Mesopotamian dictionary completed after 90 years’ work

June 8, 2011 at 8:53 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Mesopotamian dictionary completed after 90 years’ work

Project begun in 1921 to translate ancient cuneiform finally concluded

Cuneiform tablet

A clay tablet of ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform. Photograph: University of Chicago

A 21-volume dictionary detailing an ancient Mesopotamian language has finally been completed after 90 years’ work.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary identifies and explains the words carved in stone and written in cuneiform on clay tablets by Babylonians and Assyrians in Mesopotamia between 2500 BC and AD100.

The project was first embarked upon in 1921 by James Henry Breasted, founder of Chicago University’s Oriental Institute, and has seen millions of index cards referencing 28,000 words in the Semitic Akkadian language compiled over the last 90 years.

The various meanings for each word are laid out in the 21-volume dictionary, as well as their context and means of use. The entry for the word “umu”, for example, meaning day, runs to 17 pages and covers its use in the Epic of Gilgamesh: “Those who took crowns who had rule of the land in the days of yore.”

Robert Biggs, a professor emeritus at the Oriental Institute, worked as an archaeologist on digs recovering tablets as well as on the dictionary, spending almost 50 years on the project. “You’d brush away the dirt, and then there would emerge a letter from someone who might be talking about a new child in the family, or another tablet that might be about a loan until harvest time. You’d realise that this was a culture not just of kings and queens, but also of real people, much like ourselves, with similar concerns for safety, food and shelter for themselves and their families,” he said. “They wrote these tablets thousands of years ago, never meaning for them to be read so much later, but they speak to us in a way that makes their experiences come alive.”

Matthew Stolper, a University of Chicago professor who devoted – on and off – 30 years to the dictionary, told the Associated Press  that “a lot of what you see is absolutely recognisable – people expressing fear and anger, expressing love, asking for love”.

“There are inscriptions from kings that tell you how great they are, and inscriptions from others who tell you those guys weren’t so great,” he said. “There’s also lot of ancient versions of ‘your check is in the mail’. And there’s a common phrase in old Babylonian letters that literally means ‘don’t worry about a thing’.”

The dictionary’s completion was announced by the University of Chicago yesterday. Director of the university’s Oriental Institute Gil Stein said it provided “the key into the world’s first urban civilisation”.

“Virtually everything that we take for granted … has its origins in Mesopotamia, whether it’s the origins of cities, of state societies, the invention of the wheel, the way we measure time, and most important the invention of writing,” he told the AP. “If we ever want to understand our roots, we have to understand this first great civilisation.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/07/wordsandlanguage-referenceandlanguages

Third Iraqi Turkmen Media Council Conference in Istanbul

April 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Posted in Turkmens | 1 Comment
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Third Iraqi Turkmen Media Council Conference

 Istanbul

10-12 April 2009

 

Merry Fitzgerald’s Speech

 

 

I thank the General Secretary and the Members of the Turkmen Media Council for inviting me to the 3rd Turkmen Media Conference and for giving me the opportunity to speak.

 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

 

Journalism in Iraq

 

Journalism in Iraq began with Zawra newspaper in June 1869, it was published in Turkish and later in Turkish and Arabic, its editor in chief was a Turkmen.

 

The Turkmen media in Kerkuk are almost a century old, their history goes back to even before the creation of the Iraqi state, indeed Havadis Gazetesi was the first newspaper which was published in the Turkish language in Kerkuk (in 1911), it was followed by Maaref Gazetesi in 1913.

 

After the First Word War, when Iraq came under British occupation,  the Turkmen media were published in two languages: Turkish and Arabic, i.e. Necme in 1918, Teceddüt in 1920, Kerkük Gazetesi, a weekly publication of Kerkük Municipality from 1926-1974, Ileri in 1935, Afak in 1954, Beshir in 1959 and Kardaşlik in 1960.

 

After the 14th July 1958 revolution in Iraq which brought down the monarchy and established the republic in Iraq a new constitution was written. In this first republican era constitution the Iraqi people were defined as being composed of Arabs and Kurds.

