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Articles from the Peace News log: Iraq
Articles from the Peace News log.
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Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the March 16, 1988 gassing of the town of Halabja, which is north-east of Baghdad and whose backdrop is the mountains that make up part of the Iran-Iraq border. This attack killed upwards of 5000 civilians, mostly women and children, injuring thousands more as Iraqi planes dropped chemical bombs on the town.
Having previously visited the town in April 2009 I returned to Halabja on Saturday to be part of the commemorations, although, for reasons I'll explain later, this most recent trip can only just be described as an actual visit to Halabja as it was a very sanitised version of the town, where the true impoverished nature of the place was kept hidden from visiting eyes.
Away from ceremony and international attention, the first time I visited Halabja I meet a man who had lost 24 members of his family of which he was the only one to survive, he lost brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, nieces, nephews, his parents and his grandparents. He himself only survived because he had been injured in a previous 'conventional' attack a couple of days earlier and had shrapnel in his leg. For this reason alone he was outside the centre of the town receiving treatment as the chemical attack rained down on his family and all the others that were murdered on that March day in 1988.
Back in November I wrote a blog piece for Peace News about what was essentially a media blackout on cross-border attacks by the Turkish military into the northern regions of Iraq. These Turkish attacks into Iraq have a long and deadly history, taking and disrupted many lives and have historically, in the main, been largely under-reported or simply unreported. It is in part due to this lack of coverage and critical challenge in the media that these attacks have been able to continue, resulting in more lives being lost and torn apart. As such, it is more than unfortunate to report that Turkish cross-border bombings have continued in the months since.
In writing the blog in November last year I cited a human rights organisation that have a team based in Iraqi Kurdistan, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who had met with one of those who was injured during the Turkish bombings in November, Rebaz Ahmed Ismail. At that time only the wire agencies had carried news reports on the deployment of Turkish ground troops into Iraq, an event that is now relatively rare as most of the attacks are carried out from the air, and even then these agencies misreported the fact that civilians had indeed been killed during these attacks; CPT reported the day after the attacks that at least two civilians had been killed in a single Turkish bombing raid along the Iraqi border with Iran.
The last time I myself was in Iraq was in April-May 2009 and I had gone specifically to support the work by international NGOs to document these cross-border attacks that were claiming the lives of many and disrupting the livelihoods of even more who farm and herd animals on the grasses high in the Iraqi mountains. The lushly green covered mountains offer grazing, particularly in the summer months, when the lower lands become arid due to the heat. One only has to look at a map to see that the Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian border region of Iraq is mountainous and fertile compared to the rest of Iraq which is mainly flat and outside the banks of its two major rivers distinctly lacking in plant life. One of the people I traveled to Iraq with in 2009 now works full time in Iraqi Kurdistan and was one of the CPT members that met with Rebaz, who lost a leg and two friends in an F16 fighter-aircraft attack in early November 2012.
Thanks to your generosity we've already reached our original goal of raising £1,250 towards the costs of publishing Ian Sinclair's new book "The march that shook Blair: An oral history of 15 February 2003" (see below). However, further backing is still very valuable, as this will enable us to do additional promotional work for the book; and pay for some of the unpaid work that has already gone into the production (eg. proofing). So please visit the Kickstarter site, check out the new video and list of rewards, and make a pledge if you can! Here's the link: http://tinyurl.com/marchthatshookblair.
We've also confirmed the details for the book's launch: 7pm, Friday 15 February 2013 in the Bloomsbury Suite at Friends House in London (173 Euston Road,NW1 2BJ). Please put this date in your diary now, and invite your Friends on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/193870487420468/
Omission is a key part of the propaganda model proposed by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in their classic text on the subject and it can also be used to ascertain bias within the media. Whilst recent media attention has rightly been focusing on military actions in the Middle East in relation to both Syria and to Israel there has been a virtual blackout on reporting when it comes to this month’s military incursions by Turkey into the predominately Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
Outside of the wire agencies it is hard to find western reporting on these most recent attacks; following a fairly extensive search I’ve yet to find anything in any of the UK broadsheets or in any of the leading US papers on the issue. Indeed, a lengthy article in Sunday’s Washington Post (25/11/12) on the ‘resurgent Kurdish threat’ to Turkey failed to even mention any historic incursions into northern Iraq but did mention a single PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) suspected deadly car bombing on three separate occasions in the article.
Human rights organisations have reported that 40,000 people have been killed and numerous human rights abuses have been committed in the on-going conflict between Turkey and the PKK.
"The morning after seeing Tactical Questioning – scenes from the Baha Mousa Inquiry, I woke up in a cold sweat. Harrowing images of people being tortured were still in my head....Read More
I was in two minds as to how to write up the interview with Nicolas Kent. Our usual format in PN is to just to present the transcript of the interview, and that’s what we did in the end (for an unusually long three pages), but I was very tempted to write it up in a more traditional journalistic style. These notes are a small move to bringing a bit more of the flavour of the thing over.
When I called up to arrange the interview, Nicolas Kent was very gracious, but it was clear he was under a lot of pressure of work and he had only half an hour to spare. This meant that a lot of things didn’t get teased out enough (I didn’t try to engage with his ideas about Afghanistan, which I didn’t agree with) and some things didn’t make it in at all.
The thing that was left out that I regret most, which indicated most clearly what type of person Mr Kent is, and therefore what these plays really are, was an incident in relation to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
As everyone knows, Stephen Lawrence was a young black man killed by a gang of white racists in 1993. The inquiry into the failed police investigations describes his murder in these terms:...Read More