After weeks of forced calm imposed on the province of Basra, as a result of a campaign of large arrests carried out by the police forces and the “popular crowd”, a series of assassinations of a number of activists had been occurred , demonstrations in the province of Basra in southern Iraq are renewed after the cessation of activity since September , the areas of Maqal , Zubair , Umm Qasr , Burgessia and Shatt al-Arab have witnessed mass demonstrations , as the demonstrators sit near the headquarters of oil companies and several government offices , while the security forces launched a large-scale campaign of arrests among demonstrators. And just like the demonstrators in Paris, the Iraqi protesters appeared in yellow jackets, to draw attention of the officials. It represents a global protest against authorities whose priorities are absent from their citizens. Pages on the sites of social media “Facebook” and “Twitter” were established in the name of “Yellow Jackets in Basra”, which included calls for more demonstrations, taking into account the need for peaceful and civilized protests .
In Paris, the protests were sparked by Jacqueline Mouroud, a 51-year-old French woman, an accordion player and hypnotherapist working for her own account in an area in northwestern France, where she posted a video on her account on the site of social media , Facebook , talking angrily about the rise in gasoline tax, what she called the government’s anti-car policies, calling on the French to protest against these policies, and unexpectedly; the video spread like a wildfire, with more than 6 million views and a wide response by thousands of French people , to be agreed to move protests to the streets on Saturday, 17 November and wear yellow jackets.
In Basra, demonstrations have erupted in protest against corruption in most Iraqi institutions according to the demonstrators, but the echo of Paris was strong at the global level, which is what Iraqis wanted, according to observers on the Iraqi issue, the people of Basra province decided to re-demonstrate after the failure of the government to implement any of its previous promises, such as the opening of the appointment of government institutions, the provision of jobs, fresh water and continuous electricity, as well as the rehabilitation of hospitals in the province. They added that the wearing of Yellow jackets does not represent a tradition of protests in France, pointing out that these jackets were worn in the civil demonstrations that emerged in Basra in 2015.
They pointed out that the return of the demonstration of Yellow jackets at this time represents a global protest expression against the authorities that miss the priorities of their citizens. They added that the talk about the act of the governor of Basra by spending funds allocated to the province, outside censorship, and in partnership with former deputies «created an atmosphere of despair among the citizens of Basra, especially young people, will be a strong incentive for the continuation of demonstrations and perhaps in new ways». They pointed out that the continued suffering in Basra would prepare to demand the formation of an autonomous region, similar to the Iraqi Kurdistan. They considered that Basra, which dropped the political blocs and the government of former Prime Minister Haider Abadi will have an influential role in the disappearance or survival of the new government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, if the conditions continued without the attention of the federal government. The question is : why did the demonstrators wear yellow jackets in their protest movement?
The Yellow Jackets movement ( in French language : Mouvement des gilets jaunes ) is a protest movement launched on the Internet in May 2018 and started to launch demonstrations in France on Saturday, 17 November 2018. The yellow jacket was chosen as a symbol that all drivers were required by law – Since 2008 – to have high-definition vests in their cars while driving, as a safety measure if the driver is required to end the vehicle on the side of the road. As a result, the reflective jackets became widely available, inexpensive and symbolic. By early December 2018, the symbol became increasingly common from Europe to Iraq, where various groups widely used the jackets in reference to draw attention to their agendas or demands in France, the owners of the “yellow jackets” were driven by rising fuel prices and rising costs of living, and the claim that the disproportionate burden of government tax reforms was declining for the working and middle classes, especially in rural and semi-urban areas. The demonstrators demanded to reduce the fuel taxes and re impose tax of solidarity on wealth, the raising of the minimum rate of wage, and the resignation of the President of France, Emmanuel Macaron.
High-definition clothing, sometimes known as “hi-viz”, is clothing worn by people and has very reflective characteristics or color that is easily recognizable from any background. Most industrial employers are required to use these clothes by their workers as a type of Personal protective equipment (PPE). Yellow jackets worn by emergency service participants are a common example. The wearers of these clothing include professionals who are required to be visible and highly visible, both railway workers and highway workers, airport workers or other places where workers are approaching to mobile vehicles or in the Dark areas. Some cyclists also wear them if their way is between cars. Yellow color is the most bright and clear color in all colors of the spectrum. The color that attracts our attention more than any other color. The human eye treats the yellow color first. This explains why it is used in warning signs and rescue vehicles in emergencies. The peripheral vision of the eye is 2.5 times of the yellow compared to the red color. The yellow color has high reflective value and therefore acts as a secondary lighting source. Excessive use of bright yellow color (such as interior walls) can irritate the eyes.
The question arises in this context: will the Iraqi government respond to the demands of Iraqi people in Basra after the success of the French yellow jackets, in order to achieve some of the social justice demanded by the French or will not be aware of the French lesson well, and will be exceeded by the time to find the Iraqi government that the owners of the jackets have become the vast majority in the streets of Iraq.
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies