"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."
~ Thomas Jefferson.
~ Thomas Jefferson.
The Thomas Jefferson quote today is in reference to Shays' Rebellion. Never heard of Shays' Rebellion? Back in 1786, a serhildan arose in western Massachusetts, led by a former Revolutionary War captain named Daniel Shays. Shays' followers were the small farmers from that rural area, and they were angered by the heavy taxes laid on the people as a result of the debt incurred by the Revolutionary War. This resulted in a heavy financial burden on the farmers, many of whom fell into debt. If you fell into debt in those days, they put you in prison. Daniel Shays and his followers made serhildan because of this injustice. In addition, they demanded more democracy because it appeared to them that the young American government had become as much a tyrant as the British king had been.
Shays' serhildan was eventually defeated, but the curious thing about it was that there were very few casualties in this American serhildan. It was more of an armed political protest rather than a proper serhildan. The long-term effect of Shays' serhildan was a re-evaluation of the confederal government that the US had at the time. It was this re-evaluation which provided strength to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a convention which eventually led to the creation of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
Thomas Jefferson gave wholehearted support for the people's right to confront the government with their grievances--even when that confrontation became violent. This Founding Father was no politcally-correct, pussyfooting pacifist concerned more with politeness than justice. He was the ideological father of revolution. This guy had an attitude. So let's consider the recent unrest in South Kurdistan with Shays' Rebellion and Thomas Jefferson in mind. In particular, there's a World War 4 Report, which cites information from the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
So far it looks like most of the trouble has been in the PUK area: Darbandixan, Çemçemal, Kefri, Kalar, and now Silêmanî, including the trouble at the Tasluja cement factory. However, the unrest may be spreading to the KDP areas as well.
What is the motivation behind the construction of huge resorts and one of the region's largest shopping malls? How are these things going to benefit the ordinary people? If they can barely earn enough to sustain themselves and their families, what good is a resort or mall to them? Then we have the stupid new investment law, in which foreign entitites are encouraged to come to South Kurdistan to "invest," while getting away without contributing anything to the Kurdish people through tax revenues. The markets in South Kurdistan are flooded with Turkish and Iranian products and we have no proof that any effort is being made toward the production of Kurdish goods. Kurdistan should be the bread basket of the region, but there is no incentive for agricultural production or processing.
I have no doubt that someone is benefitting, and benefitting immensely from all of this so-called investment, lack of incentive for Kurdish production, and extreme exploitation of the Kurdish worker. From the WW4 Report:
While demonstrators have attempted to hold the government accountable, some say there is little that can be done to effect change. As the two main ruling parties, the KDP and PUK solidified their hold on power during their 12 years of self-rule before the fall of the Hussein regime. In the post-Hussein era, officials tied to the parties have grown wealthier and in some cases, more flagrant in their abuse of power, critics charge.
[ . . . ]
The continued widespread perception among the public that officials care less about their needs and more about lining their own pockets with lucrative business deals and other profitable endeavors has only exacerbated the divide between the people and their representatives.
Moreover, it has fueled a growing perception that only those with close ties to the ruling parties will reap the benefits of a decent education or career advancement based on credentials, rather than connections. Such frustration, observers argue, could lead to a massive brain drain from the region.
The WW4 Report mentions examples of repression of the press, too, repression which sounds exactly like everything the neighbors do. Only television cameras from the two main parties are permitted to film demonstrations. Even an independent journalist caught filming a demonstration on his cell phone was arrested, something that should be a reminder of cameras having been confiscated from journalists immediately following the Helebçe uprising last March. The thugs of both the PUK and KDP are confiscating cameras of journalists, which leads me to believe that PUK is not alone in arresting journalists either. An even bigger double standard than fascist acts by the two ruling thugocracies that sing a democratic tune for foreigners, is the fact that Kurdish intellectuals and journalists have accepted large cash "gifts" to become propagandists for both parties' media.
