Monday, April 04, 2011

Morteza Aahtor, latest Iraqi journalist to be targeted

The last weeks have not been a pleasant time to be an Iraqi journalist. As the protests got into full swing, the government began attacking journalists. Not just preventing them from covering protests (bad enough -- and that happened again Friday) but hunting them down in Baghdad cafes after the protests, beating them up and hauling them off to jails where they were tortured. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory explains the latest journalist to be targeted is Morteza Aahtor who was arrested in Nasiriya by a "special security force sent from Baghdad" for articles he'd written. Attorney Ghassan Saleh states that Morteza was arrested not on a court order but on a government order. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory is calling for the immediate release of Morteza.

Assaults on journalists have included Iraqi forces raiding news outlets in Baghdad and throughout Iraq such as February 23rd when the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory was raided by Iraqi forces who smashed the equipment. Dropping back to that day's snapshot:

Iraq where the governmental war on the press never ends. Dar Addustor reports on the Iraqi military raid of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Baghdad after midnight this morning with the military seizing things including computers and personal items. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes JFO's Bashar al-Mandalawy stating, "The only reason behind this is to stop freedom of the press and expression in this country." Wael Grace and Adham Youssef (Al Mada) report [. . .] that it was the Iraqi military and the police raiding the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory and that they entered by breaking down the main door and that the Baghdad Centre for Media was also raided at the same time.

March 9th, the JFO calculated the numbers for two weeks and found that there were 60 attacks on journalists in the KRG and 150 in the rest of Iraq. At that point, those two weeks, 33 journalists had been arrested. In last week's Tikrit assualt, journalists Sabah al-Bazi (or al-Bazee) and Muammar Khadir Abdelwahad were killed.

Turning to the US, Lt Dan Choi will be speaking Tuesday afternoon in Vermont:

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University will recognize April as Alcohol Awareness and Sexual Violence Awareness Month with events during an inaugural “Speak Week” running Tuesday, April 5 – Saturday, April 9.

Events will kick off with a keynote address on Tuesday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in Kreitzberg Arena by Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic Linguist, Iraq Veteran, West Point Graduate and Infantry Officer who was fired under the military policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2009, which prohibited openly gay people from serving in the military.

Choi will discuss his experiences of “coming out” to his parents; life at West Point and in the military; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and his journey to activism.

This event is free and open to the public. All events that week are sponsored by Norwich’s Office of Substance Abuse Education, the Office of Equal Opportunity and the Washington County Sexual Assault Crisis Team.

Other events for Norwich students include a pub quiz, guerilla theater, karaoke and a Diversity Dance.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army. Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the United States of America and the birthplace of our nation's Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Today on Law and Disorder Radio (begins broadcasting at 9:00 am EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith remember legendary attorney Leonard Weinglass who passed away last month and Michael Ratner talks with Germany's Wolfgang Kaleck about Uinversal Jurisdiction cases.

Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

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