 

One can consider that the actual problem of the Turkmens in Iraq has started with this first republican era constitution which has discriminated and marginalised their community by down-grading it to the level of a minority with lesser rights than their Arab and Kurdish compatriots.

 

The Turkmens were not allowed to be educated in their mother tongue and whilst the Arabic and Kurdish media were able to flourish in Iraq the Turkmens lost the right to publish in their own language, with the consequence that today, Turkmen media have a shortage of professional journalists and are lagging behind.

 

In the north of Iraq where the majority of the Turkmens live and where the Turkmen region is located Turkmens have suffered from the policy of arabisation in the past and are suffering since April 2003 from the hegemonic policy of the dominant Kurdish parties who are applying the policy of kurdification of the Turkmen region (Turkmeneli) in the north of Iraq.

 

The Turkmen media can play a very important role in promoting and defending the rights of the Turkmen community, indeed, the media play a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy; they are the backbone of a democracy. The media can shape people’s opinions and it is not without reason that they are also called the fourth pillar of democracy alongside the executive, legislative and judiciary powers.

 

Hence, the Turkmen media’s role in the development of the Turkmen society in Iraq should not be under-estimated, the media’s role is to create a social awakening about the cultural heritage, it has to build confidence and instil a sense of responsibility particularly among the youth.

 

As far as I know, since 2003 up to now, the Turkmens of Iraq do not yet have their own daily newspaper published in their language, this is unfortunate and all the Turkmens with their different political parties and organizations must realize that it neither logical nor acceptable for a community of almost 3 million people which considers itself rightfully as the third main ethnic community in Iraq, not to have a daily paper published in their language.

 

In these troubled times it is important for Turkmens to be kept informed about the political developments in Iraq, this will enable them to defend their cause and to demand their rights.

 

With the proliferation of alternative media, websites and blogs the Turkmens also have the opportunity to make the international public opinion aware of their situation and this requires a good knowledge of foreign languages To get people’s attention and to be credible Turkmens should give special attention to the quality of their writings, as sloppy texts are often misunderstood and do not draw the attention of the readers.

 

Turkmen youth in Iraq should therefore be encouraged to study communication and journalism and they should be given a chance to study abroad in order to learn foreign languages such as English, French, Spanish and German and become familiar with other cultures.  Young Turkmens of the Diaspora should also be encouraged to study communication, as they already have the advantage of being familiar with foreign cultures.

 

Iraq’s Future

 

On the subject of Iraq’s future a lot has been said and published in the media, US and EU experts  are giving their opinions and advice, which are mostly patronizing and which do not necessarily represent the interest of the Iraqi people. These “experts” concentrate almost exclusively on the business opportunities in Iraq for their companies and their interest is centred principally on Iraq’s oil, gas and agriculture.

 

Iraq, as we all know, can be self-sufficient, it has water, wheat and oil. Today, because of the war and occupation, Iraq has to import wheat and even oil and a great number of Iraqis do not have access to water.

 

The future of Iraq’s oil is being decided under Occupation (by the US through their lackeys in the Iraqi government and by the Kurdish warlords) long term contracts which are giving away Iraq’s oil riches are being signed and these will bind Iraqis for several generations.

What is more, the fate of Iraq’s food sources and agricultural heritage is being looted behind closed doors.

 

The US-UK’s deliberate bombing of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure of water purification and electrical plants, cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fertilizer warehouses, pumping stations, irrigation systems, fuel depots and pesticide factories – the very infrastructure of Iraqi agriculture – has destroyed the Iraqi Agriculture.

 

The invasion of Iraq was not only about oil, the US corporate agribusiness is now overseeing the “rehabilitation” of agriculture in Iraq and this means the doom of Iraqi farmers.

 

Iraqi scientists are ringing the alarm bell, but unfortunately their warnings do not get the attention they deserve in the media.

 

The Occupation is destroying the economy and the future of Iraq.

 

Iraq, the Fertile Crescent, is home to the oldest agricultural traditions in the world. It was the centre of domestication for a remarkable range of today’s primary agricultural crops and livestock animals. Wheat, barley, rye, lentils, sheep and goats were all originally brought under human control around 8.000 BCE.  Iraq is where wild wheat was once originated and many of its cereal varieties have been exported and adapted worldwide.

