Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Women and journalists targeted in Iraq

Al Mada reports that yesterday in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the United Nations kicked off a campaign to end violence against women.  Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani spoke and noted that violence derives from inequality and that, since 2007, the KRG has participated in the global campaign to comabt violence against women.  He declared that women were very much a part of the Kurdistan revolution and noted that they had played important roles from the start.  He pointed out that the KRG has banned polygamy and called on the Baghdad-based government to do the same.

The US offers the pretense of diplomacy in Iraq only.  Forever scared of angering the petty tyrant Nouri, the US government is a timid being, afraid of being a power-broker out of fear of using power for any reason other than to keep the tiny despot Nouri in power.  Contrast that with the actions of England.  All Iraq News reports that a workshop combatting sexual violence that the British Embassy co-sponsored yesterday, British Ambasssador to Iraq Simon Cowles quoted Nouri's own words about the violence targeting Iraqi women and Cowles went on to declare that words have to be put into practice.  The Iraq Times notes the increasingly louder outrage over the Iraqi security forces illegally arresting Iraqi women and torturing them in Nouri's prisons and detention centers.  The paper adds that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq has called out Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi saying they have failed the female prisoners who are being raped and tortured.  On this issue, from yesterday's snapshot:

Still on the Iraqi Parliament, Saturday All Iraq News reported that the Women, Family and Children's Committee is calling for the Ministry of Justice to make prisons and detention centers open to legislative committees so they can see what the conditions are.  In addition, All Iraq News noted MP Safia al-Suhail is calling on the Ministry of Women to focus on eliminating violence against women in prison.  Today Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq accused security forces of raping and torturing women prison and he traces the culture back to the torture of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.  On Sautrday, the article notes, Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani discussed the large number of women who have been raped in Iraqi prisons and are in fear of further assaults.

The same Iraq Times article notes a journalist who has been imprisoned since February.  That journalist is noted in a release from the Journalistic Freedom Observatory that Global Research has translated:

On 25 November 2012 The Iraqi News Network published an urgent statement of the Iraqi NGO Journalism Freedoms Observatory(JFO). This Journalist Advocacy group asks Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to immediately interfere and investigate the circumstances behind the arrest of Sabah Hasan,a journalist arrested on 20 February 2012, almost ten months ago. She used to live and work in Baghdad, but she was transferred to the notorious Tasfirat prison in Tikrit, that witnessed at the end of September the largest prison break in recent history, when over 100 inmates allegedly escaped.
She was brutally tortured in the Major Crimes Directorate, which is located in one of Saddam’s palaces. JFO demands that the officers who tortured her should be submitted to interrogations. Some of them are already in jail because of the escape of some prisoners a few weeks ago.Sabah Hasan was accused of crimes she didn’t commit. JFO states that the victim’s daughter, Shatha Salah, used to work since the last four years with her mother as a photographer for the Free Opinion Newspaper that is issued and distributed in Baghdad and other governorates. Shatha assured that she has medical reports confirming the terrible torture her mother has been facing for months.
They have beaten her mother, burned her with cigarettes all over her body,taking off all her clothes and wrapping her in a blanket to be transferred to Tikrit Prison while everyone was watching. Her daughter added that the injuries covered 85% of her mother’s body. Shatha said that Tikrit Operations Leader Kareem Al-Khazraji assisted her to take her mother to Baghdad after they were sure that she didn’t commit any crime. Now she is at the headquarters of the Fifth Brigade of the Iraqi Army in Al-Sayidiyah District.
Sabah was arrested last February while she was trying to bring back a car for one of her relatives thatwas taken by the Traffic Office after a traffic violation. Sabah was shocked to find out she was wanted in Tikrit for having a role in the killing of the brother of Nahida Al-Daini, a member of the Iraqi Parliament. Later investigations proved that Sabah had nothing to do with that assassination, but then she was accused of other crimes without any evidence.
Sabah works in Baghdad as a Chief Editor for theFree Opinion Newspaperduring the past four years. She has six children and a handicapped husband. Her daughter told JFO that her mother now experiences terrible conditions in one of the detention centers related to the Ministry of Interior, because there are not enough cells for the female prisoners in Shaab Stadium Tasfirat Prison. This was confirmed by a source in the Ministry of Interior who stated that there are no places available for female prisoners in this detention, called Site 4. He also added that human rights organizations should raid this prison and immediately start an investigation to take serious actions against the brutal prison guards and the forces of the Ministry of Interior, which are under the command of Maliki.
Shatha is trying to contact some Parliament members and political personalities who could help with her mother’s release, and bring to justice the persons who tortured her and caused terrible psychological and physical pain. JFOis making the same demands through the Legal Centre and a team of lawyers who will defend her do their best to get her released,and bring the criminals to the court.

