On International Human Rights Day (Wednesday) I had the privilege and was awed to listen with over 100 other people to two of the most compassionate human beings. Amal Al-Khederi and Nermin Al-Mufti are two Iraqi mothers whom everyone should listen to (see their schedule of talks in the US at http://www.forusa.org/ ).
Amal founded a craft center in Baghdad. The center was destroyed in the first Gulf war and then after being rebuilt was destroyed again in this latest ongoing war. Nermin is a renowned journalist who trained to write of civil society and its functions but found herself covering the destruction of Iraqi civil society by US led wars and sanctions over the past 13 years. They spoke with unusual candor and passion about the reality of what Iraqis are going through. They spoke of how a country that is one of the wealthiest and most civilized was taken apart and maligned. They spoke of how the wealth of the country was destroyed and looted especially since the US occupation forces arrived and previously by the US led sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands and destroyed a whole generation. The looting was in their words "studied".
They spoke poignantly of how the US soldier who are responsible under the Geneva Conventions for protection of civilians under occupation, watched, encouraged, and sometimes participated in the dismantling of the whole governmental and civic structures of Iraq. They spoke of how the rulers from abroad have now become "a thousand Saddams" living in palaces and using far worse techniques than he did except when he was being supported by the US in the 1980s and American advisors were all over the country. Some of the current rulers are Americans (e.g. "King Bremer") and some are unprincipled corrupt men who have left Iraq a long time ago and who have no real understanding let alone connection to Iraqi society.
Nermin and Amal spoke of the "disappeared" Iraqis, hundreds and thousands taken by the occupation forces that no one can find what is happening to them let alone where they are. They spoke of how Iraq, the country that give us the alphabet, the math, the laws, agriculture, and essentially civilization is now mis-ruled and brutally occupied. The lies and distortions of the "liberation" which no one believes create surrealistic atmosphere. Amal asks what is to become of a child drafted to mouth on TV that schools are rebuilt by the USA and what is to become of the people who can see the PR since thousands of schools were destroyed and looted and a cosmetic painting is being done to the remaining few walls. How is this different from TV PR during the time of Saddam.
More disturbing was the news of US mimicking the 36 year old Israeli occupation in tactics. We only hope that the US and/or its puppet Iraqi government will not be managing Iraq for 36 years. Here is what the Haaretz newspaper editorial said on the International Human Rights Day in regards to Israel:
"From year to year, the situation of civil rights in Israel worsens, as do the rights of people for whom the state is responsible. The ongoing occupation is unceasing in its creation of injustices and harms all the basic human rights of the residents of the territories. …Inside Israel, as well, human and civil rights for all are not self-evident. The rights of foreign workers are violated when their passports are taken away as a deposit and they are employed under near slave conditions; hundreds of foreign workers’ children born in Israel are denied their basic rights; liberty is denied to thousands of foreign women imported by pimps who trade in them; there are violations of the rights of the Bedouin residents of unrecognized villages, which have yet to be connected to even the water and electricity grid, while children are denied decent basic education and proper medical care; there are violations of the rights of tens of thousands of people unable to form families as they wish, marry as they wish or be buried as they wish, because of the Orthodox monopoly; there are violations of the rights of Israelis who want to marry and live in Israel with their foreign spouses and their children."
And our taxes fund all of this both in Iraq and Palestine. We should say enough is enough.