 

The inhabitants of Mesopotamia have used informal seed supply systems to plant crops, suited to their particular environment.  The saving and sharing of seeds in Iraq has always been a largely informal matter. Local varieties of grain and legumes have been adapted to local conditions over the millennia. Agriculture remains an essential part of Iraq’s heritage.

Despite extreme aridity, characterised by low rainfall and soil salinity, Iraq had a world standard agricultural sector producing good quality food for generations.

 

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002 still used saved seed from their own stocks from last year’s harvest, or purchased from local markets, this despite the criminal sanctions which destroyed Iraq’s agricultural sector.

 

 

U.S. Policies – GMOs and the Detrimental Effects of Order 81

 

When Paul Bremer left Baghdad after the so-called “transfer of sovereignty” in June 2004, he left behind the 100 orders he enacted as head of the occupation authority in Iraq.

Among them is Order 81 which he issued and signed on April 26, 2004 (paragraphs 51-79) on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety”.  This order amends Iraq’s original patent law of 1970 and unless and until it is revised or repealed it has the status and force of a binding law; with important implications for farmers and the future of agriculture in Iraq, this order is yet another important component in the US attempts to radically transform Iraq’s economy.

 

While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq’s previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the “protection of new varieties of plants”. PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety.  So the “protection” in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plant.

 

To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the UPOV Convention, (International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties) which requires them to be new, distinct, uniform and stable. Farmers’ seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the exclusive domain of corporations.  The rights granted to plant breeders in this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the protected varieties.  These rights extend to harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety. This kind of PVP system is often the first step towards allowing the full-fledged patenting of life forms.  Indeed, in this case the rest of the law does not rule out the patenting of plants or animals.

 

The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines.

During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder.  This new law means that Iraqi farmers can neither freely legally plant nor save for re-planting seeds of any plant variety registered under the plant variety provisions of the new patent law.  This deprives farmers from what they and many others worldwide claim as their inherent right to save and replant seeds.

 

Corporate control

 

The new law is presented as being necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and to facilitate Iraq’s accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization).  What it will actually do is facilitate the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by the likes of MONSANTO, SYNGENTA, BAYER and DOW CHEMICAL – the corporate giants that control seed trade across the globe.

 

Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for these companies to open up operations in Iraq, which the new law has achieved.  Taking over the first step in the food chain is their next move.

 

Food Sovereignty

 

Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food and agriculture policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade, to decide the way food should be produced, what should be grown locally and what should be imported.

 

The demand for food sovereignty and the opposition to the patenting of seeds has been central to the small farmers’ struggle all over the world over the past decade. By fundamentally changing the law in Iraq, the US has ensured that Iraq’s agricultural system will remain under “OCCUPATION”.

 

Unfortunately, the mainstream media hardly cover this important subject and the majority of Iraqis are unaware of this Machiavellian plan which will devastate the future of their country’s agriculture and irremediably change their lives and that of the future generations of Iraqis if it is implemented.

 

Organizations, activists, farmers and organic food advocates around the world have endorsed and will observe April 26 (day on which Bremer issued and signed this criminal law in 2004) as International Seeds Day (ISD).

 

A “Greedy, unjust law is meant to be disobeyed”. 

 

The Iraqi Turkmen media can play a paramount role in informing the Iraqi people and especially the farmers of the implications of Order 81, the future of Iraq’s agriculture depends on it.

 

According to a recent report drafted for the ministers of the Group of Eight nations the world faces a permanent food crisis and global instability unless countries act now to feed a surging population by doubling agricultural output, it warns that global agriculture production must double by 2050.

 

I wish the Iraqi Turkmens and all the Iraqi people determination and courage to achieve these goals.

 

I thank you for your attention.

 

Merry Fitzgerald

Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights (Belgium)

Istanbul,  10th April 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law of 2004, CPA Order No. 81, 26 April 2004, http://www.iraqcoalition.org/ regulations/20040426_CPAORD_81 _Patents_Law.pdf

 

UPOV stands for International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland it is an intergovernmental organisation with 53 members, mostly industrialised countries. The UPOV Convention is a set of standards for the protection of plant varieties, mainly geared toward industrial agriculture and corporate interests. See http://www.upov.org.

