Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A celebrity with a mission






Rawya Rageh: He might be keeping his shoes on this time around but Iraq's famous shoe thrower is still getting himself in trouble. Munthadhr Alzaydi in the middle of Iraq's recent arrest. After serving jail time for insulting former president George W. Bush, Alzaydi had to live in exile due to security concerns. When thousands across the Arab world started waiving their shoes in protest, Alzaydi knew he had to return to Baghdad. Not thrilled with that decision, Iraqi authorities detained him just one day before Iraq's first mass protest
Munthadhr Alzaydi: Before they released me, they made me sign an affidavit promising not to protest against the democratic state. I said, 'I'll sign ten of those but next Friday, I promise you, I'll be the first to take the streets."
Rawya Rageh: And that he did, flanked by supporters guarding him tightly, an unlikely hero to Iraqis rallying against poor services and corruptions. Munthadhr Alzaydi and his supporters are not just asking for better services in Iraq, they're among those who are specifically asking for the ouster of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The prime minister had described them as out-of-step with the rest of the Iraqi protesters. He says unlike the other Arab governments that were recently toppled, Iraq has a democratic process through which is government was formed.
Munthadhr Alzaydi: Maliki's democracy is one that involves abuse in prisons, botched elections and clinging on to religious figures for legitimacy. His democracy is like that of George Bush: You are either with us or against us.
Rawya Raghe: One group he's banking on in his campaign against the government the families of thousands of prisoners lingering in Iraqi prisons
Munthadhr Alzaydi: If we manage to bring change, great. If we don't? At least we had the honor of trying.
Rawya Raghe: Rawya Raghe, Al Jazeera, Baghdad.
Yesterday it was raining in Baghdad. Young and old Iraqi people gathered in Tahrir square in center of Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis demonstrate in central Baghdad under the slogan "Friday of accountability" demanding the release of detainees and the prosecution of corrupt officials.
The Iraqi demonstrator has to walk for few miles to get to the square, after the Iraqi government forces closed several streets with barbed wires, one of them is an Iraqi young blogger who is a college student and work as a free lance reporter in free time to make a living, he had been beaten twice by the army in the past weeks demonstrations. He and other Iraqi bloggers and activists had received death threats via SMS messages and on their Facebook accounts. They do not know who sent these threats but they heard stories about some official personalities keeping a close eye on the activists activities on the internet. These threats did not stop them to stand under the rain raising slogans calling for reform and change the system in the face of rampant corruption circles in the state. Surrounded by the military vehicles escorted by detachments of the security force to report the news of the demonstrations is not an easy job ,the writer of this article received 2 threats from unknowns on facebook after posting an updates on the demonstrations.
The groups leading the protests issued the following statement:

After suffering which has lasted eight years, during which our lives and dignity were violated, our livelihoods and our wealth plundered, and the happiness and futures of our children stolen, in the shadow of great oppression, a period the Iraqi people dealt with great ...patience and with their known steadfastness in facing crises; the moment has come in which the Youth of Iraq has broken the silence, and has decided to choose to demonstrate , to strike at oppressors and corrupt, and to state quite bluntly that patience has its limits and that the rights of nations will not be lost; so the Great Rage Revolution was born and crowned the popular movement which has lasted for years.

This is a day which has gone down in the annals of history and whose letters have been engraved with light, that recounted the epics of the nation that rose from its north to the very tips of its south, challenging live ammunition and state repression; it offered more than 20 martyrs of its finest rebell sons; this day has become the turning point in the history of the Iraqi People…. The day we rose against our bad reality; when we attacked great injustice which affected us all, and we came out from being a great silent marginalized majority to a majority that fills the spaces with the sound of justice, that registers an impressive presence which attracts the world's interest.
Based on the foregoing, we say to the free-spirited and defiant youth of Iraq, out of loyalty to the blood - shed by our martyrs and the demands of our patient people, and after lengthy examination of the previous phase, an assessment of our achievements, and taking stock of our failures, we have come out with important matters that we hope everyone will uphold, and take into consideration:

First: The media is half the battle, and is a necessity for those who have the right to promote their cause, and because the media is busy, at present, covering many events in the world, we suggest that we work, during the next phase, on intensifying the building-up for a great demonstration, as was the case before the Rage Uprising on the 25th February.

