Despite big-time bullying from the imperial USA, leftists in Europe have been vigorously defending Iraqis’ right to resist U.S. occupation for years. Especially active are the Anti-Imperialist Camp, headquartered in Assisi, Italy, and the Free Iraq Committees, a coalition that includes the Camp.
Rabid terrorist-baiting, diplomatic pressure on Italian politicians, false arrests and the like have not stopped these activists from raising their voices, fundraising, holding conferences and marching in solidarity with Iraqi insurgents.
The Free Iraq Committees had planned to hold a conference called “Leave Iraq in Peace — Support the Legitimate Resistance of the Iraqi People” in October 2005 in Rome. After learning of the event in June, 44 members of the U.S. Congress protested in writing to the Italian ambassador.
“Supporters of terrorist activity are planning to meet on Italian soil … to plan a campaign of financial aid for terrorism,” they fumed.
The U.S. strongly pushed the Italian government to deny visas to several anti-war Iraqis invited to speak at the conference. One of them was Haj Ali, former mayor of the Baghdad suburb Al Madifai, who is the man in the infamous Abu Ghraib torture photo of a hooded detainee attached to electrodes. The U.S. also tried to get an Italian court to criminalize the Anti-Imperialist Camp’s “10 Euros for the Iraqi Resistance” fundraising campaign as a terrorist plot.
Meanwhile, an internet hosting company in Utah closed down the Camp’s website. And the Department of Homeland Security admitted it had a secret court order requiring the web host to disclose records of those who had visited the website.
Because of international pressure from many organizations, including the Freedom Socialist Party, who responded to the Camp’s call for help, the rightwing agenda got stalled. An Italian court declared that there was nothing illegal about the “10 Euros” campaign (the equivalent of about $12.00 U.S.). The Camp obtained a new web host outside the U.S.
And, although the Italian government did capitulate to the U.S. and refuse visas, a militant and productive conference took place nevertheless in Rome on October 2 — although not quite the one originally hoped for. Three hundred people from 15 countries representing a range of organizations turned out for “Let’s Face the Truth.” Anger over the denied visas was immense, and attendees realized that their fight is not only to win a free Iraq, but a democratic Europe as well; not only for the rights of Iraqi resisters, but for their own.
A resolution coming out of the conference specified three focuses for action: to continue to work to bring Haj Ali to Europe; to win recognition of the legitimacy of the Iraqi revolt in order to make a conference with Iraqi anti-occupation representatives possible; and to strengthen the network of organizations that sympathize with the Iraqi opposition.
Organizers say the conference itself was a large step in this direction, enabling Iraqi resistance supporters to “take common action throughout Europe.”