At a Basra court hearing Nov. 10, all charges were dropped against Hassan Juma'a Awad, president of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions. This is the second time criminal charges were thrown out by the court. After the first dismissal in July, the Ministry of Oil and management of South Oil Company appealed the decision. The appellate court reinstated the charges and sent the case back to the lower court for another hearing. The case arose as management's response to strikes and work stoppages organized by the oil workers in response to broken promises, mounting grievances, unremedied health and safety violations, increasing harassment of union activists and continued failure by management to respect worker rights to organize, bargain and strike when necessary guaranteed by international law and treaties.
Azad Ahmed, a leading figure in Iraq's civil resistance movement, was murdered by unknown assailants when his car was stopped Oct. 30 between the northern cities of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. No faction has yet taken responsibility. Ahmed was a longtime member of the political bureau of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq. His first political experience was as a labor activist during the 1991 uprising in the Kurdish zone, when he helped establish workers' councils that succeeded in collectivizing industries in Iraq's north during the rebellion. In 1999, he helped found the Children's Protection Center in Kirkuk, which expanded after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, establishing shelters in Sulaymaniyah, Baghdad and Basra to help children wounded or left homeless in the war. In 2005, he became a co-founder of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, a body that coordinated nonviolent resistance to the US occupation and Islamist militias alike. He represented the IFC at international anti-war conferences, and was a prominent advocate of a secular, pluralist Iraq with a dignified place for workers, children and women. (Solidarité Ouvrière, Nov. 2)
At least 47 are dead following what appears to have been an Iraqi military assault on Camp Ashraf, a refugee settlement inhabited by exiled members of the People's Mujahdeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), or Mujahedeen Khalq. According to official reports, residents attempted to storm an army post at the entrance to the camp, prompting troops to open fire. PMOI said the post was stormed after the army fired mortar rounds on the camp. PMOI also accused Iraqi forces of executing at least five camp residents—after they had been subdued and hand-cuffed. (NYT, NBC, PMOI, Sept. 1)
Survivors of the 1988 chemical weapons attack on northern Iraq's Kurdish city of Halabja, which left up to 5,000 dead, announced this month that they will bring suit against companies that supplied chemical agents to the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. The head of the Association of Halabja Martyrs and Victims, Lokman Abdulkadir, said the group has identified 27 companies as complicit in the attack, and will appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to open a case against them. "The verdict of the ICC will be of utmost impoorrtance in terms of recognition of the Halabja massacre as a genocide," Abdulkadir said. "We want the companies selling those chemical weapons to the Baath regime to be called to account, be judged and pay compensation to the victims and their families." The companies are of US, German and French origin.
At least 40 were killed in clashes that raged overnight after militants launched coordinated attacks on two Iraqi prisons July 22. The attacks on the prisons at Taji and Abu Ghraib, both outside Baghdad, included car bombs and mortar strikes on the front gates before gunmen assaulted the guards. At least 500 prisoners escaped. (AFP, July 22) A coordinated wave of seven car bombs tore through bustling streets July 20 in Shi'ite areas of Baghdad, leaving some 45 dead. (AP, July 20) On July 19, a bomb blast at a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers in the town of Wajihiya, Diyala, killed 20 people. Violence has killed at least 200 in Iraq since the start of Ramadan. (Rudaw, July 22; RFE/RL, July 19)
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a report (PDF) June 27 pressing Iraqi leaders to develop measures addressing the growing trend of human rights abuses in the country. According to the UN, terrorist groups killed more than 3,100 Iraqi civilians and injured more than 12,100 during 2012. UNAMI stresses that these figures indicate a reversal in the reduction of violence in recent years and a growth in the use of "asymmetric tactics" deliberately targeting civilians. UNAMI notes that while political instability continues to impede security, leaders must do more to ensure "the proper coordination" of "financial, medical and other forms of support" for victims of violence. In addition UNAMI reports that the government continues to impose "lengthy periods of pre-trial detention" without formal charge because of the lack of resources provided to the judiciary. As a result, detainees have complained of inadequate access to legal counsel. UNAMI also calls on leaders to implement a moratorium on the death penalty in accordance with several UN resolutions. According to the report, the government executed 123 prisoners during 2012, some after extracting confessions through abuse and torture. UNAMI urges the government to take all necessary measures to implement the recommendations set forth in the report.
Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) this week each broke a two-month silence, releasing new propaganda messages that seem to indicate that a dispute between the two franchises has been settled by the terrorist network's overall "emir," Ayman al-Zawahiri. Nusra stopped posting videos and messages online through its official media arm, the Manara al-Baydha' Media Foundation, after the dispute broke out in April. The new releases maintain the original "branding" of the two organizations, despite reports of a merger instigated by ISI.
Iraq unveiled an ambitious energy strategy June 12, aiming to raise $6 trillion from oil and gas sales by 2030. The Integrated National Energy Strategy would see Iraq invest some $620 billion in the sector over nearly 20 years, ramping up oil production to 4.5 million barrels per day by the end of next year, from around 3.5 million now. Iraq sits atop the world's fourth largest proven reserves of conventional crude, with about 143.1 billion barrels. Oil revenues make up 95% of the country's budget. (AFP, AP, June 12)