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Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter

Iraq Occupation Focus
www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk
Newsletter No. 29
October 30, 2005

This IOF Newsletter is produced as a free service for all those opposed to the occupation. In order to strengthen our campaign, please make sure you sign up to receive the free newsletter automatically – go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/iraqfocus. Please also ask all those who share our opposition to the increasingly brutal US-UK occupation to do likewise.


The Referendum

Iraqis approve new constitution

The Independent reports (25 October): Iraq's landmark constitution was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's 15 October referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said today.

The results indicated that Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, had failed to produce the two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat it.

Nationwide, the vote was 78.59 percent for ratification and 21.41 percent against, the commission said. The charter required a simple majority nationwide with the provision that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces rejected it, the constitution would be defeated.

The commission, which had been auditing the referendum results for 10 days, said that Ninevah province had produced a "no" vote of only 55 percent. Only two other mostly Sunni Arab provinces – Salahuddin and Anbar – had voted no by two-thirds or more. Ninevah had been a focus of fraud allegations since preliminary results showed a large majority of voters had approved the constitution, despite a large Sunni Arab population there.

The BBC adds (October 25th): Sunni figures talked of widespread fraud after hearing the final results. Saleh al-Mutlaq, part of a Sunni Arab team that negotiated the constitution, called the referendum a “farce” and accused government forces of stealing ballot boxes to reduce the size of the “No” vote.

A senior United Nations official in Iraq, Carina Perelli, said the election had been conducted to the highest standard. “The result is accurate. It has been checked according to the processes that we all follow when we have elections.”

FULL RESULTS BY PROVINCE

YES (%)NO (%)
Anbar3.04 96.9  
Babil94.56 5.44 
Baghdad77.7  22.3  
Basra96.02 3.98 
Dahuk99.13 0.87 
Diyala51.27 48.73 
Irbil99.36 0.64 
Kerbala96.58 3.42 
Kirkuk62.91 37.09 
Maysan97.79 2.21 
Muthanna98.65 1.35 
Najaf95.82 4.18 
Nineveh44.92 55.08*
Qadisiya96.74 3.32 
Salahuddin18.25 81.75 
Sulaimaniya98.96 1.04 
Dhiqar97.15 2.85 
Wasit95.7  4.3  
National total78.59 21.41 

*Two thirds majority required to reject the charter

Vote totals investigated

The New York Times reports (October 17th): Iraqi election officials said that they were investigating what they described as "unusually high" vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favour of Iraq's new constitution, raising the possibility that the results of Saturday’s referendum could be called into question.

Dahr Jamail adds (October 18th): Huge discrepancies are already reported in the Nineveh governorate, which includes Mosul, showing that while sources close to the IEC were quoted saying that 55% of the voters there voted against the constitution, Abd al-Razaq al-Jiburi, the secretary general of the Iraqi Independent Front said, “I have been informed by an employee of the electoral high commission in Mosul that the voting for the constitution has been ‘no.’”

He went on to add that his sources within the IEC said the “no” vote in Nineveh ranged between 75-80%. This is a critical governorate vote, with Diyala and Salahedin governorates already appearing to have decisively rejected the constitution, despite US military repression with ongoing operations there, as well as in other predominantly Sunni governorates.

Uri Avnery adds (October 17th): The main result of the war will be the break-up of the country into three mutually hostile components – Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds. Whether this breakup of the Iraqi state is disguised as a “loose federation” or in some other way is immaterial. The important point is whether control over the oil resources is vested in the central or the local authorities.


On the day of the Referendum...

Baghdad Burning blogger writes (October 15th): So the referendum is today. We’ve been having more than the usual power outages. Government officials were saying “power problems”, “overload”, etc. for the last two days and then suddenly changed their minds today and claimed it was “sabotage”. It’s difficult to tell. All we know is that large parts of Baghdad are literally in the dark. We’re currently on generator electricity. Water has been cut off for the last two days with the exception of an occasional dribble that lasts for ten to fifteen minutes from a faucet in the garden. We have a nice big pot under it to catch as much water as possible.

Private cars haven’t been allowed to drive in the streets since Thursday – this will last until Sunday. It’s been declared a “holiday” of sorts. Everyone is at home. In spite of these security measures, there were several explosions today.



US practice of starving out Iraqi civilians is inhumane, says UN

The Independent reports (15th October): The United States-led coalition’s alleged practice of cutting off food and water to force Iraqi civilians to flee before attacks on insurgent strongholds is a “flagrant violation” of international law, a United Nations rights advocate said yesterday. The action is inhumane and causes innocent people to suffer, said Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

Mr Ziegler said he would present a report on 27th October at the UN General Assembly in New York expressing his personal “outrage” at the alleged practice and calling on countries to condemn it in a resolution.



