Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Hate The War

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that in Mosul so far this month, 7 corpses of Iraqi Christians have been discovered, notes that a person's religion is listed on the state i.d., that there are approximately 800,000 Iraqi Christians still in the country, and quotes Chaldean Archibishop Louis Sako stating, "We are worried about the campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul." Meanwhile the Kurdish Globe reports:

For the second week, religious minorities, especially Yazidis and Christians, continue to oppose the article in the provincial council elections law that they say ignores their rights, and are calling for it to be reviewed. Protesting Christians are demanding autonomy in their areas of residence. "We will demonstrate and protest until we achieve autonomous rights for Christians in our districts as well as fair representation for religious minorities, including Christians, in the provincial elections," said Jamil Zeito, head of the Seriaques-Chaldeans Public Council. He spoke about the demonstrations arranged by the council on October 1: "The protests and demonstrations will not stop till we accomplish our fair rights; ignoring the rights of minorities indicates incomplete democracy in Iraq." Thousands of Christians took part in the demonstrations arranged in the districts of Ninewa Flaf that includes the towns of Al-Qush, Tel-Saqif, Qarqush, and Duhok city. The demonstrators waved flags and banners demanding "democracy for Iraq, autonomy for Christians, and the return of the article giving minorities representation within the provincial councils elections.

Article 50 was the provision that allowed for minority representation in Iraq. It did not apply to woman, it applied to religious minorities. Stating that the national census had never been done, the Parliament voted to strip it. Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, noted it had been stripped . . . only after Iraqi Christians took to the streets in protest. He stated it could be handled by having Parliament re-insert it.

That was never going to happen though the press acted like it might. When the presidency council, specifically Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, made similar statements, they still acted like it. The Parliament could not add it to an existing bill without revoting on the bill.

The provisional elections bill fell apart in July. It led to Kurdish members staging a walk-out. It took the UN and others to patch together an agreement/understanding among the MPs that allowed them to finally pass something. There was no way that the bill was ever going to go back to Parliament.

Provincial elections are a 'benchmark' for 'success' -- defined as such by the White House. The mileage they have gotten out of 'it passed!' was never going to be put at risk and, after the vote, the bill was the bill. It could not be altered without another vote.

Talabani protested publicly the elimination of Article 50; however, he did not use his veto power to tank the bill. The presidency council signed it into law. Where it stands now is that, supposedly, as Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "a separate bill" will be sent "to parliament to restore" Article 50. Whether or not that can pass, no one knows at this point.

But Big Media's press coverage has been awful. From not knowing when the law was signed to not grasping that it wasn't a law until the presidency council passed off on it. Panhandle Media? As is so very typical of them, they hear the word "Christian" and rush off to another topic. That is one of the things has become so obvious about Panhandle Media in the last few years. And, as a result, very real and ongoing suffering is ignored.

Ethan Cole (Christian Post) notes the 3 Iraqi Christians killed on Tuesday in Mosul and he explains of Mosul "the city is a historic center for Assyrian Christians, who view it as their ancestral homeland. It is home to the second-largest community of Christians in Iraq, after Baghdad." Adn Kronos International adds, "Iraq is home to the Chaldean Catholic Church, one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, but hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee Iraq to escape the violence and the economic crisis caused by the war.There are now around 700,000 Christians in Iraq, compared with over a million before the US invasion in 2003, according to censuses carried out by the country's dioceses." Asia News (via Catholic Today) identifies the dead:

More Christian blood in Mosul. On October 7, a father and son were killed in the neighborhood of Sukkar while they were working. Amjad Hadi Petros and his son were killed because "they were guilty of being Christian" in a place where a "systematic persecution" is being seen. In a second attack, recorded in another of the city's neighborhoods, a fundamentalist group broke into a pharmacy and killed an assistant, also of the Christian religion.
We also recounted the execution, on Monday, October 6, of Ziad Kamal, a 25-year-old disabled shop owner in the city. The young man owned a store in the neighborhood of Karama: he was taken by an armed group from inside his store and brought to a nearby spot, where he was shot to death. Also, on Saturday, October 4, two more men were barbarously assassinated in two other areas of Mosul: Hazim Thomaso Youssif, 40, was killed in front of the clothing store he owned, while 15-year-old Ivan Nuwya was shot to death in the neighborhood of Tahrir, outside of his house in front of the local mosque of Alzhara.

