Basra students strike against Islamists

Submitted by AWL on 22 March, 2005 - 12:55

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Submitted by AWL on Fri, 25/03/2005 - 16:21

Education Not For Sale has issued the following statement:

The Education Not for Sale network is calling on student unions, student movement activists and trade unionists to support the appeal issued yesterday by the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq in support of the student strike currently taking place in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Since March 15th, students at Basra and Shatt al-Arab universities have been joined by hundreds of pupils at the city’s secondary schools in an open-ended strike in protest at an attack carried by thugs from Moqtada al-Sadr’s “Army of the Mahdi” and members of the Iranian security services ­ leaving a number of students injured and one dead. The attack was carried out because the students, from the university’s engineering faculty, were enjoying an outing in one of Basra’s parks, with students of both sexes and various different backgrounds and religions mixing freely. The attackers deliberately targeted female students for a beating, singling out a young Christian woman, ripping her clothes and then shooting dead a young man who attempted to come to her aid.

The students are a public trial for the attckers, freedom of speech, secularism and an end to harrassment by Islamist gangs. The city's governor has refused to bring Sadr's thugs for justice, and the University of Basra has now been surrounded by police and members of al-Sadr’s militia, with tribal elders from the environs of Basra threatening to bombard the university if the protests continue.

Daniel Randall of Education Not for Sale said: “What is happening in Basra underlines the urgent need for solidarity with trade unions, student groups and other fighting for democracy and secularism in Iraq. This is further proof of how the occupation of Iraq is nurturing reactionary religious and political forces. British students must raise a storm of protest against this criminal attack on Iraqi students and in solidarity with the demonstrators at Basra university.”

- Send messages of solidarity with the Basra demonstrators to the Fderation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq’s UK representative Houzan Mahmoud ­ houzan73@yahoo.co.uk

- Student unions can submit Emergency Motions to the upcoming NUS Conference (April 5-7th) until March 30th. Please considering submit a motion on solidarity with Iraqi students (see below).

- Education Not for Sale is a network of students campaigning for free education, against privatisation and for an NUS that really represents and fights for its members. We stand for solidarity with workers, students and other progressive movements worldwide. For more information, contact NUS National Executive member Alan Clarke on 07976 000 940 or alan.clarke@nus.org.uk

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 25/03/2005 - 16:24

In reply to by AWL

Emergency motion to NUS National Conference 2005

Conference believes

1. That students in the university and schools of Basra in southern Iraq are currently on an open-ended strike in protest at an attack made by Moqtada al-Sadr’s "Mahdi Army" and Iranian government agents on March 15th, in which a number of students were injured and one was killed. 2. That the attack was made because the students, from Basra University’s engineering faculty, were enjoying an outing in one of the city’s parks, with students of both sexes and various different backgrounds and religions mixing freely. 3. That the attackers deliberately targeted female students, singling out one young Christian woman, ripping her clothes and then shooting dead a young man who attempted to come to her aid. 4. That the university is now surrounded by police and members of the Mahdi Army, and tribal elders in the environs of Basra have threatened to bombard the university if the student protesters do not give up their demands for secularism, academic freedom and an end to harrassment.

Conference further believes

1. That the events in Basra underline the urgent need to make solidarity with students, workers’ organisations, women’s organisations and other groups fighting for freedom, secularism and democracy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. 2. That this is further evidence of how the invasion and occupation of Iraq have nurtured the growth of extreme right forces such as the Mahdi Army.

Conference resolves

1. To send a message of support to the student demonstrators at Basra University messages of protest to the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi government. 2. To redouble our efforts to make links with the student movement in Iraq. 3. To redouble our efforts to support workers’, student and women’s organisations and other groups fighting for freedom, secularism and democracy in Iraq and the Middle East.

(284 words)

If you need help submitting this motion, please email alan.clarke@nus.org.uk.

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