Women and children killed in US air strikes on Ramadi, doctor says

IRIN report (18th October): Two days of US air attacks against insurgents in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi have caused heavy casualties among the city’s civilian population, a doctor and a senior Iraqi government official in Ramadi said.

“We have received the bodies of 38 people in our hospital and among them were four children and five women,” Ahmed al-Kubaissy, a senior doctor at Ramadi hospital, said on Monday night. “The relatives said they had been killed by air attacks in their homes and in the street.”

The US military statement said at least 20 suspected militants were killed when a US Air Force F-15 jet bombed a group of men suspected of burying a roadside bomb on Sunday, but Reuters quoted an Iraqi police officer in Ramadi as saying that those who died in that incident included children as young as 11.

Iraqi officials in Ramadi said more than 1,700 families had fled from the city since US air and ground forces began a big push against insurgents there last week. Some of these displaced people were camped in deserted areas about 10 km away, while others had fled to stay with relatives in Baghdad, they added.

The Guardian adds (October 18th): In a separate incident the US military said gunmen shot at a Cobra attack helicopter, prompting it to return fire and summon an F/A-18 jet to bomb a building in the village of al-Bu Faraj, killing about 50 insurgents. Several witnesses and hospital staff told news agencies that at least 14 of the dead were civilians.



U.S. cash fuels human trade

The Chicago Tribune reports (October 9th): American tax dollars are fueling an illicit pipeline of cheap foreign labour, mainly impoverished Asians who often are deceived, exploited and put in harm’s way in Iraq with little protection. The U.S. military has allowed KBR to partner with subcontractors that hire labourers from Nepal and other countries that prohibit citizens from being deployed in Iraq. That means brokers recruiting such workers operate illicitly.

The U.S. military and KBR assume no responsibility for the recruitment, transportation or protection of foreign workers brought to the country. KBR leaves every aspect of hiring and deployment in the hands of its subcontractors. Those subcontractors often turn to job brokers dealing in menial labourers. They lure labourers to Iraq with false promises of lucrative, safe jobs in nations such as Jordan and Kuwait, even falsifying documents to complete the deception.

Even after foreign workers discover they have been lured under false pretences, many say they have little choice but to continue into Iraq because they must repay brokers' huge fees. Some U.S. subcontractors in Iraq – and the brokers feeding them - employ practices condemned by the U.S. elsewhere, including fraud, coercion and seizure of workers' passports.



Asia’s Poor Build U.S. Bases in Iraq

Corpwatch report (October 3rd): Tens of thousands of third country nationals (TCN) are employed through complex layers of companies working in Iraq. At the top of the pyramid-shaped system is the U.S. government, which assigned over $24 billion in contracts over the last two years. Just below that layer are the prime contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel. Below them are dozens of smaller subcontracting companies. This layered system creates an untraceable trail of contracts that clouds the liability of companies and hinders comprehensive oversight by U.S. contract auditors.

But there is also a human cost to this savings. TCNs frequently sleep in crowded trailers and wait outside in line in 100 degree plus heat to eat “slop.” Many are said to lack adequate medical care and put in hard labour seven days a week, 10 hours or more a day, for little or no overtime pay. When frequent gunfire, rockets and mortar shell from the ongoing conflict hits the sprawling military camps, American contractors slip on helmets and bulletproof vests, but TCNs are frequently shielded only by the shirts on their backs and the flimsy trailers they sleep in.



Millions of Iraqis say attacks are justified

The Sunday Telegraph reports (October 23rd): Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence by an Iraqi university research team reveals:
• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;
• 82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops;
• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.


Are British troops at breaking point in Iraq?

The Independent reports (October 18th): Army sources are warning that the mood among soldiers of all ranks is at its gloomiest since the invasion in March 2003. A string of incidents in the past week has contributed to the sense of crisis. These include the apparent suicide of Captain Ken Masters, a military police investigator who was found hanged at his barracks in Basra, a decision by Private Troy Samuels, who was awarded a Military Cross seven months ago for his bravery under fire in Iraq, to abandon the military rather than return for another tour of duty and RAF officer, Flt-Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, saying he was prepared to face jail rather than serve in Iraq, in a war he considers to be illegal.



CIA agents to escape criminal offence charges

Iraq Daily News reports (October 24th): Despite indications of Central Intelligence Agency involvement in the deaths of at least four prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, its employees appear likely to escape criminal charges in all but one of those incidents.

