Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Suicides in Iraq and 'suicides' in Iraq


Rebecca's noting that Revenge returns with new episodes tonight on ABC. I told her we'd note it here as well. Moving to Iraq.

Yesterday, a man apparently hanged himself in Basra. Al Rafidayn reports the man was 38-years-old, had a wife and four children. He is thought to be the seventh man in the area who has taken their own life due to poverty in the last six months. Although Basra is well known for its fishing industry, lack of government support and conflict with Iran and Kuwait fishing industries have left Basra's industry reeling. Basra is in southern Iraq.

Another province in southern Iraq is Dhi Qar Province which is also experiencing suicides. Al Sabaah reports there's a suicide or 'suicide' epidemic taking place. Those allegedly taking their own lives? Young girls under the age of 18. There are accusations that the police are in partnership with families to cover up the fact that these girls are not suicides but have been killed -- possibly so-called 'honor' killings. There are also allegations that the girls are taking their own lives but doing so because they are being denied their basic freedoms and pushed into forced marriages by their families. Local citizen Ahmed Saidi maintains that most are not suicides and "90 percent are murders." The province saw 13 suicides in 2011 of young girls between the ages of 15 and 18 while, already this month, there have been 2 young females who have died and are said to have taken their own lives. Feminist Shada Qaisi states that the society lacks the communication skills to deal openly with these deaths and she also states that the police are more than willing to see a killing as suicide and not open an investigation into the death of a young girl. The police department refused to comment to the paper.

Turning to film, The War You Don't See is John Pilger's latest documentary. John Pilger has angered a number of people with recent attacks. While the documentary may have flaws (I didn't see any but I watched just to watch, not from a critical perspective), 'independent' Film Threat's pan of the film is still surprising. Phil Hall gives the film two stars, is offended that its focus includes the Iraq War. Those are his opinions, not ones I share, but he's entitled to them. He's not entitled to present this as fact: "But Pilger fails to mention that uncensored media coverage of the Vietnam War was the primary driving force in souring American support for the conflict." That has not been established. The government uses that as an excuse for the embed programs and other nonsense. But that's not established and has never been. Equally true, Vietnam lasted and lasted and lasted (not unlike the Iraq War) and the coverage grew more realistic as it went on. But the idea that there was uncensored media coverage during Vietnam by the corporate US press is really a joke. Even the My Lai Massacre received regional media and independent media coverage before it became a major corporate media story. If you're not getting how the claim Phil Hall presents as fact isn't a fact, grasp that the Pentagon Papers were explosive. The papers were published in 1971. Were they about 1971? No. Were they about US actions in Vietnam in 1970? No. They covered US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 through 1967. Had the corporate press been unfettered and providing uncensored coverage during that period, a great deal of the impact of the Pentagon Papers would have been blunted.

I understand why people are ticked off with Pilger for his recent attacks (and I'm not suggesting Hall is -- he comes across more as an uninformed War Hawk) but it is a good documentary.

The following community sites -- Jane Fonda,, Watching America, Susan's On The Edge and The Diane Rehm Show -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this news, " Human Rights Ambassador, William Gomes" ( -- click on link for full story):

(SALEM / DHAKA) - We are pleased to announce the appointment of our writer William Gomes of Bangladesh, to the position of Human Rights Ambassador. In this rapidly changing world, we believe this newly-created position and program, are large steps in raising our effectiveness as a news agency that has now expanded to include coverage from 100 reporters, in 22 countries worldwide.

William Gomes concentrates on humanity; his advocacy of human beings in dangerous, preventable circumstances does in fact, lead to some of our most vital reports, because they give a voice to the otherwise voiceless.

This of course is a mission of, a tireless band of writers, many of whom constantly explore the stinging issues surrounding human rights violations all over the world. We have long been a voice for the downtrodden, the people who fight for human independence, and resistance movements in the world that battle fascism and state terrorism.

What sets William apart, is that he covers the world as a whole, rather than concentrating on one specific region or country.

The appointment of William Gomes to this post is a result of his understanding of the broad spectrum of world human rights injustices, and his grasp on the issues that lead to the opportunity to drive intervention. Sometimes he writes letters about people held as political prisoners on the verge of death. Again I stress that human rights reporting is our centerpiece; and in that respect our reporters are all incredible ambassadors for humanity.

Suffering is something that almost always takes place in near-silence. We strongly object to this because the Internet is the key communication tool in freeing people from the bonds of inhumanity.

William has spent years building inroads with officials that have the power to politically intervene. His accomplishments are admirable. He has nurtured all of his relationships with intense professionalism and he is regarded as a patient, factual reporter.

Perhaps most importantly, he has also become a magnet for those who are suffering.

His contacts and resources regularly supply him with an updated list of enterprising stories that reveal human suffering in places like India, Vietnam, Peru, the United States, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada, the UK and a long list of other countries.

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