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WikiLeaks: 2005-12-13: 05BAGHDAD4976: Ahad Al-Iraq Shows Promise in Building Cross-ethnic, Cross-sectarian Coalition for Women's Rights and Human Rights

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 at 09:30 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BAGHDAD4976 2005-12-13 17:49 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Baghdad
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  (U) Summary.  'Ahad al-Iraq (Iraq's Promise) held a 
press conference in Baghdad on December 12 to announce that 
a cross-sectarian, cross-ethnic group of more than 270 
politicians, political parties and NGO's had signed their 
pledge to support five specific legislative reforms to 
advance human rights and women's rights in the 
implementation of the new Iraqi constitution.  The event 
was well-managed for television, which is now the principal 
vehicle for political communication in Iraq -- at least for 
those parties without networks of mosques.  Seven 
television networks covered the press conference. 
Sophisticated campaign collateral was used to promote the 
event and the human rights and women's rights goals the 
group is trying to advance with Iraqi political leaders. 
The group wants to see Iraqi politicians who campaign on 
promises to promote human rights and women's rights held 
accountable for delivering on those promises after the 
December 15 election.  End summary. 
2.  (U) 'Ahad al-Iraq (Iraq's Promise) held a press 
conference in the Baghdad Convention Center on December 12 
to announce the success of their program to attract 
cross-ethnic, cross-sectarian political support for their 
campaign to advane wome's rights and human rights in 
Iraq.  The seven women on the dais represented Iraqi 
liberal, centrist and moderate Islamist views.  (Three 
covered their hair; four did not.)  The group organized 
itself in July to carry out a three-part program:  to 
influence Iraqi political leaders to adopt constitutional 
provisions that protect and advance women's rights and 
human rights, to get the constitution adopted, and to 
educate the Iraqi public on and build support for women's 
rights and human rights in the December 15, 2005 election 
and in the implementation period afterwards. 
3.  (SBU) 'Ahad al-Iraq's membership bridges the NGO and 
political worlds.  Among its members are civil society 
leaders and a number of candidates for the Iraqi Council of 
Representatives (CoR).  The press conference illustrated 
the maturation of Iraqi politics.  Some 71 people attended, 
including politicians, journalists, NGO's and their staff, 
with press conference moderator Azhar al-Shaykhly, Minister 
of State for Women's Affairs, announcing that an early road 
closure in much of Baghdad had held up some of those 
wanting to attend.  The main purpose of the conference was 
to get television coverage for the group's pledge and, not 
coincidentally, to highlight support of Iraq's leading 
politicians for the pledge.  Everything was focused on 
television coverage.  Seven television networks sent 
cameras, including al-Iraqiyya, al-Sharqiyya, Sumeriya, 
Baghdadiyya, and al-Arabiya.  Politicians who had signed 
the pledge and attended the press conference were invited 
first to join 'Ahad al-Iraq members on the dais for a 
televised camera spray.  Several gave short speeches that 
gave them extra camera time.  A select number, including 
Maysoon Damaluji (on the National Iraqi List (731) for 
Ninewa province), and Mithal al-Aloosi (on the eponymous 
Mithal al-Aloosi for Iraqi Nation (620) list), gave 
one-on-one interviews to al-Iraqiya and Baghdadiya 
networks.  (Note:  As a sober reminder of the mood of 
centrist Iraqi politics today, Damaluji quipped to PolOff 
as she was being pulled aside to give an interview to one 
television network "I may say something that will get me 
killed."  End note.) 
4.  (U) The core of the current phase of 'Ahad al-Iraq's 
campaign has been to get leading centrist and moderate 
Muslim politicians to sign a pledge to reform five 
provisions of the constitution and to develop constructive 
provisions in the implementing legislation in the new Iraqi 
constitution.  The group wants (1) human rights guaranteed 
by article 16 to be enforceable by Iraq's High Commission 
for Human Rights; (2) a law to ensure that article 36, 
which guarantees free speech provided it is "does not 
disturb public order and morality" cannot be used to 
silence criticism of the government or freedom of assembly; 
(3) a law that interprets article 39 to guarantee Iraqis a 
choice of the civil courts, not just religious courts, to 
resolve personal status issues; (4) the law determining 
membership on the Federal Supreme Court to require that 
judges be experts in civil law and that experts in Islamic 
jurisprudence should be advisory only, (5) to ensure that 
the Iraqi High Commission on Human Rights can be effective 
in promoting human rights within the government.  The group 
also wants to see only the universally agreed tenets of 
Islam be used as a referent for legislation, and for the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be used as one of 
the bases of determining whether legislation is in accord 
with democratic principles. 
