Friday, July 01, 2011

Protests continue in Iraq (and why they do)

It's Friday, protests continue in Baghdad. Iraqi Revolution offers video of today's protest and the screen snap (below) is from that video.


Protests have continued every Friday despite the attacks on the peaceful protesters. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reports:

Human Rights Watch charges today that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to have ordered the beating, stabbing, and sexual assault of protesters earlier this month.
"It’s pretty worrying," says Joe Stork, the head of the Middle East department at Human Rights Watch. "There are a few things that we hadn’t seen before, like the sexual molesting, that kind of thing. The pattern of using plain clothes people who to all appearances were working with the connivance of the security people, that’s certainly not new … we saw that when the so-called Arab spring protests started in Baghdad in February. This use of 'thugs' who may or may not be security is itself not unique to Iraq; in fact, it seems to be right out of the Egyptian playbook."

In other news out of Iraq, Alaa Fadel (Dar Addustour) reports that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, announced that the increase in oil prices (meaning more income for Iraq) will be used to increase the payment for wheat and barley to Iraqi farmers. The government is planning to spend trillions of dinars on these crops. While that takes place, Al Mada reports UNICEF is calling on Iraq's government to invest some of the money into a one billion a year fund to assist Iraq's disadvantaged children. There are an estimated 4 million severely disadvantaged children thought the number could be much higher and Iraq's estimated to have 15 million children. 15 million children is a large number by itself but especially when you consider that population estimates for Iraq are generally somewhere between 25 million and 30 million. Iraq is a young country, a country of widows and orphans thanks to the illegal war.

And the protests that take place in Iraq are about these issues, the war, the effects of the war, the occupied government's refusal to provide basic services such as potable water, the lack of jobs and much more. Iaq needs housing and every six months or so Nouri shows up at a newly built housing project for a photo-op. Iraq needs many things. So there should be more than enough jobs to go around. Somehow that's not the case. (Also true, a lot of the government funded projects never see the funds because someone uses the money to line their own pockets.)

Al Mada reports on the Iraqi government's reaction to the US State Dept's annual human rights report on human trafficking which finds being put on the "watchlist" good news. Hassan Rashed explains it's so much better to be on the watchlist than on the blacklist.

The report can be found here. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, held a briefing earlier this week on the report (link is text and video) and her remarks included:

And I know it’s not just our State Department and not just our Congress, but many of you in this room, many of you from other governments who have taken on this issue, many of you from the NGO community that have been on the frontlines standing up for millions of victims. Last year, I visited in Cambodia a place of healing and support, a shelter for survivors. I met with dozens of girls, most of them very young, who had been sexually exploited and abused. They had been given refuge at the shelter and they were learning valuable skills to help them reenter society. These girls wanted the same thing that every child wants – the opportunity to live, to learn, a safe place, people who cared about them. And not too long ago, a shelter like this would not have been available. The idea of trafficking in persons was as old as time. And it wasn’t particularly high on the list of important international issues. And certainly, speaking for my country until relatively recently, we were not investing the resources or raising the visibility of these issues, of these stories, of these young girls. There were so many attractive children at that shelter; lots of liveliness. There were some very withdrawn and set apart from the others.
And there was one little girl who had the biggest grin on her face, and then when I looked into that face, I saw that one of her eyes was badly disfigured. She had glasses on. And I asked one of the women running the shelters, I said, “What happened to her?” And she said, “Well, when she was sold into a brothel, she was even younger than she is now, and she basically fought back to protect herself against what was expected. So the brothel owner stabbed her in the eye with a large nail.” And there was this child whose spirit did not look as though it had been broken, who was determined to interact with people, but whose life had only been saved because of a concerted effort to rescue girls like her from the slavery they were experiencing.
The world began to change a little over 10 years ago, and certainly, I’m grateful for the work that my country has done, but I’m also very grateful for the work that so many of our partners have done as well. When my husband signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we did have tools – we had tools to bring traffickers to justice and tools to provide victims with legal services and other support. Today, police officers, activists, and governments are coordinating their efforts so much more effectively. Thousands of victims have been liberated around the world, and thanks to special temporary visas, many of them are able to come to our country to have protection to testify against their perpetrators.

Former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney is attempting to raise awareness of the Libyan War and this is from her "What America Stands For In Libya" (Information Clearing House):

At a time when the American people have been asked to tighten their belts, teachers are receiving pink slips, the vital statistics of the American people reveal a health care crisis in the making, and the U.S. government is in serious threat of default, our President and Congress have decided that a new war, this time against the people of Libya, is appropriate. This comes at a time when the U.S., by one estimate, spends approximately $3 billion per week for war against Iraq and Afghanistan. The President and Congress continue to fund the war against Libya despite the fact that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the U.S. had no strategic interest in Libya; and despite the fact that the Senate Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence admits that the U.S. really does not know who the “rebels” are; while the rebels themselves, according to a Telegraph report of 25 March 2011, admit that Al Qaeda elements are among their ranks. So while the apparatus of our government has been used for over ten years to inform the American people and the global community that Al Qaeda is an enemy of freedom-loving people all over the world, our President chooses to ally our military with none other than Al Qaeda elements in Libya and other people whom U.S. intelligence say they do not know.

Additionally, U.S. Admiral Locklear admitted to a Member of Congress that one of NATO’s missions was to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi. And, indeed, NATO bombs have killed Qaddafi’s son and three grandchildren, just as US bombs in 1986 killed his daughter. NATO bombs just recently killed the grandchildren of one of Qaddafi’s associates in a targeted assassination attempt. Targeted assassination is not within the scope of the United Nations Security Council Resolution and targeted assassination is against U.S. law, international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. Targeted assassination is also a crime. We certainly cannot encourage others to abide by the law when we so openly break it.

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