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 Iraqi writers protest ban

استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي اذهب الى الأسفل 
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Dr.Hannani Maya
المشرف العام
المشرف العام



الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 37598
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
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مُساهمةموضوع: Iraqi writers protest ban    السبت 04 ديسمبر 2010, 9:07 pm

Iraqi writers protest ban






Dozens of Iraqi writers and poets took to the streets of Baghdad Friday to protest at the closure of social clubs that serve alcohol in the capital, arguing that it harkened back to Saddam-era repression.

Holding up placards with the phrases "Freedom first" and "Baghdad will not be Kandahar," they staged a demonstration near the Iraqi Writers' Union (IWU) building in al-Wattanabi in the city centre.

"We don't need a Khomeini state or a Taliban state in Iraq," said IWU chief Fadhel Samer, referring to Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Afghan Islamist group respectively.

"What is happening to personal freedoms in this country is akin to what happened during the dictatorship. ... It reminds us of the practices of the old regime."The protests were sparked by the closure of a cafe near the IWU building where writers and intellectuals often gathered to smoke sheesha water pipes and drink alcohol.

Baghdad provincial authorities argue that they are only enforcing a decree, issued during dictator Saddam Hussein's religious campaigns of the 1990s, which said no restaurants or hotels could serve alcohol.

The ban, which exempts alcohol stores, was initially enforced last year. Under Iraqi law, only Christians and Yazidi-Kurds are allowed to sell alcohol.

"The government should end all this repressive behaviour -- it restricts individual rights," said Ali Hussein, one of the protesters."What is happening brings us back to religious campaigns launched by Saddam during the 1990s."

Copyright © 2010
AFP


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Musicians feel safe yet isolated






The letter that arrived at Zubair Al Awadi's home in Baghdad came from the same men who had killed his father.

"They wrote that they were going to cut my fingers off if I continued to play my music," said Al Awadi, who plays the oud, a traditional Arabic stringed instrument that's similar to a lute.

The men who sent the letter consider music haram, or forbidden by Islamic law.As a Muslim, Al Awadi, 34, believes music is a gift from God.

"There are some people in Iraq now who deface the image of Islam and Christianity, and they live by provoking clashes between the religions there," Al Awadi said. "They pretend to be religious. They are wearing the mask of religion, but they are terrorists."Al Awadi fled Iraq with his oud, music scores and recordings. He is one of more than 1,300 Iraqi refugees who've resettled in the Houston area since 2007.

Now, Al Awadi and his friend, Ahmed Al Yaqot, a pianist who also faced death threats in Iraq, strive to keep their art alive in America, where dreams of transplanted music careers have collided with the bleak reality of life as refugees: reduced expectations, menial jobs and loneliness.

Al-Qaida assassins gunned down Al Awadi's father, a police colonel, in 2004, the oud player said. The attackers denounced his father as a traitor. They shot him more than 50 times.Four months later, when the threatening letter came for Al Awadi, his mother begged him to leave Iraq."She said, `I lost my husband and I don't want to lose you,'?" Al Awadi recalled.

For the next few years, Al Awadi drifted across the Middle East, from Egypt to Lebanon to Iran, studying and teaching music.He arrived in Houston seven months ago and took a job in a factory to pay the bills. His 6. a.m.- to- 6 p.m. shift leaves him little time for music.

"One of my friends said something that terrifies me," Al Awadi said. "He said, `You will abandon your oud in America.' Until this moment, I have been trying to prove my friend wrong. But I am seeing that what he said is true."

Al Awadi wants to make a living as a musician, as he did in the Middle East, but the artistic reputation he built there means little here, and he's not yet fluent enough in English to ask directions with confidence, much less navigate a job interview. So he practices and composes on the weekends and ponders the puzzle of his new life in America, where he has the freedom to play his music but no time or outlet to do so.

Perhaps he could visit schools to demonstrate Iraqi music to American students, Al Awadi said, or collaborate with American musicians on some kind of hybrid Eastern-style blues. "My place is in your theaters, not your factories," he said.

One bright spot for Al Awadi was the arrival of fellow musician Al Yaqot in Houston five months ago. When Al Yaqot called to tell him he'd arrived in the U.S., "at first I didn't know whether to cry or laugh or dance," said Al Awadi, who had befriended Al Yaqot at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad.

Al Yaqot, 36, is a soft-spoken pianist who used to perform with the Iraqi symphony. He left Iraq in 2002 to pursue his music career in Jordan.

When the war started in 2003, he wanted to come home, but his father insisted he stay in Jordan, where it was safe.Al Yaqot focused on his music, playing in festivals and composing jingles and soundtracks. He also performed on satellite TV channels that aired in Iraq.

But Al Yaqot's success as a musician soon became a liability. A group of masked men came to his father's house in Iraq and threatened to kill the pianist.To protect himself and the rest of the family, Al Yaqot's father told the men he'd disowned his eldest son and intended to kill him if he ever saw him again.

