Blown to the Winds...


Have you ever been lost?

Like, have you ever tried walking in one direction only to end up in another ?

Have you ever been without a map, searching for signposts? A total stranger where the streets, the faces, the roads are the Unknown to you ?

Have you ever walked and kept on walking, thinking to yourself, this it, you have nearly reached your destination only to find out that your destination has moved ?

Have you ever asked for guidance and been given the wrong directions?

Have you ever desperately searched for someone to assist you and found no one?

Have you travelled for miles on foot, erring, wandering and thinking to yourself this has become your route...a route that seems long but is in fact a cul de sac?

In your circumambulations around yourself, have you ever caressed the gates of a home that looked so much like yours?

Have you ever had doors slamming in your face? Have you ever come across banners saying you are not allowed in? Have you ever been made to feel that you are a burden? Cumbersome? Unwanted? Rejected? Despised? Or at best, pitifully tolerated ?

Have you ever felt like a beggar even though you hold all the riches of the world inside of you ? Have you ever begged for validation, recognition, a voice you can borrow, a hand you can use ?

Have you ever been classified, labeled, pigeonholed, branded and given a serial number ?

Did you ever hate yourself in the process? In the process of becoming a non person, a non being, a non citizen of anything ?

No? Then consider yourself very lucky. Unfortunately for the 2 million Iraqis and the hundreds of Palestinians, in exodus, in exile, they do not share your good fortune.

Add to them, the other 2 million internally displaced, living in tents, refugees in their own country.

A country that no longer tolerates or wants them. Most have fled due to sectarian violence, a lot of them underwent torture ordeals, the majority at the hands of the Jaysh Al Mahdi of Muqtada al Sadr and the other death militias tied to the Iraqi puppet government.

Let's call her Umm Fadhil, a woman in her 60's from Falluja. She lost one eye after a sectarian son of a bitch poked it with a screw driver. She lingered in the street screaming, blood pouring out of her eye. She also has a "hole" in her heart, a lung condition, and is asthmatic and above all, she has no one...

Am sure you are very concerned now. Let me ease your guilty conscience, maybe you will feel better.

Umm Fadhil is now in Damascus, sleeping on a mattress on some damp floor, and thanks to the good will of a Syrian woman, she receives food once a week, every Thursday, to be more precise.

Abu Ali, from Najaf, works one day out of ten on the black market. He has a family to support.
They all sleep on the floor of something called a furnished apartment in Damascus. His rent is 245$. Occasionally the shia Hawza gives him 58$ to help him with his medication. Abu Ali has all the physical ills of the world.

Haytham swears that if he has breakfast, he cannot have lunch or dinner. Another "refugee" in Damascus. Living off scraps. His life has become scraps like the scraps he collects trying to make a living.

Yasmeen, a dentist, works for 100$ a month, as a dental hygienist in Amman.
With these 100$ she looks after her parents and grandparents and pays the rent. She also teaches her boss, the Jordanian dentist how to do fillings...

Sobhi, a graduate in computer sciences, spends his days smoking his life away and walking the streets of Amman looking for a job on the black market where he will be getting the wages of a slave. No Iraqi is officially allowed to work either in Syria or Jordan.

Lateef, a Phd in engineering tends the garden of some nouveau riche Jordanian, who made his fortune out of Iraqi blood.

Sarab, a widow, spends her nights in some seedy 2 cents bar, waiting for clients. She has been wearing the same dress for the past 3 months and has 3 kids to feed.

As for the Palestinians, they are once more stranded at the borders, in tents...Over and over again. No neighboring country would allow them in.

A short clip of the refugees from Iraq. Your beloved new democracy.

Shunned, turned down, unwanted and very much alone...

In Jordan, those with a valid permit are refused renewal. Does not matter how long they have been living there. They will simply not renew the residence permits.

UNHCR promised the governments concerned millions. You can make heaps of money calling them refugees.

Mariam, 54, a Phd in industrial engineering was summoned by the "respectable" agency.

" Fill this application for us.
Are you a baathist, a saddamist?
What was your father's name and occupation? Your mother's? Your sibling's? Your uncle's and aunts? Your grandfather,your great grandfather, your great grand mother?

They are all dead.

Does not matter, we still need to know their name and occupation.
What diplomas do you have?

A Phd in Engineering.

Why did you leave?

I lived alone and I received several death threats from the Mahdi Army of Muqtada Al Sadr.

