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Stories From a Man Named Osama… - 09.30.2006

[Editor’s note: I’ve been chatting with a young guy named Osama who lives in Adhamiya, and I’m working on convincing him to write regular entries about his life in Baghdad, and perhaps someday to do video like some of our other folks there. This is first entry, of what I hope will be many more.]

It’s my first time writing here, I know I’m writing my own diaries, but I have this feeling that it should be made as a movie!

I don’t know really where should I start, I told brian before about many things that happened to me and my family and I don’t know if he wrote that.

This summer we were supposed to go all of us to Lebanon, but because of the war there we were separated for like a month, me and my brother stayed in Syria and then the rest joined us there too because of the war. Anyway, I went there to Lebanon after the war, I liked it so much, I didn’t care about the destruction about the few numbers of people there, because whatever and however the situation is there, it’s better than Iraq!

Anyway, after we came back to Iraq , things started to be so messed up, more than before! The American forces broke into my grandmother’s house for the 3rd time in 2 years, and this last time, the Iraqi Army was with them, because of this, we were so lucky that we got home before they could steal and rob all of her house!

The funny thing is that a couple of soldiers from the IA said literally : “We’re sorry to steal some of the stuff from your house , but we didn’t know that there are people living in it ! ! !”

Anyway, 7 days after this incident, 7 days only, my cousin called me and told me : “Go and find out what happened to our uncle, they say he had an accident and he’s in the ER!” I called the moment my cousin hung up the phone, and they told me to go back to my house and give some id no. to my dad. I went back home, and I saw my mom crying, and they told me that my uncle is dead ! ! !

It was more than a shock to me, I stood there, and couldn’t say a word, but I just kept thinking what’s the reason why, so I asked them and they told me he was killed!

Some American troops were coming in the wrong way, and he was going on his way home, they popped from behind some blocks and came in the wrong way. He stopped for them and waved not to shoot him, but they shot him many many times!

I don’t know what to say, except to say what he was: he was a 55 year-old accountant; he worked for several global companies before!

After his Funeral, 5 days after his funeral, my dad who’s a professor at the college of medicine, called the college to ask about some things, and suddenly he stood up , and Cried : No, No, No, Impossible !

[keep checking back for Osama’s next entry…]




Alive in Jordan, Rafat Returns from Lebanon - 09.27.2006

[Editor’s note: Our correspondent, Rafat, who is based in Jordan now, just returned from Lebanon where he met and interviewed people who were affected by the recent war. Alive in Baghdad will carry video and photos from his trip soon.]

I know its been a long time that I didn’t send any thing about my trip in
Lebanon, but I was in the south and the situation there is very bad.
Most of the southern villages are without electricity, especially the
villages at the border, which is destroyed by the Israeli bombs. It is
the same picture when you enter most of these villages, the same
destruction. When you walk from the beginning of the street you will
see destroyed houses and stores all the way to the end of the street.

The people who own these houses are sitting on the street crying or they look so
sad because of what they lost, sons, friends, brothers, houses and
their work…

They lost their villages and their life, but the thing that is shocking is, when i asked them about what happened to them or if they stayed in their houses and for how long? They said in middle of their speech , “every thing is nothing, and we prefer to loose
everything just for the resistance and for the leader of the resistance.”

So i asked my self why? I cannot be far from my feelings when I see all of this destruction
and the faces of the kids.

But something happened inside me when i saw how they are unified (between the people and the resistance), and i remembered directly all of the pictures of destruction after each of the israelis’ wars, and
how strong is the person who hits a civilian refugees convoy running away from war.

This trip is really hard for me to see and to live. Even though I was in iraq
many times and i did seen many things like that. So all of these
pictures were coming into my mind, and i couldnt stop my eyes from weeping.

You can tell how all of these issus are connected to each other. I mean
Iraq, Lebanon & Palastine, they are all one issue, and you can tell more about it
all by the fact that they are all using the same weapons.

As soon as posible you will know more about the trip with pictures and videos.




Ramadan in Ramadi… Nephew still detained - 09.23.2006

Today is the first day of Ramadan. Me and all of my family should wake up at 4 am to have our first meal (Alsahoor) for this Ramadan.

This Ramadan has a different test, it is same situation but not all members of the family here, because 2 members missed, my brother and my nephew.

When I remember that every Ramadan my Brother was waking up all the family with his silly jokes, this time I did, I waked up my family, but without the silly jokes.

Till now my nephew Sami is still under arrest.

In the morning Mr.X asked the soldiers about his son (who was arrested with my nephew). The soldiers told him that the two young boys are under Iraqi army detention. It means everything is getting worse.

I can’t talk about all of my day, but I can say it was bad as usual.

I am writing now and it is midnight and my nephew already spent his second night under detention.

Thanks for all the comments that I received, thanks for your support.

I know that some readers think that maybe my nephew is doing bad things, or fighting, it is not clear for them.

But for me I am sure that my nephew has a simple life and he is working for 8 hours everyday in his father’s shop. He is doing his school homeworks in the nighttime, and living with his family while all of life is getting worse.

And for me, that he is one of 200,000 prisoners treated badly in the jails and nobody cares about them, only their own families who can’t do anything to help them, and they miss them.
Now my family is one of 200,000 families that are waiting for their sons to be released and pray for that everyday. I am praying for that, and telling you in the same time…

Thanks for all, thanks for peace friends

[Editor’s note: For those who have not read all of Qasem’s diaries thus far, his brother died last June, when he was in a car accident and an American checkpoint would not allow him to reach the hospital.]




Arrested in Ramadi - Qasem’s nephew needs help - 09.22.2006

Good morning friends of peace,
It is now 2 am ….2 after midnight.
2 hours past in this new day, but nobody can be sure if he will be alive to pass it all …..fighting started just now……heavy fighting and attacks against US bases ….
Mostly the central base, on street 20, received the majority share of fighters bullets and mortars ……sounds of explosions ..and American soldiers shouting …
It is the revenge that comes everyday when US troops arrest more civilians.
 
