Iraqi civil society calls for political and social reform
Representatives from Iraqi civil society highlight the need to improve human and constitutional rights
A public hearing in the European Parliament yesterday jointly organised by GUE/NGL and Italian NGO ‘Un Ponte per…’ brought together representatives from Iraqi civil society organisations to raise awareness of issues such as the protection of rights for all Iraqi people, particularly women, trade unionists, journalists and civil servants.
Opening the meeting, titled ‘Addressing the root Causes of Extremism through Political and Social Reform: Proposal of Iraqi Civil Society’, GUE/NGL MEP Barbara Spinelli said: “Iraq is now in grave danger with a war in the north of the country, waged by the Islamic State. Thanks to the delegation of representatives present at this meeting, we know now that there is in Iraq a civil society that strongly opposes both ISIS and the sectarian government in Baghdad.”
She continued: “These associations have been organising campaigns for national reconciliation, workers’ rights, press freedom and initiatives against gender-based violence for many years now. The Iraqi people are paying the price for the biggest mistake made by the American administration: the application of sectarian and party quotas for public office in Iraq. This same mistake was made in former Yugoslavia, the so-called balkanisation.”
Among the Iraqi delegates present at the meeting were Ilham Al-Jasim (Iraqi Trade Unions) Nadia Al-Baghdadi (Iraqi Social Forum), Yanar Mohammed (women’s rights activist), Husam Jejoo (Yazidi activist), and Ismael Dawood (Un Ponte Per…).
The delegation called on the group to do everything in its power to increase pressure on the Iraqi government to implement international standards by joining the International Criminal Court, taking concrete measures against perpetrators of human rights violations, withdrawing the Al-Jaafari Personal Status Law and Jaafari Judiciary Draft Law, reforming the Iraqi Constitution and taking more active measures to protect women’s rights in the country, for example rules that protect the identification of undocumented women. Concerning the rights of journalists, the proposal of Iraq Civil Society is to amend the Journalist Protection Law that contains “vague language and lacks substantive protection for journalists”.
Civil society representatives concluded the hearing by saying that the issue of the implementation of sectarian policy in the Iraqi government and ministries “has aggravated tensions and turned government bureaus into party fiefdoms”.