What is your preferred country? Ireland, Australia, England, Sweden? And why?

None of these.

Who do you know there?

No one

We will give you 30 JD a month until you are "placed". Do you really need them ? "

Mariam woke at 5 am to queue at the UNHCR office in Amman, to fill this intelligent application form. Hundreds were queuing before her. The same scene repeats itself in Damascus.

"I don’t want to go to Australia. I have no one in Austalia.

You have no choice.

But I had a permit for the past two years. I am not asking you or the government for anything.
I am even willing to sign a paper promising you I will not work here. Just don't send me to Australia.

You don't understand, you are refugee.

Does that mean I can never go back? Does that mean I will not see my home again?

If you go back you are no longer a refugee. You will not get the 30 JD's a month. And you have no valid passport. "
(the passport issue is a whole story by itself which I will deal with in some later post.)

The queues are getting longer and longer...Some have been queuing for weeks and some for months...
Some have no savings left, some have nothing left...
Most "live", like Umm Fadhil, on the good will of whomsoever gives them food once a week. Most live in squalid conditions with no running water and sometimes no electricity.


When asked, the Jordanians blame "them" for the high rate of inflation and the rising price of real estate, basic services and goods.
Of course they don't blame their government who is still getting preferential rates in oil supplies. They don't blame their businessmen who made millions out of Iraqi corpses.They don't blame their real estate dealers who have inflated the prices for a quick profit. They don't blame America. They blame the destitute Iraqis.

In Syria, the same complaints but the words are stronger. "They" (the Iraqis) are insulted for "taking over" and being there.

Being becomes a sin, survival becomes the biggest crime. Iraqis, the victims, have become the scapegoat. They should have all died instead, so as not to bother anyone.

Both the Syrians and the Jordanians must have forgotten the hospitality of the previous Iraqi regime, where they settled in special buildings and neighborhoods, where they got grants and preferential treatment and if they were students, their logdgings and education were free of charge...Yes memory is short indeed.
Believe it or not, the few Iraqis in Mauritania complain of the same treatment. Seems the Mauritanians have gone amnesic too.

The whole world has become amnesic...And Iraqis are queuing at the crack of dawn...
Erased from the collectivity. Erased from any status. Erased from belonging. Erased from being...

A serial number on some application form, a shadows on a street, a "mob" with no map, no guidance, no acceptance...No nothing.

That same nothingness that has pervaded everything in our lives.
A continuation of your nihilism, a continuation of your absenteeism, a continuation of your silence...

The Iraqis of nothingness. The Iraqis of the void. The Iraqis of your crimes...

The Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. Falling leaves from a branch. A branch forcibly torn away from a tree trunk. And a tree violently pulled out from its roots.

I suddenly feel a chill. A sudden cold wind blowing, through my empty ribs, through my uprootedness...I must be erringly lost too, like some refugee.

Postscript:
The latest from the Geneva meeting around the Refugee crisis in Iraq :
50'000 Iraqis are fleeing the country on a monthly basis.
Presently, there are 4 million Iraqi refugees.
2 Million internally displaced. Another 2 million outside of Iraq.
1 Million in Syria, 750'000 in Jordan, the rest spread out in neighboring countries.
According to the Commission:
"We urge the neighboring countries not to close their borders. We urge the EU and others to actively participate in resolving this crisis. The Middle East is heading towards a disaster of unprecedented proportions known in modern history. The refugee crisis is drawing a NEW DEMOGRAPHIC MAP, retracing Iraq along ETHNIC lines."

Iran and Israel must be gleeing with contentment now.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Naman Hadi. "The Uprooted".

Comments

Anonymous said…
Layla,
My people have felt all this, just as yours in your own country. We are the people of the forgotten of the useless and of the animal world. We must get through life with nothing and no moral way to obtain our needs. Then we become as savages that rage in the night for bits of food and a place to rest our heads.

We are put in places and made to do things we were never suppost to do or wanted to do. Yes, the signs are put up, "beware of the wild animals and do not feed" are posted all over, For they want us to beg, and sale our souls to there greed.

THEY SAY;
"yes we are the good people that took away everything you ever had. Yes, we are the ones that will own your soul. Yes, we are the ones that will make you kill your brothers and sisters. Why? Because we are gods you must be weak for we have said so. You must lay down and die like the dogs that you are."

