Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Iraq News Update

Women’s Rights Situation in Iraq: Better or Worse?

April 17, 2006

Women’s Freedom Organization, a Baghdad NGO, has reported after completing a survey that there are new threats to women’s rights in post-Saddam Iraq.

According to FreeMarketNews.com, citing a piece in Iran News:

“Senar Muhammad, president of the Women's Freedom Organization, said, ‘We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey ... The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed.’”

“The survey shows that during Hussein's regime, the constitution itself guaranteed women's basic rights, and the regime respected them, and even employed women in a number of important government positions. Women's groups point to the essentially conservative view of the new government leadership: ‘When we tell the government we need more representation in parliament, they respond by telling us that, if well-qualified women appear one day, they won't be turned down,’ said Senar. ‘Then they laugh at us.’”

Click here to read the article.

Thousands of Iraqis are Displaced and the Number are Increasing

April 14, 2006

The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said on Thursday that the number of people fleeing to get to the safer parts of Iraq has reached 65,000 people. That figure has doubled from the number reported just two weeks ago. Most of the Iraqis fleeing are women and children, and the Iraq Red Crescent Society is concerned about the risk of communicable diseases in the camps like cholera and typhoid.

According to an article on CNN.com:

“‘People are receiving warning leaflets. “Leave now, without taking any of your belongings. Take only your clothes,” these warnings say,’ according to Said Hakki, chairman of the Iraq Red Crescent Society. “

“An elderly woman at a camp in Falluja said she knows a family whose door was recently pushed in. The perpetrators were wearing black outfits or National Guard uniforms, the woman said.”

“‘They all had masks on,’ she said. They dragged her husband. They handcuffed him and took him away.”

“Some camps are run by Sunnis, others by Shiites. Some are even run by militias. In Baghdad, at least two camps are operated by Mehdi militias, loyal to cleric Muqtada al Sadr.”

“Asked to describe the camps, Hakki had nothing positive to say.
‘I saw the fear in the children's eyes, the uncertainty in the mothers' eyes and the pathetic look of the men that they are hopeless and helpless to do anything,’ he said.”

Click here to read the full story.

In a separate story on this massive migration, The Christian Science Monitor reported:

“Around Baghdad, Shiites coming in from outlying villages are living in tents provided by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. IRCS President Said Hakki says the agency is preparing to aid some 50,000 families, and has requested aid from the US military to build sanitation facilities for camps and provide rations. Other Shiites are going south to predominantly Shiite cities such as Basra, Najaf, and Karbala.”

“The people in Chikook say they have received no assistance from the Iraqi government, which remains in a state of limbo. Iraq's Shiite politicians, meeting Wednesday, failed to resolve the deadlock over their nominee for prime minister, an issue that has stalled the formation of a government following December's national elections. Instead, acting parliament speaker Adnan Pachachi said that he would convene the parliament next week, hoping to force the issue.”

“But few in Chikook are expecting much help; Fed up with security forces they said were unable to make them feel secure in their homes. Umm Thair (meaning mother of Thair) arrived in Chikook a year ago from Mosul after her husband was assassinated for selling cars to the government, she says. Her house, larger than most, overflows with families waiting for their own dwellings to be built.”

“"We ask the Iraqi government to find a solution for those who are suffering instead of arguing about seats," says Abdullah al-Rikaby, a spokesman for the Sadr office in Shoala.”

Click here to read the whole article.

Cultural Tourism Could Become Iraq’s Second Biggest Industry

April 14, 2006

The famous ancient city of Babylon ruled by King Hammurabi from 1792 to 1750 B.C., and the site of the first sets of codified law, is known by people around the world. One of the world’s seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens, once existed there. Today, however, it is hard to tell what are ancient ruins of the city and what is just ruined.

According to an article by Jeffrey Gettleman from The New York Times:

“Signs of military occupation are everywhere: trenches, bullet casings, shiny coils of razor wire and blast walls stamped "This side Scud protection." “

“Babylon, the city with the million- dollar name, has paid the price of war. It has been ransacked, looted, torn up, paved over, neglected and roughly occupied. Archaeologists said American soldiers had even used soil thick with priceless artifacts to stuff sandbags.
But Iraqi leaders and UN officials are not giving up on it. They are working assiduously to restore Babylon”

“No one is saying it is going to happen any time soon, but what makes the Pollyannaish project even conceivable is that the area around Babylon is among the safest in Iraq, a beacon of civilization once again in a land of much chaos.”

“The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is pumping millions of dollars into Babylon and a handful of other sites. It has even printed a snazzy brochure to give to wealthy donors. "Cultural tourism could become Iraq's second biggest industry, after oil," explained Philippe Delanghe, a United Nations official helping with the project.”

George who is a field director in 1986 says "One day millions of people will visit Babylon.” "I'm just not sure anybody knows when."

Click here to read the article


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