CPT Iraq Update

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 4:13PM :

CPT "Live Cartoon" highlights plight of teachers
Christian Peacemaker Team, Baghdad
courtesy of electroniciraq.net

21 May 2003

On 21 May 2003 in Baghdad, in Paradise Square, CPT member Stewart Vriesinga dressed up as a U.S. soldier and Lisa Martens as an Iraqi school teacher with signs in front of them in Arabic and English saying:

U.S. Soldier
Job: Guarding Oil Ministry
Pay: $4000.00 / month


Iraqi Teacher
Job: Forming young minds and future leaders
Pay: $0.00-$20.00

The live cartoon attracted several press persons and affirmation from about 40 Iraqi civilian passers-by. One Iraqi schoolteacher from Najaf stopped to explain that his area was being neglected by U.S. authorities and aid organizations.

On 14,15, and 20 May 2003, the team visited four schools in Baghdad, where teachers are teaching more than 2,600 students without a salary. By today, at least some have received a one-time payment of $20.00. In the current economy, that will buy about:

two kilograms of milk powder

two kilograms of meat

two kilograms of oranges

six litres of bottled water and

thirty eggs.

In all the schools CPT visited, most of the staff's own families needs for transportation, medication, clothing, etc. are not being met, but they insisted they despised charity and want to be civil servants paid with Iraq's own riches.

One principal cleaned up her school, and had Iraqi engineers remove the bullets that littered the area. She personally invited each of her teachers back, as there is no telephone communication in most of Baghdad. Although computers, carpets and loudspeakers have been looted from her school, her classrooms are full of children.

In another school in the Palestine Street Neighborhood, after U.S. forces cleaned up unexploded ordnance, children returned to class, but a young school boy found 30 more ordnance on the other side of a wall about 20 feet from the school on Sunday 12 May. Children were sent home until U.S. forces came again to clean up.

The teachers and principals that CPT members talked with at all four schools commented at length on the incompetence of the coalition forces and their failure to provide a interim government helpful to the people.

CPT members are presenting the following questions to authorities:

1) In a setting in which food prices have doubled and tripled in the last couple of months, and teachers haven't gotten a salary over the same length of time, where is the promised interim Iraqi government that will pay teachers a decent salary?

2) Children are studying in 30 and 40 degree Celsius weather. Their schools are hooked up to the grid, so why do they not have consistent electricity for fans or air-conditioning?

3) We are committed to non-violence and do not promote armed solutions. At the same time, we are compelled to ask on behalf of the hundreds of Iraqi who have brought our attention to the problem: Why is it that, while the Oil Ministry and oil wells are well guarded by U.S. forces, when a school asks for security to ensure that, for example, young girl students will not be abducted, or that their remaining supplies will not be looted, the U.S. fail to provide protection?

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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