We're less than a month away for a full year of persecution of activists in Iraq. The persecution continues. They are tracked, they are hunted, they are attacked and they are killed. By whom? ALJAZEERA has a special set to air Monday on this topic:
On Monday, September 14 at 19:30 GMT:
Nearly a year has passed since a wave of popular protest began in Iraq, with people across the country voicing their frustration over issues such as poor public services, unemployment, and corruption. Regular demonstrations have continued, but a string of attacks against activists and analysts has highlighted the ever-present danger of speaking out.
Two deadly attacks in Basra recently made
headlines around the world. Reham Yacoub, a 30-year-old doctor and
women's rights advocate, was shot dead by
unidentified assailants in the southern port city on August 19. She was
killed five days after Tahseen Osama, a father-of-four who regularly
took part in anti-corruption protests, was shot
dead by attackers who stormed the internet centre he owned. Two other
activists in Basra were hurt in an apparent assassination attempt that
News of the assaults was met with anger by Iraqis already on edge over the killing in July of Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert on armed groups who had received threats from Iran-backed militia organisations. Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has sacked Basra's police chief and says the killers of Yacoub and Osama will be brought to justice.
But security experts warn that Iraq's perennially
weak government has little control over militia groups, particularly in
southern Iraq. Meanwhile, protesters commonly face abuse, arbitrary
arrest and assault by Iraqi security forces, according to a report (PDF) released
by the United Nations in August. Iraq's government said on July 30 that
at least 560 people - protesters and police - had died since October in
protests and demonstrations.
The Stream will look at what spurred the attacks in Basra, the daily risks that pro-change voices in Iraq are facing, and what more the country's government can and should do to protect them. Join the conversation.
On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Dorsa Jabbari, @DorsaJabbari
Correspondent, Al Jazeera English
Founder and CEO, Iraqi Network for Social Media
Ali Al Bayati, @aliakramalbayat
Member, Iraqi Independent High Commission for Human Rights
Iraqis protest as hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients - Al Jazeera
Protesters set fire to Iraq parliament's regional office in Basra - Al Jazeera
It's cute how the same press that refused to call out making the militias part of the Iraqi government's security forces now pretend to wonder what happened and how? We've called out that merger since Nouri al-Maliki's second term when the forever thug was proposing it. We called it out when Haider al-Abadi was prime minister and proposing it. We called it out when he made the militias part of the government forces. From the March 9, 2018 snapshot:
REUTERS reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a decree on Thursday formalizing the inclusion of Shi’ite paramilitary groups in the country’s security forces." The militias did not liberate any city, they terrorized citizens. This has been documented at length by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. These crimes did not lead to any punishment. Pressed, Hayder would insist that there would be an investigation and then, when the media light moved elsewhere, the matter was dropped. A woman whose 'crime' was being (or being accused of being) the sister of a member of ISIS has been sentenced to death. But the Shi'ite militia groups who destroyed homes and terrorized people? They aren't convicted of anything (nor are their sisters, brothers, etc).
Let that soak in for just a minute.
You are a Shi'ite militia groups -- or even a Shi'ite member of the real Iraqi military -- and you kill civilians -- especially Sunnis and Kurds -- and you torch their homes and that's not going to get you dragged before a judge. You will not be punished. This has repeatedly been made clear.
Now let's note this from RUDAW:
Abadi, however, was less optimistic about the ability of his, or any, government to solve the “age-old” divisions between communities.
“The role of the government is not to solve religious or sectarian or ethnic problems. These are age-old. I don’t think any government of the day can solve all differences,” he said.
Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni differences were brought under the spotlight once again during months’ long efforts to pass the government’s 2018 budget bill. The bill was finally passed last week despite a boycott by Kurdish MPs who maintain their constitutional rights were ignored in the bill in the wake of Kurdistan’s vote for independence from Iraq last fall and Baghdad’s subsequent efforts to exert federal control over the autonomous region and the disputed areas.
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on May 12 and provincial elections on December 22.
The government, Hayder insists, cannot solve differences.
