Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, December 27, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, an Iraqi reporter is kidnapped from her home, and much more.

In the allegedly US 'liberated' Iraq, another journalist has been kidnapped in Baghdad.  Gunmen representing as security forces kidnapped Iraqi journalist Afra Shawq al-Qasi.. 

Outspoken Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi kidnapped from her home in Baghdad, sources say

AP explains, "Unidentified gunmen broke into the house of a female journalist and activist in Baghdad late Monday night and kidnapped her, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, a reminder of the dangers journalists face in a country where authorities have struggled to maintain security nationwide."  BBC NEWS notes:

On Monday, Ms Qaisi wrote an article in which she expressed anger that armed groups could act with impunity.
The article, published by the Aklaam website, criticised an interior ministry officer who she said had assaulted the principal of a school in the southern city of Nasiriya for refusing to punish a pupil who had quarrelled with his daughter.
"There is nothing worse in a country than humiliating a teacher; nothing is worse than neglect by those who carry weapons," Ms Qaisi wrote. "If the state is anxious to preserve its prestige, it should hold accountable whoever uses weapons illicitly."

AFP quotes the head of Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Ziad al-Ajili stating, "Eight armed men burst into her house in Saidiya dressed in plain clothes and entered by pretending to belong to the security forces. They tied up her son and stole mobile phones, computers and cash before kidnapping Afrah and fleeing."

Freedom of press is vital for our nascent democracy. We mourn the loss of Iraqi journalists this year.

From last Wednesday's snapshot:

Moving to an update, in Monday's snapshot, we noted:

Reporters Without Borders notes at the top of their webiste:

Since January 2016 :

Here, we call it 75 journalists.

Somehow, they end up with 74 journalists killed this year and they note in (PDF format warning) "ROUND-UP 2016 of journalists killed worldwide:"

A total of 74 journalists were murdered or killed in connection with their work in 2016, compared with 101 last year.  This significant fall is due in part to the fact that more and more journalists are fleeing countries that have become too dangerous: not only Syria, Iraq, and Libya, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Burundi, which have now also become, to varying degrees, news and information black holes where impunity reigns.

The five deadliest countries were Syria (19 killed), Afghanistan (10 killed), Mexico (9 killed), Iraq (7 killed) and Yemen (5 killed).

Actually, Iraq was a lot more deadly.  And it's new numbers put it behind Syria and ahead of Afghanistan making it the second most deadly country for journalists.


As many as 13 Iraqi journalists were killed and 179 others were attacked across Iraq during 2016, a rights group has revealed in a new report. Most of those killed lost their lives at the hands of [the Islamic State] militants while covering the war in the country, said the Iraqi Journalists’ Rights’ Defence Association.
Apart from physical violence, many journalists have also been threatened by persons unknown for publishing stories about corruption in state institutions. “There is a lack of interest shown by Iraq’s security services in following up such threats and initiating formal investigations,” the report noted.

State institutions are deliberately obscuring and withholding information from various media outlets, it explained. They tend to deal negatively with journalists and correspondents for satellite TV channels.

Grasp that: In Iraq, Iraqi journalists are threatened for reporting on corruption.

For context, in the US pundits are whining about Donald Trump and his threat to the press.

What threat?

Better question: What press?

Name one expose the press published during the eight years Barack Obama has been president.

Don't count whistle-blower Ed Snowden's revelations because the US press went out of their way to attack Ed and to down play what was exposed.

They've gone out of their way not to rock Barack's boat.

They've repeatedly failed to do their job.

And now they whine about Donald Trump.

But Iraqi reporters risk real danger and still they report.

And maybe for a minute or two, the western press notes that before quickly forgetting.

