Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday, April 23. 2007

During the past week we have been visiting Iraqi refugee families (the Jordanian government prefers the term "guests") of all types throughout the city of Amman. The families have crossed a broad spectrum of classes, religions and ethnicities. Some have been in Amman for many years while others most recently fled the violence in Iraq.

Each has a story to tell (stories and photos to come later). To see more from Jordan, visit Belinda Subraman's weblog http://belindasubraman.livejournal.com/ or Dhar Jamail and Tom Engelhardt from Syria http://www.antiwar.com/engelhardt/?articleid=10857

However, one thing they all say in common is that the U.S. not only caused the current crisis, but that it will continue to worsen every day that "coalition" troops remain in Iraq. All say that the U.S. should leave before it is too late, that is before Baghdad becomes completely like Beirut and Mogadishu during the civil wars in those cities....or worse.

Iraqis are beginning to lose hope that the American government has any intelligent people at all and fear that the occupation and war will continue to the point that President Bush will one day ask "Are there any Iraqis still left in Iraq?" (a current Iraqi joke about the refugee crisis).

Estimates of the number of Iraqis who have fled, internally and externally range from 4-5 million. In the U.S. this would be the equivalent of 40 million or more. The estimate is that each much brings 50,000 more refugees and 6-8,000 new dead and injured.

Nice legacy for Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice-Congress-et al.


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Monday April 23, 2007

Our delegation has been all over Amman during the past week, meeting with a wide spectrum of Iraqi refugees - all social classes and religions. Some have been in Jordan for many years while others for only a short while. And while each story is unique, there are several things they share in common.

They are all struggling with the effects of war, not being able to travel or enjoy the rights of a "free" people. Their lives, and those of their children have been turned upside down and an entire generation may end up going without proper schooling. Many have lost all hope for any sort of positive outcome of the war and others say they no longer plan to return to Iraq. ALL say that the US should leave NOW (if not yesterday).

Soon I will be writing up the invidual stories and providing a glimpse into the lives of these families (once I have had time to process everything).

Before then, please read other dispatches such as those of Belinda Subramaniam (in Amman) http://belindasubraman.livejournal.com/ or Dahr Jamail (currently in Syria) http://www.antiwar.com/engelhardt/?articleid=10857

Charlie Jackson

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

19-April, 2007

We spent our first full day in Amman, visiting with Iraqi families who are now refugees in Jordan and visiting a small school project that has been set up to teach art for elementary. The situation for many of the Iraqi families, mostly middle-class, that we met today is dire. Although each had different perspectives on Iraq and the difficulties they have faced, some appear next to hopeless.

The hopelessness doesn't come so much from a lack of improvement in Iraq, itself. Rather it comes from a realization that they can't return to their own country, but aren't allowed anywhere else in the world....and they will end up scraping by illegally in Jordan. It's like a scene from Kafka's "In der Strafkolonie" (In the Penal Colony).

In beautiful Jordan, for many the flowers have lost their color and the springtime sky doesn't exit....they're heads are so bowed.

IN IRAQ - Yesterday (18-April) at least 312 people were killed and 302 wounded as several bombs struck Baghdad. one truck bomb killed 140 people and wounded 150 more in the mostly Shi’ite Sadriya neighborhood. A second bomb killed 41 and wounded 76 in Sadr City. In Karrada, the third bomb killed 11 and wounded 13 more. Two were killed and eight wounded in a checkpoint bombing in Saidiya. And, a bomb in a mini-bus in Risafi killed four and wounded six people. One American soldier died on Tuesday of non-battle releated injuries.

Today (19-April) 3 GIs, 2 Britons, and 46 Iraqis were killed and another 62 injured. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Iraq's Green Zone, declaring ""I'm sympathetic with some of the challenges that they (Iraqis) face." "But," he said, "the clock is ticking." Gates wants the oil law passed (since when was that a DoD issue?)

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Texan - Iraqi Delegation

Texans travel to Middle East on “Peace Delegation”

AUSTIN, TX – April 14, 2007 – This week, four Texans will travel to the Middle East to meet with Iraqi women and families as part of a peace delegation. On April 17, the delegation will begin a two-week visit to Jordan where they will meet with Iraqi refugees, international agencies and humanitarian organizations.

The purpose of this trip is to build bridges between Texans and Iraqis while gaining a better understanding of the impacts of the war on Iraq and the refugee situation in Jordan. The trip is part of ongoing efforts by Texans for Peace to educate individuals and groups about the war in Iraq.

During this trip, the Texas delegation will be visiting with Iraqi families in their homes and refugee centers. Delegates also plan to meet with officials of the United National Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) on Iraq, CARE International, the Jordan Women’s Union, and the Catholic Church of Jordan … among other organizations.

The delegation includes:

Peggy Kelsey, Austin - Peggy is a professional photographer from Austin and founder of the Afghan Women's Project. Peggy first traveled to Afghanistan after a year abroad at Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran. In the fall of 2003, Peggy traveled to war-torn Afghanistan to meet more women and record their stories. She returned with portraits and stories of 40 women. In addition to her travels to the Middle East, Peggy spent two years in Mozambique. She is married to a professional pilot and active in peace issues and travels widely giving presentations and exhibitions. Her professional website is: http://www.kelseys.net/

Carla Mercado, San Antonio - Carla is a registered nurse and former school teacher who volunteers with several local projects including the St. Peter and St. Joseph Home for Children and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation. Carla has also been an active volunteer with Camp Casey in Crawford and the March for Women’s Lives in Washington. She is particularly interested in healthcare and education of children and employment opportunities for women.

Belinda Subramanian, El Paso - Belinda is a professional author and registered nurse. She has published several books under the VERGIN PRESS imprint, including Voces Fronterizas and The Gulf War: Many Perspectives. She began her writing career as publisher of Gypsy Literary Magazine in the 1980’s. Belinda also published an indy e-zine and produces a syndicated talk show through iTunes, VI Radio and Net Talk. Her professional website is http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com

Charlie Jackson, Austin - Charlie is an international technology consultant and volunteer/founder of Texans for Peace. He has been active in global peace and justice issues and has traveled to Iraq on three occasions in addition to visits to Bosnia and Guatemala. Charlie has served on local, regional, and statewide boards and works for many causes including: economic justice, education, the rights of women and minorities, alternative energy and the environment, and peacemaking.

Upon return to Texas, these individuals will be able to give presentations about the current impacts of the crisis in Iraq and affects upon Iraqi refugees. Additionally, the delegates will bring back specific ideas and information – from humanitarian to business needs – that other Texans can get involved in.

This trip is a continuation of the Women's Business Center of Baghdad (WBCB) initiative that was begun in early 2004 with a goal to assist Iraqi women and professionals to organize, finance, and operate their business even while the war continued. Due to the worsening conditions in Iraq, many of these women now reside in Amman as they attempt to provide for their families. http://www.acceleros.com/WBCB

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