Saturday, March 12, 2011

Iraqi security forces beat journalists at Friday protest

Oh that peaceful protest yesterday. Either it was ignored by the US press or it received a few comments about how wonderful Nouri and his forces behaved. Reality?

Adam Youssef, news photographer for Al Mada, is among the people David Ali (Al Mada) is reporting on. At the Friday protests, Adam was brutally beaten by Iraqi security forces despite repeatedly telling them he was a photographer and only present to take photos. They beat him and beat him, over and over with batons. But brave little thugs rarely only beat one person. Activst Hana Adoor and journalist Npras Mamouri were also beaten with batons by security forces who apparently were threatened by the thought of two women out in public. The Arab American News reports:

He was one of about 500 demonstrators in Liberation Square, surrounded by what appeared to be even more security forces.
"People will continue demonstrating until there is reform because the government has been built on a sectarian basis," said Faisal Hamid, a pensioner who walked to Tahrir Square from the nearby neighborhood of Karrada.
The Iraqi government, worried the demonstrations may spiral out of control, have taken strict measures that appear designed to limit the number of demonstrators who come out.
Late Thursday, they imposed a vehicle ban in the capital so many of the protesters were forced to walk for miles. Similar vehicle bans were in place in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, and the southern city of Basra.
Side streets leading up to the square were blocked with security vehicles and helicopters buzzed overhead in Baghdad.
Before those protests, Iraqi officials tried to discredit the demonstrations by saying they were being backed by supporters of Saddam and al-Qaeda. The warnings seemed designed to keep people away and paint those who did take part in a bad light.

Meanwhile Nouri continued his attacks on the protesters today. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Lara Jakes (AP) report he took to state television where he verbally attacked the protesters, "Those who call for regime change are limited in number; they are weak and voices of discord. [. . .] Do they want the return of a dictatorship? Or the Revolutionary Command Council? Or a regime that marginalizes groups? We say clearly that who ask for the change of this regime are out of line with the will of the nation." True only if Nouri's desires are the will of the nation. Iraqi voters made clear Nouri was not their choice in the March 7, 2010 elections when despite his harassment, scare tactics, abuse of office and a largely compliant media he was not able to lead his political slate to victory. Abdul-zhra and Jakes note how "liar" and other words are increasingly applied to Nouri at the ongoing public demonstrations.

Read the AP article in full and appreciate just how hard they're working as opposed to the New York Times which is content to run pieces written by Reuters while paying a staff a pretty penny to sit around on their pampered asses.

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports
that the practice of ministers and officials (since the start of the war) stealing Iraqi land and homes may be coming to an end. Many Iraqis have been left homeless as a result of the illegal practice and MP Safia al-Suhail is calling for the land to be returned. In other news of corruption, Inas Tariq (Al Mada) reports that while Iraqis are plagued with unemployment, the few jobs available are being doled out by ministers to their own unqualified family members and friends. In other political news, Al Sumaria TV reports, "It seems that major rows impeding the nomination of Iraqi security ministers are no longer restricted between Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and heads of political parties. Rows have swept into political parties themselves which members are complaining about their leaders’ autocracy."

Message to an NPR friend I was on the phone with Friday afternoon from 2:52 to 3:01 PM EST. When you asked that I please not call out X in the snapshot and offered that Y had done a much better piece, I agreed to note Y but warned you that X's misreporting fell under a topic that Ava and I were already planning on addressing Sunday at Third and that we would most likely be addressing him then. We will be and I don't believe for one moment that you didn't know X was filing an audio report on the same bad text report he had filed earlier that day. I'm including this here because you may be breathing a sigh of relief and thinking, "Oh, good, I didn't think she'd hear the report because she was supposed to be flying out of DC at that time." (That was why you asked, at the start of the phone call, when my flight left, right?) I didn't catch it live. I was informed of it after the fact. And don't think for a moment that X is saved. I'm only not going into it here tonight because I'm too busy tossing around scathing comments with Ava as we brainstrom our piece at Third.

"New York Times, misreporting Iraq for how many years" went up a little while ago. A Reuters friend has just called to note that they reported on this today. We'll note their report in Monday's snapshot. And we'll note this from Military Families Speak Out:

Looking at the Human and Economic Costs of War Through the Arts A Grassroots Exhibition March 15 – April 14 The exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, poetry, dioramas and posters by veterans and civilians includes Combat Paper artwork by Robynn Murray, featured in the Oscar-nominated film, Poster Girl. The exhibition is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Thursdays, 12– 4 p.m. The Puffin Cultural Forum is at 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, NJ. 201-836-3499 A cultural Program Sunday, March 20, 3-6 p.m. The event includes a reception for the artists and writers followed by performances of poetry, dance and songs. The exhibition is sponsored by Military Families Speak Out, Bergen County; Veterans For Peace, Chapter 21 NJ; Vietnam Veterans Against the War, NJ chapter; People’s Organization for Progress, Bergen County; NJ Peace Action, Bergen County Green Party, Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, Teaneck Peace Vigil, Leonia Vigil Group, NYC School of the Americas Watch. For more information: or the Puffin Cultural Forum, (201) 836-8923.

Remember, there will be protests in the US next weekend. A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

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