The family moved to another part of Baghdad. Al Yaqot's father even changed his name from Abu Ahmed, a traditional moniker that means father of Ahmed, to Abu Hussain, the name of another son.Al Yaqot knew he could never return to Iraq. But he couldn't stay in Jordan, where his temporary visa didn't permit work. He lived in fear of being arrested and deported.

Eventually, the United Nations granted Al Yaqot refugee status and cleared him for immigration to the United States, but he could only take only 100 pounds of luggage on the plane. He left behind most of his belongings and a woman he described as "the other half of my soul."

When he spoke of her, he wept.

"It seems this is the nature of my life, to go to a place and get acquainted with it and start to get to know people and then you have to leave again," Al Yaqot said. "I keep telling myself, `I started from zero before, I can do it again.' But until now, I haven't even been able to reach zero to start again."

In Houston, the pianist attends English classes between shifts for his own factory job, but he's far from fluent, increasing his sense of isolation.Al Yaqot and Al Awadi meet as often as they can to play together. On a recent night, Al Awadi propped open his door and strummed his oud as Al Yaqot listened a few feet away, his fingers briefly motionless on the keyboard.

A Palestinian refugee in a tan headscarf watched Al Awadi play from a balcony across the courtyard. Her children lined up against the railing to hear, their faces pressed against the iron bars."Everyone's homeland is in their heart, but my music is my home, my country," Al Awadi said. "My music is where I feel safe."

___

Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com/


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Iraq restrictions on Iranian exiles





Hundreds of Iranian exiles, including refugees, resident in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, north of Baghdad, are reported to have suffered serious complications from medical restrictions imposed on them by the Iraqi authorities. In the past five months the already appalling medical conditions at the camp have deteriorated even further. Many residents are reportedly suffering from cancer, heart problems, loss of vision, gallstones, orthopaedic problems, kidney stones and other diseases that without prompt and adequate treatment can result in irreversible health damage.

Camp Ashraf, 60 Km north of Baghdad, is home to around 3,400 members and supporters of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojaheddin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The residents have been living there for almost 25 years and it is now a small town with shops and other amenities.

Camp Ashraf was held under US control from April 2003 until mid-2009 when the Iraqi government took over control, in accordance with provisions contained in the SOFA, a security agreement signed by Iraqi and US governments in November 2008, which stipulated the withdrawal of US troops from towns and cities. Since the transfer occurred, residents needing medical care have found it extremely difficult to have access to medical treatment in and out of the camp because the camp is surrounded by Iraqi security forces. An Iraqi security committee, responsible for all matters relating to the camp, is now said to be responsible for making decisions regarding medical treatment. The committee members decide who can travel outside the camp for specialist treatment, and they control the influx of supplies into the camp. Moreover, Iraqi security forces are increasingly making life difficult for the residents, including by using loudspeakers to broadcast messages and play loud music at them.

Due to lack of adequate treatment for certain illnesses in the hospital next to the camp, some residents need to seek treatment in specialised hospitals in Baghdad and in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. However, Amnesty International has received reports confirming that patients with appointments in hospitals in Baghdad could not attend their appointments because the Iraqi forces apparently refused to allow others to accompany them, including interpreters. Most of the patients at the camp do not speak Arabic as Farsi is their native language and therefore without an interpreter they can not communicate with doctors in Iraq. It is reported that patients who have travelled to other facilities for treatment have returned without a diagnosis or treatment because of the lack of an interpreter. It has also been reported that patients with mobility issues have been barred from travelling due to the lack of wheel chairs or special beds. The Iraqi authorities have refused to provide such equipment.

The delay in treatment has caused serious long-term consequences for many people. It has been reported that Elham Fardipour, a female patient with thyroid cancer, could not receive the treatment she needs in Baghdad because she was not allowed to be accompanied by a nurse or interpreter; consequently, leading her to remain in the camp rather than travel alone to keep her appointment. Her current outlook is unknown but without prompt treatment her cancer is likely to spread. Additionally, about 60 residents are in need of assessment by a cardiologist for diagnosis and treatment of various heart conditions. Several need surgery to prevent or reduce damage caused by heart attacks.

Ill-treatment of patients by the Iraqi forces has also been reported. Soldiers have forcibly removed patients from hospitals or entered patients’ rooms against their will, in some cases verbally harassing them. In one case a soldier allegedly beat a patient who had just had surgery causing him to go into a seizure.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY:

Explaining that you are a health professional concerned about human rights;

Calling for the Iraqi government to immediately end medical restrictions on Camp Ashraf;

Calling on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that all residents in need of specialist medical care are allowed to leave the Camp immediately to receive medical treatment at an appropriate facility;

Urging the authorities to allow patients to choose their own interpreters and to allow interpreters to travel with patients to assist in communicating with health professionals during consultations;

Urging the authorities to ensure that health professionals are able to practice with clinical independence and without fear of reprisals by the Iraqi forces;

Calling on the Iraqi forces to end abuse and ill-treatment of patients and allow patients to privately visit with their doctors