Check what an Hawlatî editorial had to say about working conditions for some of the people:
Recent examples of editorials marking the pages of Iraqi newspapers include a July 26 editorial published in "Hawlati," which pleaded with the region's ministers to "just once" try working as a traffic policeman, whose commands go ignored by officials in new cars who hurl trash at the officers; or teach in a sweltering classroom where there are no supplies or electricity. Try giving a lecture "on the sixth floor of a building without lifts or power. After that, make some notes about the resilient teachers and their salaries," the author wrote, referring to recent demands by academic and medical unions for salary increases.
By the way, Hawlatî is not an Iraqi paper; it's a Kurdish paper.
Those few who do attempt to report reality are treated the same way that truth-speakers in Turkish-occupied and Iranian-occupied Kurdistan are treated. Can party-sponsored bombings of media offices and disappearances or extrajudicial murders of journalists and human rights workers be far behind? Exactly in the manner of their fascist Turkish "investment" partners to the north, the Southern Kurdish parties blame all the protests on the instigation of foreigners, saboteurs and rioters:
Local media have also been quick to criticize the government for regularly claiming that demonstrations are carried out by "foreigners" or "saboteurs and rioters," rather than admit that public dissatisfaction is running deep these days. One example of this was the two parties' reactions to demonstrations that erupted in Halabjah this spring, which they blamed on foreigners. Dozens of protesters and members of the media were arrested.
Is it too early to refer to PUK/KDP rule as a thugocracy?
The two Southern Kurdish parties are extremely adept at providing not only for the basic needs of themselves, but also for their cronies and clients. As a result, it looks to me like it's a good day for a Kurdish Shays' serhildan. One way to help is to send letters of protest to the KDP and PUK offices, in solidarity with the call from the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq. Contact information for the US:
1634 Eye Street, N.W. Suite 210
Washington, D.C., 20006
Tel: +1-202-637 2496
Fax: +1-202-637 2723
7115 Leesburg Pike # 110 A
Falls Church VA. 22043
Tel. + 703 - 533- 5882
+ 703 - 533- 5884
+703 - 533- 5886
RSF has a report on a Kurdish journalist murdered by the evil Iranian mullahtocracy. In a tactic that sounds suspiciously familiar from the death of PJAK şehîd Dilxwaz, Ayfer Serçe's body is held by the regime.
Another item of note from the Let's-Screw-the-People Department concerns one of the largest recruiters for interpreters in South Kurdistan and Iraq: Titan Corporation. If you're one of Titan's interpreters, you better be prepared to do US military combat and intelligence operations, and when things go south in a big way, you better be prepared to be screwed:
Goran Habbeb had just left his house to get into his car with his brother and his 7-year-old daughter, Soleen, when the armed men opened fire. Taken by surprise because the men were dressed in police uniforms, he just managed to get the white Toyota Previa van into motion and escape.
Habbeb was planning to drop his daughter off at school before going to work at a U.S. Army base in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. An Iraqi national, he worked as a "linguist" for Titan, a San Diego-based military contractor employing thousands of translators across Iraq under a multi-billion-dollar contract.
Habbeb's relief lasted only a few minutes. He dropped his brother off and then the nightmare began. Two cars pulled alongside him and opened fire again. He pulled out his pistol and fired back while trying to push his daughter out of the direct line of fire. She received three bullets and he took seven, including one that damaged his spine.
[ . . . ]
Many of Habbeb's fellow Titan employees have fared far worse. A total of 199 Titan translators have been killed in Iraq and another 491 have been injured, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics – the highest of any company in Iraq.
[ . . . ]
A San Diego Union-Tribune reporter puts the blame for the high death rate on both the company and the government: "Employees of Titan and other corporations have become part of an experiment in government contracting run largely by trial and error."
More at CorpWatch.
What can you expect if you're one of Titan's non-American interpreters? You can expect to get paid much less than American citizens for much more dangerous work, to not get proper medical treatment, and to be left handicapped and in harms way--including the endangerment of your family. For more on getting screwed, check out what happened to another of Titan's interpreters, an Iraqi-born American from San Diego.
In addition to translation services, Titan also has its fingers in spy plane development, war game development, full-service support "for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management operations," and support for the DHS's national security preparedness exercises. See SourceWatch for more.
It's so comforting to know that a company that has pled guilty to bribery of foreign governments is heavily involved in US national security. I know that this knowledge certainly makes me sleep better at night.