 

WTO : The World Trade Organisation, wherein the Iraqi Government has an observer status. 

 

  ***

 
 
HASAN KANBOLAT h.kanbolat@todayszaman.com Columnists

Iraq’s Turkmen intellectuals searching for their future

 

   
The third meeting of the Iraqi Turkmen Press Council was held between April 10 and 12 in İstanbul. The purpose of the meeting, organized under the guidance of Professor Suphi Saatçi, Mehmet Tütüncü and Şükran Kayacı, was to promote the Iraqi Turkmen press.
 

 

The Turkish press, intellectuals, bureaucrats and politicians were uninterested in the meeting. Interestingly, even İstanbul deputies and representatives of local party organizations did not pay heed to the meeting. The only notable attendees were Erşat Hürmüzlü, the chief advisor to President Abdullah Gül on the Middle East, and Iraq’s consul general in İstanbul. Considering the fact that President Gül met with Turkmen and Arab intellectuals in İstanbul on April 11, one can suggest that the Turkish presidency was the only body that attached importance to the meeting. It is an odd contradiction for Turkish intellectuals and politicians to show close interest in Iraqi Kurds while turning a blind eye to Iraqi Turkmens.

Iraqi Turkmens have always been shadowed by the fact that they are regarded as extensions of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. They could not manage to get their voices heard about the pressure they were subjected to and the losses they suffered both during the time of Saddam and the US occupation. Their cries were always muted. They were always a community living in the shadows. However, Iraqi Turkmens are intellectual people. They do not like conflicts. They always seek to find conciliation with other groups. They believe in their hearts in territorial integrity, increased welfare and democratization. They do not want be a minority, but desire to be a community within the majority and contribute their richness to Iraq by preserving their identity. This is well exemplified in their past.

The first Iraqi Turkmen newspaper was published in 1915. However, it is ironic that there is no Turkmen press association in Iraq. They note that for several months, they have experienced difficulty in their attempts to become members of the Iraqi Press Association and that they are not allowed to establish their own trade unions. In Iraq, there are more than 100 TV channels — about half of which operate via satellite — but Turkmens have only one TV channel, namely Türkmeneli TV. Another problem they face is that although they have local papers, they do not have a national newspaper through which they could have their voices heard by the general public in Iraq.

Turkish and Western journalists who go to Iraq are, in general, not specialized in the topic of Iraq. They do not know problems or details. They tend to run analyses without knowing the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites or between Kurmanji or Sorani. They tend to cover groups such as Kurds and organizations that make sure their voices are heard by resorting to the use of arms. They tend to see peace-loving peoples like Turkmens as mere folkloric elements. They do not even try to understand the existing war.

About 75 percent of Iraqi people watch satellite TV channels to stay informed, while 6 percent tend to use Internet news sources. The written press does not have any weight in society. In Iraq, rife with attempts at disinformation, it is hard to say that there is a free press. For this reason, a new press law is in the making. If free and democratic press organizations cannot exist in Iraq, we cannot expect democracy to take root and territorial integrity to be secured. Turkmens represent a cornerstone for democratic order in Iraq. The place of Turkmens within the integrity of Iraq should be given greater emphasis so that future generations can live in peace. It should not be forgotten that various languages are part of the wealth of Iraq. Iraq needs peace and dialogue. Iraq no longer wants to see more bloodshed.

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/yazarDetay.do?haberno=172356

 

ORDER 81 AND THE PLUNDER OF FARMING

April 2, 2009 at 8:24 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Latha Jishnu: Order 81 and the plunder of farming

 lathajishnu_big_7

Latha Jishnu / New Delhi April 1, 2009

 

 

In recent days, the multinational force in Iraq has been putting out rather curious news releases. These state that visiting agriculture experts from the US have been helping Iraqi farmers to learn new farming techniques to help them “to compete in a free market economy by reducing prices”. Team Borlaug, as the expert group is called, is working to set up model farms where farmers can see the newest technology and techniques in action, according to a statement attributed to Dustin Kinder, the leader. Kirkuk is the third province in northern Iraq that the team has studied and after a six-month tour it will put together recommendations to improve Iraqi agriculture that has been in a shambles since the mid-1990s when global sanctions were imposed on the country.

