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 No Relief from Democracy!

اذهب الى الأسفل 
كاتب الموضوعرسالة
Dr.Hannani Maya
المشرف العام
المشرف العام

الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 41913
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
التوقيت :

مُساهمةموضوع: No Relief from Democracy!    الجمعة 17 ديسمبر 2010, 18:16

No Relief from Democracy!

On November 21st 2010, the Associated Press reported that Iraq had run out of money to pay for widows' benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor, leaving those dependent upon welfare support both frustrated and angry. "How can we pay for our daily needs and for our medicine, or to cover the needs of my children?” said one woman who stopped receiving government payments over four months ago.

While some members of Iraq's parliament demanded to know what happened to the estimated $1 billion, which had been allocated for welfare by the Finance Ministry, one MP stated that "There are thousands of widows who did not receive financial aid for months", while another legislator said farmers had not been paid for wheat and other crops they supplied to the government for at least five months.

The cause of the shortfall was unclear, but officials have been left worried that the deadlock over forming a new government since March's inconclusive election would ultimately lead to further funding shortages. Whatever the cause, the welfare cut-off has been felt among the average Iraqi, while MP‘s, have been collecting around $180,000 each in one of the world's most oil-rich nations.

Even though parliament has hardly met over the past several months, lawmakers have continued to pull in salaries and allowances that average around $22,500 a month — as well a one-time $90,000 stipend, along with perks like free nights in Baghdad's finest hotels. "They kept our millions in their pockets," said Mizher Abdul Majeed, 49, a farmer in the northern town of Mosul whose bank even refuses to cash the Iraqi Trade Ministry-issued checks that pay for his wheat.

But people have reacted with anger to the news on the 12/12/2010, that the Iraqi trade ministry, in association with the World Food Program (WFP), have sent over “4,000 tons of foodstuffs in relief aid” to the people of Pakistan.

An Iraqi Government official stated “The relief is a gift from the people of Iraq to the Republic of Pakistan, which is currently suffering from natural disasters.” Speaking to the Aswat al-Iraq news agency, Government spokesman Inmar al-Safi noted that an official ceremony was held on Monday 13th December, to mark the ships’ departure from Umm Qasr to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Brookings Institute estimates that over 40 percent of Iraq's professionals have fled since the U.S. invaded in 2003 and despite demand for their skills abroad, they often wind up in low-sector jobs because their certifications and experience aren't recognized, their English is often inadequate and their understanding of the host culture is sometimes limited.

"We hear these stories of the doctor who's a nanny or the lawyer who's driving a cab – it's a waste of human capital," said Tadd Wamester, manager of strategic initiatives for Upwardly Global, a New York-based nonprofit agency that works with Iraqi refugees but still there is no relief given to either the people who are bravely remaining inside, or the refugee’s who have been forced to flee, since Iraq became a “shining” example of Western democracy.

by Hussein Al-alak, chairman of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign UK.

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Refugees wait for artificial limbs

Mohammed*, 38, whose right leg is severed above the knee, is one of many Iraqi refugees waiting for prosthetics at the Syrian branch of charity Terre des hommes (Tdh) orthopedic workshop.Nine years ago, Mohammed, a Sunni Muslim, married his Shia wife. Both were schoolteachers and had three daughters.

But after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq triggered sectarian violence, Mohammed says he was threatened by the Mahdi Army for living in a Shia neighbourhood.In 2006 the militia kidnapped him for ransom. They hung him by chains and tortured him. They also sliced up his right leg with a power drill, he says, and amputated the gangrened limb soon after.

Finally freed from captivity during a US military operation, Mohammed testified against his torturers, and then packed up his family and belongings to leave for Damascus.

Mohammed now waits for surgery to straighten his twisted right femur bone. Only then can he discard his cumbersome crutches and apply for a fitted prosthetic.Barred from work and solely reliant on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for food rations and a monthly living stipend, his family waits to be resettled in a third country.

Mohammed says UNHCR recommended he and his introverted older daughter receive counselling for depression. He admits to taking out his anger by beating his wife and children, and that he has considered divorce.In the stone courtyard of Tdh, Mohammed's story is not uncommon among the mostly Iraqi patients, mauled by the violence of car bombs, unexploded ordnance, torture or chemical warfare.

"Our work is 50 percent technical and 50 percent psychological," explains the orthopedic specialist, Khaled Zaynoun. "It's important to create a special rapport with the patient."There are currently 153,000 Iraqis registered with UNHCR in Syria, out of a total of more than 290,000 since 2003. Off the books, an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis sought shelter in Syria during the height of the conflict.

