Latest from Occupied Iraq.

This is a rushed post. Will start first with the wave of arrests by the puppet government.

- Tikrit 13 ex-army officers were arrested during Friday prayers at the Firdaws mosque for no apparent reason. This was followed by a demonstration against their arrests, by the people of Tikrit who walked from the Mosque to the center of town.
In a later interview with Saleh Al-Mutlaq of the Iraqi National Front, he stated that PM Nouri Al-Maliki and others are reverting to their sectarian ways in preparation for the up coming elections, by making sure that no independent Iraqi patriotic voice be heard apart from their own parties.

- Mosul a wave of arrests has been carried out by the puppet forces. Around 150 people allegedly Al-Qaeda and Saddamists have been detained.

I am expecting more waves of arrests before the upcoming election.

- In an interview on Al-Babeliya sat TV, Iyad Allawi, former interim PM, engaged in a mea culpa and admitted that many monumental errors were done not only by the Americans but by the Iraqis (politicians) themselves, when they accepted including himself, the division of political matters according to sectarian lines as dictated by the neocons in Washington. He furthermore added and I agree with this last statement that Iraq is NO LONGER A PRIORITY for the American administration and he conceded publicly that IRAN's influence has grown in Iraq to the point where it can no longer be ignored. He was not sure if this a deliberate policy on the part of the US or if it was a consequence of a series of political and strategic miscalculations.
He also said, that the coming period is crucial for the fate of Iraq, referring to the elections and stressing the necessity that they be transparent and fair unlike previous ones and invited an independent body to supervise them. Overall, the interview was marked with pessimism as to the future of Iraq.

- Muntathar Al-Zaidi appeared on Al-Jazeera again, for the second part interview, but this time it was a two hour program. I cannot translate everything as most of the air time was devoted to callers from all over the world, contacting Al-Zaidi and praising him except for one who happened to be an american woman and who told him that it was unbecoming to throw shoes at a president. His reply was is it becoming to rape, murder and set fire to Iraqi girls then ? (referring to Abeer Al-Janabi and to Zahra, a little girl shot dead by an american soldier).

I will try to summarize what I think are the essential points some of which I have already covered in my posts during those past three years but no harm in repeating. Al-Zaidi said :

1) that only roughly 10% of all those detained in Iraqi prisons are guilty of any criminal charges. All others are detained upon suspicion only.

2) detainees have no trial and have been lingering in jails for 2, 3, 4 years and more.

3) if a detainee wants his case to be reviewed by a judge, phenomenal sums of money are paid to the courts so a judge can review the prisoner's case. But even then, release is not guaranteed. He spoke of great amounts of money being extorted from the detainees family, in vain. (I know that to be true because my own family has experienced the same with Kamel and Omar.)

4) he said that the puppet government relies heavily on the role of "mukhber" i.e an informant whose sole job is to provide names of "suspects" most of whom are totally innocent. (and may add most of whom are SUNNIS).

5) he spoke of similar arrest and detention practices occurring in the North of Iraq on a massive scale.

6) he also spoke at length of more of the torture ordeal he was subjected to, quite harrowing, with cigarettes stubbed out on his ears...he was presented to a judge who sympathized with him but was impotent to do anything and who said to him and am quoting "let it go", referring to the torture. Zaidi said that he felt he was in a tribal meeting with some elders and not in a court of law.

7) he said that his early release from prison was due to many Members of Parliament signing a petition in his favor, over 70 of them and urging Maliki to release him as an act of good will. The famous Algerian female militant, Jamila Bouherid also intervened on his behalf. She also holds an Iraqi passport. She called herself the Mother of Muntathar and he considers her like his own (mother).

8) He gave the names of Maliki's security men who tortured him, one by one...He also mentioned that many prison janitors as well as ordinary guards were sympathetic to him but dared not voice their solidarity from fear of reprisal.

9) During the program, one of the callers was the sister of Atwar Bahjat, the Iraqi female journalist who was found murdered, naked and beheaded after the Samara bombings, which were the triggering point for the sectarian strife that engulfed Iraq thereafter. It seems that she was onto some important information that the Samara bombings was the work American and Iranian operatives. She was murdered before she could air the truth by Shiite militias. Zaidi said that over 300 other Iraqi journalists have been murdered in Iraq since 2003.

10) Zaidi's future plans is to be able to return to Iraq and develop projects that will help widows, orphans and those maimed by the American occupation. But first, he wants to write his book.

11) When asked about what happened to his shoes, the one he threw at Bush, his reply was that he was adamant to recuperate them (his shoes). And that he requested from the Iraqi court and if necessary will go to the International Court of Justice to get his shoes back. He was told that the shoes were torn apart from fear of containing explosives. A story he does not buy. He sounded very serious about recuperating those shoes.

12) He said that after all what he has endured and suffered, if the clock turns back, he will do it again and again i.e throw his shoes in the face of Bush, and face whatever the consequences.

13) When in prison he was told that his sisters would be raped if he did not confess his party affiliation. He said to them, I lost my country, I cannot let you take the dignity and honor we have left. Don't touch my sisters, execute me instead.

14) During his arrest, his apartment was ransacked and all his photo albums, letters, documents, personal papers, pictures of the woman he loved, pictures of his deceased parents...were stolen. He asks that his personal papers be returned to him because of their "sentimental value."

15) And before I forget -- the first part of his detention, was a three months solitary confinement where he was not allowed any stationery, pens, pencil etc..and no contact with anyone. He was given tea on a daily basis in a paper cup and once a week a bit of detergent to wash his clothes. He saved both, the carton cup and the detergent and used the latter as chalk to write his poetry on the paper cup and on the door of his cell. His short poem ended with this line -- How I love you, Baghdad, the Gates of Mourning.

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