Muayad Ahmed, member of the Political Bureau of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) who visited Japan in December, 2004, at the invitation of the Solidarity Committee with Iraqi Civil Resistance, spoke to WEEKLY MDS about current situations in Iraq and a project for a mass organization called the Congress of Liberation and Civility-rebuilding in Iraq (CLCI). The interview was held on December 19, 2004, in Tokyo.
FWCUI (Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq) holds a Conference in Basra with hundreds of worker representatives from major industries in southern Iraq attending it. (November 26, 2004)
-- You have attended the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) Tokyo Trial and the World Youth Peace Forum during this stay in Japan. How did you find these events?
I was very well impressed by the two events. In the Tribunal I saw a big gathering very organized and professional, and was impressed by all of the points that were concentrated on. It was a very modern and advanced sort of tribunal. It is part of the international movement for freedom, justice and equality. This is the movement that can help the Iraqi people. We see the capitalist ruling class represented by the US administration and Western governments taking to trial the people they like to do. But, on the opposite side, this Trial has helped give important verdict against those responsible for the misery that has been brought to millions of the people worldwide. The people around the world desire to have Bush, Blair and your Prime Minister Koizumi brought to justice and tried for what they have done. I hope more other civil rights groups will join this worldwide campaign.
Regarding the Youth Peace Forum, I was also so impressed because it is very important to have young people struggling for peace and saving their future lives. They were so enthusiastic about their struggle for peace and freedom. I found them very committed to their cause and very deeply understanding what is going on and why they are struggling for peace.
In these two events I was impressed that we are so near in thinking about what is happening in Iraq and how we have to get engaged into liberating the Iraqi people from the US and Islamist forces. I saw a very good understanding regarding this and almost the same agenda. I have got great hopes for the Civil Resistance campaign in Japan.
-- Why have you decided to boycott the so-called elections in January?
We had a declaration from the leadership of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) regarding the elections. In that declaration we very clearly pointed out the few facts going on in Iraq that make this election false and not a way opening up opportunities for the people to participate in real democratic political process. It is so obvious that this election is not a genuine election in the benefits of the people.
First of all, there is no security in Iraq. Militia forces, different Islamic religious sections, nationalist sections and even the pro-government organizations will all intervene and impose their own will over the electorates. The election system has been designed to fit the interests of the occupying forces and the puppet government of Iraq. It is a cover-up for the continuation of the US occupation of Iraq and the policies and strategies of the US government and ruling class. Also this election has been designed on the bases of ethno-Islamic groups to win it. For example, you have one list of the Shiah Islamic groups, one list of Kurdish nationalist groups and one list of Sunni sections. So there is no room for political parties who have their agenda and manifestos based on the civil society.
There has not been any specific period of time for the different political parties and NGOs to run for the election campaigns and to have equal opportunities for using the media to get their messages across to the masses. The public doesn't know what is happening. If there is not such an opportunity, the public will not be aware of the political agenda and manifestos of the parties running their campaign not affiliated to the ethno-Islamic groups. What is wrong for the people is just that there are no political and social agenda for the society. They have been quoted just as Shiah, Sunni or Kurds. That is not an election.
In Kurdistan under the control of Kurdish nationalist parties, people have been brainwashed that the rations will be stopped if they don't go to the elections and give their votes for the Kurdish list. And it is easy to imagine that people cannot queue for the elections because of the security reason.
We know basically that election is much better than despotic regime. We would go for it because it could bring reforms for the people. But there is no possibility for such an election.
-- What activities are you doing now to make advancement in the Civil Resistance? Our readers are very eager to be informed about your progress that has been achieved since last August when our reporters visited Iraq and interviewed many of your members involved in the Civil Resistance.
Basically we are progressing in the Civil Resistance movement. Our main pillar organizations are growing. For example, the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) had recently a very important conference for the workers in the south of Iraq, which covers Basra and Nasiriya. 200 delegates representing thousands of the working people attended the conference on November 26, and decided on their progressive agenda for the workers and people. Now tens of thousands more of the working people in the South in the main industries like petrol, chemicals and port and other major factories and plants have joined forces to be united in this Federation. That will be a major step forward. They have said in their declaration that they ask for the intervention of the working people in giving shape of the political system of Iraq and to have workers rights and civil rights achieved. Now the workers in those main cities in the South, where millions of people live, have the FWCUI becoming a major actor player in defending workers rights and civil rights. After the conference, it is time for the FWCUI to get more involved in central and all over Iraq, and they are engaged in that activity very actively.
I have heard news that on December 15 a conference of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) was held in central Baghdad. Representatives of many women's organizations, woman activists, representatives of the WCPI and representatives of the FWCUI attended this very successful conference. Its aim was to gather support for a secular and egalitarian constitution which saves the women's rights, full equality between men and women, and fully equal citizenship.
