... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
As expected, Al Maliki is claiming the rape allegations are all lies. Apparently, his people simply asked the officers if they raped Sabrine Al Janabi and they said no. I'm so glad that's been cleared up.
"Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Makiki moved quickly to try to defuse a scandal after a Sunni woman said she was raped by three officers of the Shiite-dominated police.
The government's response — siding with the officers and trying to discredit the allegations — threatened to bring even more backlash.
A statement by al-Makiki's office accused "certain parties" — presumably Sunni politicians — of fabricating the claims in an attempt to undermine security forces during the ongoing Baghdad security operation, which began last week.
The statement was issued only hours after al-Maliki ordered an investigation into the case Monday night.
The 20-year-old married woman said she was assaulted after police commandos took her into custody Sunday in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, accusing her of helping insurgents. She said she was taken to a police garrison and raped.
"It has been shown after medical examinations that the woman had not been subjected to any sexual attack whatsoever and that there are three outstanding arrest warrants against her issued by security agencies," the government statement said, without giving details.
"After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded," it said without elaborating."
I hate the media and I hate the Iraqi government for turning this atrocity into another Sunni-Shia debacle- like it matters whether Sabrine is Sunni or Shia or Arab or Kurd (the Al Janabi tribe is composed of both Sunnis and Shia). Maliki did not only turn the woman into a liar, he is rewarding the officers she accused. It's outrageous and maddening.
No Iraqi woman under the circumstances- under any circumstances- would publicly, falsely claim she was raped. There are just too many risks. There is the risk of being shunned socially. There is the risk of beginning an endless chain of retaliations and revenge killings between tribes. There is the shame of coming out publicly and talking about a subject so taboo, she and her husband are not only risking their reputations by telling this story, they are risking their lives.
No one would lie about something like this simply to undermine the Baghdad security operation. That can be done simply by calculating the dozens of dead this last week. Or by writing about the mass detentions of innocents, or how people are once again burying their valuables so that Iraqi and American troops don't steal them.
It was less than 14 hours between Sabrine's claims and Maliki's rewarding the people she accused. In 14 hours, Maliki not only established their innocence, but turned them into his own personal heroes. I wonder if Maliki would entrust the safety his own wife and daughter to these men.
This is meant to discourage other prisoners, especially women, from coming forward and making claims against Iraqi and American forces. Maliki is the stupidest man alive (well, after Bush of course…) if he believes his arrogance and callous handling of the situation will work to dismiss it from the minds of Iraqis. By doing what he is doing, he's making it more clear than ever that under his rule, under his government, vigilante justice is the only way to go. Why leave it to the security forces and police? Simply hire a militia or gang to get revenge. If he doesn't get some justice for her, her tribe will be forced to... And the Janabat (the Al Janabis) are a force to be reckoned with.
Maliki could at least pretend the rape of a young Iraqi woman is still an outrage in todays Iraq...
It takes a lot to get the energy and resolution to blog lately. I guess it’s mainly because just thinking about the state of Iraq leaves me drained and depressed. But I had to write tonight.
As I write this, Oprah is on Channel 4 (one of the MBC channels we get on Nilesat), showing Americans how to get out of debt. Her guest speaker is telling a studio full of American women who seem to have over-shopped that they could probably do with fewer designer products. As they talk about increasing incomes and fortunes, Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, is on Al Jazeera telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. You can only see her eyes, her voice is hoarse and it keeps breaking as she speaks. In the end she tells the reporter that she can’t talk about it anymore and she covers her eyes with shame.
She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance.
I wonder what excuse they used when they took her. It’s most likely she’s one of the thousands of people they round up under the general headline of ‘terrorist suspect’. She might have been one of those subtitles you read on CNN or BBC or Arabiya, “13 insurgents captured by Iraqi security forces.” The men who raped her are those same security forces Bush and Condi are so proud of- you know- the ones the Americans trained. It’s a chapter right out of the book that documents American occupation in Iraq: the chapter that will tell the story of 14-year-old Abeer who was raped, killed and burned with her little sister and parents.
They abducted her from her house in an area in southern Baghdad called Hai Al Amil. No- it wasn’t a gang. It was Iraqi peace keeping or security forces- the ones trained by Americans? You know them. She was brutally gang-raped and is now telling the story. Half her face is covered for security reasons or reasons of privacy. I translated what she said below.
“I told him, ‘I don’t have anything [I did not do anything].’ He said, 'You don’t have anything?’ One of them threw me on the ground and my head hit the tiles. He did what he did- I mean he raped me. The second one came and raped me. The third one also raped me. [Pause- sobbing] I begged them and cried, and one of them covered my mouth. [Unclear, crying] Another one of them came and said, 'Are you finished? We also want our turn.' So they answered, ‘No, an American committee came.’ They took me to the judge.
Anchorwoman: Sabrine Al Janabi said that one of the security forces videotaped/photographed her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the rape. Another officer raped her after she saw the investigative judge.