Tdh is overwhelmed. Only a handful of prosthetic production facilities exists in Syria, and the charity is entirely reliant on private donors. It has created an estimated 480 prosthetics and has grants approved for another 35. Zaynoun says he has about 150 disabled refugees, mostly children, still waiting for treatment and the finances for it.

"Each case is quite unique, and we try to provide a tailor-made solution for each patient using materials largely imported from Europe," Zaynoun says."High-end electronic prosthetic limbs can cost between 5,000 [US$6,608] Euros and E20,000 [$26,432]," he says. "The ones we make here cost about E2,000 [$2,643]. They are pretty basic but they allow people to walk and function."

Birth defects

Four-year-old Hiba Sabah was born with a genetic defect: both legs are stunted above the knee. Her father Fadi says he and his wife Rana were caught in the middle of heavy fighting in their Baghdad neighbourhood after the US military invasion.

When the family finally fled to Syria in 2005, Rana was seven months pregnant with Hiba. The doctors in the Damascus hospital where she was born attributed her deformity to chemical warfare."Hiba is having a very hard time in school," Fadi says. "During the breaks the kids go out to play but she cannot. She feels left out since she has to stay in the classroom."

In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi government announced an ongoing investigation into birth defects across Iraq, after widespread media reports highlighted an alarming rate of deformities caused by radiation and chemical weapons in Fallujah.At the Tdh centre, Hiba dons a pair of prosthetic legs custom-made for her, and awkwardly practises walking across the courtyard.

"In the beginning patients feel a lot of pain," explains Zaynoun. "There is a long period of getting used to the prosthetic on a psychological level rather than a physical level, which is fairly straight forward. They need to learn to live with it, and then force other people to treat them fairly. It's not easy."

He acknowledges these expensive limbs come at a price for children like Hiba. "The problem is at her age, she keeps growing.""We rely on private donors but they are not predictable," says her father. He adds that the family receives no additional assistance. "I regret starting this whole process, I don't know how to replace them."


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Clinic helps refugees from Iraq

'Congratulations, your son is dead."

It was a phone call that Eman Fihan would never forget. On New Year's Day 2006 in Basra, Iraq, her son's attackers used his cell phone to deliver this message. They believed that they had stabbed her 20-year-old son, Yassen Yassen, to death.

Yassen survived the attack - several stab wounds in his chest and abdomen - but the assault was just the beginning. Relentless threats began, and the family fled to Syria.

One letter spelled it out: " 'All Sunnis in this area need to leave by January 7, 2006,' or we would get killed," said Fihan, 45, now a Philadelphia resident, speaking through an interpreter.Similar accounts of assaults, torture, threats, and attempted kidnapping are common among the patients seen at Jefferson Family Medicine's weekly refugee clinic on Wednesday afternoons.

Jefferson launched the service more than three years ago to serve these immigrants, including several hundred Iraqis now living in Philadelphia.The clinic, a joint venture with the nonprofit Nationalities Services Center, also serves refugees across the world. And their needs provide a unique look into the world of their home countries and the fears and health problems that they typically experience here.

The Jefferson clinic has screened about 600 newly arrived refugees - including some who are seeing a doctor for the first time. The Iraqis, Burmese, and Nepalese have been the largest groups, but the clinic also sees refugees from Bhutan and Sierra Leone, said clinic director Marc Altshuler, a Jefferson family practice doctor.

Another way that Iraqi women immigrants like Fihan are getting help is a Jefferson-led group that meets about one Sunday a month in their homes and discusses topics from breast cancer to nutrition.

While the meetings are focused on women's health, they're also a chance for the women to discuss their daily struggles and share comfort foods such as freshly baked Iraqi flatbread, tabbouleh, and stuffed pastries.The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the sectarian violence that followed drove more than 2 million Iraqi refugees into exile and displaced an additional 2.7 million, according to the United Nations. Most fled to Syria and Jordan.

Nearly 20,000 Iraqi refugees arrived in the United States between February 2007 and February 2009. And 725 Iraqi refugees settled in Pennsylvania, federal records show.All that was before a second Iraqi exodus began this fall, inducing thousands to leave their homeland to escape the rising violence and lack of jobs.

The major health problem for Iraqi refugees here is depression followed by posttraumatic stress disorder. Many also suffer from chronic ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes, said Hikmet Jamil, professor of environmental and occupational health at Wayne State University in Detroit, which is home to a large Arab community.

Iraqis find it especially hard to see a doctor for depression and similar ailments.

"In our culture, to go seek help for mental health, people think that it's for crazy people," Jamil said."We believe the best way to reduce mental illness is to help these people find work or put them in courses related to their line of work in Iraq," Jamil said. Many highly educated Iraqis cannot find work in their fields because U.S. authorities don't recognize their licensing.