Dropping back to the September 8, 2011 snapshot:

In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered.  In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis. 
Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home.  Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did.  And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree.  Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories?  (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.)  So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual),  Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

Let's pull from the February 28, 2011 snapshot:
Over the weekend, a number of journalists were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square. Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) notes:

["]During a news conference held on Sunday, four journalists -- Hussam Saraie of Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, Ali Abdul Sada of the Al-Mada daily, Ali al-Mussawi of Sabah newspaper and Hadi al-Mehdi of Demozee radio -- reported being handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened by security forces. They also claimed they were held in custody for nine hours and forced to sign a document, the contents of which were not revealed to them.
Aswat al Iraq news agency reported that the journalists will file a court case against the executive authority in response to the alleged violations of their civil rights.
This episode is the latest in a series of repressive measures adopted by security forces in order to stifle media reports about the current political and social
NPR's Kelly McEvers interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him.  Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people.  So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses.  He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded.  Eventually he was released.  Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein.  He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators. 
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
Madhi had filed a complained with the courts against the Iraqi security forces, noting that they had now warrant and that they kidnapped him in broad daylight and that they beat him.  Mohamed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Hadi al-Mehdi was inside his apartment on Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad when gunmen shot him twice with silencer-equipped pistols, said the ministry official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to media."  Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that in addition to calling for improvements in the basic services (electricity, water and sanitation), on his radio program, Hadi al-Mehdi also used Facebook to get the word out on the Friday protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
Al Mada notes that Hadi has been killed on the eve of tomorrow's protest.  The youth activists took the month of Ramadan off and announced that they would return to downtown Baghdad on September 9th (tomorrow).  And tomorrow they'll now be minus at least one.  Al Mada quotes Hadi writing shortly before he died on his Facebook page about the demonstration, noting that it would herald the emergence of real democracy in the new Iraq, an Iraq with no sectarian grudges, just hearts filled with tolerance and love, hearts saying no to corruption, looting, unemployment, hearts demaning a better Iraq and a government for the people because Iraqis deserve the best and they deserve pride and dignity.  The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "The funeral of the martyred jouranlist Hady Mahdy, who was killed earlier today will process from his Karrad home where he was assassinated to Tahrir Square. The funeral procession will commence at around 9 A.M."
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns the well-known journalist Hadi Al-Mahdi's murder in Baghdad today, on the eve of nationwide protests that he supported. His body was found at around 7 p.m. in his home in the central district of Al-Karada. He had been shot twice in the head. There can be no doubt that his murder was politically motivated.
Offering its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to quickly investigate this murder and to assign all the necessary resources to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice. This crime cannot go unpunished.
Aged 44, a Shiite and married to a Kurd, Mahdi hosted a talk show called "To whoever listens" on Radio Demozy (104,01 FM). His irreverence, his well-observed criticism that spared no one, neither the prime minister nor his detractors, and his readiness to tackle subjects ranging from corruption to the deplorable state of the Iraqi educational system made it one of the most popular talk shows in Baghdad.
It was clear from the messages that Mahdi had sent to relatives that he knew he was in danger. He had received many warnings and had told friends two days ago that something terrible could happen (http://alalemya.com/alalemya_news/0_2011_5_/11_/11_9_1/8-9/hadi-al-mahdi.html). But he was determined to tough it out, regardless of the risks.
After covering a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 25 February, he and three fellow journalists were arrested, threatened and beaten.
Shortly after graduating from Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, Mahdi fled to Syria and then to Sweden and did not return until 2007, after nearly a decade in exile. He began hosting "To whoever listens" for Radio Demozy, an independent station, a year later. (A New York Times profile of Mahdi)
He was the seventh Iraqi journalist to be murdered since the start of 2011 and the 12th since the United States announced the withdrawal of its combat troops in August 2010.
Mahdi's murder comes exactly a month after the Iraqi parliament adopted a law on the protection of journalists on 9 August.
Nouri al-Maliki's forces beat Hadi.  They are under Nouri's command.  Nouri demonized the protesters all along.  He has repeated the slurs in the last weeks that the September 9th protests are organized by Ba'ahtists, are out to topple him, are out to turn Iraq into a lawless state and much more.  Did Little Saddam aka Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, order his forces to murder Hadi?  Regardless, he certainly created the climate for the murder at the very least.  At the more extreme?  Little Saddam may be dreaming of becoming the next Augusto Pinochet.

Hadi had a dream that Iraq could become what so many in the US press portrayed it as being, a democracy, a place of fairness, a government that provided for the people.  The youth activists will carry on the struggle, as will be evident tomorrow, but it says a great deal about the state of Iraq, he real state of Iraq, that Hadi can be targeted and murdered for wanting what so many US gas bags and US politicians and liars wnat to insist Iraq already has and is.

Hadi's assassination should have resulted in universal condemnation.

We never quoted the White House or the State Dept on Hadi's assassination -- because they never had a statement.

Yes, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State then but Barack was also president.

Neither cared enough to make a statement.

Neither cared enough to press the issue.

They wanted Nouri al-Maliki in charge of Iraq.

And they didn't want to create any trouble for the thug.

And the thugs who carried out the attack on Hadi remain free.

Possibly, they were part of the kidnapping last night?

It's not the Islamic State.

You know Barack and John Kerry wish it were.

But it's not.

It's a Shi'ite militia.

One of many given free reign in Baghdad.

And, most likely, no one will be charged.

The international community will fall silent as Alyssa Aleppo Milano does ever more cheerleading for a war on Syria and passes off her work for empire as peace.

But as the continued targeting (and killing) of reporters in Iraq for doing their job -- in fact, these aren't just "killings," these are assassinations.  And these continued assassinations will be ignored by all the tools of empire like Alyssa Aleppo Milano.

Winding down, singer-songwriter George Michael passed away Sunday.  He leaves behind a legacy of music and a legacy of humanity.

did songs against poverty, injustice & the Iraq war. He helped fund HIV charities. My recollections:

  1. George Michael refused to be ashamed after his arrest and he used his fame to try and hold Blair to account over Iraq. He was a badass. RIP.
  2. Supported miners during the strike, opposed Apartheid, campaigned for LGBT rights & spoke out against the war on Iraq. RIP
  3. George Michael was a great musician, but he also used his platform to oppose the war on Iraq, & released a charity single for Palestine. ✊๐Ÿฝ

  1. Not many people know this but was for a & against Iraq War. He was blacklisted by many from music media elite.
  2. RIP . He used his wealth to secretly help those in need, and fame to publicly support and oppose war
  3. In 2002/3, as many liberals hid, George Michael made two tracks attacking war on Iraq. Not a good career move for a pop star. Decent man.
  4. His 2002 song "Shoot the Dog" lampooned Blair and Bush's invasion of Iraq, which he opposed and called "madness"
  5. George Michael on the 2003 Iraq Invasion to the BBC
  6. A true gentle man, he backed the miners, opposed War on Iraq, fought bigotry, gave us our anthems
  7. :
    >spoke out against the Iraq war
    >gave NHS staff free gig tickets
    >played benefit gigs for miners
    >couldn't stand Thatcher
  8. George Michael on BBC Hardtalk talking about his opposition and protest vs. Blair and the invasion of Iraq

  1. In 2003, when George W. Bush criminally went to war against Iraq, George Michael sang The Grave in protest, .
  2. George Michael led the protest against invasion of Iraq, and recorded this Don McLean song.
  3. RIP George Michael. Watch his arguments against invading Iraq - intelligent, honest. HARDtalk Part 1/3
  4. Pop Singer George Michael was against the War in Iraq and pro Palestine!

  5. Opposed Iraq invasion, raised funds for miners, hated Thatcher, opened up about mental health illness. Good man x RIP
  6. George Michael was a hero for standing against the Iraq war.
  7. Opponent to Iraq war, Bush and Blair administration, legendary banned Shoot The Dog video
  8. Worth remembering George Michael recorded an obscure Don McLean cover in protest of the Iraq war and its great
  9. George Michael was a badman. Voice, words & heart. Stood up over Iraq too, when many 'cool' acts kept shtum. Sleep well.
  10. From 2003: George Michael blasts Blair over Iraq -

  11. George Michael  on  Hard Talk  'Iraq War'  3/3

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