Not worthy of being called voting
On October 15, a "constitutional referendum" took place in Iraq. The election commission as early as on the voting day announced, "voter turnout was around 65%, surpassing the 58% recorded during this January's elections for the transitional national assembly." US President George Bush hailed the voting as "turning point in the struggle for democracy." On October 16, even before any unofficial tallying was completed, President Jalal Talabani announced that elections for a national assembly would be held on December 15, in an effort to create faits accomplis for the political process under way.
This national referendum is no way worth recording as voting; it was forged under virtual state of emergency where no political liberty or democracy could be found.
The puppet government imposed a curfew from October 13, forbidding the Iraqis from moving across provincial borders. Check stations were deployed near voting stands across the country, and voters were prohibited from using a car on the voting day.
On October 1, the US forces started a large-scale sweep in the suburbs of Qaim in west Iraq, mobilizing 1,000 marines, fighter planes and armed helicopters. They also conducted a sweep on October 4 and on in the suburbs of Haditha, Anbar Province, in which even ambulances were targeted. These operations were extended into the voting hours. On October 16, the day following the referendum, the US air raids killed 39 civilians near Ramadi, also in Anbar Province.
"Constitution" alienated from the people
In Qaim where a sweep was conducted by the US military, no polling stations were opened. In Anbar, one third of all the province's polling stations were closed. The Iraqi abroad were not given the right to vote from the beginning. Thus, a large part of the population was deprived of the voting right itself. Besides, not even an international observer team was organized. Given all that, where in this sham referendum could we find democracy?
Even Iraq's Basic Law drawn up by the occupation forces stipulates that a draft constitution will be put to a general referendum after two months' period of publication and encouragement of public debate. Nevertheless, the final draft constitution was approved only three days before the voting. Even on the very day of the referendum, a large number of the Iraqis did not have the text of the final version at hand.
Should we have to mention the contents of the proposed constitution, we see denial of human rights in the name of Islam, introduction of federalism to split the people, legitimacy for privatization and looting of national resources by people obsessed with the greed and global capitalism. This is a "constitution" of no relevance to the wishes of the people who aspire for recovery of safety and basic elements of civil life.
The occupation forces and the puppet government imposed the constitution upon the people without publicizing the contents. Under violence, media control and religious orders (fatwa), they squeezed "Yes" out of the people.
For solidarity with IFC, toward withdrawal of Japan SDF troops
The "constitution" that only legitimizes the rule of the occupier nations and their puppet government while catering to greedy interest groups does nothing but destroy democracy and aggravate the already catastrophic situation.
The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, a member organization of the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC), called for a boycott on this referendum because "This constitution is merely digging landmines that explode and threaten with civil war in a society which is known to be civilized and has no history of falling into pitfalls of ethnic and sectarian bigotry." The only alternative is the IFC protesting both the occupation and indiscriminate terrorism and focused on the creation of secular and democratic society.
The Japanese government announced a statement, "Our country welcomes the referendum as an important step in advancing the political process," and "Japan will aggressively continue to support," while reiterating the policy to extend the term of troop dispatch that would otherwise expire on December 14. We should never tolerate this extended participation in the occupation rule that is killing the people and destroying democracy. Our struggle for immediate withdrawal of Japan Self-Defense Forces troops and solidarity with the IFC fighting for democratic reconstruction of Iraq - that is the real assistance to the Iraqi people. (October 17)