[imc-nyc-audio] CKUT Radio: Iraqi Refugees in Jordan
christoff at resist.ca
Wed May 25 22:38:11 PDT 2005
CKUT Radio: Iraqi Refugees in Jordan
Listen to an interview with independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who speaks on
the growing number of Iraqi refugees fleeing the ongoing U.S. lead military
occupation into neighboring Jordan. This interview addresses the current
conditions of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, a country which many Middle East
analysts define as being built on the disasters of war in the Middle East.
Palestinian refugees displaced by the ongoing Israeli occupation account
upwards of 70% of Jordan's population, while it is estimated that upwards of
500 000 Iraqi refugees have fled the U.S. occupation of Iraq into Jordan
throughout the past 2 years.
----> To listen / download the interview with Dahr Jamail visit:
----> To read recent reports written by independent journalist Dahr Jamail
Displaced Iraqis Simmering with Anger in Amman
The Ester Republic
published May 18, 2005
by Dahr Jamail
Interviews with some decidedly angry Iraqis who are refugees living in Amman,
It isn't difficult to find Iraqis in Amman nowadays. The word on the street is
that somewhere around half a million have come to Jordan over the last couple
of years, seeking security and/or jobs, since they have neither at home in
"The American troops have not come for the benefit of the Iraqi people," says
Mohammed Majid Abrahim, a fifty-two-year-old former resident of Baghdad. "They
are stealing from the Iraqis, and now all our problems are because of the
Mohammed arrived in Amman four months ago, and is as angry at the current Iraqi
government as at the interim government that preceded it.
"I want to ask Jalal Talabani to solve this problem for us," he tells me while
we talk at a square in central Amman where many Iraqis congregate on this sunny
Friday morning. "What did Ayad Allawi achieve during his time as president?" he
asks, displaying his contempt for the new National Assembly: "So what do we
think this new government will achieve? Nothing!"
He fled to Jordan from Baghdad because there is no work there. Yet like so many
other Iraqis here, he lacks adequate paperwork for the Jordanian government to
allow him to either stay in Jordan or work here legally.
"My main difficulty is that I have no approval to stay from the government, so
the Jordanian police are attacking Iraqis here because we have no papers."
He pulls out his United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card and
shows it to me. With this, he has political refugee status, but it does not
permit him to work. Nevertheless, he has found a job as an ironworker, taking
money under the table.
His hope for his home country?
"Iraqis must have a new government, this time with legal elections," he
explains while we stand in the shade of a palm tree, "I think we need a
revolution to get things back to where they once were for us. Then, Insh'Allah
[God willing] I will go back. Saddam was so much better than these bastards [US
occupation forces], even though I hated him."
His opinion is not unique, nor is it unfounded when we consider the facts.
Recently at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, it was
reported by journalist John Pilger that Dr. Les Roberts, who led the US-Iraqi
research team that conducted the first comprehensive study of civilian deaths
in Iraq, gave a lecture in which he again presented his findings (published in
the most respected medical journal in the world, the Lancet): that a minimum of
100,000 Iraqi civilians have died violent deaths in their country in the last
two years, the vast majority of them at the hands of occupation forces.
In his lecture he also explained that US military doctors found that 14 percent
of US soldiers and 28 percent of marines had killed a civilian. If you do the
math, considering there has been an average (conservatively) of 135,000 US
soldiers in Iraq (a significant percentage of them marines), and consider the
fact that bombs dropped by US warplanes have generated massive numbers of
civilian casualties which may well surpass the number of those generated on the
ground by soldiers and marines, it becomes clear why Iraqis hold such great
contempt towards the occupiers of their county: the refugees have likely lost
family and friends, livelihood and home to the Americans. Refugees attribute
the destruction, violence, and chaos in their country to the Multinational
Forces, in particular, the US military.
Ghaleb is a carpenter from Nasiriyah. The forty-year-old Shia carpenter came to
Amman one year ago because the security situation in his city was so horrible.
He, like Mohammed, holds a deep disdain toward the coalition forces.
"The occupiers should leave immediately," he explains while sipping tea, "They
only came with their own interests and we can manage Iraq for ourselves. We do
not need them for any reason."
His anger about what has happened in his country is exacerbated by his current
struggles in Jordan. He too holds a UNHCR political refugee card, and works
when he finds an odd job. He also lives under the threat of being detained by
Jordanian police and sent back to Iraq.
"I appreciate even Saddam Hussein compared to what Iraq is now," he states,
"Even though I am a Shia!"
His friend Ali Hassan, standing nearby, adds, "We can do nothing here; our
Iraqi passports are now useless. We used to have to buy them under Saddam but
we could travel to different countries. But now, we can get them for free but
they are useless. We can go nowhere, and it isn't even safe for us to go back
to our own country."
I glance over his shoulder at a white GMC with an Iraqi flag painted on the
side window. These are still being used to take people in and out of Iraq-at
least those who are willing to accept the risk of the dangerous trip through
roads controlled by mujahideen, looters, or the US military.
In another area of Amman near a small mosque downtown, I find more displaced
Iraqis who tell me of similar difficulties-being harassed by Jordanian police.
One of these men is Ismael. He left Baghdad fifteen years ago because he
overtly opposed the regime of Saddam Hussein. His once-valid political refugee
status is now in question in Jordan, and he does not wish to return to Iraq
since his country is in flames. He openly voices his support of the armed
resistance in Iraq.
"I support the resistance in Iraq," he tells me while lighting a cigarette,
"They are honorable people and the Americans deserve to be killed since they
invaded our country."
He asks for my notepad and pen, signs his name, and smiles proudly, having
underscored his comments. His cousin was killed by men from the regime of
Saddam Hussein in 1989, so he left so as not to be targeted himself.
"I usually don.t come to this particular area," he tells me while gesturing
about at the shops where men walk about peddling hot mint tea, "But I came
today to buy this photo."
He pulls out a picture of the deposed Iraqi dictator sitting in a nice, white
suit inside an ornate room.
"I bought this because Saddam is so much better than the Americans," he says
with a stern smile.
A little later while walking down the street I meet Abrahim Hassan. The
twenty-five-year-old laborer from Nasariyah came to Jordan just after the
invasion a little over two years ago. His problems typify those of the other
Iraqis I've been meeting in Amman as of late.
"The problem I face here is the Jordanian police detain me when I try to work
and then try to force me to return to Iraq," he says. He claims to have been
detained twice, but the police released him when he showed his UNHCR
Regarding the situation back at his home in the south of Iraq he says,
"Everything has gotten worse since the invasion. No matter if you are Sunni or
Shia, all of us are suffering now because of the invaders."
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