Even though, please note, it's Hayder's government that promotes the differences -- differences in justice, differences in rights, differences in safety.
Hayder is a failure and a War Criminal but the US government will continue to back the puppet. The US government will keep the US military in Iraq to prop up Hayder. (And Germany's adding more troops to Iraq, according to Chancellor Angela Merkal.)
He's a failure and those under him know they can get away with anything -- including murder.
KURDISTAN 24 reports:
Hayder is a fraud.
Hayder was out (October 2018) and CIA favorite Adil Abdul-Mahdi was in. But Hayder's hideous decision was something Iraq was stuck with. Which was why, a year after it, you started seeing headlines like "Iraq Prime Minister Tries to Reign In Militias" (NEW YORK TIMES) and "Iraq PM orders Iran-allied militias to be reigned in" (REUTERS).
They were caught surprised. We weren't. Common sense was all you needed to know the militias being made official Iraqi forces was a recipe for disaster.
In the United States? Yeserday, US President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Iraq War veteran Sgt Maj Thomas Patrick "Pat" Payne.
At the ceremony, Donald noted:
Pat grew up in a small town in South Carolina. His dad is a police officer. His grandfathers served in World War Two, in Korea, Vietnam. Service to our country really goes through their veins very, very rapidly.
Exactly 19 years ago today — on September 11th, 2001 — news of the attack on our nation’s great, great country — this was just an attack like has never happened to us. But it went through Pat’s high school — and went through his classroom. And Pat was sitting there, listening. His teacher solemnly told the students that their generation had a fight to win. They were going to fight and fight to win. In that moment, Pat was called to action. He knew that his country needed him.
Ten short months later, at the age of 18, Pat was in Army basic training at Fort Benning. Soon, he joined the elite ranks of the legendary Army Rangers. Pat became an exceptional soldier and expert sniper. He saw heavy combat in multiple theatres of battle.
In 2010, during a deployment in Afghanistan, his leg was severely wounded by an enemy grenade. While recovering in South Carolina, Pat met with his wife, Alison. Well, that was probably not a bad wound then, was it? Huh? It was worth — (laughter) — I hope you’re going to say it was worth it. (Laughter.) It was.
Less than two years after being injured, Pat competed against some of America’s toughest warriors and won the prestigious Best Ranger Competition, among the most grueling physical contests anywhere in the country.
In October of 2015, on his 14th deployment, Pat was part of a team assigned to plan and conduct an operation to rescue over 70 Kurdish prisoners being held by ISIS barbarians in Iraq. The team soon received horrifying intelligence that the terrorists were planning to massacre their captives and bury them in freshly dug graves. Pat and his teammates raced into action.
After midnight, on October 22, Pat boarded a helicopter and departed on a mission to free the hostages from two buildings guarded by dozens of ruthless and bloodthirsty ISIS terrorists. He was in command of a team clearing one of the compounds. As soon as the ramp to his helicopter went down, Pat rushed into a blistering hail of gunfire. Pat and his team swiftly overpowered the enemy, secured the building, and freed 38 of the hostages.
Then Pat received word that the rest of the assault team was facing harsh resistance in another complex. Pat turned to one of his fellow soldiers and said, “Let’s get into the fight right now. Let’s get into the fight.” He saw that the other building was on fire and he knew more of the hostages were still trapped inside. He and his team climbed up ladders to the roof and opened up fire on the enemy. Multiple ISIS fighters detonated suicide vests, ripping a portion of the building into pieces.
But Pat and his fellow Rangers fought through the fire, the bullets, and the deadly blasts. Pat navigated to the front door and saw the captives were being held behind a metal door secured by two very heavy padlocks. He grabbed a pair of bolt cutters and ran through smoldering flame and smoke. As bullets impacted all around him, Pat succeeded in cutting one of the locks before scorching, sweltering heat forced him to leave the building for some air.
Pat caught his breath in a few seconds and was back. He ran right back into that raging blaze. He sliced the final lock and released the rest of the hostages as the building began to collapse. He received orders to evacuate, but he refused to do so; he didn’t want to leave anyone behind.