The fighting finished at 3:20 am ……and notice that the last gun sounds were fighters’ guns (AK, PKC guns)….
 
When the sun began shining, everything was quiet today…..no sounds of guns or tanks …..I hoped this would stay for a longer time
 
At 11:10 am …..our neighbor Mr.X came in a big hurry up to my house and he asked me for help. His son was arrested by soldiers with two US Humvees, in addition to my nephew, who was also arrested.
I calmed him down and asked him to explain why and how American soldiers arrested them ??
 
He said that my nephew, let us call him Sami, was riding his bicycle on a side street, then he stopped to say hello to Mr.X’s son………then 2 Humvees stopped and the soldiers shouted at them, while pointing their guns on them……..then they kicked them and threw away the bicycle and arrested them, and took them to their base by Humvee.
 
I was shocked. My nephew is only a kid (less than 16 years old!) and he was arrested by US soldiers!!!!!
It is not the first time for my people, but it is the first for me and my family.
 
I run with Mr.X out of my house and walked to the Humvee staying in front of my house.
I talked with the Us soldiers, “Hello, we have a problem and we need to ask you some things.,” I said to the US soldier who was sitting inside the Humvee.
He got out and said, “What problem?? “
“A man and a kid were arrested by your soldiers, we need to know why you arrested them, and where they are now.” I said, and I felt very weak. I felt like I am losing one more member of my family.
At that time I was thinking about my nephew, he is kid and we know that Americans or Iraqi army could abuse him, and many bad memories filled my mind.
 
“Oh sorry, who arrested them is other soldiers, we don’t know about this,” the soldier said.
 
Oh my …this same silly game they play ….sorry we don’t know …or we not sure …etc
 
“Ok ok , in this case I have to tell you, my nephew is still a kid, and he could be abused inside the US base or by Iraqi army …so it will be more criminal …he is kid ” I said to the soldier.
At that time I was hoping he would arrest me, so I would be able to see my nephew and take care of him. I can speak English and this could be helpful to avoid bad soldiers and naughty behaviors of them.
 
“We don’t abuse prisoners ” the American soldiers said.
“I am not sure about this, and I am sure your friends will send him to the Iraqi soldiers to abuse him as usual …..so it will be big problem for my family if this happens,” I said.
 
“All that I can say, we are not sure if your arrested friends are good or bad so that’s why they were arrested. In addition the kid was carrying explosive devices.” the soldier said
 
Note, just before the soldier said we don’t know about this arresting case.
 
“What ….!!!?? What kind of explosive materials …please explain for me.”
 
“The kid was carrying a mobile phone, that can be used for remote explosions,” he said.
 
“It is just a mobile phone, they arrested him for that ?? It is just a phone,” I said with surprise, and looking at the soldier’s eyes.
“We will make sure why he carries this phone, that’s all. So calm down,” he said, smiling and looking at his friends who almost laughed at these words.
 
That is a bad thing …..it seems like they are just playing …..while we are talking about a kid being arrested.
 
My friends visited me to find out what problem my family had and offer help and support.
 
One of my friend said something, but I did not think about it.
He said, “If you need those who will help you to make revenge, I can help,” he said that.
 
Well, I have many reasons for revenge, maybe some of my readers will say that this will not make  a change.
Let me explain this ,I found this answer in my deep emotions, maybe revenge could make change when peace can’t work out with the US troops. This change will better maybe, when I provide punishment for the bad behaviors of US troops, this could be good change …
Oh my …I am starting to give up my peaceful way. I gave my word to keep peace as a way of life. I need your prayers to keep it inside me. My hope for peace is getting weak more and more ……I need help to get back my strong peaceful soul.
  
Now I am writing my last words for this day …it is midnight, I heard sounds of tanks moving to go somewhere and as usual to kill somebody ……..untill now my nephew is under arrest …..
Please remember ..he is a kid staying now with bad adults (soldiers). I can’t imagine, I can’t think, I can’t do anything using my peace now, the only thing to do is to tell you and ask for help and prayers.
I am losing my peaceful soul more and more…



Artists Speak For Lebanon -

Brian Conley and Omar Abdullah

BAGHDAD, Sep 19 (IPS) - If art knows no boundaries, artists don’t either. Through witnessing destruction all around them, Iraqi artists have found time to spare a thought and more for Lebanon.

It began with a conference at the Fine Arts Academy in Baghdad Aug. 15, where artists from the group ‘Where are My Rights?’ came together to condemn the failure of Iraqi and Arab non-governmental organisations to come to Lebanon’s aid.

“In America, Australia, and those countries that supported the bombing of Lebanon, their NGOs made demonstrations against the war in Lebanon, but here in Iraq most of our NGOs said nothing,” head of ‘Where are My Rights?’ Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed told IPS. “We spent our own money to have this conference to express the feelings of the Iraqis.”

About 150 people attended the conference, among them artists from all over Baghdad. They gathered to discuss ways of confronting issues facing Lebanon, Iraq, and what many referred to as the “Arab Homeland”.

The conference has set off dialogue reflecting a continuing concern among artists who decide they cannot remain apolitical.

Juma’a Shumran, head of the Iraqi-Lebanon Friendship Organisation, says his group is working to make new cultural connections between Iraq and Lebanon.

“Because we are a friendship organisation to that country, we have a duty to Lebanon and our brothers and sisters there,” he told IPS. “Before the bombing we were planning to make a fine arts gallery in Lebanon and to arrange music performances.”

The war in Lebanon has set all of this back, if not completely destroyed the possibility. “When the bombing of Lebanon started we decided to do something about it and we came to the decision to host a conference about what is happening in Lebanon.”

Much of the political expression comes naturally through art, not statement.

Jabar Muhaabis, headmaster of the theatre department of Baghdad’s Fine Arts Academy has written plays that have been performed all over Baghdad. And there are keen audiences for this unsuspected theatre life in Baghdad.

