Iraq: Palestinian Students Freed
- Voices in the Wilderness Report
Amidst the ongoing violence and deprivation of the US occupation of
Iraq, we are able to report two positive events: homecomings, of
First, we have learned that two of the Palestinian students
imprisoned in Umm Qasr, Iraq (mentioned in our email action alert of
January 15th) have been released from prison! Although we don't yet
know of the reason for their release, we are glad that Mohammed Al-
Katib Yousf Kamel and Basel Ali have been set free from their unjust
imprisonment. Thank you to everyone who wrote letters or emails and
made phone calls to members of Congress on behalf of these students!
Read Kathy Kelly's article about these students for more information:
Secondly, our friends Umm Haider and Mostafa have arrived home to
Basra, Iraq. Chris Doucot, a previous VitW delegate and friend of Umm
Haider and Mostafa, traveled with them to Basra. Chris says that our
Iraqi friends were happy to be with their family, but in his writing
to us (posted on www.vitw.org) he paints a desperate picture of the
Occupied Basra to which they have returned:
"The culture shock of traveling from the safety and abundance of the
United States to the utter destitution of Basra is immense. Nobody
goes out after dark in Basra beyond the small-lighted area down town.
People are being kidnapped off the street and ransomed for as little
as $2000. $2000 for a human life! . . . Children as young as three
and four can be found begging on the streets; on the sidewalks are
the prostrate bodies of other children "liberating" themselves from
the liberation by pickling their brains sniffing glue. Mounds of
garbage left uncollected for months extend for blocks. The scent of
festering rot hangs in the air. It will be a long time before freedom
is something more than an abstract idea for the people of Basra;
especially if the languid pace of reconstruction is not accelerated."
Continue reading Chris Doucot's article, "A Hajj not to Mecca but to
Home" at: http://vitw.us/weblog/archives/000496.html
Unfortunately, we realize that a homecoming to Palestine or Iraq
right now means coming home to a country under war and occupation.
We must continue to dedicate ourselves to the transformation of the
world towards social justice and nonviolence. Military occupation is
nothing that anyone should ever have to call 'home'. Instead, it can
only be called "war" as Iraqi seventeen year-old Raghad Toma
describes in her poem, titled simply, "War."
"Being in war cost me everything, house, money, cousins, but nothing
was compared with the later effects of US bombing of Iraq.
It cost me something that comes naturally and free to all people. It
cost me my happiness and the feeling of being safe.
Thanks to the ones who believe in war, and to the presidents that
caused it. And think that it is the answer to their problems"
You can read the rest of Raghad's poem at:
On our newly updated website (www.vitw.org) you can also find:
1. Reflections written by Angela Garcia and John Farrell of VitW,
about their time with Umm Haider and Mostafa in Chicago.
2. New letters from Iraq, including a piece by Iraqi Ahmed Kharrufa,
called "Life in Baghdad": http://vitw.us/weblog/archives/000508.html
3. An interview by Occupation Watch's Ewa Jasiewicz with Iraqi
doctor, Jawad Al Ali, about the deadly effects of 'depleted' uranium:
http://vitw.us/mic/archives/000500.html 4. A big thank you to those
of you in our network who helped our friends, Umm Haider and Mostafa,
by contributing to our 'Bowling for Basra' fundraiser. There is
another Bowling for Basra coming soon! What in the world is 'Bowling
for Basra'? Visit the Voices website for more details, at
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