Pat ran back into the burning building that was collapsing two more times. He saved multiple hostages, and he was the last man to leave. He wouldn’t leave. No matter what they said, no matter who ordered him to do it, he wouldn’t do it. He was the last one out. It was one of the largest and most daring rescue missions in American history. Pat and his team rescued 75 captives and killed 20 ISIS terrorists.
Pat, you embody the righteous glory of American valor. We stand in awe of your heroic daring and gallant deeds. You truly went above and beyond the call of duty to earn our nation’s highest military honor.
Pat would be the first to remind us that he was not alone that day. In the battle, one Army Ranger made the ultimate sacrifice: Master Sergeant Josh Wheeler. Josh was something. Right, Pat? Josh was something. You’ve — you’ve said that before.
Today, we’re deeply moved to be joined by Master Sergeant Wheeler’s wife, Ashley Wheeler. Ashley, our hearts break for your loss. A great man. That was a great man.
Ashley — where is Ashley? Ashley, please stand up. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, Ashley.
Our nation endures because fearless warriors like Josh are willing to lay down their lives for our freedom. Our children can grow up in peace because Josh had the courage to face down evil. Our debt to him and to you is everlasting. And again, thank you very much, Ashley. We appreciate it very much. We will honor him forever. You know that. Very special group of warriors, men — great men.
Pat has said that as soon as our soldiers’ boots hit the ground, they are ambassadors of the American way of life. Everywhere they go, the men and women of our armed forces instill our friends with hope, our enemies with dread, and our fellow citizens with unyielding American pride.
Over the course of his service, Pat has embarked on an astounding — really, an astounding 17 deployments in defense of our nation.
Donald has presented the Medal of Honor numerous times in his presidency. Past honorees during his presidency include Specialist Five James C. McCloughan (Vietnam War), Captain Gary Michael Rose (Vietnam War), Master Chief Britt Slabinski (Afghanistan War), First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner (WWII), Technical Sergeant John Chapman (Afghanistan War), Staff Sergeant Ronald Shurer (Afghanistan War), Sergeant Major John Canley (Vietnam War), Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins (Iraq War), Staff Sergeant David Bellavia (Iraq War) and Master Sergeant Matthew Williams (Afghanistan War).
On the subject of veterans, there's an update to the case against Iraq War veteran Samuel Junkin. Danille Zoellner (INDEPENDENT) reports:
A disabled Iraq War veteran faces five years in prison for marijuana possession after an Alabama judge denied his release, citing his past criminal record.
Alabama circuit judge Samuel Junkin denied a motion that would allow Sean Worsley to move to a community supervision programme instead of a state prison on Wednesday.
Mr Worsley was arrested for marijuana possession while driving through Alabama from his home state of Arizona, where he has been legally prescribed the drug. If convicted, he could face five years in the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Currently, Worsley is sitting in Pickens County Jail awaiting transport to state prison to begin serving a five-year sentence for marijuana possession. Junkin’s denial came after months of legal efforts to keep Worsley, a Purple Heart recipient, out of prison.
Advocates for Worsley’s release said they believed they had an iron-clad case for his transfer to community supervision. Junkin’s denial cited issues with Worsley’s pre-incarceration probation and felony charges. Previously, he had been arrested for non-violent marijuana charges and pleaded guilty.
[. . .]
Fox News spoke to Beau Armistead, the certified trauma professional who has been offering Worsley one free Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy session a week for as long as he needed it. Armistead said an uncontrolled environment like prison could cause Worsley’s condition to worsen.
“When you live with that level of hypervigilance and you’re in an environment that’s already stressful and chaotic and a bit scary, like prison, it just ramps that up and causes an extreme amount of stress,” he added.
There is no justice. There is no concern over the health or medical needs of Sean. He never should have been arrested to begin with and the state of Alabama is a damn, dirty joke if they think they can interfere with the medical treatment of anyone -- let alone a veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. Shame on them.
The following sites udpated: