From the TUC

Iraq trade unions back the ‘white shirts revolution’

29 Mar 2016, By Guest

Last Friday, the Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU) openly endorsed the actions of students and teachers across Iraq (known as the ‘White Shirts Revolution’) who are standing up for justice, fair pay and the provision of basic services; against ISIS terrorism and institutionalised political and financial corruption. They are also calling for the improvement of education from primary, secondary and vocational to higher education, including teacher training.

Teachers and students are angry about the poor quality of education in post-2003 Iraq, about the squandering of the country’s wealth through endemic corruption and about the poor strategic planning across all Iraq’s governmental departments.

It seems Iraq’s three governing political powers – Sunni, Shia and Kurds – have been rattled by the size, mixture and the spread of protests throughout the country. The incumbent Prime Minister has promised to root out corruption, end the ISIS nightmare and to form a new collective cabinet of technocrats that ends the ethnic-sectarian power sharing system that defined Iraq’s government from 2003 onwards.

Inhabitants from 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including Baghdad, the majority of them members and supporters of the Civic Democratic Alliance and the ITU, have joined the ‘White Shirts Revolution’ (students and teachers) to demand an end to Iraq’s current political chaos, identified with the disastrous post-2003  governing policy of sectarian and ethnic power sharing.  That political system has brought Iraqis nothing but misery, hardship and societal division, helping the ISIS terrorists to secure a foothold in Iraq (but hopefully not for long.)

Students and teachers from the oil-rich Kirkuk have also joined the ‘White Shirt Revolution’. They organised a ass demonstration on Friday 25 March demanding an end to poor educational planning in their province and across Iraq. These poor educational policies have resulted not only in massive plunder and waste of the country’s precious resources but deprived children and young people of the chance to secure a better and brighter future.

‘White Shirt Revolution’ protestors demanded an end to the acute shortage of infrastructures and the allocation of immediate funds for the provision of new schools, colleges and universities that are fit to provide children, young people and young adults with a decent education. The Civic Democratic Alliance has called for a bigger mass demo in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, where on 4 and 11 March over half a million Iraqis (from Baghdad alone) linked with thousands more protestors in 14 Iraqi provinces in the main centres of their cities to protest injustices, demand genuine political, constitutional and judicial reforms to protect civil and human rights, celebrate and protect Iraq’s ethnic and religious diversities; call for the provision of genuine space for women to contribute to state and society; and demand an end to all violations of the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and to collective bargaining as enshrined by the International Labour Organisation core conventions.

The three Iraqi governing blocs must bury the disastrous ethnic and sectarian power sharing system in favour of embracing a genuine liberal democratic system of governance, transparency and rule of the law.