The Day of Iraqi Rage
Posted on: Thursday, March 3, 2011
We just received the following update from Yanar Mohammed, the director of our partner organization in Iraq, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). She writes about the spread of demonstrations from the wider region into Iraqi cities and about the violent tactics that Iraqi security forces are using against protestors.
Last Friday, February 25, was a historic day in Iraq. The revolution earthquakes in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya sent shockwaves in our direction.
(Photo at left: Yanar Mohammed, OWFI Director) The main squares of most Iraqi cities were filled with protestors raising the same demands of providing electricity, employment, an end to governmental corruption, and a plea for general freedoms.
Although the government announced a curfew and closed all streets from vehicular movement, and the highest religious clerics discouraged the people from protesting, almost 70,000 people gathered in the main squares in all of Iraq, united around their main demands.
For the first time in eight years, the demonstration united people of different religions, ethnicities, sects, and political affiliations to denounce the extreme and continuous corruption and demand a share for the people in the countries resources from oil.
OWFI plays a role in the political participation of women within movements for national freedoms and liberties in Iraq. Although our numbers are small when compared to the huge demonstrating masses, the purpose was to help organize some of the freedom-loving youth groups which had started from facebook, but grew and multiplied in February. OWFI was one of the organizers of the demonstrations in Baghdad and Samarra raising slogans of change, right to work, and of course, equality.
Al Tahrir Demonstration in Baghdad
Although the demo was announced as a peaceful one, the security forces ended it at 5pm by throwing sound bombs, splashing hot water, shooting plastic bullets, and live bullets at the demonstrators.
When we would not move, but chant slogans of relentless struggle, the security trucks began to drive down the square to chase and shoot us with live bullets, and beat up many of the demonstrators who fled into the alleys surrounding Al Tahrir square. One of our male supporters was shot in the knee, while two others were beaten by the US-trained anti-riot police and the Iraqi army. Almost 20 people were shot in that day around the square, although the announced numbers were much less. Some died while the wounded were detained.
For those of us who ran to safety, we had to walk 5 hours in order to reach our homes in streets where cars were not allowed to drive.
In the western city of Samarra, OWFI women and men were leading the demonstrators, and raising banners demanding support for the widows who are a majority among the women of Samarra. It was a precedent for a tribal community protest to be led by women.
At the same time in most Iraqi cities, the army shot the demonstrators in the evening, attempting to disperse the demonstrators. 7 were killed in this city, while 15 were wounded.
Demonstrations happened in parallel in the Kurdish North and the South, making it clear that nobody cared for the artificially created division lines of sunni, shia, Arab, Kurd, Turkmen, etc… It was a day of a unified struggle against corruption, oppression, basic rights and freedoms.
While most demonstrating groups carried banners demanding reform of the government, the shooting and harassment of the demonstrators by anti-riot police and by the army shifted the slogans toward ones which rejected the oppressive measures.
OWFI had carried the banner of "change" since the beginning of the demonstration, and advised groups of cooperating youth demonstrators to do the same. The opposition media picked up the slogan and announced it on local TVs:"…that OWFI activist Yanar Mohammed will demand (Change) in the coming demonstration next Friday."
We are organizing for the coming Friday, hoping that the streets will be open, and that the army will let us into Al Tahrir square after 30 hours from now.
Wish us good luck,
[Yanar also sent the videos below with this note: "please take a look at the short video clips we took of the demonstration before the shooting. We were still smiling as the shooting had not begun."]
Archives"Press Room" Home April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
The Right to Heal: 11 Years After Iraq Invasion, U.S. Urged on Reparations for War's Enduring Wounds (Democracy Now!, March 26, 2014)
Protests Call Iraq's New Family Law 'Legalization of Pedophilia' (Rudaw, March 10, 2014)
Haiti: the neoliberal model imposed on the country is failing its citizens (The Guardian, February 5, 2014)
Human rights group slams Iraq over treatment of women in prison (Miami Herald, February 2, 2014)
New Ways to Evaluate Impact (Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 24, 2014)