Iraqi Women Visit US to Discuss Realities of War
Five Iraqi women arrived in New York City over the weekend to tell Americans what life is like under occupation and to meet with UN and US officials to call for withdrawl of the American troops and a peace plan. Over the next few weeks, these women will be visiting cities, including Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Diego and Berkeley. Click here to check out their schedule. Wouldn't it be nice if they could stay longer and visit middle America?
Two of the women, Faiza Al-Araji, a civil engineer and blogger (read about her experience in the states here), whose family recently fled to Jordan after her son was temporarily kidnapped, and Eman Ahmad Khamas, an Iraqi journalist, translator and human rights activist, were on Democracy Now yesterday. Here are excerpts from that interview:
AMY GOODMAN: You just heard the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, when asked how things are going, saying they were going very well, but he wouldn't put a smiley face on it, but that things are going very well. What is your response?The women joined Code Pink at a protest outside the US Mission to the United Nations yesterday, where they tried to present a "Women's Call for Peace" petition demanding the withdrawl of US troops from Iraq. Cindy Sheehan and three activists were arrested after refusing to leave the premises without delivering the petition.
FAIZA AL-ARAJI: I'm watching the documentary on the TV now. I'm Iraqi. I left Iraq because of the kidnapping of my son in the last summer and stay in Jordan as refugee. You know, the story went out; living there is different. It's completely different about the story your media is sending you or the message the media is sending you. When somebody telling you that things is going on in Iraq well and everything is fine, please ask him, "What is your evidence? What is your proof? What is your clue? Give me. Give me something on the ground."
I can make a kind of debate. I'm ready to have a debate with the American leaders, to sit with them in front of the American people. I want to hear from them, and I will give them the answers for everything they are talking about, because we have the real story on the ground. After three years of evaluation, I think Iraqis have the right to talk about the evolution of the war, not the American leaders, because we are who are suffering here and we are -- we lost the money of Iraq, we lost the souls of Iraqis, we lost the souls of loved ones in Iraq. We have -- our kids have been kidnapped. Our neighbors have been killed. We lost everything. But what about the leaders? They are sitting in their chairs, and they have the power. And they did nothing for the Iraqi people to help the Iraqi people. I'm not telling this from my mind. It is facts on the ground.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you even move around in Iraq?
EMAN AHMAD KHAMAS: We can move around, but it is very risky. It is very dangerous, especially if you go to dangerous places. I mean, I go, for example, to the places that are bombed. And I have faced death many times. I was almost shot many times. But it is risky. But, I mean, we have to go. We have to see these people. We have to listen to them.
AMY GOODMAN: We are going to end by asking what you think the solution is, to both of you. What's the solution?
FAIZA AL-ARAJI: What's the solution? What's the solution, my dear? There is chaos. If you turn your face from this direction, from - there is a lot of problems in Iraq. How could you -- can imagine to start? What is the first step to stop all of this? The first step is, help the Iraqis to have national unity government, to make a kind of reconciliation between them after the last election, to get a good government, a real government which is - who us representative of the Iraqi people. This is step number one. Step number two, train -- give training for the police Iraqi men and for the soldiers to help their people, not to arrest them and kill them and to campaign or to move with the American occupation force to kill Iraqi people. We need something new, strong, to trust them. And then the other step, that we can ask the troops to go out, to pull out the troops from Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Eman Khamas, do you think that U.S. troops should leave immediately?
EMAN AHMAD KHAMAS: Yes. The occupation should end immediately.
AMY GOODMAN: What would happen then?
EMAN AHMAD KHAMAS: What would happen? Iraq would be free, would be really liberated. Iraq is now occupied.
AMY GOODMAN: The press describes it as it would immediately descend into civil war.
EMAN AHMAD KHAMAS: No. I mean, it's not going to be like that. I mean, you have to plan it in a way that, you know, guarantee that there will be no civil war, as you said. There is the U.N., there is the Security Council, there are the peacekeeping troops. There are many things that they can work out to, you know, follow this security vacuum, so that it wouldn't, as you say, go into civil war. But the occupation should end immediately. It's something wrong. It's wrong for the Iraqis, for the Americans, for the world, for peace, for the international law. Everything. It's wrong. It has to end now. Immediately. And then - and we Iraqis, we can work things out. We are capable of that. And if we kill each other, it's our problem. It's not the American’s problem. But we -- I'm sure that we are capable of taking care of ourselves.
Ann Wright, a former Army colonel and U.S. diplomat, said in a group statement that the US Mission, representing the United Nations' US delegation, refused to send a representative to meet with the delegation and the women refused to leave without delivering the petition. "I am outraged that the U.S. Mission could not send someone down to meet with a delegation of women whose lives and families have been shattered by this destructive and immoral war."
This is how the Iraqi women will remember their first day in America, Home of the Brave and Land of the Free.