5.  (U) More than 270 political personalities, parties and 
NGO's had signed their pledge, including most prominent 
members of the Iraqi liberal, centrist and moderate Muslim 
democratic parts of the spectrum.  Signatories to the 
pledge included former President Ghazi al-Yawer; former 
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi; three Deputy Prime Ministers -- 
Ahmad Chalabi 'Abd Mutlak al-Jabury, and Rosch Shaways, 
former Deputy Prime Minister and current Planning Minister 
Barham Salih; former Human Rights minister Bakhtiar Amin; 
former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Layla 'Abd 
al-Latif; President of the Transitional National Assembly 
(TNA) Hajim al-Hassani, Deputy President of the National 
Assembly Arif Tayfoor Arif; former Iraqi Governing Council 
(IGC) member Adnan Pachachi, TNA member and sometime UIA 
spokesman 'Ali al-Dabbagh; TNA member Mithal al-Aloosi; TNA 
member and Iraqi Interim National Conference president 
Fu'ad Ma'sum; Minister of the Environment Nermain Othman 
Hassan; TNA member Shaykh Husayn 'Ali al-Sha'lan; National 
Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubay'e; TNA member and former 
IGC member Yonadan Kanna, PM Ja'fari's spokesman Laith 
Kubba; Iraqi Communist Party leader Hamid Majid Musa, 
former IGC member Raja'a al-Khuza'i, former IGC member 
Ahmad al-Barak; TNA member Amal Kashif al-Ghita of the 
United Iraqi Alliance (UIA); politicians Adnan al-Duleimy; 
'Aziz al-Yassiri; and Hatem Mukhlis. 
6.  (U) Sadrist politician Sami al-Askari also signed, as 
did former IGC member Songul Chapouk; TNA member Izzat 
al-Shabandar; and KDP's Dilshad Muran.  Other parties that 
signed or had members who signed include Faily Kurds, Iraqi 
Turkomen, the Kurdish parties, the National Iraqi List, the 
Iraqi Islamic Party, Sunni parties, Assyrian Christian 
parties, tribal parties, the Royal Constitutional Movement, 
the Ummah Party, various NGO's.  The name that provoked the 
most positive response from the audience was that of Judge 
Rizgar Hama Amin, presiding judge in the Saddam Hussein 
trial, who also signed the pledge.  All politicians had 
their names read aloud for the television cameras, which 
served to give them free publicity that they may hope will 
benefit them in the election, but will also serve to 
register their public commitment for after the election. 
7.  (U) 'Ahad al-Iraq members Safiya Suhayl al-Tamimi, 
Maysoon Damaluji, and Ahlam al-Jabary gave speeches to the 
group.  Of the politicians given the floor to make brief 
remarks, Mithal al-Alusi gave a fiery speech in which he 
promoted 'Ahad al-Iraq's vision of human rights and women's 
rights, then openly and pointedly criticized "religious 
fanaticism" in Iraq today.  Perhaps as a counterweight, 
organizers then had two religious shaykhs set out moderate 
visions of Islam, including a moderate Islamist version of 
women's rights, and the many ways in which Islam supported 
and protected human rights. 
8.  (U) Campaign collateral was plentiful and evident, with 
banners both behind and in front of the dais, posters 
around the room, and giveaways for attendees -- blue 
scarves with "Ahad al-Iraq" in gold, small books with the 
pledge printed inside, notepads, calendar/diaries for 2006 
with "Ahad al-Iraq" logos, campaign buttons, and free 
magazines on women's issues. 
9.  (SBU) Comment.  'Ahad al-Iraq organized this event not 
only to publicize their own activities, but also in a more 
sophisticated way to give Iraqi politicians who share their 
views a small boost in publicity.  They also used the event 
to try to nail those same politicians' feet to the floor 
for after the election -- saying that if the politicians 
want to say they support human rights -- as virtually all 
politicians in Iraq today say they do -- and if they want 
to say they support women's rights, they will be held 
politically accountable by these women and their support 
networks, at least, on their pledges.  (It is not yet 
clear how much support these networks have beyond 
an upper-class crust in Baghdad.)  The women of 'Ahad 
al-Iraq indicated they want to continue their work to hold 
the Iraqi political leaders to be elected December 15 to 
their commitments to promote a centrist, cross-ethnic, 
cross-sectarian vision of human rights and women's rights 
in Iraq.  It is also apparent from who was not at the press 
conference that harder line Islamist parties like Da'wa and 
SCIRI were not willing to sign on, though it is noteworthy 
that a number of politicians with indisputable democratic 
Islamist credentials, like Sami al-Askari and 'Amal Kashif 
al-Ghita, were willing to sign the 'Ahad al-Iraq pledge. 
End comment. 

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