Friday, November 11, 2011

Sahwas attacked

While it remains unknown just how many female refugees have been subjected to sex trafficking, according to the Iraqi NGO the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, 4,000 women, one fifth of whom are under 18, disappeared in the first seven years since the invasion.
Clinical researcher Iman Abou-Atta acknowledges sexual exploitation existed in Iraq long before the invasion, but told a hearing at London’s House of Lords ahead of publication that the war and instability that followed ‘led to an environment where young women and girls became much more vulnerable to trafficking.’
As well as sex trafficking by criminal gangs, family members are also known to have become involved in the phenomena, with sales and forced marriages prevalent to overcome economic hardship, resolve disputes and pay debts.

That's from Sara Nelson's "Revealed: How post-Saddam Iraq lead to a boom in the sex trafficking of Iraqi women and girls" (Daily Mail) and good for Nelson and the Daily Mail for being one more outlet that's covered the Social Change for Education in the Middle East report. For those wondering, no major US daily newspaper has yet covered it. Remember, the status of women says a great deal about the level of freedom in a country -- so when it's a country the White House claims is 'liberated,' the state press works overtime to ignore the issue.

Aswat al-Iraq reports 1 Sahwa was killed in an attack in Diyala Province while a second attack left two Sahwa injured. Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" or "Sons Of Iraq." The US government paid them to stop attacking US military equipment and soldiers. The Iraqi government was supposed to pick up the payments and did so slowly. They were also supposed to incorporate the Sahwa into government jobs -- security and non-security jobs; however, that hasn't happened. Instead, Nouri's targeted them with arrests, often paid them late and never issued a statement decrying any of the attacks on Sahwa. In related news, Mustafa Habib (niqash) interviews Iraq's Minister of National Reconciliation Amir al-Khuzaei:

NIQASH: The process of reconciliation has been criticised – some say that it’s avoided putting the blame on certain parties – such as insurgent groups who carry out armed attacks - even though they may have engaged in criminal behaviour.

Al-Khuzaei: In our efforts to reconcile, we want to open up channels of communication with the insurgents and to negotiate with them. The government will pardon those who put down their arms to join in the reconciliation process. But this doesn’t mean that the rights of ordinary Iraqi citizens are compromised. Reconciliation may be able to make compromises in the public interest. But it cannot compromise on individual rights.

NIQASH: Can you tell us more about the kinds of dialogue that you have been having with armed factions?

Al-Khuzaei: We have been engaged in a positive dialogue with some of the factions for whom Harith al-Dhari [head of the conservative and mostly anti-US and anti-Iraqi-government Association of Muslim Scholars, a mainly Sunni Muslim group] is a spokesperson. We have also been fully engaged with the [Sunni Muslim] 1920 Revolution Brigade, the [Sunni Muslim] Mujahideen Army, the [Sunni Muslim] Islamic Jihad Brigades and the [Sunni Muslim] Ansar al-Sunnah group in Diyala. Also [the Sunni Muslim armed group] al-Naqshbandia, [the Sunni Muslim armed group] Hamas Iraq and the [Shiite Muslim] League of the Righteous. The dialogue and the agreements we have come to differ from group to group. Some of them were made on a collective level, others were on an individual level. In terms of the latter, we've had members of armed groups approach us and say that they wanted to quit their armed activities and return to their ordinary lives. We have no objection to this -- in fact, we welcome it.

Alsumaria TV reports that yesterday in Baghdad, a sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Health employee. In Baghdad today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Hundreds of Electoral Authority employees demonstrated today in Firdous Square, mid Baghdad, demanding to be appointed in their full capacity, while other NGOs talked for next Friday demonstration. Aswat al-Iraq correspondent said that the demonstrators came from different provinces to demand that the martyrs of the Authority should be given their lawful privileges."

Alsumaria TV quotes a political analyst on the US and Iraq who states, "U.S. leaked through some of the media they would go to the Security Council to consider The Iraqi government is a competent and this allows again to return to Iraq and I think this Klha means of pressure, because America did not like its the issue of withdrawal. According to observers, the U.S. troops stay in the Gulf comes the desire of them fear for their own interests or fear of potential Iranian expansion, as well as standing desire of the United States to stay close to Iran in anticipation of launching a military strike after sunburn Israel to do so."

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We noted Bacon's "Occupy Northwest -- Bellingham and Tacoma" earlier this week and to check out his photos in that essay, click here. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Occupy Cal" (Bay Area Indymedia) photo essay:

Students at the University of California walk out of classes to protest budget cuts and rising tuition, and to support the New York City demonstration, Occupy Wall Street. The rally protested economic inequality and its impact on students, the poor and the young -- in the words of the occupy movement, a protest by the 99% of the people who are exploited by a system that only benefits the top 1%.

Later that night, students were beaten by police batons as they tried to set up tents in Sproul Plaza, and six students and an assistant professor were arrested. Students continued to occupy the plaza without tents, however.

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