August 6 saw 4,000 people take to the streets of Chamchamal, a Kurdish city in northern Iraq, in protest against the huge increase in fuel prices and the lack of water and electric.

Police attack protests

With the protestors controlling the streets and the motorways between the cities the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Iraq’s President) controlled army and police units when into battle and opened fire at the protestors. Three were wounded and some arrested while protestors stoned the police and army.

This protest provided a spark that spread throughout the country. On August 9 people in Kalar, another city in Kurdistan, called for a general strike in solidarity with protestors in Chamchamal. After Aryan Mahmood, a 19 years old Kurdish student, was killed in Kalar by the PUK run police, strikes took place in Darbandikhan city, Kfri city and Shorsh town in solidarity with people in other cities. Further protests took place in Duhok and Kurkuk and then in Sulaimani.

In Sulaimani mainly young people took to the streets in protest against the lack of gas and electricity, and some of the protesters were arrested by undercover police. A massive police force came out to protect Sulaimani palace which is the base for the fat cat government ministers. People crowded around the palace and many were arrested. The police arrested people on the grounds that they were on the protest or if they were a member of the communist party, the workers’ communist party or any other left group. Many of those arrested were then tortured in the prisons run by the Kurdish right wing nationalists.

This kind of repression used to happen to Kurdish people under the Baathist Arab right wing nationalist dictatorship, but now is happening under Kurdish right wing nationalists. This shows how, in relation to working people, there is no difference in policy between a Kurdish capitalist and an Arab capitalist. The CWI joins with those calling for solidarity with Kurdish and Iraqi workers, peasants and trade unionists, and calls for:

  • release of all the political prisoners
  • end the repression now
  • support the right to strike and protest

This movement shows the need to struggle against capitalism and imperialism and for socialism in Kurdistan and the wider Middle East as the only solution to the problems of poverty and war.

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