Citing current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials, the New York Times said that David Passaro, a contract worker, is the only person linked to the CIA to be charged in the deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Federal prosecutors reviewing cases of possible misconduct by CIA employees have recently notified lawyers that they do not intend to bring criminal charges, the report said.



Upcoming events

29 OCTOBER 2005, LONDON: DEATH TOLL.
Vigil to mark the 1st anniversary of last year's Lancet report - which concluded that there had been at least 100,000 excess Iraqi deaths since the March 2003 invasion - during which a bell will be tolled 100 times, with each toll representing 1000 deaths.
1-2pm, Edith Cavell statue (nr. Trafalgar Square). Dress in black.
Org. by Voices.
To organise your own bell-ringing event see http://www.iraqmortality.org.

29 OCTOBER, OXFORD: THE 3RD OXFORD ANTI-WAR CONFERENCE.
10.30am-4.30pm, Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, Oxpens Road (opposite the Ice Rink).Sugg. donation £5.
Contact oxfordstopthewar@hotmail.com



NOVEMBER: Actions and events to mark the anniversary of last year’s assault on Falluja, and to demand justice and compensation for the victims and an end to the occupation.

Events taking place include:
SPEAKING TOUR with US author and activist Rahul Mahajan (in Fallujah during the April 2004 siege of the city).
Dates include: LEICESTER (18 Nov); NORWICH (19 Nov); KETTERING (20 Nov); BRADFORD (21 Nov); EDINBURGH (22 Nov); GLASGOW (23 Nov); BRISTOL (24 Nov); LONDON (25 Nov, 7.30pm, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd); SHERBORNE (27 Nov) and BRIGHTON (28 Nov, 7.30pm Brighthelm Centre, North Rd)

FILM SCREENINGS:
8 NOVEMBER, LONDON (“Occupation Dreamland”, award-winning documentary about marines in Fallujah, 8.45pm, Institute for Contemporary Arts, The Mall);
10 NOVEMBER, HULL (“A letter to the prime minister”, 7.30pm, Hull Screen, Albion St);
10 NOVEMBER, WREXHAM (“Testimonies ...” and “A letter to the Prime Minister”, 7pm,Trinity Church, King St);
15 NOVEMBER, LONDON (“Testimonies from Fallujah” and “Fallujah: April 2004”, 7pm, Inn on the Green, 3 Thorpe Close, W10, nearest tube Ladbroke Grove);
More info. http://www.rememberfallujah.org.

13 NOVEMBER, OXFORD: WORKSHOP at Shared Planet 2005, 2 - 3.30pm, Sun 13 Nov. See http://www.peopleandplanet.org/sp2005/

14 NOVEMBER, WREXHAM: VIGIL to mark the 1st anniversary of the Nov 2004 assault on Fallujah.
From 5pm, Plas Coch Roundabout, Mold Rd. Please bring banners, placards and nightlights.
Org. by the Wrexham Peace and Justice Forum. 0845 330 4505 or wrexhamsaw@yahoo.com.



6 NOVEMBER, LONDON: BENEFIT GIG FOR STWC with Paul Millns and the Funky Jazz 4 Peace collective.
7.30pm, The Bedford, Bedford Hill, Balham SW12 in the “Ballroom.”

11 NOVEMBER, BRISTOL: VETERANS SPEAK OUT. Meeting with British military veterans plus a short film from the USA called ‘What’s Going On?’ about veterans’ demonstrations against the war.
7pm, Friends Meeting House. 300 Gloucester Rd, Bristol BS7 8PD.

26 NOVEMBER, LONDON: “VOICES FROM OCCUPIED IRAQ” TEACH-IN.
10am – 5pm, University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1. £7 / £3.
Speakers include: Gilbert Achcar; Hassan Juma'a (General Union of Oil Employees, Basra); Ismaeel Dawood (human rights activist, Baghdad); and Rahul Mahajan (US activist in Fallujah during the April 2004 siege). http://www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk

31 OCTOBER – 3 NOVEMBER, SCOTLAND: ‘THE TWIN OCCUPATIONS OF PALESTINE AND IRAQ.’
Speaking tour with Haifa Zangana, Kurdish Iraqi author, imprisoned and tortured under Saddam Hussein.
Org. by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaaign.
Events include: 31 October, 6.30pm, Stirling University LT B4; 3 November, 7.30pm, Augustine Church, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh; and 3 November, 7.30pm, 10 Constitution Road, Dundee.