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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #51 - 3 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Tales from Abu Ghraib... (Hassan)
   2. Iraq is free at last (Muhamed Ali)
   3. privatizing education in iraq? (Rania Masri)


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 00:10:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Tales from Abu Ghraib...
To: CASI newsclippings <>

Dear List,

I am offering this article specifically to our
=93pro-war=94 friend, Muhamed Ali and his source of news
"from Baghdad" Hiwa Osman. I would be very grateful if
either or both could explain how the happenings
explained fit in with their =93prognosis=94 or with the
rightness of the war which they supported and

Is there any doubt in anybody=92s mind anymore that WAR


Monday, March 29, 2004

Tales from Abu Ghraib...

At precisely 5 p.m., yesterday afternoon, my mother
suddenly announced that we were going to go visit a
friend of hers who had recently had a minor operation.
The friend lived two streets away and in Iraqi
culture, it is obligatory to visit a sick or healing
friend or relative. I tried to get out of the social
call with a variety of tired excuses. It was useless-
my mother was adamant.

We left the house at around 5:40, with me holding a
box of chocolate and arrived at the friend's house
less than five minutes later. After the initial
greetings and words of sympathy and relief, we all
filed into the living room. The living room was almost
dark; the electricity was out and the drapes were open
to let in the fading rays of sun. "The electricity
should be back at six=85" my mother's friend said
apologetically, "That's why we haven't lighted the
kerosene lamps."

Just as we were settling down, a figure sitting at the
other end of the living room rose in a hurry. "Where
are you going?!" cried out my mother's friend, Umm
Hassen. She then turned to us and made a hasty
introduction, "This is M.- she's a friend of the
family=85 she's here to see Abu Hassen=85" I peered hard
across the darkening room to get a better look at the
slight figure, but I couldn't make out her features. I
could barely hear her voice as she said, "I really
have to be going=85 it's getting dark=85" Umm Hassen shook
her head and firmly declared, "No- you're staying. Abu
Hassen will drive you home later."

The figure sat down and an awkward silence ensued as
Umm Hassen left the living room to bring tea from the
kitchen. My mother broke the silence with a question,
"Do you live nearby?" She asked the figure. "Not
really=85 I live outside of Baghdad=85 on the southern
edges, but I'm staying with some relatives a few
streets away." I listened to the voice carefully and
could tell that the girl was young- no more than 20 or
25=85 probably less.

Just as Umm Hassen walked into the room with the tea
tray, the lights in the house flickered back to life
and we all murmured a prayer of thanks. As soon as my
eyes adjusted to the glaring yellow lights, I turned
to get a better look at Umm Hassen's guest. I had been
right- she was young. She couldn't have been more than
20. She was wearing a black shawl, thrown carelessly
over dark brown hair which was slipping out from under
the head cover. She clutched at a black handbag and as
the lights came back on, she shrank into herself at
the far end of the room.

"Why are you sitting all the way over there?" Scolded
Umm Hassen fondly, "Come over here and sit." She
nodded towards a large armchair next to our couch. The
girl rose and I noticed for the first time just how
slight her figure was- the long skirt and shirt hung
off of her thin body like they belonged to someone
else. She settled stiffly in the big chair and managed
to look even smaller and younger.

"How old are you,M. ?" My mother asked kindly.
"Nineteen." Came the reply. "And are you studying?
Which college are you in?" The girl blushed furiously
as she explained that she was studying Arabic
literature but postponed the year because=85 "Because
she was detained by the Americans." Umm Hassen
finished angrily, shaking her head. "She's here to see
Abu Hassen because her mother and three brothers are
still in prison."

Abu Hassen is lawyer who has taken on very few cases
since the end of the war. He explained once that the
current Iraqi legal system was like a jungle with no
rules, a hundred lions, and thousands of hyenas. No
one was sure which laws were applicable and which
weren't; nothing could be done about corrupt judges
and police and it was useless taking on criminal cases
because if you won, the murderer/thief/looter's family
would surely put you in your grave=85 or the criminal
himself could do it personally after he was let out in
a few weeks.