“One of them, he said… I told him, ‘Please- by your father and mother- let me go.’ He said, ‘No, no- by my mother’s soul I’ll let you go- but on one condition, you give me one single thing.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘[I want] to rape you.’ I told him, ‘No- I can’t.’ So he took me to a room with a weapon… It had a weapon, a Klashnikov, a small bed [Unclear], he sat me on it. So [the officer came] and told him, ‘Leave her to me.’ I swore to him on the Quran, I told him, ‘By the light of the Prophet I don’t do such things…’ He said, ‘You don’t do such things?’ I said, ‘Yes’.
[Crying] He picked up a black hose, like a pipe. He hit me on the thigh. [Crying] I told him, ‘What do you want from me? Do you want me to tell you rape me? But I can’t… I’m not one of those ***** [Prostitutes] I don’t do such things.’ So he said to me, ‘We take what we want and what we don’t want we kill. That’s that.’ [Sobbing] I can’t anymore… please, I can’t finish.”
I look at this woman and I can’t feel anything but rage. What did we gain? I know that looking at her, foreigners will never be able to relate. They’ll feel pity and maybe some anger, but she’s one of us. She’s not a girl in jeans and a t-shirt so there will only be a vague sort of sympathy. Poor third-world countries- that is what their womenfolk tolerate. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.
She’s just one of tens, possibly hundreds, of Iraqi women who are violated in their own homes and in Iraqi prisons. She looks like cousins I have. She looks like friends. She looks like a neighbor I sometimes used to pause to gossip with in the street. Every Iraqi who looks at her will see a cousin, a friend, a sister, a mother, an aunt…
Humanitarian organizations are warning that three Iraqi women are to be executed next month. The women are Wassan Talib, Zainab Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad. They are being accused of 'terrorism', i.e. having ties to the Iraqi resistance. It could mean they are relatives of people suspected of being in the resistance. Or it could mean they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of them gave birth in the prison. I wonder what kind of torture they've endured. Let no one say Iraqi women didn't get at least SOME equality under the American occupation- we are now equally as likely to get executed.
And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.
Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.
This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.
America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.
Maliki has made the mistake of his life. His signature and unhidden glee at the whole execution, especially on the first day of Eid Al Adha (the Eid where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca), will only do more to damage his already tattered reputation. He's like a vulture in a suit (or a balding weasel). It's almost embarrassing. I kept expecting Muwafaq Al Rubaii to run over and wipe the drool from the corner of his mouth as he signed for the execution. Are these the people who represent the New Iraq? We're in so much more trouble than I ever thought.
And no- not the celebrations BBC are claiming. With the exception of a few areas, the streets are empty.
Now we come to CNN. Shame on you CNN journalists- you're getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references. You people are the biggest news network in the world- the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator. Saddam's last words were NOT "Muqtada Al Sadr" as Munir Haddad claimed, according to the article below. If anyone had seen at least part of the video they showed on TV, you'd know that.
"A witness, Iraqi Judge Munir Haddad, said that one of the executioners told Hussein that the former dictator had destroyed Iraq, which sparked an argument that was joined by several government officials in the room.
As a noose was tightened around Hussein's neck, one of the executioners yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr," Haddad said, referring to the powerful anti-American Shiite religious leader.
Hussein, a Sunni, uttered one last phrase before he died, saying "Muqtada al-Sadr" in a mocking tone, according to Haddad's account."
From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr". See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were "some witnesses from the trial", but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam's neck, they began chanting, in unison, "God's prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed's family…" Something else I didn't quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!" One of them called out to Saddam, "Go to hell…" (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered "Heya hay il marjala…?" which is basically saying, "Is this your manhood…?".
Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, "I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!" They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, "Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…" Which means, "I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger." These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.
So, no, CNN, his last words were not "Muqtada Al Sadr" in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)
Then again, one could argue that it was a judge who gave them that false information. A judge on the Iraqi appeals court- one of the judges who ratified the execution order. Everyone knows Iraqi judges under American tutelage never lie- that explains CNN's confusion.
Muwafaq Al Rubai was said he was "weak and frightened". Apparently, Rubai saw a different lynching because according to the video they leaked, he didn't look frightened at all. His voice didn't shake and he refused to put on the black hood. He looked resigned to his fate, and during the heckling he looked as defiant as ever. (It's quite a contrast to Muhsin Abdul Hameed's public hysterics last year when the Americans raided his home.)
It's one thing to have militias participating in killings. This is allegedly the democracy the Americans flaunt. Is this how bloodthirsty and frightening we've become? Is this what Iraq stands for now? Executions? I'm sure the rest of the Arab countries will be impressed.
One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?
2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly. Death and destruction everywhere. I'm so tired of all of this…
You know your country is in trouble when:
The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
Above mentioned branch cannot be run from your country.
The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.
A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.
2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.
That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.
The question now is, but why? I really have been asking myself that these last few days. What does America possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I'm certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.
Al Qaeda? That's laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.
This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.
Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.
What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not safe.
Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam's execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.
This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind most of his government were Shia). The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is "Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We're hanging him- he symbolizes you." And make no mistake about it, this trial and verdict and execution are 100% American. Some of the actors were Iraqi enough, but the production, direction and montage was pure Hollywood (though low-budget, if you ask me).