They put us in prisons weather behind bars or the ones in our minds. They lock us out of our own homes. Our land is no longer ours to use as our fathers have give us to use and care for to give to our children. They kill, rape, and maim our children.

They kill parents so children have no one to teach them there ways and put them in homes with no true love to be felt. Yet, they say look we have given you food and put a roof over your head, we are friends!!!

They are like a coyote, their words are empty their ways are evil, and greed drives their hearts. Until there is no more oil in the land and only sand and the blood of your people left on the earth the thief well stay and take what is not theirs. The only thing you can pray for is your oil feilds to run dry before the blood of your people no longer flow.

Yes these people have tapped into your lifes blood stream and they well not be happy until it pumps no more. NOW, let them tell me and you how much they care.

Do not trust the words of these white gods and their ways for it is made up of lies coming from their hearts.

SAW
Anonymous said…
Dearest Layla, the Truth is always painful, but this Truth is sheer agony and the reason for the plight of these innocents - the disgusting egos of small men who 'want to spread their version of 'democracy' - is mind boggling. The world stands accused for its silence.

Thank you, wonderful voice for the voiceless.
Anonymous said…
I am a Tutsi-I know of what you speak, as my people were slaughtered by the Hutu’s. Did anyone care? No

I am Jewish-I know of what you speak, as my people were slaughtered by the millions. Did anyone care? No

I am a… (I’ll spare you the rhetoric. I’m sure you know the line by now)
-Armenian
-Sudanese
-Chinese
-Palestinian
-Iraqi
-East Timor
-Japanese
-Assyrians…And the list goes on and on.

There is no religion or ethnic group who hasn’t suffered at some point. However, there is a common denominator in all of this violence, MEN. Yep, you men are truly a sorry lot. I reckon heaven will have higher number of women, than men.

prop
Anonymous said…
Layla, I forgot to mention the art work today - on it's own, it conveys so much pain and how Iraqis have truly been uprooted from all that they hold dear.... Grateful thanks to Naman Hadi.

The airwaves have been taken over by the killing of 31 students in an American University while thousands upon thousands die at their hands in far away lands which are completely disconnected to them - and nobody cares. Why do these barbaric savages not realise that if they live by the sword, they will also die by the sword. A culture that is built on violence and bloodshed deserves nothing less. One 'distraught' caller to the TV station even wanted to know if the gunman was a MUSLIM. The ignorant caller does not realise that the true killers reside among them and that they need to fear themselves and not the Muslims.

Their lives are built on a house of cards, which will inevitably tumble down - with a resounding crash. I hope all of us from this generation live to see it.
Layla Anwar said…
SAW and Little Deer,

Too true, defininitely built on a house card that will ultimately come tumbling down...sooner or later. Of this am sure.
G.Gar said…
Well, Iraquis are great people; and great people must go through ghastly ordeals and emerge even greater. Otherwise, they wouldn't be great:).

That is the destiny of Iraq, periods of prosperity and prestige followed by black tragedies and miraculous recoveries later on.

But Iraq always comes back when it is supposed to have come to an end.

You survived the Persian bloody Barbers, took the full weight of the turco-mongol punch on behalf of Islam, absorbed and neutralised turkofication of the Arab world....

Now you you have paid a deep price for trying to break away from the Arab viscious circle of ignorance, Petro-dollar and dervishism.

Your heroic resistance and the courage with which your people have faced this tragedy is resurrecting spirit into the comatose Arab people.

It is providing inspiration for the cattle Arab people, it is Arabs like them who are challenging the mighty empire. It is Arabs like them who believed that only power coming from within can change destiny, and that no matter how bleak the road is one has to keep on moving for light will come out in the distance someday. It is Arabs like them who tried to modernise while their tongue remained Arabic.

People are starting to think. Why have we become that weak? why are we no longer capable of defending ourselves? what does Israel-U.S want from us?

The cattle are starting to learn that we have to change, and that we CAN. Our value system, ethics and culture are special and rare. Indeed the Arab culture is full of shortcomings and fallacies, but the essence is brilliant
Anonymous said…
I don't even know why I try to comment here since I usually get bumped off. The opposition
opinions seem to have reduced but
again I will try. Read George
Orwell's Animal Farm and you will
get a jist of what America is all
about.
LostHere said…
An excerpt from a "news" item on the wires today

BAGHDAD - U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area "trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," the military said.

When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community of Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said.

No comment needed...

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