Secondly: The build -- up for the demonstration on 9.4.2011, the painful anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, which happens to be a Saturday, paying special attention to the fact that the central demonstration will be in Baghdad, the Capital, in Tahrir Square, in order to forestall any party attempting to exploit events for their own special interests, far away from the higher interests of the Iraqi People.

Third: We hope that our people will not repeat the 25th February scenes, and that this time round, they will remain in the Square for a long period of time, to dominate it and thus manufacture the event which will force those concerned to listen to our demands as well as for the media to promote the justice of our demands.

Fourth: Avoid clashing with security forces as much as possible, because as a result of our short experience in demonstrations, they do not possess any other language than brute force when dealing with any protests; and try to deal with them in such manner that assures them, which will force them to deal positively with demonstrators.

Fifth: Form committees to control the anger of the demonstrators - as much as possible, especially in the provinces in order to avoid the burning down of government offices and the destruction of public property, upholding our commitment to demonstrate peacefully, so as not to give the opportunity to those who call the revolutionaries vandals ignoring the reasons for such condemnable actions, despite our understanding of the reasons which caused some people to carry out such acts.

Sixth: We call on all Iraqi communities all over the world and in particular those communities who live in countries where international decisions are made, to move and to support us in our demands; to demonstrate in front of Iraqi Embassies in these countries constitutes pressure on the government as well as the occupation; in addition to embarrassing it internationally especially on presenting the photographs of the government's latest crimes and its suppression of the demonstrators, in order to benefit from the present international atmosphere which condemns every government that suppresses its people who demonstrate peacefully.

In conclusion, we are announcing to the corrupt Green Zone government and to all the sectarian and ethnic political parties and at their forefront, the top of the government pyramid, that we hold him legally responsible for the death of the 25th February martyrs, the coming of a summer much hotter than the one Iraqis suffer without electricity and cold water; we demand that they respond immediately to the demands of the Iraqi People and leave governance to the Iraqi People who have publicly regretted their choice, rather than continue arrogantly in the charade, and we tell them: "today, you may still have the opportunity to do the aforementioned, but no one can guarantee you what will happen tomorrow or the day after at the latest, for darkness possesses one round but right possesses rounds, and that the change that the people are seeking is inevitably coming.

Glory and Eternity to Iraq's Martyrs.
Glory and Eternity to the Martyrs of the Rage Rebellion


1- The Great Iraqi Revolution
2- The 25th February Alliance
3- People's Movement to Save Kirkuk
4- Free Iraq Students and Youth Organization
Meanwhile David Ali (Al Rafidayn) reported over the weekend that the protests and the inability to function are leading some political blocs to speak of ending the partnership government. "Informed sources" (unnamed) tell Ali that the Ayad Allawi has been to Najaf to meet with Moqtada al-Sadr and that there is talk between blocs of forming a new government. Al Rafidayn reported that a meeting took place of Iraqiya leaders in Jordan, called by Saleh al-Mutlaq (one of the candidates banned in the 2010 elections by the Justice and Accountability Ministry) and other participants are said to have included Osama al-Najafi (Speaker of Parliament), Dhafer al-Ani and Jamal Karbouli. Ayad Allawi is said to have not been present for the meet up. The unnamed official detailing the meeting to the paper insists that Allawi is seen as weak and giving in to compromises when he should have fought. Iraqiya's spokesperson states that Ayad Allawi took his name out of the running for chairing the National (Security) Council due to the fact that a vote on the Council was delayed repeatedly. The spokesperson notes that Iraqiya has not nominated anyone new to the position. Today Alsumaria TV reports, "In a meeting with a group of Iraqi academics, analysts and politicians, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said he considers calling for a no-confidence vote on his government if his political partners carry on challenging him, an informed source told Alsumaria News. Maliki believes the political process in Iraq cannot succeed under the present Constitution, the source speaking on condition of anonymity said." Everyone's out to get him! Iraqiya! The National Alliance!!! It's Nouri and Nouri only fighting for Iraq! You sort of get the feeling that the US does do get a psych consult when auditioning would-be despots; however, the crazier they are, the more the US wants in that role. And crazy is Nouri who apparently is now going to declare war on the Iraqi Constitution. Oh, that's going to be pretty. Al Mada reports that Babacar Zebari, the Iraqi Army's Chief of Staff, has declared that Iraq is ready to face any emergency internally. It's a sad statement on Iraq's 'government' that they have to boast of being able to defend themselves from internal threats (that would be their own people). It's equally true that there is still no Minister of Homeland Security.

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