Monday, January 28, 2013

Over 320 dead from violence so far this month in Iraq

With January winding down at the end of this week, Iraq Body Count is counting 320 violent deaths so far this month through Saturday.  Margaret Griffis ( reports yesterday saw four deaths (2 Iraqi soldiers and a husband and wife) and eleven injured in Iraq.  Today?  All Iraq News notes an armed attack just northeast of Baghdad resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier, 1 corpse was discovered (shot to death) in Mosul and 1 driver of a Baghdad provincial council member was shot dead in Baghdad.

In addition to violence, the Iraqi people are also at risk of death from illness. Dar Addustour reports there are 89 confirmed cases of Avian Flu in Iraq at present.  There is one confirmed case in Dhi Qar Province with four more suspected.  Avian Flu is also known as bird flu and H5N1 virus.  The United Nations noted Friday that Iraq had 1 death from Avian Flu and that Cambodia and China also saw deaths.  They also note that Iraq has imposed a poultry ban.  The Center for Disease Control notes "virus infection of humans is rare" but that over 600 human cases have been reported "since November 2003."  How do people get avian flu?  The CDC notes, "In the majority of cases, the person got HPAI H5N1 virus infection after direct or close contact with sick or dead infected poultry.  Other HPAI H5N! risk factors include visiting a live poultry market and prolonged, unprotected close contact with a sick HPAI H5N1 patient."

The government has attempted to blame the outbreaks on "foreign workers."  Rather ironic when you consider how much they are paying some foreign workers to take jobs in Iraq.  Nasiriyah News Network reports that Dhi Qar Province has allocated two billion dinars to pay for foreign doctors to work in the province. Azzaman reports that the Ministry of Planning's spokesperson Abdulzahra al-Hindawi stated last week that they had reduced the official unemployment rate from 38% (2004) to 20% (last year).

And if they had used that money over the last years to train Iraqis to be doctors and nurses?  No one wants to make that point apparently.  Or to point out that doctors and nurses who were not part of the pre-2007 "brain drain" have asked repeatedly for protection and, had the government provided protection, many Iraqi doctors and nurses might have been willing to remain in the country.

As protests continue in Iraq, All Iraq News reports Iraqiya MP Falah Zaidan stated that the continued refusal to meet the demands of the protesters is threatening stability in Iraq.  Alsumaria notes that tribal sheikhs have declared Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has four months to resolve the issue of Article IV.  Article IV is the law that allows for the mass arrests of 'terrorists' -- it allows, among other things, for the authorities to take in the wife, mother, daughter, sister, brother, father, son, etc. of a suspect when you can't locate the suspect.  This is why so many innocent people are in Iraqi jails and why there are no trials for them.  They can't hold a trial to charge you with the 'crime' of being related to someone -- and they shouldn't be able to hold you in prison for that either.  Dirk Adriaensens of the BRussells Tribunal writes about the prison situation in Iraq:

Azzaman reported on 25 January:
The question “How many times did you blow yourself up?” is part of a joke doing rounds in Iraq. It refers to a prisoner who under duress and in order to prevent his interrogators from torturing him any further admitted that he had blown himself up several times.For his tormentors the response was ‘good’ enough to brand him ‘terrorist’ and keep him behind bards without proper trial for many years.Many Iraqi prisoners, some of them still languishing in their prison cells and other released, speak of their torture and imprisonment in Iraqi jails in these terms.
Hurling empty and ridiculous accusations is part of the skills that U.S. troops and their jailers have bequeathed Iraqi security forces.The shortest way for an Iraqi in custody today is to quickly confess to the accusation hurled at him to escape humiliation and torture.
The issue of tens of thousands of jailed Iraqis is at the top of demands of Iraqi demonstrators and protesters.Stories of families being destroyed following the arrest of their breadwinners without charges and proper trial are common in Iraq.Some of the prisoners started their terms at the age of 19 or even younger and have been in jail for many years without trial.
Would the government have the guts to ponder the future of a young generation in prison for so long and of children whose father has been jailed simply on ungrounded suspicions and for so long? What kind of future awaits them?The government should listen carefully to the demands of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets of major cities in central Iraq.
Freeing prisoners and putting an end to jailing people without proper trial is only a first step. Maliki’s government should be dissolved and put on trial.Reparations should be paid to all the victims who have been unjustly and illegally detained for so many years, including the detainees in American administered prisons.
Many Human Rights Organisations, including The BRussells Tribunal, have frequently alarmed the world community about the horrible conditions in Iraq prisons, where torture, rape, sodomy and outright murder are endemic.

Saturday the Parliament voted to limit the three presidencies (President, Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister) to two terms.  State of Law has spent the time since insisting the law is unconstitutional.  All Iraq News notes that Parliament's Legal Committee states that the law is constitutional and that it is needed to maintain a peaceful transition of power.  The Iraq Times notes whispers that Dawa (Nouri's political party), like Nouri's government, is on the verge of collapse.

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