“What I found in Iraq after eight years abroad shocked me”
In the first of a series of interviews, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey speaks to Houzan Mahmoud, member of the political bureau of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI), a cofounder of the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC) and representative of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq.
What is the Iraq Freedom Congress?
It is the initiative by various organizations, and parties, such as the WCPI, the WCP Hekmatist Party of Iran, the Movement of Democratic Socialism in Japan and several intellectuals and academics in Iraq.
What are your aims?
We have three main aims. To end occupation, to end the rule of Islamism, which is political Islam and to create a provisional government based on the will of the people expressed through their direct power.
But doesn't Iraq already have a government that was elected democratically?
In reality this government is just an assembly of the most right-wing reactionary sectarian Islamist groups. Its members were picked in advance of the invasion and in no way can it represent the people. This government is being based on ethnic and religious divisions, not on the bases on the concept of equal citizenship. In no way can it solve any of the problems of Iraq because it is part of the problem and part of the chaos, being part of the US agenda.
So why did the people vote for them?
The election took place under the control of militias all over Iraq, in the southern part armed militias such as Badir militia and Muqteda Alsadr's Militia who have been supported financially and politically by Iran...
In Kurdistan we have Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdish Democratic Party who are part of US politics in Iraq and serve the occupation. And in the central part the Islamic forces are really controlling the area... also remember the voting of people had many other reasons behind it and the story nobody is telling is that many people were called upon to vote by religious leaders. Others were threatened and bullied into voting by Fatwa's; others were told that if they didn't vote for so-and-so, their food rations would be taken away from them.
Two years after the invasion, what is the real situation today in Iraq?
What I found in Iraq after eight years abroad shocked me. In two years, the American invasion force and the puppet government has sent the country and Iraqi society back one century.
I entered through Syria because Baghdad airport is too dangerous, out of control, and there are armed groups of men everywhere, all over the country. There are hardly any women and the ones you see are forced to wear veils.
I had to travel around with a bodyguard because of being a woman and I refused to wear the veil. The country is in chaos. Nothing works. The infrastructures were targeted by the American military, they were destroyed and the state has collapsed.
But the Americans are in control?
Of course they are not in control, they control their bases, they travel around in huge convoys, they bully people in the streets, making fun of them and humiliating them in public. Not even Saddam's security forces did that. If there is an incident they have no problem destroying a whole block and those living inside it rather than to confront the enemy.
The so called “resistance” comes and goes as it pleases, they choose a target, attack and pull back. They know what they are doing; they are very well armed and very well financed.
And who are the “resistance”?
Some Iraqis, some foreigners, many foreigners in fact, “Jihadis” from many neighboring countries, some for the money, others because they think they're on a religious war.
So, you are anti-Saddam, anti-resistance and against the puppet US-led regime. And what do you defend?
We defend the rights of workers, women and people in general; we are against the oppression of people. We built our own progressive front in Iraq. Through the Iraqi Freedom Congress we are trying to organize an international dimension for our movement to bring freedom to all Iraqis. We are trying to mobilize all those who can make a difference around the world and in Iraq.
We want women to be free to work, study, and walk around without being told what to wear.
We want to present a provisional government which represents the rights of Iraqi workers, women and human rights and which will restore civil society, guaranteeing freedom and equality for all.
How free are you to operate in Iraq?
The freedom is meaningless without security ...when you live in a country where waiting in a shopping queue is a risk and might cost you your life, you can't be free in political activities, the space that we succeed in maintaining for our activities cannot be called freedom... though we are, like all Iraq's population, struggling under the cross fire of both terrorist forces of the USA and political Islam... we still struggling to stay but the situation is getting worse day by day.
You can email Houzan Mahmoud: firstname.lastname@example.org