On the 15th of October each year, the anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation (IDYF) is celebrated. It is an occasion that is dear to the hearts and minds of the members and supporters of our federation, and to all of those who believe in democracy, human freedom and dignity.
On this particular day in 1951, our Federation was founded thanks to the efforts of a group of patriotic pioneers, as an organisation representing the aspirations of young people and their struggle for change.
On that day, a group of enlightened young people called for the establishment of an organisation that shoulders the responsibility of raising awareness among the Iraqi youth, calling on them to strive for a free respectable life and a better future, and to represent them in local and international forums in order to defend their interests.
The founding of the Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation was necessitated by an objective need for a democratic organisation that could lead the struggles of young and democratic people.
Those first young pioneers set out with much zeal and persistence to fulfil the requirements for launching the federation’s first conference, during a period when Iraq was witnessing harsh political conditions, and when young people were striving to rid the country of injustice and repressive rule.
They started their struggle at a time when the country was suffering under feudalism and the repressive monarchic regime. Thus, IDYF emerged from the heart of Iraq’s national movement, its toilers and militants, raising the banner of youth and freedom with the goal of salvation from exploitation and misery.
Soon after its foundation, our federation engaged in the struggle for a country where justice and equality prevail, after demonstrating its progressive and patriotic character through its quest to eliminate injustice and exploitation and achieve the national and democratic alternative.
IDYF also called for the liberation of the country’s resources, salvation from feudalism, guaranteeing the rights of workers and young people, including trade union and democratic rights, and to uphold the freedom of thought and opinion.
It is worth noting that in its approach, IDYF considered the pluralistic nature of Iraqi society and its ethnic and religious mosaic. It has, therefore, included in its programme the issue of defending the Kurdish people’s rights and, equally, the rights of other Iraqi ethnicities.
The IDYF established close ties with regional Arab youth organisations, and defended the rights of the Arab peoples who were struggling for the same principles, especially the struggle of the Palestinian people against Zionism. It also became a member of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY).
Along the way, our federation has remained a democratic organisation that includes in its ranks young people of both sexes and of all constituents of Iraq without exception.
It has put in its strategy for action, the importance of forming the broadest social and democratic movement where it participated in leading political struggles and contributed bravely in the popular uprisings that erupted against tyranny and oppression, and against denying the people their right to express themselves and enjoy their freedom like other peoples of the world.
IDYF has been an active participant in Iraqi people’s struggle during various political periods, bearing hardships and sacrifices throughout the past decades. Many of its martyrs fell in the fight for their rights, and their insistence to continue the struggle to achieve the demands of our people to live a decent and dignified life.
As we mark the 67th anniversary of the foundation of our Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation, our country is still experiencing multiple crises which are detrimental to overall affairs of public life, and especially the lives of young people who constitute more than half of the population.
Despite a relative stability, terrorism continues to scorch Iraqi society, and the ethno-sectarian quota system, accompanied by its administrative and financial corruption, continues to hugely affect political, economic and social life. Jobs and privileges are being distributed in a way that serves the corrupt, rather than those who are qualified, while the masses of the unemployed, including university graduates, are left at the mercy and cruelty of harsh living conditions. The result is an increase in the rate of the unemployed, leaving its mark on the overall living conditions and causing painful societal illnesses.
What is needed is a set of serious plans to address this situation, rather than resorting to patchy approaches or even involving young people in military jobs which lead to the militarisation of society. Furthermore, the tendency to marginalise the youth and making them feel alienated in their own homeland does not help the building of a modern state that is based on civil and democratic foundations.
Today, as we celebrate IDYF’s anniversary, we are aware of the seriousness of the current situation and its difficulties and complexity, and at a time when Iraq is still suffering from the remnants of the dictatorial Baathist regime and the subsequent ethno-sectarian quota system that has only continued the process of destruction and sabotage.
We are still driven by the same vigour, aspiring to change this status quo. Some political and social developments have shown that it is possible to defeat reactionary forces, especially after the recent mass popular uprisings against sectarianism, corruption and the quota system.
We praise the ongoing societal protests, with a distinctive youth movement, as expressed in various activities. We call for their continuation, endeavouring to establish a democratic civil state, and to defend the values of freedom. Meanwhile, we seek to coordinate and cooperate with all democratic organisations that share our understanding of the situation to unite all efforts in the interest of our noble goals.
We congratulate all on the 67th anniversary of IDYF, and we wish the Iraqi people the strength to achieve their just aspirations for peace and democracy.
Glory to the martyrs of IDYF and our people.
Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation
Baghdad, 15th October 2018