Archive for May, 2009

Amo Baba

Amo Baba


Iraq’s legendary football player and coach Emmanuel Baba Dawud has been buried at the country’s biggest stadium in the capital Baghdad.

Dawud, better known as Ammo (uncle) Baba, died on Wednesday after suffering complications from diabetes. He was 74. He scored Iraq’s first goal in an international match in 1957, and was admired for his attacking flair. After his retirement in 1970, he led the national football team to the Olympics in 1984 and 1988.


Honor guards carry the coffin of Ammo Baba

Honor guards carry the coffin of Ammo Baba

The coffin draped in an Iraqi national flag was lowered into a grave at Baghdad’s al-Shaab football stadium compound – as Dawud had requested before his death.

“We loved Ammo Baba from our heart, as a player, trainer and a teacher,” Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdel Mahdi was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. “We loved him and bid him farewell with our heats, and he will always be in the Iraqi people’s hearts.”



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Iraqi Refugees

Iraqi Refugees

Source: Human Rights First.

Human Rights First Estimates Nearly 150,000 Iraqis Have U.S. Ties.

Washington, DC – Only 4,200 Iraqis with U.S. ties have made it to the United States since 2003, though at least 20,000 have applied, and the number of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis may be as high as 146,000, according to a new report issued today by a leading human rights group.

The report, Promises to the Persecuted: The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2008, issued by Human Rights First, examines implementation of this critical legislation. It finds that, despite a Congressional mandate intended to expedite Iraqi refugee processing times, only a small portion of eligible Iraqis have been granted a safe haven in the United States. Based on its findings, Human Rights First urged the Obama administration to examine this issue and clear remaining bureaucratic obstacles to fulfilling America’s promise to persecuted Iraqis who worked with the United States in Iraq, as well as to their families.

“Progress has been made since the enactment of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act in January 2008, but it’s not enough. Processing times are unacceptably long, and Iraqis seeking safety in the United States can wait a year or more for their applications to move through the system,” says Human Rights First’s Ruthie Epstein, who authored the report. “We pin the delays on two problems – inadequate staffing and inefficient security clearance procedures. The result is that thousands of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis are stuck in Iraq and other countries in the region, facing danger and destitution. The absence of direct access to the U.S. refugee program in Syria and Turkey, where the need is significant, exacerbates the problem.”

According to the report, U.S. officials successfully established processing for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis under an administration that was reluctant to acknowledge the refugee crisis and in the face of significant logistic and security challenges. But the multi-agency programs are still plagued with procedural barriers.

“In February at Camp Lejeune, President Obama made a commitment to Iraqi refugees. He declared, rightly so, that the United States has a strategic interest and a moral responsibility to act,” noted Amelia Templeton, a refugee policy analyst at Human Rights First. “His commitment should begin with a comprehensive evaluation and improvement of the programs designed to provide escape to the very Iraqis who helped the United States.”

Human Rights First’s recommendations to the U.S. government include:

  • Reduce Processing Times: The State Department should increase staffing at the Embassy in Baghdad and the International Organization of Migration, and the Department of Homeland Security should increase the frequency and staffing of circuit rides to the region, so that the refugee applications of thousands of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and their families facing danger can be processed expeditiously; the Embassy should allocate the space in the building that is necessary for these increases;
  • Improve the Security Clearance Process: The White House should review and improve the multi-agency security clearance process required for Iraqi refugee applicants and other immigrants and refugees so that Iraqis who meet all of the requirements for admission to the United States do not wait indefinitely for final answers on their applications;
  • Expand Access to Iraqis in Need: The State Department and the White House should press the governments of Syria and Turkey at senior levels to permit direct access to the U.S. refugee program to vulnerable Iraqis in need; and
  • Ensure Post-Arrival Services: Congress should appropriate the necessary funding to the Department of Health and Human Services to adequately support post-arrival services for Iraqi refugees and other new refugee populations to whom the United States has offered safety from persecution, as well as to the State Department to increase staffing on programs mandated by the legislation.

Today’s report provides the most reliable public estimate to date of the number of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis who might be eligible for the programs mandated by the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act. Human Rights First has estimated that there are approximately 146,000 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis – Embassy direct hires, contractors, and employees of U.S.-based media and NGOs. This figure does not include spouses and children. The report says that no more than 4,200 U.S-affiliated Iraqis, including some family members, have actually made it to the United States.

The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act was first proposed by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and former Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) in June 2007 to address the plight of Iraq’s refugees. Its mandate included special immigration visas for Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government, military, or contractors for at least a year; direct access to the U.S. refugee resettlement programs for Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government, military, contractors, or U.S.-based media or nongovernmental organizations, and certain minority groups; and refugee processing inside Iraq.

To read Human Rights First’s report and its complete recommendations to the U.S. government, visit http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pdf/090428-RP-iraqi-progress.pdf.

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Iraqi Translators wear masks to hide their identity

Iraqi Translators wear masks to hide their identity

Source: BBC News

“My life is destroyed. I’m still living in hiding. I’ve asked to be taken anywhere in the world – away from here. There’s no justice in the world.”

