National Day of action against the privatisation of Iraq's oil - Sat 23 Feb

Some KPC members plan to join with staff & students from Kingston University in a Hands Off Iraqi Oil protest which we hope will take place on Saturday 23 February at a local BP or Shell petrol station, probably around midday. This is part of a national Day of Action (called by Hands Off Iraqi Oil www.HandsOffIraqiOil.org and supported by the Stop the War Coalition) to prevent Western interests imposing contracts on the Iraqi people which in effect siphon off the country's oil wealth.

For the Iraqi people, the ongoing war and occupation have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, relentless insecurity and deepening poverty. But for foreign oil companies, the desperate situation in Iraq is an opportunity to make massive profits. In February last year, the Iraqi cabinet approved a draft oil law which, if passed by Iraq's parliament, 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.

One year on, despite five US- and IMF-imposed deadlines, the law is still being contested at every level of Iraqi society. Nevertheless, the Iraqi government has declared its intention to press on and sign deals with foreign oil companies under Saddam-era laws. The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is at the forefront of grassroots campaigning against the privatisation of Iraqís 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.

Who should decide the future of Iraqís economy and resources? The people of Iraq, or Shell and BP?