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 ‘Look what they’ve done to us!’

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

الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 39530
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
التوقيت :

مُساهمةموضوع: ‘Look what they’ve done to us!’    السبت 15 يناير 2011, 23:34

‘Look what they’ve done to us!’

The US is pumping billions of dollars into regenerating Iraq. But with thousands there still living below the poverty line, many have yet to see any improvement in living standards. As RT’s Sebastian Myer reports, some are forced to live in dumping grounds, scavenging through waste just to earn a few dollars.

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Labels: Iraq resistance, Iraqi Government, Reconstruction, The USA

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Iraqi refugees need a lifeline

It has been a brutal and violent few weeks for Iraqis.

At the end of October, over 50 Christian Iraqis were massacred at a church in Baghdad. Since then, organized attacks on Christian Iraqis have escalated throughout the country. This is not the beginning of such persecution: of the estimated 1.2 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, only approximately 600,000 remain today. But with this latest wave of violence, numerous Christian leaders have called for stepped up efforts to address the resulting refugee crisis.

To add to that, news reports at the end of December showed that the U.S. troop drawdown has left Iraqis who assisted the U.S. stranded and in danger. Other reports confirm that young Iraqi women are increasingly at risk of sexual trafficking. In addition, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a survey indicating that the majority of Iraqi refugees who returned to Iraq wish they had never come back.

Already, violence in Iraq has displaced an estimated 2 million Iraqis inside the country, and caused another 2 million to leave altogether. But it appears this Iraqi refugee crisis is going to worsen before it improves. The U.S. must respond to this humanitarian tragedy by allowing for the emergency evacuation of Iraqi minority groups at imminent risk of death or torture.

So far, the international community has fallen short of effectively assisting the most vulnerable Iraqis. This was dramatically illustrated when a flimsy, 30 foot wooden boat wrecked on Australia’s Christmas Island in December. The boat had set sail from Indonesia, carrying as many as 70 asylum seekers believed to hail from Iraq and Iran. While dozens were rescued from the water, at least 27 others perished in the waves. At its heart, this tragedy began with the desperate decision of each refugee that crossing the Indian Ocean in a shoebox was safer than rolling the dice on the refugee resettlement system.

We must ask ourselves: What kind of desperation caused these people to take such a perilous journey across the Indian Ocean, so far from their homes in the Middle East? Why was this the only option left to them?

As the recent violence against Christians has demonstrated, more than seven years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq remains a volatile battleground. Members of minority groups daily face threats and bloodshed, and persecution is only worsening. Iraq’s government and leaders have proven ineffective at protecting the country’s vulnerable populations. It comes as no surprise that Iraqi refugees regret returning home, and many more continue to seek safety in foreign countries.

In fact, every day, thousands of Iraqis embark on harrowing journeys to escape targeted bombings and assassinations. Yet, the complicated machinery of the U.S. refugee system continues at a snail’s pace. Instead of providing an expedited route to safety, the system demands Iraqis navigate a system of redundant and onerous documentation requirements. As they try to escape imminent danger, Iraqis and their families are routinely forced to wait in suspended anxiety for months or years while their applications are processed; the New York Times recently reported on the Gorgiz family, described as “living in a state of virtual siege.”

At the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, a network of hundreds of volunteer lawyers and law students providing legal representation to Iraqis seeking resettlement, we are currently counseling a client who leads an Iraqi women’s Christian human rights group and has found herself confined, unable to go to the market or send her two young children to school for fear they will be targeted. From her place of hiding, she reports how Christian neighborhoods are being bombed all around her as she attempts to gather the paperwork necessary to apply for refugee status, taking time out only to bury her priest.

Clearly, there is a pressing need for reform in the refugee system. The United States has a moral responsibility to help Iraqis trying to escape brutal persecution, particularly as our combat troops leave the country and violence escalates. Through our over 200 Iraqi refugee resettlement cases, IRAP has seen that the U.S. refugee system needs to provide emergency evacuation opportunities for the most vulnerable Iraqis and we have called for expediting refugee applicants in imminent danger.

The U.S. already has the tools available to do just that: its priority processing system can designate vulnerable groups of Iraqis to allow for their accelerated processing. Along with Christians, young women and LGBT Iraqis have suffered increased persecution while the government and security forces remain unable or unwilling to keep them safe. However, the U.S. currently only extends expedited processing to Iraqi refugees who assisted the U.S. mission. This leaves behind thousands at imminent risk of rape, kidnapping or “honor killing,” who were simply not lucky enough to learn English and get a job with an international organization. They are left to choose between persecution in Iraq or an illegal and dangerous flight to an unknown country.

