On Aug. 3, some 100 activists from the Japanese anti-war group Zenko (National Assembly for Peace and Democracy) gathered near the US embassy in Tokyo’s central Shinbashi district to protest the July 4 slaying of Abdelhussein Saddam by US Special Forces troops in Baghdad. Abdelhussein had been the leader of the Safety Force, a civil patrol organized by the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC) resistance organization to protect their communities from sectarian militias. Among those speaking were two IFC leaders who had been flown in for the 37th annual Zenko conference which opens this week. The principal banner read: “American ambassador, report this protest; give IFC immediate apology and compensation!” Another read: “Do US-Iraqi security forces promote civil rights or Big Brother thuggery? Abdelhussein found out!”
Access to the streets around the embassy building was barred by a phalanx of helmeted security police, so the protest was held at a small square some three blocks away. Police even blocked a small delegation from proceeding to the embassy to deliver Zenko’s statement, and closely hemmed in the protesters on the side of the square towards the embassy.
IFC president Samir Adil addressed the rally: “Because he said ‘no Sunni, no Shiite, yes to human identity,’ because he wanted to build a civil society in Iraq without occupation, without sectarian militias—for that they killed Abdelhussein. They think they can defeat the IFC, the only voice in Iraq that says yes to a free society, yes to a nonviolent society; no to occupation, no to sectarian gangsters. But contrary to that, after the assassination, many people joined the IFC, we received messages of solidarity from around the world. As long as have the support of people like you, we will never give up.”
The protest was given extra urgency by news that another IFC figure, Prof. Mohammed Jasam, had been killed the previous day in an ambush on the road from Baghdad to Sawaria. The killers were this time presumably members of an as yet unidentified sectarian militia.
Mohammed Jasam had been a reporter and commentator on labor issues for the IFC satellite station Sana TV, which began broadcasting in June thanks to funds raised by Zenko in Japan. Zenko is also posting Japanese translations of Sana TV broadcasts at Peacetv.jp.
Also present at the rally was Nadia Mahmood, an exile from Basra who is the chief presenter at Sana TV’s London studios. She told the protesters: “We established the IFC to oppose occupation or rule by Sunni or Shiite militias. That is why the US, that says it came to Iraq to bring democracy, assassinates our leaders and raids our offices. And that is why we must demand an end to the occupation.”
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