The words of an Iraqi interpreter in Basra, speaking to the BBC, as British forces were in the process of pulling out of southern Iraq.

Ali (his name has been changed to protect him) had worked for British troops in Basra for almost 12 months. To be precise, for six days short of 12 months.

And the exact number of days is important because if he had been able to prove 12 months of continuous employment, he would have been eligible for resettlement in the UK under a special protection scheme set up in late 2007.

The scheme was introduced after the government came under pressure to fulfil its moral obligations to Iraqis who risked their lives while working with British troops.

The first group of interpreters and their families arrived in the UK in April 2008. A year on, at least 350 people have been resettled, according to the Home Office.

It says 550 more are either having their applications considered or have already been accepted and are waiting to come to the UK.

Among those already in Britain is 27-year old “Muhammad” who began working with British forces in the summer of 2003.

“It was safe, at first,” he told the BBC. “There was no problem with militias. But then in 2005 it became more and more dangerous.

“In February 2007, I got a text message saying that, if I didn’t stop working for the British, I would be dead.

“British forces told me they couldn’t protect me at home so I fled. Four months later, one of my colleagues was killed and two months after that another one was killed.”


Asylum seeker:

Muhammad heard about the protection scheme on the news, applied on the internet and was accepted in December 2007. He finally arrived in Britain in November 2008 and was resettled in Bolton.

“It’s good to be safe, of course,” he says. “But I thought I’d have a decent life here and I’ve been very, very disappointed.

“I wasn’t happy with the council house they put us in and my qualifications in Iraq count for nothing. I worked for the British for three years and risked my life and I’ve been treated as any other asylum seeker.”

The protection scheme itself has also been criticised for being too restrictive – and too late in coming.

“I was disappointed that it took so long to come up with the scheme and there are so many hurdles to get through,” says Doug Young, of the British Armed Forces Federation.

“To have an arbitrary requirement to have served 12 months is not right and should be removed. It’s quite wrong to exclude those who served for lesser periods, but find themselves in danger.”

Tom Porteous from Human Rights Watch agrees.

“We believe that the scheme should have been based on risk, because people who are at risk have fallen through the cracks,” he says.

The government now insists it has done its duty over the former translators.

“The government has shown its clear determination to give refuge and support to Iraqi staff who served with British forces in uniquely difficult circumstances,” said a Home Office spokesman.

But try telling that to the man who was shot in the chest in Basra in 2006, but who fell short of the requisite 12 months’ employment.

“I think it’s a scandal – a dereliction of duty,” says Daniel Leader, from law firm Leigh Day, which has been representing former translators appealing to be let into the country.

“I interviewed many interpreters who had escaped to Syria. I sat with grown men, proud Iraqi men, who were weeping in front of me and severely traumatised from what they have lived through because of their work with the British army.

“The British scheme fails to consider many of the most deserving cases and they have been left to fend for themselves.”

Family members:

The overall security situation in Basra has improved dramatically over the past year, but there are fears that some former translators will remain marked men.

Muhammad says one of his former colleagues – who had worked with a British unit specialising in arresting militiamen and suspected terrorists – returned to Basra last month and was detained by police.

“I am concerned now about at least 250 translators and their close family members,” says Alan Wheatley, secretary general of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

“They’ve been on the front line and been exposed and have, for various reasons, not met the requirements to allow them into the UK.”

And there are worries that Britain may face similar issues in Afghanistan.

“This is not just an Iraqi problem,” says Mr Wheatley. “The British army in Afghanistan is using Afghan nationals in the same way as they were using Iraqi nationals.

“And I’m not aware that there is any improved plan to protect them.”

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The Town of Alqoush

The Town of Alqoush


a series of Explosions were heard today morning in the tiny Town of Alqoush, located 30 kilometers to the north of Mosul City. one sources in the city said that the explosions were about 4 to 5 that triggered panic and fear among the people, fortunately, there were no casualties or damages made by the attacks, and the explosions thought to be caused by mortar shells that had fallen in the south-west area of the Town, which are mostly consisted of agricultural lands, planted with wheat and barely, therefore, its time now for people of Alqoush every year to prepare themselves to harvest their land, and so many questions were raised about the source and cause of the explosions.

the name Alqoushis derived from a compound Assyrian Akkadian name Eil-Kushtu, where “Eil” means God and “Kushtu” means righteousness or power. Therefore, Alqoush, or as casually pronounced Elqosh, means “The God of Righteousness” or “The God of Power.” Alqoush is also the birth place of Prophet Nahum (mentioned in the old testment as Nahum the Elkoshite, or Alqoshitie).

since the establishment of Alqoush, it was a place for worship to Assyrian, Judism,  and Christianity. at the time of Saddam Hussein’s regime, ba’ath party wanted to build a mosque inside this tiny Town, which aimed to bring Muslims to inhabit the Twon and live in it, but Ba’ath party faced great opposition for such plan, which made people of Alqoush be ready to use the weapons against such plans, since the Twon is fully Christian from the early time it was found.

its estimated that at least 40,000 Alqoushnaye/Elkoshitees immigrants and their 2nd and 3rd generations now live in the city of Detroit, Mechigan and San Diego, California.

