Monday, February 04, 2008

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On Jan. 13, 2007, a knock on the door changed Teeba Jaweed's life. An employee at her husband's supermarket stood before her, breathless.
"Your husband's been shot," he said.
Her head spun as the sound of her three daughters' wailing filled the air. As she rushed to change clothes, her mother screamed for her to stay, worried that she, too, would be shot. All Jaweed could think was, "He needs help."
She ran from her home in Hai al Saddam in southwest Baghdad to the al Rawi grocery store. The shopkeepers who run the different sections of the store were hurrying to lock up and escape. Jaweed walked into her husband's family shop, where she found his lifeless body.
Dhia Sabar's eyes were open but empty, and his two brothers also lay in a pool of blood. She screamed for help, but no one came. There was no bringing Sabar back.
Jaweed was a 30-year-old widow now, and she returned home with the image of her husband in her head and one thought: "It's over, it's all over."

The above is the opening to Leila Fadel's "Iraqi women struggle to survive as violence claims their men" (McClatchy Newspapers) and the figures and numbers for women in Iraq follow. We hear so little about of Iraqi women -- they're rarely even quoted as eye witnesses. For instance, Friday's Baghdad bombings must have been at all male markets to read the bulk of the write ups. Twice in the last two weeks, a snapshot has included the numbers of widows, so we're focusing on one woman's story in the excerpt above. (The article was noted by four members and there was an even split on what to excerpt. In the snapshot today, we'll focus on the numbers.)

Same topic, from Weam Namou's "Operation Iraqi Freedom Enslaved Iraqi Women" (uruknet):

My twenty-year-old cousin Renda is currently a student at Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Iraq. Established in 1227, Mustansiriyah is one of the oldest university in the world. Extremists have targeted this university since the 2003 U.S. and British-led invasion, the most brutal act having taken place on January 16, 2007 when a double bomb attack killed sixty five people, mostly female students, and wounded 138. Though these incidents did not deter Renda from attending classes, they have had a negative impact on the majority of the country’s students. According to a joint Ministry of Interior (MoE) and UNICEF study, 800,000 Iraqi children, 74 percent of which are female, do not attend school.
I met Renda five years ago during my visit to Iraq. She loved school, and told me how she envisioned a great future for herself and her family. She had said, "I know life is hard now. But it will get better. When innocent people suffer, eventually they will rise." She meant because the country had gone through wars and back then was under sanctions.
I watched as she brushed her hair, put ribbons on her braids, dressed in her blue uniform and carrying her back pack left off for school, walking. That spring night after we had supper, blankets were placed on the front lawn where I, along with Renda’s parents and younger brother, lay under a star filled sky. We shared stories and jokes until the middle of the night when we finally fell asleep. We woke up to the scent of grass and the sounds of birds chirping.
To walk to school or sleep in the front yard is no longer a luxury in Baghdad. All sorts of chaos lurks in the streets, from the insurgents who entered Iraq’s unprotected borders after the invasion, to the thugs who had been in jail during Saddam’s regime, to organized crime and the U.S. military who might mistake an innocent civilian for a bad guy and shoot -- or who might just themselves be bad men and women behaving badly towards the Iraqis.
Renda had no idea that in a couple of years, matters would get much worse in Iraq -- especially for her as a Christian. Since the invasion, many women have been executed, assaulted, raped or released only after their families paid considerable ransom money. Serious threats and deadly attacks have forced Christians and Muslims to wear the veil and quit their jobs, and to avoid makeup and education. My friend's sister-in-law, at the start of the war, was stabbed in the heart simply because she was wearing a cross, which was ripped off her neck and thrown over her body.
Today when you talk to Iraqi women they remember "the good old days" when Saddam was in power and women were able to safely go to work, participate in social activities, take part in politics or stroll outside in the middle of the night. During Saddam's regime, women were free to choose whether to wear western-style dress and make-up or the black abaya. When I was in Baghdad, I wore the clothes I’d packed from America. No one in the streets blinked an eye.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "State of Misunion" went up Sunday and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" went up Saturday.

Brandon notes Dee Knight's "Rallies in 14 cities support war resisters" (Workers World):

In New York, Washington, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, supporters gathered outside Canadian consulates to show support for the war resisters. Meanwhile, on Jan. 26 in Canada, war resisters and their supporters in Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, London, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Nelson, Vancouver, and Victoria also rallied to demand that the Parliament take urgent action to stop possible deportations of four of the war resisters, several with families.
The rallies urged the Canadian House of Commons to adopt a recommendation of its Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that would make it possible for U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain permanent resident status in Canada.
In San Francisco, the delegation to the Canadian Consulate was led by Pablo Paredes and Mike Wong. Paredes is a former U.S. sailor who refused orders to return to Iraq, and is now a GI Rights Hotline counselor. In December 2004 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he publicly refused to get on a ship returning to Iraq. "I don't want to be part of a ship that's taking 3,000 Marines over there, knowing a hundred or more of them won't come back," he told reporters at the time. Mike Wong is a Vietnam War-era veteran who chose exile in Canada for five years in the 1970s.
Courage to Resist in collaboration with the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada) initiated the actions at Canadian consulates across the U.S. They had the support of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and many other groups.
This event was the first nationally coordinated action in the U.S. in support of war resisters in Canada. Since the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, many soldiers have been going AWOL (Absent Without Leave). GIs who have publicly refused to deploy--or re-deploy--to Iraq have been court-martialed and imprisoned. Thousands of service people are AWOL and are believed to be in hiding in the U.S. and abroad. Hundreds have fled to Canada.
In a poll last August, 65 percent of respondents in Ontario, Canada's largest province, said U.S. soldiers should be allowed to settle in Canada. The poll results were broken down by party affiliation: 71 percent of Liberal voters, 74 percent of NDP (social democratic) voters, and 53 percent of Conservative voters said, "Let them settle in Canada." Parliamentary representatives of the Liberals united with the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois last November to approve a resolution that soldiers who refuse to fight in a war not approved by the U.N. should be allowed to stay in Canada. The resolution is now due for debate and a possible vote in the full Parliament in February.
The Canadian rallies featured war resisters speaking on their own behalf, along with members of the War Resisters Support Campaign, which includes the Canadian Labour Congress, the United Church of Canada and many local groups. In Toronto, Olivia Chow, the member of Parliament who introduced the resolution demanding resisters be allowed to stay, was a featured speaker.
One of the war resister speakers was Joshua Key, whose recently published memoir, "The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq," has won international acclaim. The documentary film "Breaking Ranks," featuring the stories of numerous U.S. war resisters in Canada, was shown at several of the rallies in Canada. It was also recently aired nationally on CBC, the national Canadian TV broadcasting network.
Gerry Condon, a Vietnam War-era resister who dedicates his time to supporting Iraq War resisters, said, "We have achieved a valuable goal--this is the first nationally coordinated action in the U.S. in support of our war resisters in Canada. Various elements of the peace movement participated in this together. This is also another important step in the reorientation of much of the antiwar movement to the importance of defending our war resisters."
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