There is an intolerable air of patronage — and duplicity — about the latest statement emanating from the military command of the occupying forces. It reflects a gross ignorance of the history of agriculture in the country which is now paying the price for Saddam Hussein’s adventurism and the Rambo-like invasion by US. Iraq, it must be remembered, has the oldest history of farming and one of the longest traditions of cultivation in the civilised world. Modern Iraq is part of the ‘fertile crescent’ of Mesopotamia where man first domesticated wheat more than 8,000 years ago, and is home to several thousand varieties of local wheat.

True, its production of wheat has declined to just a quarter of what it was in 1995 (1.2 million tonnes) and the land is degraded to a shocking degree. But the focus of the revival strategy that is under way in Iraq is intended not to help its farmers so much as to allow multinational seed companies to capture the market. Listen to Kinder whose entire team is linked to Texas A&M University: “We are going to help 25th Infantry Division put on an agricultural conference, and we will help them develop a strategic plan for agriculture in Iraq.” What the nation or its farmers want is not really the centre piece of this effort since the US has effectively tied up the Iraqi market for its seed giant.

This happened five years ago when Paul Bremer as head of Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) imposed far-reaching laws on the country and made a mockery of the US claim it was bringing democracy to Iraq. Of the 100 laws that Bremer inflicted on the Iraqi people, one of the most pernicious is Order 81, which deals with ‘Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety’ and hence the interest of this column in the current goings-on in. There are several reasons why this patent law is lethal.

Without any discussion or debate, it made sweeping changes in Iraq’s 1970 patent law by allowing the patenting of plant forms and facilitating the introduction of genetically modified crops or organisms and introduced clauses that will be the death of traditional varieties of seeds.

The Plant Variety Protection rules are for seeds that are “new, distinct, uniform and stable”, criteria that the traditional varieties all Iraqi farmers now use can never meet. These seeds are the product of millennia of traditional development and by their very nature share common traits and thus do not qualify to be ‘new’. Nor can they be termed stable or uniform because of their biodiversity. But the seeds that American and European seed giants are actively pushing in Iraq will, of course, qualify since Order 81 is designed to specifically to protect their interests.

Worse still is the injunction against farmers using their own seeds. Almost all Iraqi farmers (97 per cent, according to FAO) use their own seeds but Bremer’s more than clever order decrees that “farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety”, changing in one stroke the character of Iraq’s agriculture.

Five years after Order 81 was passed, farm activists across the world have got together to mark April 26 as International Seeds Day to help Iraqi farmers to break the vice-like grip of the global seed companies. The campaign is coordinated by the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has got the backing of some organisations in India.

I met Wafaa Al-Natheema of INEAS, when she was in India earlier in the year to drum up support for the campaign, and she says the world needs to respond to this threat to agriculture.

Iraqi farmers, like the rest of the nation, are unaware of this law and how it could turn their world upside down. “They need our help to learn how to retain their seeds under these circumstances and how to lobby against this unjust law.”

Will the world rally to their cause?

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/latha-jishnu-order-81the-plunderfarming/353518/

 

 

 

Catastrophe! The looting and destruction of Iraq’s Past

September 12, 2008 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago to Examine the Looting of the Iraq National Museum and Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites

For pictures please click on the link below:

 http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/special/catastrophe/

The Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago will present an exhibit Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past in Chicago from April 10 to December 31, 2008. The opening date, April 10, marks the fifth anniversary of the looting of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad.

The looting of the Iraq Museum was widely publicized in the international press. However, it is less well known that ongoing looting of archaeological sites poses an even greater threat to the cultural heritage of Iraq. The exhibit “Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past” and the April 12 symposium (see below) examine the ongoing destruction and looting of Iraq’s cultural heritage.