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Funeral Ceremonies of Murdered Tony

Funeral Ceremonies of Murdered Tony



when I first saw this casket in the picture, I could not imagine how small it is, that holds an innocent soul of this 5 years old kid who has not enjoyed his life yet, neither he could play with kids of his age!

Tony a little boy, was brutally murdered and then thrown away in the road side, he did not have any political authority, or any interest in the disputed areas in Iraq, he also did not want any position inside the current government or Parliament, he was not looking to make Oil contracts with others or buy Oil Fields that became a curse not a blessing for Iraqi People, all that Tony wanted is a nice Bike to be given to him in Christmas, or when his birthday comes, he would have his friends gathered around him and wish him a long life! these were some of Tony’s dreams, but he did not survive the dark mentality of blood-thirsty people! it was his family’s fault to be born Christians in Iraq,  it was their fault to be associated with a Church in their little town, and they wanted to practice their religion away from violence and hatred.

I want to assure Tony’s family, that they did not lose a boy but they won an angel in Heavens, because he deserved this and was brave and ready to accept this honor, and we shall be proude of his sacrifice.

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Blooded Cross
Blooded Cross


Another crime has been recorded against the Christian Minority in Iraq, but this time was not a clergy man, or politician or an adult. it was a 5 years old boy “Tony Adwar Shaoul”, who was kidnapped from his home in northern Mosul in the Area of “Shaykhan”. The kidnappers asked for $50,000 as a ransom for his release, but his poor family can’t afford this amount of money to pay for kidnappers.

The only thing his family could do is praying for him to return to them safe and sound, but it seems that their prayers were not answered, today they found the body of the Murdered Kid in an area called “Hizarchot” near Aqra, northern Mosul, there were several wounds this poor kid suffered from, as well as several shots in his Head and his Arms and Legs!

The whole Christian Society in Mosul and Iraq in general had a total shock and pain because of this barbarian and terrible act! people have expressed their sorrow and resentment for this crime, which was committed in a relatively safe area, because “Shykhan” and “Hizarchot” are areas under the protection of Kurdish Authorities, and there were no significant accidents recorded in these areas!

Christian People are wondering, what on earth is happening! their representatives in Iraqi Parliment and Government, what are they doing?! every day they are watching Christian poeple dying by dozens and no one is moving to stop the bath of blood against them!

This is another new Martyr in the Name of Christianity in Iraq, but this time, its a little kid, the Martyr of Childhood! reminding us of the crimes committed back in history against children in Bethlehem in the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel!

May God Have Mercy on His Innocent Soul.

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Pope Bendict surronded by Muslim Scholar
Pope Bendict surronded by Muslim Scholar

FA ME / special report

From Jordan Amman, Pope Benedict XVI started his first visit to Middle East that lasts for one week, in which includes Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank in Palestine, this visit is his first visit as a pontiff. His tour in the region started yesterday, during which he met the King Abdullah the Second, King of Jordan, and many others figures from both Christian and Muslim communities.

The aim of this visit is to repair the quickly breakable ties between the Vatican and Muslims, as well as supporting Christian minorities in the region. Furthermore, he said that this trip was a sign of hope that he could contribute to reconciliation in Middle East.

Today, during Pope’s visit to Jordan, I was tracking his steps, and watching Middle Eastern channels and their reaction to this visit, some countries express their resentment to this visit, and asked for a clear apology from the Pope for his remarks in 2006 when he had given a controversial lecture in Germany, when he quoted a conversation between Christian King and Muslim Warrior, when he said “Islam was spread via sword”, followed waves of violence in the middle east especially in Iraq that witnessed work of violence against Christians there.

In Al-Hussein Mosque in the middle heart of Amman, everyone expected an apology from the Pope for what he said back there in 2006, but there was another bomb striking from there, from inside the Mosque, where Muslim people are being preached, from the middle of tens of Muslim scholar who educate Muslim societies in middle east, the Pope calls on “Protecting Christian Community in Iraq”

He conclude his speech in the Mosque by underlining the presence of his Beatitude Patriarch of Baghdad Emmanuel III Dally then he adds “His presence brings to mind the people of neighboring Iraq many of whom have found welcome refuge here in Jordan. The international community’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, together with those of the local leaders, must continue in order to bear fruit in the lives of Iraqis. I wish to express my appreciation for all those who are assisting in the endeavors to deepen trust and to rebuild the institutions and infrastructure essential to the well-being of that society. And once again, I urge diplomats and the international community they represent together with local political and religious leaders to do everything possible to ensure the ancient Christian community of that noble land its fundamental right to peaceful coexistence with their fellow citizens.”

Will anyone hear these words?!  




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