At Jefferson, some Iraqis have been open to working with a therapist, said Altshuler.Hazim Ibrahem, an oral pathologist in Iraq, said he encouraged his wife, Shatha Ali, to seek help when she showed signs of depression, including suicidal thoughts. Ali did not need therapy, and was given a prescription for antidepressants.

"My wife was afraid no one was going to try to help her," said Ibrahem, a Philadelphia resident for three years."It was so hard in the beginning," Ali said through an interpreter. "I felt isolated when I first came, but now I feel better."

Iraqi refugees - accustomed to a state-run health care system - also face problems in navigating the bewildering world of U.S. health care.Refugees in the U.S. qualify for eight months of Refugee Medical Assistance, which starts when they enter the country. After this, the medical coverage depends on various factors, such as a person's employment, said Leyla Dursunova, a nationalities center spokesperson.

Iraqi refugees are not used to making appointments and waiting more than a month to see a doctor, said Hend Azzerayer, a volunteer translator at the weekly clinic and at the women's health meetings who has a background in public health. Routine checkups and screenings as preventive care aren't common either.

The Iraqi women's health meetings "are a way to get people introduced on how things are run here and a means to get to know people," said Azzerayer.

"The real goal at the end of day is for these women to empower themselves," added Altshuler. "We want to keep [our refugee patients] in the health care system, instead of scaring them away."Aimee Packer, a third-year resident at Jefferson Family Medicine, began the home meetings in October 2009 after she found the Iraqi women needed a more relaxed setting to talk about health.

During appointments, doctors would ask the women about previous Pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control. Often they were ill at ease because they were seen with their husbands or were sharing through a male translator, Packer said."We felt there was a need for education before we could make these recommendations to them," Packer said. "Now that they have the information, it's much less of a barrier."

The meetings have introduced the women to nutrition, mammograms, prenatal care, and cervical cancer as well as domestic abuse and menopause."These aren't foreign topics, but not talked about in Iraq," said Fihan. "In Iraq, they don't have support groups like they do here, and we benefit from these groups."

Fihan, her husband, and two children have lived in Philadelphia for almost a year and a half, but two of her children, including Yassen, remain in the Middle East because of paperwork issues, she said."I try to be patient and hide it," said Fihan. "My husband's health has deteriorated due to this stress. He had a stroke. . . . We're even considering returning to Syria if they can't join us here.

By Anna Nguyen for
The Inquirer. Contact Anna Nguyen at anna.nguyen9@gmail.com

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Hundreds await execution in Iraq

In Iraq, 835 people are awaiting execution on death row, Iraqi interior minister Jawad al-Bolani said on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference on anti-terrorism measures, Bolani said that Iraqi courts have sentenced 14,500 people accused of terror crimes. Those who aren't sentenced to die have been given life sentences, he said.

"The government is trying to serve justice," Bolani said.Between 2005 and 2009, 230 people have been executed, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in July.

The death penalty was reinstated following a brief moratorium following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Maliki supports the death penalty, while president Jalal Talabani opposes its application.

AKI News

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Iraq's war on Christians

As much of the world once more prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ, it is a melancholy fact that many of the most ancient churches established in his name are being pushed to the brink of oblivion across the region where their faith was born.

The culprits are Salafist Islam's increasingly virulent intolerance, the West's convenient indifference and, in the case of Iraq, America's failure to make responsible provisions to protect minorities from the violent disorder that has persisted since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad's largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing.

Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters "to kill Christians wherever they can reach them," but also by complicit elements within the government's security services.

The United States, meanwhile, does nothing — as it did nothing four years ago, when Father Boulos Iskander was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered; or three years ago, when Father Ragheed Ganni was shot dead at the altar of this church; or two years ago, when Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered; as it has done nothing about all the church bombings and assassinations of lay Christians that have become commonplace over the last seven years.

The human tragedy of all this is compounded by the historic one. The churches of the Middle East preserve the traditions of the Apostolic era in ways no other Christian rites or denominations do. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch Syria, and it was there that the Gospels first were written down in Koine Greek.

For 1,000 years, the churches of Iraq and Syria were great centers of Christian thought and art. Today, the Christian population is declining in every majority Muslim country in the region and is under increasingly severe pressure even in Lebanon, where it still constitutes 35% of the population.

Putting aside America's particular culpability in Iraq, the West as a community of nations has long turned a blind eye to the intolerance of the Middle East's Muslim states — an intolerance that has intensified with the spread of Salafism, Islam's brand of militant fundamentalism.

Our ally Saudi Arabia is the great financial and ideological backer of this hatred. In fact, when it comes to religion, the kingdom and North Korea are the most criminally intolerant countries in the world.

