Friday, September 15, 2006

Question to the floor...

After reading Dahr Jamails' piece on some of the emails he has received from people in Iraq, I was wondering..which newspaper or printed media outlet would publish this? In Austin TX, I think the most likelihood is the free, and much read alternative weekly 'The Chronicle. In your town/city, who do you think would publish this?
Why do I ask? Well, perhaps it's time for another concerted effort, one along the lines of the bloggers against torture, to compile a list, and do some mass e-mailing in the hopes of some broader attention other than online exposure.
This is an excerpt of one of those emails Dahr Jamail received:
Here is an email from a doctor living in Baghdad:

Although I have perfect job satisfaction as a full professor with an MRCP, FRCP, and two more degrees from London and France, things are so unhappy here in Baghdad. There is no quality of life at all. There are no services; we are loaded with garbage as it is not collected more than once every so many weeks. Garbage collectors are also afraid of being killed. We have almost no electricity, no fuel, bad water supply and what is more, you could get killed whether you are Shi'ite or Sunni if you fall into the wrong hands! I nearly got killed on several occasions!
I work no more than one hour and a half hour in the afternoon. I come back rushing to my house after that. We lock our doors and do not leave at all. What about shopping? It is called "Marathon Buying," for I try to spend no more than ten minutes getting all the needed vegetables, fruits and food items. This is on my way back from university, three times a week. I also spend another ten minutes in the afternoon on my way back from the clinic buying car fuel for my home electric generator. It is all black markets now since the lines are so long at the pumps, reaching four to five times the official price. If I need to get it officially, I have to spend the night in line in front of the gas station where people bring their blankets, water, food and sleep in the street in front of the gas stations. Sometimes I speak nicely to the guard of the gas station, presenting my ID and my business card and ask them if I can fill my car out of line. Sometimes they kick me out, other times I am lucky and the guard has some rheumatic complaints, back pain or knee pains, and bingo, I can fill my car out of line with a promise to bring him medicines to where he is. Of course, this is without any physical exam or investigations. If I was really lucky and the stars were on my side that day, then I might even be allowed to get an extra 20 liters of gas for my generator!!!

One month ago there were militia men with their guns storming the dormitories of the resident doctors in the medical city. They were looking for doctors from Mosul or Al-Anbar province. There was a big fuss, and the targeted doctors went into hiding so none were caught. The next day, two of them who were rheumatology post-graduates under my supervision asked me to give them leave to go to their hometowns and not be back except for their exams. I agreed, because they were leaving anyway. They would have been killed if they were caught, not because they have done any crime, but just because they are Sunni from Mosul or Al-Anbar. I believe that many doctors from southern parts of Iraq who were Shi'ites also left the dormitory that day because they feared that they were not safe anymore and it would be their turn with maybe Sunni militia gunmen who will come sooner or later. So everyone left!!!!

Here is another email from Souad:

I know it is hard to imagine the situation. Baghdad turned into a ghost city this summer. Things are beyond the tolerance of any human being. No electricity, no fuel in the richest oil country to run even small house generators. 90% of the stores are closed because of the kidnappings and explosions. Some of my women relatives couldn't leave the house to their garden for six months. Can you imagine the house-prisons women are locked in here in Iraq these days? Some of them PhD holders. About two million Iraqi have left since June of this year to close-by countries waiting for a miracle to happen. We have no clue what will happen the next day. There is no planning and no reconstruction. Where are all the oil revenues going? Nobody knows. Every single dollar is being spent on security plans, and we have no security.
The following email is from Rizgar Khosnow, who is a Kurdish man with US citizenship and author of the book, Nothing Left But Their Voices. Khosnow lives in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, where most people in the US are led to believe things are so much better than the rest of Iraq. This first email is from August 12:

We have been stuck at home this summer because it is so hot here and we have very little electricity. Things are not that great here. As I have said in the past, I am considered wealthy here and I am just barley keeping my head above water. Believe it or not, I am spending $600-700 a month in gas alone! This gas I use to run my two generators, at different times in the day, and I must use them to run lights and fans. The rent is getting so ridiculous that the president of Kurdistan came on TV last night and said that he will do something about the rent increase that is going on here.

Three years ago, I rented a furnished home for $100 in the city of Arbil. Now, I pay $1500 a MONTH without furniture! My next door neighbor rented his home for $3,500 a month. Things are extremely bad here. The rich are robbing the poor. I wish I knew how people here are living when their monthly salaries are no more than $200 a month! Last year, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents and now the same gallon cost $6.00.
Here is another email from him:

I am glad that you are trying your best to get the word out. I feel that we need to let all Americans know what is going on. I have moved to my new home and it has taken me one week to do so. I have help from three of my relatives who are staying with me till I finish everything, and we still cannot seem to complete all that work that is needed. You will not believe how difficult things are here and how much I needed to do in my new home. Things are not easy here. At the new home we have electricity one hour a day. I have now bought another generator, now I have three of them, to give me power to run lights and fans. We also have not had water for three days so I had to buy water worth $20 a day! That is life here even for the well-to-do like myself!
bold added by your truly.
So tell me guys, do you think we could do a little more to get the word out other than writing about it on our own blogs? Tell me.


Blogger El Mas Ching√≥n said...

The most logical place I thought of is my local IndyMedia sites (San Diego and Los Angeles), but I have no idea how large their readership is.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Yohay Elam said...

I didn't realize how bad things are over there in Iraq. Your last two posts helped me realize those things...
Except blogging, you could send letters to your representatives in the Congress or Senate (I don't know which is more relevant). Such letters could expose the politicians to what's going on there, and might influence them to action.

4:25 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Rob, that would be a logical place wouldn't it? and Yohay, I was just contemplating today that I have learned (i.e. found out)so much since blogging and that I still find out so much from my blogger friends..keeping yourself informed and educated is pretty time consuming!
As for writing to politicians, who knows. I think that you'd have to pick them carefully so that they'd carry the torch for you and speak about it publicly which would give it more exposure than just writing to everyone in Congress, it's an idea though..hmm

9:21 PM  

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