“Today I am here performing my play in the theatre of the Fine Art Academy, and the name of that play is ‘Urgent Urgent From Beirut’, Muhaabis said at one of his shows. “In Baghdad we made this play to share the pain of the Lebanese people and to express our feelings about what happened in the south of Lebanon.”

‘Urgent, Urgent, from Beirut’ is a musical, created from a song by that name by Muhammad Fariq, a well-known musician from the Academy. Through the use of music, the play attempts to draw parallels between suffering in Lebanon and Iraq.

The plays are not about Lebanon alone. Other plays by Muhaabis have been staged in theatres in Sadr City and at the Mustansariya College in Baghdad.

Despite the unanimous frustration with the Israeli government, artists are speaking of solidarity throughout the Middle East, even with the people of Israel.

Juma’a Shumran said, “I would like to thank the Israeli women who made a demonstration to stop the war against Lebanon, and I would like thank anyone who calls for peace. I would like to send my greetings to the Lebanese people and from myself, as the head of the Iraqi Lebanon Friendship Organisation, to all of the peacemakers in the world.”

Jabar Muhaabis echoed calls for peace, and said his plays spoke of a need for unity and “to show we are one people in everything, and to show the reality of what is happening here and there, as well as to allow all people to play a part on the stage of democracy.”




An AiB Birth, an AiB Death… - 09.20.2006

Alaa Adel, an Assistant to AiB Correspondent Killed

More and more it begins to seem that the question is no longer if you will be killed in Baghdad, but when. On September 15th, Isam Rasheed’s assistant, Alaa Adel, was killed.

Alaa Adel was on his way to meet Isam on September 15th, 2006, in the Adhamiya neighborhood when he was apparently shot in the head by an American soldier.

As some of you know, Isam Rasheed’s wife has also been pregnant, and about to give birth. Three days after Alaa’s death, Isam’s child was born, on September 18th.

Here is the most recent note from Isam, and the only details we have so far regarding either incident. As information becomes available, we’ll release it here. The Coalition to Protect Journalists is also launching their own investigation.

Isam’s email:
At 15th of this month my assistance(he was my close friend of me)get KILLED by US troops when he was on the way to my house, they shot him in the head with a special bullet, and I saw his brain on the floor. I buried him and I lost my mobile at that time, It was really very hard and sad time for me and I could’nt open my email from that day. and I met one of the US officers and I told him about my friend and I saw how much he didn’t care about killing innocent people, and my friend is one of many innocent people get killed everyday by US troops . this was the second accedent in this month for me the first one was for my car and the 2nd one is about my friend. and the good news is that I got baby at 18th (my wife giving birth) I was waiting my new baby but because of my friend killing I didn’t feel in any happiness.

If you wish to send your condolences to Alaa’s family please leave a comment here or feel free to send us an email if you would like to help in some way. Please email: aliveinbaghdad@gmail.com




Update from Qasem, on the situation in Ramadi - 09.19.2006

[Editor’s Note: Qasem will be doing fairly regular reports for us int he coming weeks, and we will likely set up a separate blog for him, if that seems the best path. We will definitely keep you informed as to where you can find his content.]
September 16th…
Now I am in Ramadi …as usual ….it is not easy to write or find time to do it ….I have to look for fuel…winter is coming soon ..and I have to take care my family for sure….there are many needs..for example shopping is risky here …I have to drive the car through streets full of hidden snipers ) and to reach my car I need 20 minutes of walking under hot sun ..
Nothing is easy here, only death.
Today I went to Tameem …..the main bridge was closed at 12 pm
So that I used other bridge it was half closed by a US checkpoint …the soldiers inspected the car after 2 hours waiting ….long time right ?? it is not for me …it was the best for last few days
Any way ,,,,,in Tameem there was many things happened today one of them was the death of 2 men (father and his son) and one woman in another place …this happened while US tanks were on the way somewhere …moving …as usual soldiers inside the tanks kill what they can see of people …anybody and anything moving …maybe they have wrong information that nobody should be staying in this city …only the enemy ….they treated all people as the enemy …so most people could be real enemy as reaction .
On my way back I found the bridge open and I got my chance to pass the checkpoint after only one hour ….now it is 5 pm ..I have to hurry up after a short time nobody will allowed to move …
On my way I have to pass traffic light cross ……it is on the end of the main street in Ramadi from the bridge side …….
In fact it was not the end but it became the end of the way before several months ago …when the US held part of the main street to be their own way and nobody can use it ..and everybody who tried, was killed by snipers on the Province Building of Anbar and sure there are other snipers that hid in occupieded houses along the way .
Oh my ….i can see Azizia sector ..it is completely erased …by US military dozers …..day after day the Azizia houses destroyed more and more.
Azizia is part of Ramadi ..in fact it is the oldest part …there is …sorry …”there were” hundreds of old houses ( more than 100 years age ) that ordinary famouse families in Ramadi is living in them …now all of them ran away, and the US destroyed these historical houses forever .
In addition to the houses that were destroyed there is schools and big buildings that were destroyed such as
1- Alrasool Alarabi primery school
2- Al Ramadi school
3- Youth centre
4- Police centre
5- Shops and apartments
6- Alrasheed hotel
7- The teacher developing centre
8- Phone tower for mobile services ( belong to Iaqana mobile company )
9- Shopping centers buildings
10- Alrafidain Bank branch
11- Retired employees office .
12- Meeting centre of Ramadi teachers ….
As I am an engineer, I can say we will need three years and a million dollars to rebuild Azizia again …in addition, we need now to find a place for the families that were forced to allow their houses destruction ..
There were more than 700 families ..I am not sure …but what is sure is most of there sons are young and now have strong reason to attack US troops ……they need their houses and no way to get them again only by forcing US to get out and pay them for damage that caused ……..but US troops did not apologize to them.
The main reason for this destruction was to give the snipers the ability to see what is behind Azizia ….
Anbar province building found in front of Azizia and the only border between them is the main street that was closed by US troops for the last year ….nobody uses it …nobody is allowed to be there, only US troops.
Well ..it is not the only case in Anbaar …this happened before ….in Fallujah …at Nov 2005 US troops destroyed Alshuhadaa sector on the eastern side of Fallujah…
When I saw the new image of Azizia ,I remembered when I was student in Ramadi secondary school …..my favorite way to go to the school was Azizia ….the old houses was cold in Summer and I were walk on the shadow side to avoid hot sun ….with my friend we were walking together ..carrying or books ..and there was juice shop that was making best juice of ( Tamurhind )[dates] ……
Today I felt that more of my live memory destroyed and I need an answer from US troops …..why did you destroy Azizia in this way …..it is nothing now ……nothing
Most families who was in Azizia was living here for 4 genrations along more than 100 years …the first house found in Ramadi was in Azizia ..now it is destroyed …why ??!!
By the way, no US soldiers have been killed or injured in Azizia for the last 3 years ….but they destroyed last few weeks to make US snipers feel comfortable !!!
On my way to the my house there was burned car …it was an Opel Omega ….I asked people there about it ..the answer was this car attacked by US sniper and 2 young men burned inside it…..the sniper attacked them with burning bullets ….because he want the street be ready for the coming tanks !!!!
Well I reached my house now ….so most my hard day finished ,and I am still alive ..
Now let me tell you about the some thing more
Yesterday US troops occupied the following :
1-Alulah secondary school for girls
2-school for under 6 years old kids
3-primery school in street 20
4-the new building of education management …..new building is old school used by the education management …because the origin one had been occupied 1 year ago by US troops
5- the houses of Albareed sector
6-the stores of education agency that contain the requirements of the schools for the new study year …books furnature and so on .
now most schools can’t work in Ramadi and most students have Examination that they missed now …so study in Ramadi getting worse….and our kids will lost their ability to learn with this situation.
oh my ..I cannot write more …sorry …the generator going to shut down ..I have to get some fuel as soon as possible ..for generator and cooking and next cold winter ..
please …do not forget ….Azizia destruction is the fact that shown whom destroying Iraq every day …..if anybody have a comment, please I would like to hear it ….Americans should say something for the families that lost their houses and for students whom lost schools …and for me whom lost my memories in Azizia ….till now not only memories I lost …