Oil and geopolitics prevent the United States and Western European countries from speaking out against what amounts to genocide, though something more sinister than self-interest also is at work. The soft bigotry of minimal expectation is in play, an unspoken presumption that Muslim societies simply can't be held to the same standards of humane, rational and decent conduct that govern the affairs of other nations.

Paradoxically, the one country in the Middle East whose Christian population has grown in recent years is Israel, where more than 150,000 Christians enjoy religious freedom. That lends a particular pathos to the way in which the current persecution of Christians mirrors that which destroyed most of the region's ancient Jewish communities following Israel's establishment in 1948.

Iraq, for example, was home to one of the Mideast's largest and most vibrant Jewish populations, one that predated Christianity by many centuries. It was in the great Jewish academies along the Euphrates that the more authoritative of the two Talmuds was argued out and compiled after the Second Temple's destruction. All that was swept away in a wave of hatred, as were all but vestiges of the equally ancient Jewish communities in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and, more recently, Iran.

As one of the recent Christian refugees from Baghdad told the New York Times this week, "It's exactly what happened to the Jews."A world still dazed and distracted by a world war's aftermath stood by and did nothing then. The West has no such excuse now.

By Tim Rutten for the
LA Times. You can contact him on timothy.rutten@latimes.com

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Christmas for Iraqi Christians

To defend Christians from potential new attacks during the Christmas season three meter high concrete walls will be erected around the churches in Baghdad and Mosul. The access points to the parishes will be controlled by police equipped with scanners and metal detectors, according to reports by Catholic News Service. The barriers are the Iraqi government's response to escalating threats and violence against minority religious communities, increasingly the target of crime and Islamic terrorism.

The Christmas celebrations will consist of masses and small parties within the boundaries of the parishes, but there is frustration among the faithful. "The sadness of the people is everywhere. Insecurity and uncertainty are everywhere. The question on everyone's lips is 'who is next?” Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda told Aid to the Church in Need. "There's a certain desperation, but whatever happens, the faithful are determined to celebrate the Christmas liturgy at all costs”.

Bishop Warda said the barriers and security measures make the faithful feel as if "they were entering a military camp. " In any case, the bishop welcomes the Government's initiative to ensure security during the important religious holiday.

The massacre of 31 October at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad killed 57 people and wounded dozens. At least two thousand Christian families have left the capital and Mosul for fear of new waves of sectarian violence.

Asia News

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Amnesia at the Wall Street Journal

How nice. The supporters of the Iraq war over at the Wall Street Journal have noticed that Christians in Iraq are being killed and exiled.

Reports the Journal:

The New York Times to its credit made the continued persecution of Iraq's Christian minorities its lead story in yesterday's paper. Amid
bloodshed on a large scale in so many places, this may seem like a relatively minor, if unhappy, story. In fact, it raises questions about
contemporary Islam's ability to coexist with non-Islamic peoples-in Iraq and elsewhere.

A spate of anti-Christian bombings and assassinations in Iraq culminated recently in the siege of a church, Our Lady of Salvation, which resulted
in the death of 51 worshipers and two priests. Afterward, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke with force and eloquence about the deaths: "The
Christian is an Iraqi. He is the son of Iraq and from the depths of a civilization that we are proud of."

This is an important and accurate description of the Iraqi past. Some of these Christian minorities have coexisted with Islam in Iraq and
elsewhere in the Middle East since the time of Jesus. Some still speak Aramaic, the ancient language of Christ.

Notably, Journal coverage lags behind that of the New York Times, which the Journal cites. Still, it's good that these enthusiasts for war have
noticed one of the consequences of their enthusiasm for war.

But the Journal forgot to mention that. HELLO...

Instead, the editors blamed "the rise of radical Islam." Uh, right. Radical Islam preceded America's invasion of Iraq, but Iraqi Christians weren'
t being murdered and persecuted then. Indeed, the average Christian woman was far better off living in Baghdad than Riyadh, Washington's
stalwart Mideast ally. And the invasion has inflamed radical Islam, which has made Iraqi Christians one of its principal targets.

Advocates of war in Iraq have a lot of blood on their hands. Estimates of the total number of (mostly civilian) Iraqi deaths starts at 100,000. The
best calculations probably are closer to 200,000. Some estimates range up to one million.

Another cost of the war has been the destruction of the historic Christian community. As well as sustained assaults on other religious minorities.Great work, Georgie Bush and his Neocon chorus!

Glad the Wall Street Journal editorial page noticed one of the consequences of the Iraq war it so desperately wanted. Next time, maybe the editors
will take responsibility for their handiwork

by Doug Bandow for the
National Interest.
الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة اذهب الى الأسفل
No Relief from Democracy!
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