Sunday the Iraq Times noted that Nouri's Dawa Party was targeting Al Baghdadi and the paper noted they stood in solidarity with the cable outlet.  Iraqi Times notes that the cable outlet was prevented by security forces working for Nouri's office from entering Kadhimiya and filming.  (This is the city that the US set up the base Camp Justice and  where Saddam Hussein was executed.)

On the topic of journalism, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) wrote last night, "Reporters Without Borders condemned the previously unreported death of a newspaper editor, Samir Sheikh Ali, who was gunned down on November 17 in the Sheikh Omar district of Baghdad."  First off, good for Reporters Without Borders for finally noting the death:

“Our thoughts go out to Ali’s family and colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the Iraqi authorities to conduct an independent investigation into all the circumstances surrounding this murder and to bring both the perpetrators and instigators to justice.”
The media freedom organization added: “The authorities have a duty to protect journalists and to combat the impunity enjoyed by those who try to silence the media.”

They issued that yesterday.

That puts them one up on the Comittee to Protect Journalists which still hasn't noted the death.  In fairness to CPJ, neither outlet noted the murder of journalist Zia Medhi last month, she was stabbed to death in Baghdad while working that day on a story about Iraq's LGBTs and about women being falsely arrested -- hundreds for prostitution.  When she attempted to question the police, she was told that if she left her colleagues, they'd answer her questions.  She didn't feel that was safe and she left.  Shortly afterwards, she was stabbed to death on the streets of Baghdad.  It would be real nice if CPJ and Reporters Without Borders could at least include her in the death count they keep for journalists.  It's really too damn late for either outlet to issue a statement expressing their 'sorrow' at her passing.  That would come off very insincere -- because it would be insincere -- but they could include her int he count.  And, again, CPJ could get off their lazy ass and finally issue something on Samir Sheikh Ali before the month ends.

As for the death being unreported as Griffis claims, Sunday November 18th, the day after the murder, we wrote, "Meanwhile the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Baghdad is calling for the condemnation of the murder of journalist Samir Sheikh Ali, the editor of Al-Jamaheer.  He was 61-years-old and was killed last night while driving his car in Baghdad.  He took three gunshots to the chest.  His survivors include a wife and three sons."  The death was reported, in real time, by JFO.  They are also only one of two who noted the murder of Zia Medhi in October (the other was Kitabat).

[Note immediately after this posted, I came back in to correct "Iraqi Times" to "Iraq Times."  My apologies for my error.  It is the Iraq Times.]

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Pacifica Evening News, Black Agenda Report, Tavis Smiley, The Diane Rehm Show and C-SPAN --  updated last night and this morning:

David Bacon's most recent book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.  Last week, David Bacon had an article -- essay with photos -- on Wal-Mart's strike at TruthOut entitled "The Story of a Walmart Strike."  I wish we'd noted that last week but we're backed up in the e-mails.  I told everyone that helps thank you and to take the week off.  So I'm the only one that's been working the e-mails until yesterday and there's a lot that I didn't get to.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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