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10/01/2011 TO: The Iraqi embassy in your country and address them to:

Prime Minister

His Excellency Nuri Kamil al-Maliki

Prime Minister

Convention Centre (Qasr al-Ma’aridh)

Baghdad, Iraq

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Interior:

His Excellency Jawad al-Bulani

Minister of Interior

Convention Centre (Qasr al-Ma’aridh)

Baghdad, Iraq

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Health

His Excellency Salih M. al-Sahnawi

Minister of Health

Convention Center (Qasr al-Ma’aradih)

Baghdad, Iraq

If you receive no reply within six weeks of sending your letter, please send a follow-up letter seeking a response. Please send copies of any letters you receive to the International Secretariat, attention of THE Health Team, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW or e-mail: health@amnesty.org

Additional Information

Camp Ashraf is home to around 3,400 Iranian refugees, who are members and supporters of the PMOI, an opposition group to the current
government of Iran, which is banned in Iran. Some have been recognized as refugees. Since mid-2008 the Iraqi government has repeatedly indicated that it wanted to close Camp Ashraf, and that its residents should leave Iraq or face being forcibly expelled from the country. The PMOI
, which was allowed by the previous Iraqi government under Saddam Hussain to establish a base in the governorate of Diyala in 1986, is accused by
the Iraqi government of supporting Saddam Hussain’s government.

On 28-29 July 2009 Iraqi security forces stormed the camp and at least nine residents were killed and many more injured. Around 36 residents
were detained without trial, tortured and beaten before they were eventually released following an international outcry.






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Minister demands suspects execution






Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai'da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits.

"For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"It makes a complete mockery of any suggestion that these suspects will receive a fair trial, and sets a most ominous precedent for others."Jawad al-Bolani said at a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday:

"Today, we will send those criminals and the investigation results to the courts that will sentence them to death. Our demand is not to delay the carrying out of the executions against these criminals so that to deter terrorist and criminal elements."

According to media reports he also said that most of the 39 suspects had rejoined al-Qai'da linked groups after being released from Iraqi prisons administered by the USA. One of them was identified as Hazim al-Zawi, al-Qai'da in Iraq's third-highest leader.

Amnesty International highlighted serious concerns about human rights abuses suffered by the many thousands of detainees in Iraq, many of whom were transferred from US to Iraqi custody in the months up to mid-July 2010, in its report New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq, published in September.

The report detailed how many detainees were arbitrarily held, sometimes for several years without charge or trial, and often tortured to obtain forced confessions.

"We have been saying for a long time that 'confessions' in Iraq are regularly extracted under torture, so any 'confessions' these 39 suspects have made, which may be used in their trial, must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have not been made under duress, torture or other ill-treatment," said Malcolm Smart.

"What chance can there be for any defendant to receive a fair trial if so senior a government minister shows such contempt for the rule of law?"

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi government to ensure that these and other detainees awaiting trial must receive fair trials that conform to recognized international standards.

The organization said it recognizes that the security situation in Iraq remains precarious and that it is the government's duty to protect its population, including members of religious and ethnic minorities. However this must be done with full respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Amnesty International has on numerous occasions strongly condemned human rights abuses committed by armed groups in Iraq.

Amnesty International said it opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.The organization has called on Iraq to end executions as a step toward complete abolition of the death penalty.

Read More
Thousands of Iraqi detainees at risk of torture after US handover (Report, 12 September 2010)



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Qaeda denies militants arrested






Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq denied on Friday that 12 of its militants had been arrested in Baghdad in connection with last month's deadly cathedral siege, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

A statement posted by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) on jihadist websites said Iraqi claims of the arrests were fabricated by the Baghdad government, the US-based group said.

ISI accused the Iraqi authorities of "patching news due to the failure of their futile security agencies.""Here we declare that this news is completely far from the truth," the statement said.

"If it is true that 10 'terrorists' or less 'according to their claims' were able to shake the earth from beneath their feet in Baghdad, how about tens like them or hundreds? How about if they are thousands?"

On November 27 an Iraqi interior ministry official announced the arrest of 12 militants, including ISI's chief in Baghdad Huthaifa al-Batawi, suspected of helping to take Christians hostage in a church siege.

at the heart of every project "Police have arrested 12 members of the group responsible for the attack against the church," the official said, without saying when they were detained.He also said that senior ISI leader Ammar al-Najadi had been killed in raids in Baghdad's east and west.

The arrests were the first reported by Iraqi authorities since the October 31 attack on a Baghdad cathedral and ensuing shoot-out when troops
stormed it. In all 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel were killed.

On Thursday Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said that 39 other suspected ISI members had been arrested in the mostly Sunni western
province of Anbar.

Major General Dhia Hussein said that among those detained were Hazim al-Azzawi, an ISI "minister," Ahmed Hussein Ali, ISI's "Mufti of Anbar"
and Abdul Razzaq, the organisation's media chief.

Copyright AFP 2010.
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Iraqi writers protest ban
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