In spite of the media silence, there have been actual events that qualified as news. For example, in Sweden there was a protest at the Iraqi embassy. AINA reports:

Overshadowed by the international financial crisis oppression and persecution of Iraqi minorities has escalated in a devastating speed.
While spreading leaflets the demonstrators were informed by a policeman that they didn't have a permission to demonstrate and were removed to a busy avenue on Valhallavägen, a highly trafficked road. Obviously irritated they stood in a road among construction workers and concealed for the public by passing buses.
"They are not allowed to stay outside the embassy because we are afraid of disturbances. Unfortunately there is road-building today, I can't do anything about that," said a policeman to me when I asked why the demonstrators were moved.
Nabil Tomi, an artist, was indignant, but not only about the Swedish police:
"We är a peaceful people, we don't want to carry weapons. We don't want to throw stones and we definitely don't want that our campaigns here will harm our brothers and sisters in Iraq. We only want the truth to come through. The United States and its allies have failed to bring democracy to Iraq. It has become a segregated country full of hate, oppression and persecution. The Iraqi government claims that violence has decreased and that it will protect the minorities but it is just propaganda. They say one thing and act in an opposite way."

The protest in Sweden is on top of the protests in Iraq. And we need to grasp the silence from Panhandle Media about those protests. Protests in Iraq are very rare especially for religious minorities. Big Media outlets in the US at least treated it as something worth filing on, if only for one day. But it's not a story to Panhandle Media. And that goes to their own prejudices. But along with the protests, there was also a conference this week. The United Nations and Peoples Organization notes a meeting on Wednesday in Brussels:

The first meeting in the European Parliament of the EPP-ED (European People's Party-European Democrats) Group’s roundtable on 'Christian Communities in the Muslim World: Iraq' has painted a stark picture of Iraq’s Christian minority following the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
[. . .]
Focusing on Iraq, the third panel introduced His Eminence Basile Georges Casmoussa, Archbishop of Mosul for the Syrian-Catholic Church who emphasized the "heartbreaking" situation of the Christian community in the Middle East. The Christian community was "suffering sustained persecution" in the region, and in Iraq Christian refugees composed 40% of the total number -- this in spite of the fact that Christians constitute only approximately 4% of the total population. Speaking of the immediate situation, Bishop Casmoussa warned of an emerging humanitarian crisis as aid was not reaching Christians in Iraq. Reinforcing the conclusions of previous panelists, Bishop Casmoussa stated that policies of intimidation just not be allowed to prevail and that the region's "future lies in peace, not emigration" of the Christian minority.
Mr. Nickolay Mladenov MEP, a member of the European Parliament's delegation to Iraq, commented on opening the final panel of the roundtable that a solution to the crisis of the Christian minority rested on three pillars: security, political representation, and international assistance. Speaking in details, Mr. Mladenov stated that more Christians would have to be recruited into the Iraqi police forces to build confidence and Article 50 would have to reinstated to preserve Christian representation within Iraq. Both were measures that Mr. Mladenov stated he would be raising on 13 October 2008 when a delegation from Iraq would be visiting Brussels.
Kirkuk was identified as a crucial issue by Ms. Naglaa Elhag, of the IKV Pax Christi organization, in her presentation on 'The Situation of Refugees in Iraq' --– the topic of the final panel. Until this was addressed and Europe adopted a cohesive policy there were few positive signs to be seen in the region Ms. Elhag concluded. Even outside Iraq, Christians continued to find themselves excluded from basic social services and had to face ongoing intimidation and violence. There was also a pressing need to hold the Iraqi government accountable for its failure to adequately protect the Iraqi Christian minority.

For those wanting or needing an audio report on the situation, Vatican Radio has a report here. Today Anna Mulrine (US News and World Reports) reported, on Gen David Petreaus' speech to the right-wing Heritage Foundation (speech took place yesterday): ". . . Petraeus highlighted what he sees as the chief threats to Iraq's progress in the months to come. Among them are the upcoming provincial elections, the possible return of Shiite special group militia members from Iran (whose specialities include planting devastating roadside bombs), and the return of Iraqi refugees to homes that they may find occupied by militias." Monday Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) pointed out, "Even if provincial elections, considered key to balancing power among Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and others, take place by early next year, the parties now in power probably will come out on top again. That's because of name recognition and their appeal to religious voters."

Provincial elections are supposed to take place by January 31st but that was dependent on a law some time ago. Some hope that provincial elections will take place in January. Whenever they do take place, a number of things are currently happening that will be really hard to catch on the 'fly' at the last minute. With Petraeus having identified provincial elections as a 'chief threat' to 'progress' in Iraq, the issues that are arising right now need to be followed. But, as always, Panhandle Media has something else to do.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4176. Tonight? 4180. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,273,378 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war . . . same number they listed last week.

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