Posted by Sadie from ? (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 at 10:15AM :
Bitta Mostofi, Voices in the Wilderness and Electronic Iraq
4 July 2003
It is not easy to read the news. We hear of continued fighting and death in Iraq, over a month after the "war's end". There has been no indication of any stable and functional electrical and water treatment facilities, and yet not a single individual in the administration has stepped forward to speak truthfully about the situation on the ground, or the manner in which they plan to resolve it. Rather, as quoted yesterday in Britain's Guardian, President Bush stated in response to attacks on troops, "bring them on". The Guardian writes, "the US has lost 196 soldiers in combat or accidents since going to war, a third of them since the president's victory speech on board the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier on May 1."
Michael Birmingham, currently in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness, paints a rather bitter picture of life in Baghdad. "Colin Powell suggested in Mid-February, as cited in the Washington Post, that it was essential after the war for Iraqis to see an immediate improvement in their living conditions. The complete opposite was achieved. Instead of real improvement Bremer has simply gone for pubic relations. He simply says there is an improvement, and he gets away with it."
"The reality on the streets and in the homes around Iraq tells a different story. Last Saturday afternoon, while walking along Saddoun Street, beside Tahrir Square, one of Baghdad's busiest commercial spots, I watched the new 'safe' Baghdad in action. Three men emerged from a side street and amidst hysteria they proceeded to attempt to steal a car. While large crowds on both sides of the street watched in fear, the men alternated between jumping on cars and running at the crowds on the pavement. Eventually people got guns and fired at them, while others picked up stones and masonry and threw them at the three men. They managed to steal a car, but amidst fire from Kalashnikovs and pistols from both sides of the road, they didn't get very far. One of the men escaping under fire got back to the crowd who then grabbed him, dragged him to the ground and jumped on his head and body, kicking him until he looked nearly dead. They eventually stopped, and maybe 15 or twenty minutes later some U.S. troops and Iraqi police arrived." (http://electroniciraq.net/news/926.shtml)
The U.S. government has enlisted such private groups as DynCorp to step in as a police and security force. The following is a list of qualifications required of the
company's workers for its team in Iraq.
·Applicant must have a total of ten (10) years of sworn civilian domestic law enforcement or corrections experience.
·Actively serving sworn law enforcement officers or corrections officers, or recently separated sworn law enforcement officers or corrections officers (within 5 years but 3 years is prefered).
·Ability to communicate in English.
·Valid US driver's license and ability to operate a standard transmission vehicle.
·Valid U.S. passport will be required.
·We are seeking applicants with two years experience in specialized skills.
This list does not include: the ability to communicate in Arabic, understanding and extensive knowledge of the culture and history of the country and its people, any education in non-violence and peacekeeping. In addition to the importance of the individuals chosen to work within Iraq, are the standards one might expect from the company that is employing them. DynCorp is the very private security company used in Bosnia, who later fired two employees who complained that colleagues were involved in Bosnian forced-prostitution rings. This is the security the U.S. government has in store for Iraqis.
Michael writes, "Iraq feels eerily like a country that could be near the precipice of sliding into a terrible hell. Nearly three months into rule by the self-proclaimed occupying powers, and everywhere are to be seen the seeds of peril, interspersing a population desperately hoping for a different future."
While Iraqis struggle to maintain some sense of normalcy and life for their families and children, it has become rather evident that the wounds that come with any war have not been given the time and space to heal. A dear friend writes from Iraq, "Now we have to focus on the kids because they are suffering too much. All that they have witnessed during the past 4 months was the war or violence. They are just talking about the weapons and dead bodies. The problem is nobody thinks about them. The parents and the teachers in theschools worry about their salaries and security and they can listen to their kids and talk with them. We say in Arabic, 'if you don't have something, you can't give it'. So, the parents and the teachers can't give the kids peace because they can't feel it.
There is much work to be done in order to ensure a feeling and reality of peace for Iraqis. We ask that you join us in the coming months as we continue to work towards this goal. Please visit our website www.vitw.org to learn more about "Spotlight Iraq".
Bitta Mostofi, for Voices in the Wilderness
Events to consdier participating in:
Several leading scholars and activists will be among the presenters at a conference on depleted uranium and uranium weapons entitled "Depleted Uranium/Uranium Weapons: The Trojan Horses of Nuclear War." This international organizing conference will take place in Hamburg, Germany, from Oct 16 to 19, 2003. Among the moderators of the conference will be Mr. Hans von Sponeck. For more information, call Marion Kupker in Germany at 011-49-40-4307-332 or visit www.uraniumweaponsconference.de. Conference members particularly need help at this time to raise funds and resources.
Call to Action, a Catholic organization for church and social renewal, will be sponsoring their annual conference in Milwaukee from Nov. 7-9, 2003. The conference, entitled "Called to be Peacemakers: Prophetic Leadership for
World and Church," includes keynote speakers Edwina Gateley, Rev. James Lawson, and Garry Wills. This year, Call to Action will honor Voices in the Wilderness and Kathy Kelly with its 2003 leadership award. If you'd like to register for the conference, contact Call to Action at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 773-404-0004. July 15th is the first early discount deadline for registration.
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