This case was an exception. M. was the daughter of a
deceased friend and she had come to Abu Hassen because
she didn't know anyone else who was willing to get

On a cold night in November, M., her mother, and four
brothers had been sleeping when their door suddenly
came crashing down during the early hours of the
morning. The scene that followed was one of chaos and
confusion=85 screaming, shouting, cursing, pushing and
pulling followed. The family were all gathered into
the living room and the four sons- one of them only
15- were dragged away with bags over their heads. The
mother and daughter were questioned- who was the man
in the picture hanging on the wall? He was M.'s father
who had died 6 years ago of a stroke. You're lying,
they were told- wasn't he a part of some secret
underground resistance cell? M.'s mother was
hysterical by then- he was her dead husband and why
were they taking away her sons? What had they done?
They were supporting the resistance, came the answer
through the interpreter.

How were they supporting the resistance, their mother
wanted to know? "You are contributing large sums of
money to terrorists." The interpreter explained. The
troops had received an anonymous tip that M.'s family
were giving funds to support attacks on the troops.

It was useless trying to explain that the family
didn't have any 'funds'- ever since two of her sons
lost their jobs at a factory that had closed down
after the war, the family had been living off of the
little money they got from a 'kushuk' or little shop
that sold cigarettes, biscuits and candy to people in
the neighborhood. They barely made enough to cover the
cost of food! Nothing mattered. The mother and
daughter were also taken away, with bags over their

Umm Hassen had been telling the story up until that
moment, M. was only nodding her head in agreement and
listening raptly, like it was someone else's story.
She continued it from there=85 M. and her mother were
taken to the airport for interrogation. M. remembers
being in a room, with a bag over her head and bright
lights above. She claimed she could see the shapes of
figures through the little holes in the bag. She was
made to sit on her knees, in the interrogation room
while her mother was kicked and beaten to the ground.

M.'s hands trembled as she held the cup of tea Umm
Hassen had given her. Her face was very pale as she
said, "I heard my mother begging them to please let me
go and not hurt me=85 she told them she'd do anything-
say anything- if they just let me go." After a couple
hours of general abuse, the mother and daughter were
divided, each one thrown into a seperate room for
questioning. M. was questioned about everything
concerning their family life- who came to visit them,
who they were related to and when and under what
circumstances her father had died. Hours later, the
mother and daughter were taken to the infamous Abu
Ghraib prison- home to thousands of criminals and
innocents alike.

In Abu Ghraib, they were seperated and M. suspected
that her mother was taken to another prison outside of
Baghdad. A couple of terrible months later- after
witnessing several beatings and the rape of a male
prisoner by one of the jailors- in mid-January, M. was
suddenly set free and taken to her uncle's home where
she found her youngest brother waiting for her. Her
uncle, through some lawyers and contacts, had managed
to extract M. and her 15-year-old brother from two
different prisons. M. also learned that her mother was
still in Abu Ghraib but they weren't sure about her
three brothers.

M. and her uncle later learned that a certain neighbor
had made the false accusation against her family. The
neighbor's 20-year-old son was still bitter over a
fight he had several years ago with one of M.'s
brothers. All he had to do was contact a certain
translator who worked for the troops and give M.'s
address. It was that easy.

Abu Hassen was contacted by M. and her uncle because
he was an old family friend and was willing to do the
work free of charge. They have been trying to get her
brothers and mother out ever since. I was enraged- why
don't they contact the press? Why don't they contact
the Red Cross?! What were they waiting for?! She shook
her head sadly and said that they *had* contacted the
Red Cross but they were just one case in thousands
upon thousands- it would take forever to get to them.
As for the press- was I crazy? How could she contact
the press and risk the wrath of the American
authorities while her mother and brothers were still
imprisoned?! There were prisoners who had already
gotten up to 15 years of prison for 'acting against
the coallition'... she couldn't risk that. They would
just have to be patient and do a lot of praying.

By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my
mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears.
All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really
sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook
her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's
ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did
was beat me."

