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Cops and Security Guards Riot in Baghdad - report

renegado writes
Cops and Security Guards Riot in Baghdad - report from Ewa in Baghdad,

17.11.2003 10:13

- read report below but bear in mind that news just came in of another proetst, same place, same issue, taking place now as none of the protestors demands have been met....

Baghdad, 16/11/2003: Ministry Security Guards and Police Besiege Their
Bosses, Take Over Street – Minister of the Interior Forced to Address and
Appease Crowd

From approximately 10am yesterday, Governing Council Ministry security
guards and Iraqi police protested outside the central Baghdad security
bureau in Sadoon Street over the withholding of their wages.

The Sadoon street bureau has been the location of at least three previous
protests in the last two months.

The angry crowd, numbering around 250, besieged three superiors inside,
and declared them all corrupt former high ranking Baathists, reinstalled
by the CPA in their old positions of power and authority, and ‘Ali Babas’ (a term originally coined by racist US soldiers, meaning it to be synonymous with ‘Iraqi’, meaning thief) . The protesting guards and police used wheelie bins, mangled pieces of metal, barbed wire and smashed pieces of pavement to barricade the street from both sides. Any
cars attempting to enter were forcibly stopped by the crowd. A police vehicle which tried to break up the protest was surrounded, rocked and the occupants beaten.

Rocks were hurled at the building holding the officials and at one point the crowd tried to storm it, but was forced back by machine gun
threatening security, just 6 to 8- men strong.

The protestors told Occupation Watch ‘We were promised wages of $120 per month, instead we were given $60. Then we had our wages switched from dollars to dinars – 100,000!’ (An undercut of 20,000, roughly $10 and a weeks wages for some) Now it’s been three months and we haven’t been paid
AT ALL’. The men also spoke of discrepancies in pay according to the
boss’s whims, with some guards being paid $57 instead of $60. ‘Our bosses are thieves. The Governing Council are thieves!’ said one, ‘Before we had one thief to worry about – Saddam Hussein – now we have 25!!’

Technically, 24, given that the resistance has already eliminated Akila al-Hashimi, the GC’s only openly former Baathist member. Others raged against the fact that their superiors were getting paid well and were still the same former high ranking Baathists they always were. The first proto-law enshrined by Occupation Administrator Paul Bremer was
‘De-Baathification Order Number 1’ barring top-ranking Baath Party members from any public position, whether in universities, hospitals or minor government posts. However, the truth of the situation here on the
ground, as evinced from the lips of ministerial employees, industrial workers, trade unionists, and the protesting guards and police yesterday, is that those high ranking Baathists, with all their expertise, experience and capacity to spike a disciplinary terror into the hearts of ordinary Iraqis, are still very much in power and still running the country, sanctified by the brute force protection of the Occupation forces. From the thousands of re-installed dreaded, blood-soaked Mokhabarat – Iraqi Secret Security Forces – to the skilled top bureaucrats in the ministries – the regime continues.

The Security guard work defending, out in the open, the various ministries of the Iraqi interim government. Given that all the ministries
are key resistance targets (the Foreign Ministry having been attacked by rockets in October); their jobs mean front line exposure to any car bombs, RPG attacks, missiles or mortars launched against them. Risking
death on a daily basis and not getting paid for it full-stop let alone a decent wage has left the guards seething. ‘Until we get our wages, they
(the three officials besieged in the security bureau) are not getting out’.

US Military Police arrived on the scene to ‘assist the Iraqi Police’. In reality, they held a grim-faced line across the street while Iraqi Police milled around, told people to clear the street, matter-of-factly - to no effect, refrained from driving into the protestor claimed street and generally, just stood around watching blankly. Their sympathies, naturally, with their co-workers.

The US Military Police listened to the grievances of the protestors to random shouts of ‘Zballa’ (Scum) from the crowd around them. At one point, foreign solidarity activists were standing side by side with protesting guards and IPs, facing US soldiers and Iraq Police, holding the street and refusing to move back. An older soldier, visibly irritated
by the fact that Occupation Watch’s Ewa Jasiewicz had calmly and reasonably inquired as to what they were doing here, whispered into the ear of another, younger soldier, after which the younger soldier turned and began to shout at her and aggressively shove her, and her alone, with his M16. This was seen as a deliberate attempt to escalate the situation,
which failed.

The situation, locked into stalemate, eventually demanded the intervention of the Minister of the Interior himself. He arrived, flanked by Kalashnikov carrying security, and addressed the clamoring crowd in the middle of the street. He told them he understood their concerns and that they would all be paid tomorrow. And if they weren’t, then they
could hold another protest right here again tomorrow morning. The Police he arrived with then told the protestors that if they didn’t all
disperse, they would all be arrested. One protesting guard told me that some of the police that had turned up told them they were right on side and were ready to support them. Whether that solidarity would stretch to
refusing to arrest them, in front of their arch boss the Minister of the Interior is another story.

The protest ended with surly nods, skepticism and dispersal with some saying, ‘We’ll be back tomorrow – with our guns – if they don’t hold their promise’.

Ewa Jasiewicz is a Polish-English acitivist living in Baghdad and working with International organisaiton Occupation Watch.


e-mail: globalintifadas@yahoo.co.uk
Homepage: http://www.occupationwatch.org"