From Qasem, on September 11th - 09.17.2006

[Editor’s note, this was sent to me by Qasem on September 11th, but was buried amongst other email until now, I hope it still speaks to all of you, nearly a week after the fifth anniversary. Another point, for those of you not aware, in most of the rest of the world, the date is written with the day first, thus Sept. 11th is 11/9/2006]
hi friends of Peace
Today is 11/9 ……it is a special day for the world…it is the day of attacking civilians and civilization in US ……it is a hard day and hard memory today in US……..in Ramadi ….it is hard day also as every day for us living here …..
the day started with the sound of Tanks and bulldozers crushing houses and buildings in Azizia sector ( center of Ramadi ) …..the reason for this crushing is to make snipers able to see more and sure more people will be killed by a bullet in head …..
my day was busy …I went at early morning to see a friend who has a problem and asked for help…he is living west of Ramadi ……..
most of the daytime was ok …..and I noticed US tanks moving everywhere in Tameem area …..and they crushed 2 cars …..oh yes ….the cars were parked on the right side of the street ….for American troops this is wrong ….because when the tanks move every ody should run away and no cars should be moved or parked in the street .
at 4:20 pm ….there were Iraqi soldiers inspecting houses in Malaab Area ……somebody attacked them and killed one of them …….the Iraqi soldiers fired everywhere …and get mad with the houses that they can see….
US troops ignored them …they gave them enough time to be hated more by the people and families …and kids who scared…..and as usual streets closed by the wild US snipers ……they never install a sign that shows the way is closed but they kill first one who moving and let his dead body to be the sign for the closed street.
there are sounds of sniping somewhere …may be everywhere ..
it is getting dark …and some people are trying to find way to their houses….no way …
me and some people were sitting near a generous house ….the family in this house gave us cold water and invited us to get in and spent the night in …..may be no choice after 30 minutes …because it will be dark …and for the last 3 years Ramadi people not allowed to see the nighttime outside their houses…..
“they gone ….they gone now …….come into your houses ” an old man shouted on us …he is standing on the side of street that was dangerouse …
then we moved …all of us ….
then one man said “do not walk togather ….let us seems few people….if we walked together they will kill us ”
yes ..that is right …large numbers of people will make them attack …because they are suspect us as group of fighters
I walked alone ….it is few meters to reach my house now …. I should jump gunwires and some concrete walls …..
I got in my house to feel that ( most of my hard day had gone ) …we still have the night ….in Darkness without electricity …in the heat, 48 C(118 F)
I noticed that US troops failed to reach the target of Ramadi control ………sure they can’t ,,,,,control can’t be behind guns ..control should come with the mind, not guns .
my brother told me that he is ok ……
oh yes, I did not tell you ……my brother arrested yesterday by US troops ….there was no reason they arrested him in street to ask him some quistions …..such as where is fighters hide…and whom they are …names ….so on..
after he arrested in street ,US soldiers took him to the Iraqi Army …..and there, my brother abused but not too much …all what he faced is some hits on his face ……
he told me that the Iraqi officer asked him about fighters and what he know about them …my brother said I do not know any one of them ….I do not know!!!
so… Iraqi Army failed again and again to get help from one of Ramadi people ……do U know why ??
Because my people sure that new Iraqi Army is criminal and bad …as US soldiers are……my people sure about this and may be you are too ….but my people not sure that whom Attacks US troops is criminal ,in fact ,we believe that most of fighters whom attacks US troops are local people whose lost their kids or brothers or families …..they lost them one day when a US soldier killed them.
shall we feel sorry for US people whom killed at 9/11 ……we already felt at the day of 9/11 , but now we dont have time to feel sorry …we have to take care of the kids whom lost their fathers and families …and take care of dead bodies in streets that was sign to close the streets …..signs made by US snipers ……we so busy …to be alive …. ….but be sure that my people are the most people who can understand the feelings of 11/9 victims ….and most people whom can know what is the deep sadness to lose the life of somebody ……..as resuilt, my people are able to understand the feels of son who lost his father at 9/11 …or wife lost her husband at 9/11 …or losing any life at 9/11
I hope that the world try to make 9/11 day for peace to give peace for the people whom dead …….instead of making 9/11 reason to kill peace ..
thanks
Qasem Aldulaimy
9/11/2006 in Ramadi




