minorities especially in disputed areas like Kirkuk.
The political stalemate continues.  Alsumaria reports that Kurdistan Alliance MP Barham Saleh is in Baghdad today to look at the National Alliance's proposed reforms.  The who and the what?

This is what used to be known as the Reform Commission.  It's nothing but the National Alliance and there's no great effort to spin it any longer as more and more politician -- in the National Alliance and out of it -- have made clear it's not what Nouri made it out to be.

In other government issues, Al Mada notes Iraqis are calling on Parliament to ensure that demonstrations can take place and can be peaceful.  State of Law is insisting that protests are neither needed nor helpful and they say that they do not help with answers but only add to the crisis.  The fact that protests are allowed, are guaranteed by the Constitution escapes Nouri's State of Law which will only fuel the rumors that members of State of Law are illiterate and therefore unable to read the Iraqi Constitution.

Due to Ramadan (and the heat), the Council of Ministers offices has been closed each Thursday.  Dar Addustour notes that the offices will be open on Thursdays again starting this Thursday.

We'll try to cover Nouri's crazy speech and Syrian refugees in Iraq in the snapshot.  Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's
"Workers Protest Misery at Subway and Get Fired" (Working In These Times):

OAKLAND, CA (8/9/12) -- Oakland is suppossed to be a union town, but out at the Oakland airport, workers say they're getting fired for trying to join one. The airport is administered by the Oakland Port Commission, whose members, appointed by the Mayor, are mostly viewed as progressives. The commission has passed a living wage ordinance that not only sets a level much higher than state or national minimum wage laws, but also requires companies who rent space to respect the labor rights of their workers.
One of the workers fired in recent weeks is Hakima Arhab, who says she lost her job at the Subway concession after she complained about violations of the ordinance, and because she and her coworkers are trying to join UNITE HERE Local 2850.
She told her story to journalist David Bacon.

I worked at Subway for a year and a half. When I got the job there I thought that I would have a better life. It should be a good job. I thought I'd have more money, and be able to afford a few more things for myself, and be able to send money to my home country, because I have family there. When I started at the airport I was getting $12.82 an hour, and then it went up to $13.05.
Most people go through the airport and see us from one side of the counter, but from our side it feels really different. It turned out to be like working in hell. When the airport was busy, there were huge long lines - sometimes it seemed like a hundred people. We had to wait on them, and make the orders up at the same time. Sometimes I thought I'd fall down from being so tired, but I'd eat something sweet and go back to my job.
The schedule was always changing, and it turned out to be just a part time job. They kept cutting peoples' schedules. Whenever we would hear that they were going to hire someone, everyone would get scared because we were afraid our hours would be cut. They'd hire people and give them our hours.
Then they told us that if we worked two days in the airport, we should work outside too. The owners have many other Subway stores, so they'd pressure me to work for them outside the airport. And it was a hard job too. But I did it because I was scared that if I didn't they would fire me from the airport job.
They expected me to work outside the airport if I wanted a full time set of hours, but the work outside was at a different wage. That work only paid minimum wage -- $8 an hour. They'd send me around to all their stores. Sometimes I'd open one store, and then go close at another one. I worked overtime, but they didn't pay me overtime pay. They'd give you separate checks, so you'd never get overtime pay.
I was very angry about that, but they refused to give me a full schedule at the airport. They even wanted me to work seven days a week, but since they wouldn't pay overtime, at first I said no - that was too much. Many of my coworkers did, though, because they couldn't afford to say no. If you said no, then the owners would cut your whole schedule.

The e-mail address for this site is