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[casi] Freedom of expression

Dear CASI members,

I received very encouraging feedback from
members on this list about my last message.
And I decided to continue :)
As I said in my last email, all media in Iraq is
owned and run by the government. And the
government makes every possible effort to make
sure that Iraqis don't get access to any other
sort of media. Satellite dishes are banned in
Iraq. If they discover that you have a satellite
system, the equipments will be confiscated, you
will be fined double the cost of the equipment,
and the head of the family will be locked in
humiliating detention center. One of my
neighbors had the honor of getting into one of
these centers. People are kept in large concrete
halls, with 70-80 people in each one. They are
not allowed to ever leave the place. (The toilet
is a barrel at each corner of the hall).
If you are lucky, you will be released after 6
months. (Absolutely no one gets out before 6
Recently, the government has offered Internet
access from home (to the people who can afford
it). It is unmetered but a bit restricted when
it comes to what websites you can access.
Basically you are allowed to visit a website
called (URUKLINK and another
one called (IRAQ2000 and
that's about it!!
If you want an email address, you fill the paper
work (which includes all sorts of questions
about you, your family, and any relatives living
abroad), pay the processing fee, and you get an
email address which is always so
they can monitor every word that you send or
receive. (Just like what the western governments
do, right felicity?)
Another way to get access to non-government
media is to leave the country (if you are so
desperate). But again, leaving the country is
not as easy as you might think. You need an exit
visa (yeah, that was not a printing mistake, you
need a visa to get out of Iraq!!) The processing
fee of that visa is around $200 dollars. Tens of
thousands of people won't be allowed to get one.
They are banned from travel.
People who can't leave the country find
themselves in a big prison called "IRAQ".
Sometimes they get fed up and speak out. If
someone makes the biggest mistake of all
and "insults" the "great leader", he will be
arrested, disappear for months, and the body
might be returned to the family but with a bill
to pay, the cost of the bullets used to execute
their son. This is not a scene from a horror
movie, this is happening every day in Iraq. It
is happening as we speak.
If you were a bit more careful, and criticized
the policy of "the government" and did not
mention Saddam, the authorities there have a
unique way of dealing with you. After they
arrest you, you will be locked in one of the AMN
centers, tortured day and night, and when they
have a group of similar cases, you will be taken
to a football field, crowds from the streets
will be brought in to watch, and you get your
tongue cut off. I want everyone in this list to
imagine him or herself being an Iraqi living in
Iraq and going through all this.
Cutting parts off bodies of Iraqis is not very
uncommon in Saddam's Iraq. Members of the
military forces who fail to report to their
units for one month or more, will have their
ears cut off. A doctor who refuses to cut an ear
will be executed.
Sanctions are evil, but they are not the only
thing Iraqis are suffering from.


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