Alive in Lebanon… Rafat’s First Report - 09.15.2006

[Editor’s note: Rafat Jaiosy, whom we’ve worked with in Jordan for awhile now, and has assisted with translation of video produced in Iraq, is now in Lebanon, where he will be interviewing people who witnessed the war, about their experiences then and current perspective on the situation. This is his first report]

It’s the first day in Lebanon, from the first second i entered from the border, the picture of the martyrs are everywhere, when you walking inside the villages or in the small towns and cities you can read also the names of the people who got killed from the bombs or by the face to face fighting in the south,
when you walking in the villages and feel something strange with all of this pictures and the emblems writen everywhere, something, you can not say its real, many peoples got killed put the people here, most of them are happy, even if they lost their houses or their sons or any person in their families, when you ask them about that and hear the answer you can feel what they talking about, they feeling the victory, they feel that the big monster is broken, and they got their revenge from the Israelis, they believe that is the beginning and they proved to the world what is the Israeli paper monster.
that what i heard from the people at the first day here, I am still near by BALBAK , and soon i will travel to the south and to Beirut and many Lebanese cities to filming and try to meet more people to know about all of their opinions maybe tomorrow after some interviews i arranged with some people…
today also i was in ZAHLEH and i took pic for MUM MARY statue its amazing,
the people here are so kind and helpful, they living together in harmony way, no different between the Muslim or the Cristian’s with any religions, even if i some times heard about that from the authorities, but no, its such a policy, you can feel that all the people here is brothers.

*****

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Alive in Ramadi… Qasem Gets Back in Touch - 09.13.2006

As those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile are aware, we have a number of contacts in Ramadi. Adter the US operations began there in June, we lost touch with many of them. Now Qasem al Dulaimi has re-established contact.

We’re going to provide you his up to the minute description of the situation, that we’ve just received via chat messenger. After that, we’ll provide his diary, leading from when we lost contact up until the first week of August. To read all of the diary, please click “read more” above.

Today in Ramadi

At 2pm EST Qasem explained the situation in Ramadi, where it was 10PM local Iraqi time.

“Now it is calm, but I am in my house, if I go out, I will be killed by snipers. Most of the time we must stay in the house. In front of my house there is a humvee, with United States soldiers. The US arrested more than 10 civilians in the Malaab area.”

“Until now, the US have crushed many more buildings, and some of these are the government buildings. There are new shortages in the hospital, especially for blood bags. Today the US did not allow for a team of engineers to fix an electricity probelm. Near Alhaq Mosque, there is destroyed electricity transformer ….and it caused more problems for the electricty service. There are some people who want to fix it but the US refused.

FROM QASEM’s DIARY:

August 2 2006
The early morning was full with sounds of explosions …..bombs but no sound of fighters guns ……all the sounds was Americans guns ……in add to the sounds of tanks and Helicopters .
Today I heard that one of my best friends ( Ahmed 32 years old ) arrested by Iraqi soldiers while he entering his house …..the y kicked and abused him with very bad treatment and words ….till now I heard about this in add I heard that US soldiers helped him and released him!!!!
Till now I am not sure yet …I will try to get out house and visit him …he is now on his bed in his house.

About 5 pm I reached my friend house ( Ahmed ) ..he was on bed ….he cant stand up …nor walk …..
He welcomed me ..
I asked him about was happened for him ….and he told me his hard experience that he was waiting death during it..
At 31 July 2006 There was attacks on the US base ( occupied civilian houses ) near Ahmed house ….after fighting ended …some Iraqi soldiers came with guns and inspecting houses …….one of the unlucky houses was Ahmed house ……..there was no guns and no fighters but they arrested him ……the arresting happened at 1: 05 pm.
7 Iraqi soldiers toke him to the Iraqi military base ( occupied house ) ,they toke him with fixed hands and folded eyes …they pulled him strongly along 750 meters on feet …on the way there were many pre-coasted concrete walls ….they were pulling Ahmed strongly to impact the walls with folded eyes …he was shouting because of pain on his face and legs …Ahmed mostly crushed on the way to the base ….
On the base they put him in garden …and forced him to sit down then they started kicking him with hands and feet on his stomach and head strongly …..afetr few minutes they put him inside very small room inside the house ( military house ) ,Ahmed noticed the small room was bathroom ,because he found ceramic bricks on the walls when he touch them with hi hands……
Other Iraqi soldiers came and forced him to sit-down and they removed the fold on his eyes …one of them asked Ahmed if he know any fighters in the area …..Ahmed answered him that he don’t know any fighters .
Then one of the soldiers said that he will force him to talk ….showing him wire (cable ) with many knots along it that increase the injures and pain .
Then the soldier started kicking Ahmed on his naked back strongly with long wire with knots ..
Ahmed was shouting strongly ,it was very painful …too painful
After few minutes other soldier came and take the cable and start again …..the soldiers said very bad words to Ahmed during the kicking and abusing in add to sectarian words ……
After long time ( about 30 minutes ) one of the soldiers told Ahmed that they will take rest …..Ahmed asked them for water ……they brought hot water and told him to drink it if he like!!!!….the temperature at day time is more than 45c .
After a while the soldiers brought papers and pen to Ahmed and told him to write down his evidence and to write that he attacked US troops and Iraqi Army …..in add to write any names of friends !!!
Ahmed refused …he told them that he did not attacked any body and he have know friends whose can be fighters ……
Then soldiers started again kicking him …..Ahmed body couldn’t continue wake up any more so he lost his power and shut down ……..soldiers thought he dead…so they stopped and through cold water on his body …..Ahmed waked up again …and they started again …but this time other soldier was trying to connect 2 wires to the generator but Ahmed was lucky because the wires were not long enough to reach the room .

