Come to the Iraq Occupation Focus on November 26th
Iraq Occupation Focus was founded to address the key strategic problem facing the broad anti-war movement in this country: how to mobilise the one and a half million people who marched against the invasion of Iraq in February 2003, but who now feel that an immediate unilateral withdrawal by Britain is not a morally acceptable solution.
Some deduce from this that it is pointless advocating withdrawal until one has developed a full transitional strategy for a handover of power in Iraq. IOF’s conclusion is somewhat different. We believe that nothing positive can come from an invasion built on deceit and misinformation. Furthermore, if people in Britain knew the full truth of what was happening in Iraq, they would feel more motivated to campaign actively for the immediate withdrawal of coalition forces.
A year ago, US forces razed Fallujah, destroying 70% of its buildings and, according to photographic evidence documented on Italian television, using white phosphorous, an agent similar in effect to napalm, on the civilian population. Slowly, the west is waking up to this war crime, as Mike Marqusee correctly characterised it in The Guardian recently. But the same process continues today, in the name of new offensives. Operation ‘Steel Curtain’, launched in early November, saw US warplanes target al-Qaim, destroying houses and killing and injuring dozens of people, while shelling demolished government buildings and two mosques in the city. About 100,000 refugees, 40% of the city’s population, have fled and are now living in tents provided by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. Medical volunteers say that many children and elderly people are suffering from diarrhoea and dehydration.
One journalist who made it into the city reported: “Water, electricity, phones, roads were all cut. The city was besieged before the bombing began on 5th October and went on for 18 days. The general hospital was occupied for ten days; the hospital director and one of the doctors were brutally beaten and then arrested for a week inside the hospital. Many schools and offices were still occupied. All houses were raided, some twice a day. There is no government, no offices, no schools, no work, no markets... nothing.”
Meanwhile coalition forces have just discovered an Iraqi Interior Ministry bunker containing nearly 200 detainees, some of whom had been tortured so badly they were paralysed. So much for our export of human rights. Torture by US forces periodically surfaces and the entire reconstruction effort is mired in mismanagement and corruption, as Anthony Arnove has recently described at here.
To bring these realities to the attention of a wider public was one of the principal reasons IOF was established. Last year we held a well-attended teach-in with a number of Iraqi contributors, including Kamil Mahdi and Sami Ramadani, as well as input from US Military Families Against the War and US author Christian Parenti. This year Hassan Juma’a, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, formerly known as the General Union of Oil Employees, and human rights activist Ismaeel Dawood are coming from Iraq to address our teach-in on November 26th. It will be a unique opportunity for activists to discuss and learn about the current situation – do come!
Saturday 26 November 2005 (10am - 5pm) “VOICES FROM OCCUPIED IRAQ”
Themes: Corporate invasion; democratic,
civil and human rights; resistance.
Organised by Iraq Occupation Focus.
Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1.
Registration: 10 am.
Hassan Juma'a, General Secretary,
General Union of Oil Employees,Basra
Ismeel Dawood, human rights activist, Baghdad
Rahul Mahajan, author of Empire Notes (http://www.empirenotes.org/)
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary National Union of Journalists
Gilbert Achcar, author 'The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder'
Professor Kamil Mahdi, Exeter University Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Sami Ramadani, lecturer, Iraqi-born activist, regular contributor to The Guardian,
Haifa Zangana, Iraqi-born novelist, activists and former political prisoner in Iraq, regular contributor to The Guardian
Registration £7 (waged), £3 (unwaged).
Creche available if booked in advance. To register in advance, or for further information contact
Iraq Occupation Focus, http://www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk/
or PO Box 44680, London N16 7XX