Surely they deserve a third option. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already has the authority to create new priority processing categories under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, and should immediately look into the process of creating such categories for religious minorities, victims of trafficking and LGBT Iraqi refugees.

Sylvia Chi is a representative of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project.

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Labels: Al-Jazeera, Hilary Clinton, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, Iraqi Refugees, The BBC, The USA

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IRAQ: Enforced disappearances

Asma Al-Haidari, an Amman-based Iraqi human rights analyst and advocate, says the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Iraq
touches the whole population, irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or religious belief.

The number of missing persons in Iraq ranges from 250,000 to over one million, according to the International Commission on Missing
Persons (ICMP).

The length of time over which enforced disappearances have occurred in Iraq, starting with the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88), render this issue
particularly complex, according to International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson for Iraq Layal Houraniyeh. The issue of
enforced disappearances in Iraq represents, according to IMCP, "a major long-term challenge".

Article 2 of the
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defines enforced disappearance as
"the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons
acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or b
y concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law."

The Convention entered into force on 23 December 2010, 30 days after Iraq became the 20th state to ratify it on 23 November. It provide
s that "no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance" and that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or
a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.
" According to the UN Human Rights Council, "secret detention amounts to an enforced disappearance."

"No safe place"

Focusing on enforced disappearance in Iraq since 2003, Dirk Adriansens, an expert on Iraq and member of international anti-war group
the Brussels Tribunal, gave a presentation at a 9-12 December conference in London organized by the International Committee Agains
t Disappearance (ICAD). Citing 2009 surveys by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), he said 20 percent of internally displaced and 5
percent of returnee families reported cases of missing children.

Further, UNHCR
published findings in 2009 showing that "many communities reported missing family members - 30 percent of IDPs, 30
percent of IDP returnees, 27 percent of refugee returnees - indicating that they were missing because of kidnappings, abductions and
detentions and that they do not know what happened to their missing family members," he said.

Adriansens added in his presentation: "A rough estimate would therefore bring the number of missing persons among the refuge
e population and the internally displaced after 'Shock and Awe’ [2003 US-led military operation to invade Iraq] to 260,000, most of them
enforced disappearances."

Adriansens went on to say that by extrapolating UNHCR figures to cover the Iraqi population which had not suffered displacement, the total number of missing persons since 2003 "could be more than half a million".

Jordan-based analyst Al-Haidari believes this number is higher, placing it in the range of 800,000 to one million. "There is no safe place in
Iraq. People can be disappeared and sent to secret, illegal detention centres anywhere in the country, without the knowledge of the family
or the person’s lawyer," Al-Haidari said. "Many are assassinated and buried in secret. Many others are charged with trumped-up

Amnesty International report

A recent
Amnesty International report said "an estimated 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by the Iraqi authorities
, although the exact number is not known as the authorities do not disclose such information." In addition, there are detainees held a
t secret
facilities, at which torture is common, it said.

A further 23,000 previously held without charge or trial by US forces are currently being transferred to the Iraqi authorities or released
, though Amnesty International believes "[a state cannot] claim to be treating detainees humanely while knowingly handing them over to
torturers, any more than it can knowingly `release’ detainees in a minefield and claim that their safety is no longer its responsibility."


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Labels: Amnesty International, Iraqi Refugees, IRIN News

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Wikileaks will change nothing in Iraq

Three months have passed since the publication of US secret documents by the Wikileaks site, which included 400,000 documents relating to Iraqi political affairs. So far, there has been no serious Iraqi response.

Instead, the two main political forces in the country, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, and Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya list, initially tried using these documents to further their own interests.

The Iraqiya list demanded investigations over allegations that Maliki had commanded squads that killed and tortured his opponents.

Maliki denied these accusations, saying they were "tricks and media bubbles planned to serve certain political goals."But since the two parties joined forces and agreed on the formation of a new government at the end of December 2010, they have both ignored the Wikileaks documents.

Dr Hashem Hasan, professor of journalism and media at the University of Baghdad, stressed that other people, as well as politicians, have used these documents to serve their own interests.As an example, he mentions the news item, broadcast on al-Rai TV at the end of December 2010, which alleged that the journalist Firas al-Hamadani worked for the Israeli Mossad in Iraq.

The channel, run by Mishaan al-Jibour, a former MP charged with corruption and embezzlement by an Iraqi court, claimed that this information came from Wikileaks.Dr Hasan believes Al-Rai broadcast the news as revenge, although he does not expect it to have much impact locally or internationally, as "Iraq is already a country full of sins and violations."