After a while ..they stopped and told him that he should keep quite and say nothing …and they get out …..later ..American soldier came with camera …..and the Iraqi soldiers behind him …..the American soldier came to take photo for Ahmed ……
Suddenly the soldier get in the bath room and pointed Ahmed to stand up ..then he take photo ……then Ahmed shouted on him
” look at this they abusing me ,I am dieing here ….I am not terrorist …I am engineer “Ahmed shouted in English
the American soldier shocked when Ahmed said these words and the Iraqi soldiers surprised when Ahmed was talking in English ….
The American soldier turned back and get out quickly ..and the soldiers followed him .
After few minutes an Iraqi soldier came and told Ahmed that he will be released now !!!!
They released him to the street quickly …Ahmed released at 5 pm

For me ..I think Ahmed released because the American soldier couldn’t keep Ahmed any more under abusing because he became witness on this case …..it is American way to close their eyes in front of the crimes that they arrange it ……
3 cases similar to Ahmed case did not end when the American soldiers saw them because the prisoners keep quite although they found inside small room full with blood spots and abusing wires .!!!

We will post the rest of the Diary, from May until this entry soon…




Jordan Reduces Crimes Eligible for Execution - 09.11.2006

by Shadi Al-Kasim

AMMAN, Sep 8 (IPS) - In lowering the number of crimes for which the death penalty would be eligible, the Jordanian government says it has moved one step closer to becoming the first Arab state to abolish capital punishment altogether.

But the move has received very mixed responses from everyone else. Within the Jordanian population, it is wildly unpopular. Human rights groups are torn. One local group called it a first step toward abolition, but the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) called it “symbolic at best.”

In August, the government eliminated four crimes – relating to drugs, possession of illegal explosives and weapons — in the criminal code which carry the death penalty. Defendants still can be executed for murder, rape, terrorism, drug trafficking, treason and espionage.

Jordanian Minister of Justice, Dr. Abed al-Shakabneh, told the Jordanian Dostoor newspaper that the cabinet’s approval was given to help the government cope with the new regulations concerning the human rights.

FIDH, however, says the move will have no practical effect. “If the death penalty is retained for these crimes it is unlikely that the number of executions will decrease,” FIDH said in a statement. According to official figures, 41 people were executed in Jordan since 2000, all of whom were convicted for murder, terrorism or sexual assault charges – crimes which still carry the death penalty.

Like other groups, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and local, Jordanian human rights organisations, FIDH opposes the use of the death penalty because it contradicts the notion of human dignity and liberty.

Specifically, the groups said they are concerned that Jordan’s State Security Court, responsible for the majority of the country’s death sentences, will remain intact. That court includes military judges – its president is an army officer – who are appointed by the prime minister and therefore violate the principal of judicial independence and the separation of powers.

Moreover, rulings by the Court of Cassation to uphold death sentences do not require unanimity. A FIDH fact-finding team examined final rulings by that court and found cases in which defendants were sentenced to die on a 5 – 4 vote.

“Torture and mistreatment in places of detention in Jordan is another well-documented concern that adds to the necessity of an absolute abolition of the death penalty,” FIDH said.

Still, the government’s action was greeted by local human rights groups as a first step. “We have been lobbying for an end to the death penalty for years,” Essam Rababa’ah from Adaleh Human Rights group told IRIN news agency. He urged officials to consider annulling the capital punishment entirely.

Yet the president of the Jordan Bar Association , Mr. Saleh Al-Armouty, and many Jordanian lawyers and segments on the Jordanian population, vociferously oppose an easing of death penalty laws.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. Dubious human rights groups should not interfere in our legal system,” Al-Armouty said. He pointed out that death sentences, which are issued annually in Jordan, are very rare.

Al-Armouty was not alone.

“I have many reservations concerning the cancellation of the execution sentence in Jordan. The tribal nature of the Jordanian community would increase the revenge crimes in Jordan,” Adnan al-Momani, former general prosecutor of Jordan Customs Department and currently a lawyer, told IPS.

Saad Azzouni, editor-in-chief of the Jordanian newspaper, al-Hayat, he told IPS, “I refuse to abolish this penalty categorically. It is a strong deterring penalty for criminals. And cancelling it would only increase the rate of crime on the Jordanian society.”

Still, in spite of the strong public reaction against even the slightest move, King Abdullah II recently told an Italian newspaper that, “Jordan could soon become the first country in the Middle East without capital punishment.”




The Banality of Violence… or, In Wartime, Everybody’s a Target - 09.07.2006

On Wednesday, one of our correspondents was nearly killed in a firefight between Mahdi Army militia members-a force nominally loyal to Muqtada Al-Sadr, and United States and Iraqi military forces.

Isam’s wife is pregnant, and will give birth any day. On Wednesday, she began to have contractions and seemed to be going into labor, so Isam rushed her and his young daughter into their car, to speed to the hospital, as any expectant father anywhere in the world might do. Unfortunately for Isam and his family, they have the misfortune to be living in Baghdad, and not only Baghdad, but the ADhamiya neighborhood, which has been the scene of much fighting in recent weeks.

As Isam was driving to the hospital, the family found themselves in the middle of a firefight, as mentioned above, between Iraqi militia members and US and Iraqi military. In fact, it was more of a high-speed chase than a static firefight.

Here is what Isam had to say about the incident, which occured on 20th St. in Adhamiya:

“The Iraqi National Guard(ING) and US troops were following one of the militia gangs, and they were shooting them from their humvees. Suddenly I found my car opposite them, and they shot my car, and this smashed one of the car windows.”

“I tried to drive away, but the bad luck was, this gang followed me! Then, when we were trapped, the INGs ran up to my car, thinking I was with the gang, and they prepared to shoot me.”