That is, of course, why Talbani doesn't want to sign his death penalty- not because the mob man suddenly grew a conscience, but because he doesn't want to be the one who does the hanging- he won't be able to travel far away enough if he does that.
Maliki's government couldn't contain their glee. They announced the ratification of the execution order before the actual court did. A few nights ago, some American news program interviewed Maliki's bureau chief, Basim Al-Hassani who was speaking in accented American English about the upcoming execution like it was a carnival he'd be attending. He sat, looking sleazy and not a little bit ridiculous, his dialogue interspersed with 'gonna', 'gotta' and 'wanna'... Which happens, I suppose, when the only people you mix with are American soldiers.
My only conclusion is that the Americans want to withdraw from Iraq, but would like to leave behind a full-fledged civil war because it wouldn't look good if they withdraw and things actually begin to improve, would it?
Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.
Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.
Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.
Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?
Execute the dictator. It’s that simple. When American troops are being killed by the dozen, when the country you are occupying is threatening to break up into smaller countries, when you have militias and death squads roaming the streets and you’ve put a group of Mullahs in power- execute the dictator.
Everyone expected this verdict from the very first day of the trial. There was a brief interlude when, with the first judge, it was thought that it might actually be a coherent trial where Iraqis could hear explanations and see what happened. That was soon over with the prosecution’s first false witness. Events that followed were so ridiculous; it’s difficult to believe them even now.
The sound would suddenly disappear when the defense or one of the defendants got up to speak. We would hear the witnesses but no one could see them- hidden behind a curtain, their voices were changed. People who were supposed to have been dead in the Dujail incident were found to be very alive.
Judge after judge was brought in because the ones in court were seen as too fair. They didn’t instantly condemn the defendants (even if only for the sake of the media). The piece de resistance was the final judge they brought in. His reputation vies only that of Chalabi- a well-known thief and murderer who ran away to Iran to escape not political condemnation, but his father’s wrath after he stole from the restaurant his father ran.
So we all knew the outcome upfront (Maliki was on television 24 hours before the verdict telling people not to ‘rejoice too much’). I think what surprises me right now is the utter stupidity of the current Iraqi government. The timing is ridiculous- immediately before the congressional elections? How very convenient for Bush. Iraq, today, is at its very worst since the invasion and the beginning occupation. April 2003 is looking like a honeymoon month today. Is it really the time to execute Saddam?
I’m more than a little worried. This is Bush’s final card. The elections came and went and a group of extremists and thieves were put into power (no, no- I meant in Baghdad, not Washington). The constitution which seems to have drowned in the river of Iraqi blood since its elections has been forgotten. It is only dug up when one of the Puppets wants to break apart the country. Reconstruction is an aspiration from another lifetime: I swear we no longer want buildings and bridges, security and an undivided Iraq are more than enough. Things must be deteriorating beyond imagination if Bush needs to use the ‘Execute the Dictator’ card.
Iraq has not been this bad in decades. The occupation is a failure. The various pro-American, pro-Iranian Iraqi governments are failures. The new Iraqi army is a deadly joke. Is it really time to turn Saddam into a martyr? Things are so bad that even pro-occupation Iraqis are going back on their initial ‘WE LOVE AMERICA’ frenzy. Laith Kubba (a.k.a. Mr. Catfish for his big mouth and constant look of stupidity) was recently on the BBC saying that this was just the beginning of justice, that people responsible for the taking of lives today should also be brought to justice. He seems to have forgotten he was one of the supporters of the war and occupation, and an important member of one of the murderous pro-American governments. But history shall not forget Mr. Kubba.
Iraq saw demonstrations against and for the verdict. The pro-Saddam demonstrators were attacked by the Iraqi army. This is how free our media is today: the channels that were showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations have been shut down. Iraqi security forces promptly raided them.Welcome to the new Iraq. Here are some images from the Salahiddin and Zawra channels:
Zawra channel. The subtitle says: Baghdad: Zawra satellite channel has stopped broadcasting by order of the government.
Salahiddin's green screen which appeared suddenly says: Salahiddin Satellite Channel
Sharqiya channel announcing breaking news: Two channels, Salahiddin and Zawra, shut down. Security forces raid the offices of the channels.
It’s not about the man-presidents come and go, governments come and go. It’s the frustration of feeling like the whole country and every single Iraqi inside and outside of Iraq is at the mercy of American politics. It is the rage of feeling like a mere chess piece to be moved back and forth at will. It is the aggravation of having a government so blind and uncaring about their peoples needs that they don’t even feel like it’s necessary to go through the motions or put up an act. And it's the deaths. The thousands of dead and dying, with Bush sitting there smirking and lying about progress and winning in a country where every single Iraqi outside of the Green Zone is losing.
Once again… The timing of all of this is impeccable- two days before congressional elections. And if you don’t see it, then I’m sorry, you’re stupid. Let’s see how many times Bush milks this as a ‘success’ in his coming speeches.
A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home.”
And that is what they died for.
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Pictures:Courtesy-riverbendblog and Texans for peace