Continue Reading Catastrophe! The looting and destruction of Iraq’s Past…

Iraqis, still in the darkness, looking around, confused… by Faiza al-Arji

June 25, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Iraq, Iraqi Refugees, Mesopotamia | Leave a comment
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Painting by Iraqi Artist ALI TALIB – Crying Mesopotamia

Faiza Al-Arji is an Iraqi Engineer, she has been blogging from Iraq since 2003. Like millions of Iraqis she has been forced to leave her beloved country and is now living in Jordan, where she is trying to help the poor, destitute and forgotten Iraqi refugees.

This is what she wrote on June 20, 2008:

Iraqis, still in the darkness, looking around, confused…

Peace be upon you…I don’t know why sometimes the disturbing news pile upon me, unsettling my mood. I long very much for Baghdad; I wish I can book a one-way ticket to her, tear up my passport, and remain to live and work there, till death comes to claim me….By God I am tired of being away, from the hard daily work, from seeing the anguish of the Iraqis here everyday, and I cannot help everybody…I mean; if it was a matter of 50 or a 100 Dinnars, I can help, but thousands of Dinnars are needed for treatment of children, men, and women; and this I cannot provide, after some organizations here abandoned us; organizations that used to give free medical treatment or cover the cost of some operations.  

But now the UNHCR is announcing frankly in its monthly meetings with the organizations working with it, that the financing has stopped for any projects concerning the Iraqi refugees.And no one knows the reason why?

Is it a political pressure by America against the Humanitarian organizations, so they would pull out their hands from Iraq? To force the Iraqis into what is called- the voluntary return to their homeland, despite the lack of sufficient security and settlement till now.

The Iraqi Prime Minster, Noori Al-Maliki, came to Amman a week ago, and held a news conference in a grand hotel in Amman. I heard the news from a journalist and the reporter of an Iraqi satellite station who interviewed me last week, to speak about the Iraqis’ suffering in Jordan. They both said, separately, that the Iraqi Prime Minster asked for the return of the Iraqis from Jordan to Iraq, saying that the government is prepared to give ID. (1,000,000) to each family, something equal to about US$ (800).

The Iraqi families denounce this talk when they hear it; they do not like it. They say- how do we go back to the state of no security? No water supply, no electricity, and no jobs? What would the $ (800) do for us? We sold our houses, we emigrated from Iraq, and now we have nothing there. This sum of money would pay the rent of an empty house for a few months, then what? What shall we eat, what shall we drink? How shall we mange our lives there? From here we call our kin and relatives inside Iraq, and they say to us- Do not come back! If the life there was better, they would have advised us to return…..

We want a real commitment from the government, to ensure the return of the displaced inside Iraq to their houses and their areas, to provide security, services, and jobs for them, so they can have a decent life in their homeland.

And how can the government ask the Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Egypt to return to Iraq, while it hasn’t solved the problem of the internally displaced?

How can we believe that the situation has improved?
If those displaced inside Iraq returned to their towns and their conditions settled, now that would be a positive indication to the government’s credibility, and the Iraqis living in the neighboring countries will return when they see positive encouraging results on the ground… but now, even with all the suffering and the anguish, we do not think of going back; a least here there is security, water, and electricity…
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And I also talk about some families I met here, who are waiting to be re-settled; some of them see this as a temporary solution until Iraq gets back to the state of security and settlement, while others despaired of the improvement in Iraq’s conditions, but they all say- our eyes and hearts will keep on watching Iraq, and we will get back as soon as things get better; we do not believe there is a country anywhere more beautiful than Iraq….
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I am amazed by the Iraqis’ love of Iraq… When I sit with them, every person and every family, in separate meetings, no one knows about the other, but there is one common theme pulsing in their hearts, as if they have all agreed upon it among them…Praise to God… Muslim, Christian, Baptist or Yazeedi, they all say the same words, complain about the same wound… Praise to God who united us on the land of Iraq, to the love of Iraq, and the grief about what happened to it…And this amazing mixture of people lived together for thousands of years, they had an old, deep, common civilization since the dawn of history.

………. Many religions and various cultures lived on the land of Iraq, forming this beautiful mixture of people, who got accustomed to living together through the sweet and the bitter… wars, sanction, hunger, poverty and deprivation, until the last war came in 2003; which dedicated the ripping and tearing of this social, cultural and religious fabric, a fabric that survived for thousands of years in a tight solidity from the roots…

Iraq is going now through one of the worst experience in Iraq’s life; a big dilemma that will either break it completely, or, Iraq might emerge from it strong, like the phoenix of the mythology, that will rise from the ashes every time; strong, soaring, like it is created all anew. And that is exactly what I hope will happen one day….