“This was after the militia members’ car was shot, and they stopped. Then the INGs came and opend fire again, to make sure everyone from the militia was killed.”

Isam also told me there were two civilians in a car behind him, and as he drove away, they took his place on the street, and were both killed. He was only able to escape by reversing direction on the street, smashing the rear end of his vehicle in the process of trying to escape.

His daughter was in the back seat, where the window was shot out, but she survived unscathed, as did his wife and, apparently, his unborn child.

The four members of the militia were not so lucky, being executed on the spot during the battle, along with two civilians killed in the crossfire, and, according to Isam, at least two other civilians were injured.

We hope this story will help those outside Iraq to better understand the sheer randomness and banality of much of the violence. Even on a seemingly innocuous trip across what should be a secure part of the city, you must consider yourself to be taking your life into your hands.

This is daily life in Baghdad. If you appreciate our work, or wish to support Isam directly, please consider making a donation to continue Alive in Baghdad. If you wish, a donation can be made directly to Isam in its entirety. Please mention this in the donation form. You can done here.




An Update From Correspondents - 08.25.2006

[Editor’s Note: I received this email from Isam a few days ago, posted here in full. I will also mention some comments from Omar at the end.]

Adhamiya was under attack yesterday 21/8/2006. Three police cars came to Adhamiya petrol station yesterday and they start shouting and beating the people who where at the queue to get petrol and after that Adhamiya people attacked Iraqi police and after that the Iraqi police the and asked the Iraqi army for help to attack Adhamiya and at the same time the Iraqi army asked US troops for help.

After 30 minutes Iraqi army and US troops came to Adhamiya and started attacking Adhamiya with heavy machine gun and US warplane (F16) was flying in the sky over Adhamiya and they attacked Abu Hanifa college (for Islamic study) and also burn two civilian cars and 5 people were injured and US troops attack one of the shops in Adhamiya and they burn it. The Iraqi National Guard shot at the cables for electricity and the transformars for electricity alson and they continued attacking Adhamiya for one and a half hours from 11:00am to 12:30 pm.

There is no electricity in Adhamiya from yesterday to now.

*****

After several conversations with Omar, the picture of life in his area of Baghdad has degraded greatly in the past weeks. This week he spent more than 48 hours at one stretch without electricity. The increase in gas costs has paralyzed the use of neighborhood generators, as well as Baghdad's traffic. In the past week, when the generators have come on at all, they have not worked until 10 pm or later.

Furthermore, there has been an increase in fighting and raids in and around the Mansur district, near where Omar lives. The situation has become so bad, that he now spends a fair amount of time in another location of the city with family friends.




To Many, Lebanon Appears as a Mirror Image - 08.15.2006

Brian Conley and Isam Rasheed

BAGHDAD, Aug 15 (IPS) - Iraqis are beginning to see striking similarities between Lebanese civilians and their own position three years ago.

Talk on the streets of Baghdad is taking a tone of oneness with the Lebanese. An anger over the bombing of Lebanon that Iraqis say they can feel as their own has led to some of the world's biggest demonstrations against the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Shia militant leader Muqtada Sadr has led one of the largest demonstrations against Israel.

"We know very well that American politicians support Israel and sent them new bombs to attack Lebanon," Abu Muhammed, who was a senior intelligence officer during Saddam Hussein's regime told IPS. "At the same time, they send aid to Lebanon, such as food and water. They did the same in Afghanistan and Iraq before. But we don't need their aid — we need them to be out of our country and away from all of the Middle East."

New frustration is rife within Baghdad. The United States response in support of Israel has further sharpened opposition to the U.S.-led occupying army.

"I hate American politicians because they occupy Iraq, and I hate them more because they help Israel to bomb Lebanon now," said Baghdad resident Uday Adel. "I feel ashamed of Arab politicians when they asked Bush for help to stop this war against Lebanon."

Asked how he felt about Israeli civilians who were killed or injured by Hezbollah rockets, Uday said he was opposed to all killing of innocent people.

"But this is war, and Israel chose this way," he said. "Hezbollah wants to resist Israel and their weapons are old, this is why they use Katyusha (rockets). This is a very old weapon, sometimes it goes to the wrong place and kills innocent Israeli people. Israel has new weapons but they intend to kill innocent Lebanese people."

Much of the outpouring of anger comes from Iraqi Shias in sympathy with Shia Hezbollah, apart from empathy over the bombing of civilians. But concern and sorrow over what the Lebanese have suffered appeared to be universal throughout Baghdad.

"I was shocked when I saw that all of the world did nothing to stop this war," said Nora al-Samarrai in Baghdad. "This is a good time to see how much American politicians support Israel against the Arabs. I hope all the Arab people begin understanding how Israel is a big enemy against the Arabs, supported by the U.S. and most of Europe's countries."

Nora compared the response of Arab leaders in the Lebanon conflict to similarly inadequate action against the United States intervention in Iraq.

"This isn't the first time, Arab politicians did this before with Iraq when the U.S. forces attacked in 1991, 1998 and 2003. Arab politicians don't represent the Arab people, they represent themselves only."

The continued fighting in their own country has added to the particular connection Iraqis feel with events in Lebanon.

Abu Mohammed said Iraq had really been at war since 1980 (when the eight-year war with Iran began), with little reprieve. "Our hearts are with the innocent people in Lebanon, we know very well what war means."

Some Iraqis spoke of the hand of Iran behind the scene in the Lebanon war. Since the rise of Shias in Iraq, many Sunnis see Iranian conspiracies behind their troubles.

"I think the war against Lebanon is big Iranian game to keep Iran safe from the United States and Israel," said Baghdad resident Wisam Ashkah. "Hezbollah is an Iranian party and they serve Iran, and the big loser in this war is the Lebanese people."

Wisam Ashkah added, "I am ready to help them with all of my money, and my life also." He qualified this offer, however, saying that Iraqis feel helpless, and do not know where to begin to offer their support.