The WCPI and the Civil Resistance movement as a whole are engaged in areas like Al-Jihad and Al-Furat neighborhoods in Baghdad. We have a plan to do the same in Thaura, which is a stronghold of the Sadrist groups, and challenge them overthere. In Muqdadiya, a town close to Baquba in central Iraq, Husseiniya and other cities, we are organizing more footholds for the Civil Resistance. In Kirkuk's Al-Tazamun neighborhood, the first People's House is going to be opened and start working.
In Kurdistan, a very important campaign has been launched by the WCPI and will gather support for a referendum. The puppet government is an ethno-Islamic government and will not guarantee the rights of other minorities like Kurds. So the Kurds should have the right of a referendum to decide whether to stay in Iraq democratically or to have their own government. We are very determined to struggle for having people's voices heard everywhere. Since long time ago we have adopted the idea of having a referendum in order to open up an opportunity for the masses of Kurdistan to express their view regarding the political plight. Basically our aim is to establish a non-nationalist, non-religious and egalitarian political system in Iraq, but at the same time for the people of Kurdistan we have to give this chance to have their own view on the political system either to stay with Iraq as equal citizens or to separate from it and form their own government. That is the only way for the communists, socialists and progressive forces inside Kurdistan to struggle against the Kurdish nationalist parties ruling over the masses. If we put this solution to the people of Kurdistan, then we can influence them not to go to the nationalist parties but to adopt a realistic and democratic way for the political future.
Now we aim to develop our Civil Resistance inside Iraq into a higher stage. All the organizations of workers, women and youth, the organization defending secularism and our Party will join forces in one umbrella organization, which will be from the start a local and international organization. It is called the Congress of Liberation and Civility-rebuilding in Iraq (CLCI). With its political agenda, it could be more organized and more advanced, and will have the character of a grass-roots organization as well as an international one from the start. What I mean by grass-roots is that the organization will organize itself in districts and residential areas, and will set up People's Houses which will be the organizing body of the people in the districts to defend themselves from the intervention of the US forces as well as the Islamic forces and the remnants of Baathists. The aim of this organization will be like the African National Congress in South Africa. Without this organization, there is no way-out of the current situation in Iraq. In our view the problems happening in Iraq have got an international character. The forces that bring about misery to Iraq are international. For the US, it is obvious because they take, for example, the Japanese troops to support them. The Islamists have the network of international terrorism like the regime of Islamic Republic of Iran intervening and supporting them. The working-class people and the masses and women in Iraq have got to have their own international community to support them. In fact the whole civilized humanity is under threat by those two poles of terrorism. So they have got important interest in defending the masses in Iraq to get to their own rights and freedom. The Civil Resistance or the CLCI should be one joint effort and struggle of the Iraqi people and also the international freedom-loving community. The purpose of my visit to Japan was to publicize this and to gather support for it. I can say that we were successful in doing that. But there are huge tasks ahead.
-- Could you explain more in detail about your daily activities? How do you recruit ordinary people into your Civil Resistance front?
It is a very important question. Before I go into the details of how we can do that, I have to mention that the people know political parties and organizations according to the image that they give to the society, what they are representing and what alternative they present to the situation. Are they pro-Islamist? Are they pro-US forces? Are they pro-Baathist? What do they represent in the whole political spectrum? One of our success is we could throughout these 20 months present ourselves as the third alternative to what was happening. The people of Iraq, working class people, young people and women are clever people. They know what is happening. They are well informed. Although they have been struck by poverty and insecurity, you see thousands of satellite dishes on the roofs of even the very poor people. So they are aware to some extent. One of the main things that helped us is the image that we are representing an alternative to what is happening. People see us as one movement and they don't mind to accept that image as far as we are representing the human alternative.
I just give you an example that I had while I was in Baghdad. We didn't have contact with women who were doing a demonstration last April against ministers regarding money fraud happening in a bank. So many employees were arrested and threatened that the payments be paid back. We didn't have contact with them at that time. But they were told in the demonstration that the only organizations that could help them were the WCPI, the OWFI, the FWCUI and the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI). So their representatives came to our office. I was there when I met them. In fact we joined the process, had a good campaign and put in prison the people who were responsible for the fraud.
When there are protests, people need to be united, have organizations and defend their rights. People in districts are under threat by those forces. We have to be more organized and have more plans, more funds and more media to have good credibility and good image. And we have proved that. A lot of works have been done regarding, for example, the Basra conference. Continuous contacts and clear agenda are needed. Continuity is essential. I am sure that, if we are more organized, have more funds available and get more moral and political support internationally, we can do much more important tasks. We are very optimistic because our cause is just and human. That is our main strength.
-- Thank you very much.