Firas al-Hamadani denies all the accusations against him, and says he will file a lawsuit against Mishaan for fabricating the story.He says Mishaan attacked him, because of an article he recently published in a local newspaper, which exposed Mishaan's role in the assassination of Hussein Kamel, the brother in law of the late Saddam Hussein, and the Iraqi astronomer Hamid al-Azri.

Most observers believe that the many Wikileaks revelations about abuses of power by the Iraqi government, its security forces and US troops, will not lead to any prosecutions.In November 2005, according to Wikileaks, US soldiers described the treatment of 95 detainees held in Baghdad by Iraqi forces as inhumane:

"Detainees were blindfolded in one room and their bodies showed signs of torture and ill-treatment, including cigarette burns and injuries due to severe beatings."One of the detainees claimed that 12 people had died in the previous weeks "as a result of torture and illnesses."

On 16 June 2007, some US soldiers accused Iraqi forces of extracting a confession from one of the suspects "by using chemical substances that cause burns and by cutting his fingers."The victim, who received medical care at a hospital in Mosul, had to have his right leg amputated below the knee and lost several toes from his left foot. He also lost some fingers from both hands.

In August 2009, a US doctor serving in the US army saw "bruises, burns, and visible injuries on the head, legs and neck" of one of the detainees who died in prison. Iraqi police said that the defendant had committed suicide.Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, told al-Jazeera that "the documents published provide enough evidence to file 40 lawsuits of unlawful killings."

Some observers say that it is possible to file such lawsuits in theory, but that in practice it is hard to do. Despite all the evidence of violation and abuse, no legal steps have been taken to date.Saleem Abdallah al-Jibouri, an MP for the Accordance Front, believes the documents will have little impact inside and outside Iraq.

"In order to use these documents as evidence against the perpetrators, they will need to be checked and examined for their accuracy. This won’t happen because it doesn’t serve the interests of the political elite in the country."In Iraq’s recent history, there have been three famous trials, where official government documents were used as evidence.

The first was the al-Mahdawi court case of 1958, which was formed to conduct trials against symbols of the monarchy between 1921 and 1958.The second was the mock trial set up by the Baath Party, after its coup in 1963, which led to the execution of the general and the then Prime Minister, Abdul Karim Qasim.

The third was the special court formed to conduct trials against symbols of the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein between 1968 and 2003.All three trials took place only after the old regimes were deposed. While the politicians were in power, they were protected from prosecution.

Saleem al-Jibouri, who headed the Legal Committee in the last parliament, believes the only real impact of the Wikileaks revelations is that it has reinforced existing convictions that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was involved in "death and torture squads".Although the term is not widely used in Iraq, it is clearly a reference to the anti-terrorism apparatus, which was established by US forces and put under the administration of Prime Minister Maliki.

Jibouri does not rule out the possibility that when the current decision-makers change, these documents could be used to hold people to account."They have exposed how the US military covered up acts of torture by the Iraqi police and army against Iraqi prisoners", he says. "They have revealed that the US was aware of these acts of torture, but ordered its troops not to interfere."

Wikileaks has also disclosed that there were 1,400 shooting incidents of Iraqi civilians at US checkpoints, and that hundreds of civilians were killed. Official statements have denied this, but many Iraqis can testify to losing several family members in this way.With regard to what the documents have called "the secret Iranian role in arming and financing the Shiite militia, and Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs," this is not new.

Many Iraqi officials and politicians made public statements about Iran's involvement in Iraqi affairs long before Wikileaks published documents about this issue.On Iran’s involvement in Iraq, journalist Qays Hassan, says "this is like someone trying to prove that the sun exists." The documents, he says, are of interest to other parts of the world, but not to Iraq.

There has also been no response regarding the alleged statements by the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that "Iraq just needs a dictator."Shortly before publishing the secret documents, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, said they would change the world. So far, there is little evidence they are changing anything in Iraq.

by Fadel Al-Nashmi

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Guardian wins appeal Iraq libel ruling

The Guardian has won its appeal against an Iraqi court ruling which judged that the paper had defamed the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) brought the libel action after the Guardian reported criticism of al-Maliki and the INIS in an article published in April 2009. The Al-Karakh primary court judged in November 2009 that the report was defamatory and ordered the Guardian to pay a fine of 100m dinar (£52,000).

However, the Iraqi appeal court ruled on 28 December that the article did not cause any defamation or harm to al-Maliki or the INIS, overturning the earlier court ruling.The Guardian welcomed the appeal court ruling, saying that the earlier defamation charge "amounted to an unjustified interference with the media's right to report on the activities of politicians and public officials".

In making its decision, the appeal court consulted nine experts nominated by the Iraqi Union of Journalists who unanimously agreed that the article was not defamatory. The court ordered the INIS pay costs and legal fees.