- posted by river @ 11:35 PM

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Finance Tax Center - File online. File on time.


Message: 2
Subject: Iraq is free at last
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 14:48:46 +0100
From: "Muhamed Ali" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Dear colleagues,

                       Yesterday's Guardian published the following
Commentary by Ann Clwyd, MP.

"The evidence of Saddam's atrocities I collected was enough to vindicate
invasion, but it wasn't taken seriously"......

"As Ali Haidari, the leader of the Baghdad city council, told me earlier
this month: "If I had met you a year ago, all I could have said was:
'Hello. Long live the president. Goodbye.' Now I am free to speak.",3604,1180746,00.html



London Borough of Hackney may exercise its right to intercept any communication on its networks - 
for more information see


Message: 3
From: "Rania Masri" <>
To: <>
Subject:  privatizing education in iraq?
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 13:10:17 -0500

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Iraqi education minister says schools to be fully reformed by 2007

Symposium highlights new curriculum to erase baathism

Post-war transitional leadership has banned all references to ex-dictator
and his ruling party - schools to be no exception

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

BAGHDAD: Iraqi schools will be fully reformed by 2007, interim Education
Minister Alaaeddin Alwan said Tuesday as he opened a symposium on a new
curriculum to erase decades of Baathist influence.

"We believe that we will need two to three years to develop our educational
curriculum, and therefore we will not be able to start implementing the new
curriculum before the 2006-07 school year," he said.

"At the same time we are in dire need of a transitional curriculum and a
quick review of those pertaining to the teaching of history and Islam," tha=
would be made available at the start of the next academic year, he said.

Iraq's post-war transitional leadership banned all references to Saddam
Hussein, the ousted Iraqi leader, and his ruling Baath Party, which
dominated textbooks, even manuals on mathematics, physics and chemistry.

But pupils in the "new Iraq," who were once taught to glorify Saddam and vo=
their allegiance to the Baath Party, will be taught the principles of
democracy, human rights, pluralism and national coexistence, the minister

Alwan was speaking to more than 250 Iraqi officials, teachers, academics an=
political party representatives gathered for the second national symposium
on education reform. The first forum was held in January.

The two-day conference will mull opinions expressed in January and seek to
develop a new strategy built on democratic values and the belief that an
educated individual contributes to a strong economy, he added.

A document detailing recommendations and counter-proposals made in January
said that the level of education in Iraq - where writing was developed unde=
the ancient Sumerians, "deteriorated dangerously over the past three
decades" of iron-fisted Baathist rule.

The 14-page document blamed the former regime of negligence, hijacking fund=
to feed its military machine and of "politicizing" curriculums.

To redress the situation, it suggested a review of all laws pertaining to
national education and revamping the system to guarantee free and unlimited
education to all - from early childhood to night classes for senior

It also backed the creation of private schools in Iraq, urged families to
ensure that girls are equally educated and called for the desegregation of
schools "to break the moral barrier between the sexes."

The experts who met in January also insisted on the "enlightened education
of Islam" and said the course should teach the principles of tolerance,
honesty, peace, loyalty and respect for all other religions.

The symposium, held at the headquarters of the US-led Coalition Provisional
Authority in Baghdad's former convention center, opened with a group of
school children singing a hymn of glory to Iraq, once banned under Saddam.

"I am very touched to hear this song. It is one of our first national hymns=
I sang it when I was a boy, but the Baathists banned it," said Abdel-Razzak
Kader, 50, deputy dean of Baghdad University's faculty of physical

Meanwhile, the current president of the interim Governing Council, Ahmed
Chalabi, said the conference was the "most important endeavor in the
de-Baathification" process in Iraq. By Hala Boncompagni, Agence France

"Let's save pessimism for better times."
written on a wall on a street in a South American city, and mentioned by
Eduardo Galeano.


Ra=F1ia Masri

Program Director

Institute for Southern Studies <>

Tel: (919) 419.8311. x27

Fax: (919) 419.8315

2009 Chapel Hill Rd.

Durham, North Carolina  27707


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