Report from the rally against Norwegian troops in Iraq and the continuing occupation of Iraq
26th of June, close to 1,000 made clear their opposition to the continued employment of Norwegian troops in Iraq, and the continued occupation of Iraq after the so-called "power-transfer" originally due 30th of June.
The rally, march and following party in a public park was organized by the "Bring-the-soldiers-back" campaign. Among the speakers were past-80 year old writer with a conservative background: Ebba Hasslund, Labour MP Trond Giske and Vice Chair of the General Trade Union Organization, Finn Erik Thoresen.
The main attraction was maybe still the tearing down of a six-meter "statue" of Bush, dragged by people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners and toppled outside the fortress-like American embassy.
Bring back ALL the soldiers - No Norwegian support for Bush
No to occupation of Iraq - For a free and democratic Iraq
Before the rally, in an opinion poll twice as many stated that they are against the continued employment of Norwegian officers in the Polish contingent (50% against, 25% for, http://www.siste.no/Innenriks/article1161378.ece ). Even if the number officers is small, the resistance is still high against Norwegian support for the occupation.
After the initial war on Iraq, resistance against the war and occupation dropped in Norway like in most western countries, particularly among the major NGOs supporting the Peace initiative against War in Iraq. Even if numbers, mostly because of summer-time, were low this time, the numbers of organizations are increased. The tendency is clearly countered, especially after the last vote in parliament, all the opposition parties voted against the Norwegian employment except the FRP (Right-wing populists/racists).
Even if some of the parties who voted against a continued presence were using tacticit arguments as "we need to focus on Afghanistan and our forces there", the main fact that the traditional consensus of the major political parties on foreign affairs and US relations is broken down is a major victory for the antiwar movement.
Participants were among others the Oslo Labour Party Chapter, humanitarian NGOs like the Norwegian People`s Aid and the Refugee Council. Of religious organizations the inter-communal church council and several big Muslim organizations like the biggest mosque in Oslo: World Islamic Mission and Norwegian Muslim Youth. There is no constituted progressive Iraqi organizations in Norway. The initiative was supported by Arab organizations like "the Arabic House" and the Palestinian Union, as well as the Shi`ite and Sadr-positive Iraqi Union and the Workers-Communists of Iran and Iraq. Still the number of participants with a Muslim/Arab background were low, and this question of alliance is of specific importance especially for the more progressive parts of this initiative.
Also, the rally was supported of all the youth organizations, and main parties on the left, as well as independent activist networks and anarchists.
There are of course different opinions among the organizers. Several of the organizations supporting the rally, like the NGOs would like to see a UN occupation replace the American occupation. Still, their joining up is a positive sign, and their attitudes to the new puppet regime in Iraq will be an important question for the anti-war movement. Still this illustrates the need to build an anti-imperialist base for the antiwar movement in Norway. The work for establishing a "Free-Iraq committee" is already in the starting slopes, and will be formally declared well in time before the international day of action 25 of September. This stance were also demonstrated with a banner in the June rally declaring "Support the resistance - Free Palestine - Free Iraq" (Only foreign organizations and some of the sectarian parties have specific sections in such rallies, so it`s impossible to count specific support for this slogan in the march).
June, 29th of Oslo
International Officer, RV (Red Electoral Alliance)
Participant in the co-ordinating comitte of "Bring-Back-the-Troops"