The article in question, written by the Guardian's award-winning Iraq correspondent, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, described fears inside Iraq that the prime minister was ruling in an increasingly autocratic manner. It reported the views of three intelligence officers, and a range of others, who commented on the nature of al-Maliki's rule.

Article 19, the campaign group for freedom of expression, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), submitted a joint amicus brief in support of the Guardian and reviewing international standards for freedom of expression.The organisations also argued that the charge of defamation "disregarded well-established international law which guarantees the rights of the media to critically evaluate the activities of governments and their elected leaders".

Aidan White, the general secretary of the IFJ, said he welcomed the appeal court ruling. "This is good news for Iraq and the wider Middle East for two reasons. First, it underscores the right of journalists to report and comment fairly in the actions of public figures and, secondly, it shows the democratic values and respect for press freedom are taking root in Iraq," White added.

The case was an "important challenge" for press freedom in the region, he said. "This case shows that in a democracy even the most powerful in the land can be called to account. It is a case that tested just how much progress has been made in creating a new culture of press freedom. The results are more than encouraging."

Josh Halliday

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Tourism hangs in balance at Babylon

The words "tourism" and "Iraq" don't often get used in the same sentence these days, but if a new project to help preserve the historic ruins of Babylon pays off, archaeologists and officials say the country could soon be back on the international travel map.

So far, 2011 has been a good year for Babylon. Work funded by a $2 million U.S. State Department grant to restore two major structures has begun and one of two museums on the site damaged in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion is re-opening.

Home to several other ancient sites, including Ur -- the capital of the ancient civilization of Sumeria -- Iraq faces a race against time to protect its heritage against looters, environmental hazards and the ravages of modern life.It is hoped the project at Babylon, whose legendary Hanging Gardens were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, will help foster the skills needed to transform Iraq's other renowned archaeological sites into a major draw for academics and tourists.

"We're using (Babylon) as a lab for skill building," said Jeff Allen, a conservationist with the World Monuments Fund, which is working with Iraqi officials to try to secure United Nations World Heritage protection for the site.Although Babylon may not necessarily be top of a very long to-do list for archaeologists in the conflict-scarred country, starting there is crucial because of the site's global fame and its significance to Iraqis, Allan said.

"It holds a certain identity for them, so although I could say there are better archaeological sites in Iraq, probably none of them holds the symbolism for Iraqis that this site does," he said.Such is Babylon's draw that even as security spiraled out of control in 2004, a handful of Christian American religious tourists were trying to gain access to the site, then occupied by U.S. and later Polish troops.

Originally known as Babel, Babylon is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. The city was the site of the legendary Tower of Babel and features in several Biblical prophecies.The Iraqi government says 165 tourists from 16 different countries entered Iraq to visit historic sites between 2009 and 2010. It says their willingness to visit despite ongoing risks of violence proves Iraq's potential.

"Considering the security situation that Iraq is passing through, this number of foreign visitors gives a very good indicator of how important tourism is in Iraq and how big the tourism industry will be in the near future," said Tourism and Antiquities Ministry spokesman Abdul Zahra al-Talaqani.The U.S. Department of State warns that "numerous insurgent groups remain active throughout Iraq" and "recommends against all but essential travel within the country."

The British Foreign office echoes that advice, saying that throughout Iraq "the situation remains highly dangerous."According to al-Talaqani, Babylon is expected to play such a key part in reviving the country's tourism fortunes that plans are in the works to create a new airport near the site.

If followed through, this development is likely to be emblematic of the delicate balancing act faced by those restoring Babylon: the need to protect it from the pressures of modern life while bowing to the demands of locals who will need to exploit it to earn a living.

"As an archaeological site, you deal with the authentic remains and try to preserve its integrity," said Allen. "At the same time you're trying to offer opportunities for economic growth of the local area."Another tricky problem is the extensive reconstruction undertaken under Saddam Hussein. Many features were rebuilt -- poorly, experts agree -- including a massive palace, the removal of which would cost millions of dollars.

For now, work is focused on two structures, Babylon's Ishtar Gate and its Nabu sha Hare temple, where effects of the Saddam-era reconstruction are problematic but more surmountable.Nevertheless, the problems are being exacerbated by rising levels of corrosive water, as agricultural waste water and waste from villages pushes the water table up through surrounding salt lands.

"The degradation is at an incredible, alarming rate," said Allen of the effect of the groundwater on these structures. "We're going to have to do more investigations and find out who did what, then remove the additions and see what we have."For those trying to preserve Babylon, it would seem the work has only just begun.

الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة اذهب الى الأسفل
‘Look what they’ve done to us!’
استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة 
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