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The agonies of the families here are countless… poverty, hunger and deprivation; by lack of finances, lack of food and medical services, patients who come from Iraq with diseases, most of which are cancerous, and the costs of treatment here are disastrous in private hospitals. These people suffer from the shortage of finances to cover the treatment costs, and I personally feel that with them I have lost some face; as I sent e-mails or phone calls asking for financial aid to cover treatment costs for this and that. And then I hear news about some Iraqis who drown themselves in nightclubs, dancing, drinking, and corruption, spending thousands of dollars every night on such silly matters, and say to my self: So; God is our aid, and He is enough.What is happening to the world? Are we passing a phase of losing noble values and an absence of conscience? Where did this hard-heartedness and indifference come from?I do not know…

Sometimes I imagine the world is closing down on me, and my chest tightens…. I wish I can find a forest or an island in a far-off ocean to live in, and forget about these tiring creatures called- humans; I no longer have common points with them…. But my sorrow for the poor and the needy prevents me from running away, forcing me into the commitment to remain and help them; knocking on all doors, not to abandon them…
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By day, I am busy working, busy with reports, receipts of the project, and telephone calls with different branches to make sure how the project is going on. I get home very exhausted, with no mood to talk about any subject…And by night I lie in my bed and think with myself:Um Mohammed came from Basra with her 26-year-old son, he has a tumor in the neck; an advanced case of tissue cancer. She suffered here and we suffered with her, while we searched for a donor to cover the costs of the chemical treatment, the x-rays, the chemical analysis, and the examinations.
Um Mohammed’s father in law came from Baghdad a week ago; he has a gland in the liver that needs to be removed, the operation requires thousands of dollars, of which they do not own even one, and I don’t, either. I don’t know; maybe he’ll die waiting for a donation.Um Ahmed’s husband was kidnapped at his front door, 3 years and 3 months ago, he is possibly in an Iraqi-government’s prison; I seek someone to help us locate him…A blind old man’s family went back to Baghdad and left him alone. I help him monthly to pay the house rent, but I know that his wife and daughters there in Baghdad suffer hunger and poverty; I cannot help them, I do not have super financial means to cover the expenses of all the needy…Um Salam, a widow with four small children, the elder is no more than 12 years old. How will she raise them?

And life here is like an inferno, because of the high prices; she awaits the approval for re-settlement, but she doubts they will agree to her request, because her husband and her brothers used to work at the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Saddam’s time…Isn’t there any pure- humanity, for the sake of God? Must politics always interfere to spoil everything? What harm did this woman and her children do?

There is a number of Iraqi women who are alone without families; whose husbands or families were killed and they remained alone, waiting to be re-settled. They face improper advances and molestation by this and that, looking towards a life more dignified and more settled, in some spot in this world. At work, I daily receive women who were beaten and treated cruelly by their husbands. Poverty is the reason in most cases; or the frustration that befalls the man because of poverty and unemployment; they turn him into a wild, cruel, and aggressive creature. This is what happens to some Iraqi families here; the conditions of displacement, poverty, estrangement and degradation all put pressure on the men and the women and increase the rate of family violence…Some women also come to complain about their husband’s bad manners, being alcoholics, beating wives and children, or molesting their daughters. God help us; He is our aid, and He is enough…

Are these the signs for the end of time, of the dooms day? That the world has lost its mind, its ethics, its mercy, justice, and all its beautiful features?I, personally, am tired, but I didn’t lose hope that some people still exist in this world who form a beautiful face to it…They are a minority, no doubt, but they still exist……… perhaps one in every thousand….And thank God for every thing… We ask Him to support us, give us strength, and help us to do what He would be satisfied with, on this earth…Amen……And I still wish to find a forest or an island to escape to sometimes, so my soul would rest from the burden of thinking of all these disasters every day……..
# posted by Faiza Al-Arji @ 8:32 PM
Friday, June 20, 2008

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