Abu Mohammed said the opposition to the United States transcends any Sunni-Shia divisions. "The Sunni in Iraq will be with the Shia in Iraq and with Lebanon and Syria against the U.S. troops and Israel. We are all Arab and Muslims."

Nora al-Samarrai said she felt with the people in Lebanon "because we have the same machine for killing, and I hope one day we will see the American people in an uprising against their bad politicians and change them for new politicians working for peace."




Civil War or Not, Iraq is Falling Apart - 08.14.2006

I hate to start a post with such a negative shock-title, but that's what's on my mind lately.

Yesterday Omar told me he had seen someone shot to death after their car was run down by a vehicle full of men with guns. A phenomenon so common these days in Baghdad, perhaps we should start referring to them as UMWGs, or Unindentified Men With Guns.

To make matters worse, this happened just outside Omar's home. in Adhamiya where Isam lives, US troops have replaced possibly corrupt Iraqi forces in policing the streets and pursuing terrorists. It is interesting that the US has said it will target 4 hotspots to stabilize Iraq.

Unfortunately, these areas, Mansur, Adhamiya, Doura, and Ghazaliyah-Shula are all majority Sunni areas, except for the Shula section of the last area. Now, for sure there are resistance and insurgent elements in some of these areas, but this appears to demonstrate that, despite all their talk, the US military currently has very little stomach or intention to confront the militia, read sectarian, violence head on. In our next video, you'll see how Adhamiya, targetted as a haven of violence, has actually been the target of unhindered militia violence of late.

There has been a siege atmosphere in Adhamiya over the last month, which may be calming with the US presence, but may trade one source of violence for another. It is also becoming more and more difficult to contact Isam and to reach people living in this area, due to the ongoing "sectarian" violence there. Isam tells me that there is only one internet cafe open in Adhamiya, and the lines there are getting almost as bad as the gas.

Gas, now there's an issue. Omar also told me yesterday that now gas is going for $30 per 20 liters in some parts of Baghdad! That should give comfort to Americans considered at teh $3/gallon price we pay. $30 for 20 liters translates to approximately 5.68/Gallon.

This has led to the virtual shut-down of the large neighborhood generators which were one of the final tools keeping the power on in much of Baghdad. Particularly in the neighborhoods of the Karkh area of Baghdad, such as Mansur, Yarmouk, and others, these generators were keeping the AC on during the late summer, where temperatures have soard past 110s to 120 lately.

As if these issues weren't enough, Omar also told me our correspondent who was kidnapped has received a new death threat. We are working on getting him a camera however, and when that happens, he'll begin publishing anew.

Last and perhaps banale enough, a recent power surge had fried Omar's motherboard, cutting off our communication via the internet and his ability to work on transcripts of his interviews and send regular updates.

The troops may be staying in Iraq or headed back to head off a civil war, but that hardly seems to be the only crux to foment stability in Iraq these days. Whether Iraq is in a civil war or not sometimes seems to be unimportant set next to the question of whether life will ever be seen to be stable or decent again in Baghdad. The answer to that question looks more and more like a firm "No, sir."




Assist Our Correspondents in Baghdad with Equipment! - 08.13.2006

Alive in Baghdad needs equipment donations!

We are looking for:

two laptops, 4 mpeg4 cameras, flash memory, and minidv tapes!

Right now Alive in Baghdad is working with three Iraqi correspondents on the ground in Baghdad. They have been producing material for us for one month now, and we've already come across a number of difficulties surrounding our equipment.

First of all, as you are aware if you have followed our blog for awhile, one of our correspondents was kidnapped for about three days a few weeks back. His camera was also smashed by the kidnappers.

Now we have three correspondents with two miniDV cameras and 1 3 megapixel mpeg4 camera. Our hope is to outfit each correspondent with an mpeg4 camera that records on flash memory, as these are the most portable, and concealable, highly important advantages with the current situation in Baghdad.

Isam and Omar have also both informed me that, due to the electricity crisis, remaining in contact via email, and transcribing interviews in arabic for translation has become extremely difficult, and in recent days, near impossible. It is our hope, therefore, to obtain at least 2 laptops, as well as extra batteries, so they'll be able to maintain communication despite long stints without electricity.

We'd hope to find laptops that were light(the shipping will already be awful!) and equipped with pentium 3s or better, and at least 750mhz-1ghz. Please let us know if you can help in this department, and be aware that you can donate this equipment and use it as a tax write-off.

As I've written before, in September we will be entering a new phase, where we expect to post videos with regularity, presenting a new show each week, most likely on Monday morning. By locating this equipment soon and getting it into the hands of our correspondents in Baghdad, you will help ensure we can move on to "AiB 2.0" quickly and with ease.

Please contact us via the form here, if you want to make n equipment donation, or to make a Paypal donation, you can click the link on the right to donate through our fiscal sponsor, or make a donate through our new direct paypal account, aliveinbaghdad at gmail.com!

 




Live Webjam Concerning Lebanon for One More Hour! - 08.12.2006

Please check out the Global Webjam from Lebanon

If you can't view it in the next hour-by 1:00PM EST, don't worry, they will post a file for download soon at streamtime.org

From their press release:

"After one month of violence and carnage, this Global Web Jam brings
together live interviews and conversations, video clips, cartoons and
blog blurbs, soundscapes, DJs and VJs, a lively mix of information,
art, protest, party and reflection. We feature the voices, images
stories, reports and initiatives from Lebanon and beyond, with
participation of activists, artists, bloggers, journalists, musicians
and many others.

This is a call for an immediate end to the violence and destruction, in
defiance of war, and in search for solidarity.

With contributions and participation of: Wahid el-Solh, Mounira el-
Solh, Sonya Knox, Naeem Mohaiemen, Kanj Hamadi, Jim Quilty, Randa
Mirza, Mazen Kerbaj, Raed Yassin, Charbel Haber, Nathalie Fallaha,
Henri Gemayel, Fadi Tufayli, Tariq Shadid, Chalaan Charif, Martin
Siepermann, Arjan El Fassed, Ruud Huurman, Kadir van Lohuizen, Thomas

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