On Saturday 23rd February, a number of actions took place in the UK and Netherlands, in solidarity with the Iraqi peoples' struggle against the plunder of their oil reserves. The callout for action by the Hands Off Iraqi Oil Campaign resulted in actions in, London, Liverpool, Wrexham, Coventry, Bristol, Southend, Amsterdam and Washington [video]
In February 2007 the Iraqi cabinet approved an oil law which, if passed into law, would allow the likes of Shell, BP and Exxon to take over control of most of Iraq's oil reserves, depriving ordinary Iraqis of scores of billions of dollars. Shell and BP, with the help of the UK Government have been actively pushing for this law and these contracts since 2003.
A bit of corporate rebranding is due..
One year on, despite five US administration- and IMF- imposed deadlines, the law is still being contested at every level of Iraqi society. However, a 18th February deadline for international oil companies to register to compete for tenders to help develop Iraq's oil represents a first official foot in the door.
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is at the forefront of grassroots campaigning against the privatisation of Iraq’s oil industry and has threatened strike action should the law go ahead. Oil experts, lawyers, academics, trade unionists, and students are rejecting the occupation-imposed oil law and the economic occupation it serves. International solidarity is desperately needed to support their struggle. Iraq has the last remaining easy-to-access oil resources on the planet, it is not due to reach peak production until 2022 [full screen map].
In Birmingham, a Shell Petrol Station was shut down for two hours. The entrance and exits were blockaded with banners which read: 'Stop shafting Iraqi workers for the spOILs of war' and 'Shell is closed for ethical repairs'. Local residents joined the action and hundreds of leaflets were handed out. There were no arrests.
In London, over fifty corporate pirates toured the offices of companies that are lobbying to get their hands on Iraqi oil, or are already directly benefitting from the occupation. The tour stopped at the Offices of the mercenray outfit Erinys, BP, The National Portrait Gallery (sponsored by BP as part of its greenwash strategy), The London offices of the Washingtom based think tank the International Tax and Investment Centre, and finished up at the London HQ of Shell. The march roamed freely without any police assistance, and the samba band attracted much attention.
Activists from the Liverpool Social Forum picketed a Shell garage. Activists described the action as very effective, getting information out to many people who were using the petrol station. Activists engaged in conversations with many drivers, and received a lot of support.
A group of women picketed a Shell forecourt in Wrexham, whilst in Coventry five banner drops took place during the course of the day. In the Netherlands, the Amsterdam clown army organised a picnic and party at a central Amsterdam BP gas station.
IMC UK Features