Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forced deportations to the failed-state

Iraq is destroyed. There is death everywhere. There was a lot of talk about democracy when the Americans first came but it is the same as it was under Saddam. Democracy is something we only hear about, it's something I might see when I'm an old man. What kind of democracy is that? Killing, stealing, torturing; the old government, and the new.
There is no protection in Iraq. The fear will turn your hair grey. All I wanted to do was get out of Iraq. There is so much poverty there, I was providing for six members of my family but earning only $2 a month.

The above is Iraqi refugee Nasser sharing his story in "From Iraq to Lebanon" (Guardian). And as difficult as life can be for Nasser, there should be relief that Lebanon is the stop and not Europe since the forced deportations of Iraqi refugees continues in England. Apparently attempting to reclaim their I-Don't-Give-A-Damn mantle last seen during the Holocaust, European governments are all giddy and frenzied at the thought of forcing refugees to return to Iraq. Jim Muir (BBC News) reports that the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands deported Iraqis last week. Some of the forced returns remain in custody of Iraqi security forces at the airport still. What a welcome. Muir explains that the terminology is "enforced return" and that "Those on the list for deportation told the BBC they had already been moved to short-term holding centres ready for a flight they do not want to take." And flights that the UNHCR, Amnesty International and others have warned should not be taking place. Sam Jones (Guardian) reports:

Keith Best, the chief executive of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said the charity shared the UNHCR concern about the violence in the region, and had seen evidence of torture.
"With the highly-volatile security situation and continuing human rights abuses in Iraq, I'd ask how the government can assure the safety of those being returned," Best said. "The Medical Foundation has provided care and treatment to a significant number of Iraqis … who have fled to Britain having been tortured in Iraq. Their health and security depends on adequate rehabilitation and stability."
The charity's own experience, he said, suggested torture still happened in Iraq. "The UK Border Agency should be identifying torture survivors … and not sending anyone back unless it can be demonstrated their human rights will be respected."

Iraqi refugee Ziad al-Dulaimi is an Iraqi refugee in England -- at least for now -- and he tells Al Jazeera that the deportations are taking place at the request of Nouri al-Maliki, according to what he's been told by British government officials:

The batch that was deported last week had difficult times, I know two of them. They called me and said they refused to leave the plane and security forces climbed on board and beat them. How can we go back to humiliation? On the other side, what are we costing the British government? Nothing. When I came to the UK five years ago, I was detained in Dover. They would not release me until I signed a paper saying I would never ask any financial help from the British government. Why can't they be patient until things are really better in Iraq?

Meanwhile Helsingin Sanomat reports that they've learned Air Finland is transporting the refugees and:

The Finnish airline Air Finland Ltd has its head office in the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport complex.
More than half of the airline is owned by Berling Capital Ltd., belonging to CEO Esa Karppinen and his family, while 45 per cent of the airline is owned by its executive management.
In 2009, Air Finland posted a sales profit of more than EUR 2 million.
In the current year, the airline has started the sales of package tours to a number of destinations, including Turkey.
The airline's package tours use the same planes as those used for the repatriation of asylum-seekers.

Iraq is a failed state as the Fund for Peace's report [PDF format warning] "Iraq On The Edge: Iraq Report #10 2009 - 2010" makes clear (see yesterday's snapshot for overview). And that's what Iraqis are being sent back to. It takes a lot of crazy to justify that. The US government has yet to take part in the forced returns to Iraq (but then they've accepted so few Iraqi refugees to begin with), but crazy runs free in the US as well as Gretel C. Kovach's "Give U.S. troops time to win, generals say" (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the big crazy quoted below is Maj Gen Anthony Jackson:

He drew a parallel between the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan and Marine efforts to pacify the western region of Iraq, where the insurgency had been most violent.
"You lose good people in those wild places. But the Marines were tenacious. They stuck to their mission," Jackson said.
With help from soldiers, aviators and Navy Seabees, the Marine Corps became the "20th tribe" in Iraq and eventually the strongest tribe, he said.

What mission, Jackson? Dumb ass, what damn mission? Iraq's a failed-state, you idiot. The US marines were never going to be able to change that. A lot of people died -- on all sides -- for a failed-state. And you want to use that as an excuse to continue the Afghanistan War? That's almost as offensive as you're claiming that US citizens could compose the "20th tribe" in Iraq. Someone needs some training in something other than making an ass out of himself in uniform. Hey, here's a thought, if the generals are so eager for 'kills,' let's bring home the grunts and let the generals stay in Afghanistan and do the fighting themselves. Or are they only so brave when they can be far removed from the battle they send others into?

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported Friday that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Mike Gogulski has started a website entitled Help Bradley Manning. Yesterday, Shenon was interviewed by Deborah Amos (NPR's Morning Edition) on the news that WikiLeaks is planning to release video of a US assault on Afghan civilians.

AMOS: Let's talk for a minute about this second video. There are reports about what's on it. Can you tell us?

Mr. SHENON: The first video that was released involved an American airstrike in Baghdad in 2007. The one Assange is now talking about is an airstrike in Afghanistan that occurred last year that is apparently it is believed to have been, in terms of civilian casualties, the most lethal American attack in Afghanistan since the war began.

AMOS: So has anybody seen this second video of the aftermath of a bombing in Afghanistan?

Mr. SHENON: To the best of my knowledge, it's only been seen within the Defense Department. This will be the first time that it's had any sort of public viewing.

AMOS: And how do we know that this is the same one?

Mr. SHENON: Well, we only have at this point Assange's claims that he has it, and we also have these Internet chat logs in which the young soldier in Iraq boasts of having stolen that video.

Deborah Amos is the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East.

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