Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Stupid Ajnabia!

It's been a frustrating few weeks here in Baghdad ... the restricted travel, the news of all the bombings and it seems like the helicopters fly over my head all the time as if they are searching me out. Some good things have happened. I've been able to connect the Iraqi Environmental NGO's that I've been talking to with some good groups who might be able to help them. But it has also been trying to get the Iraqi Ministry of Environment to publicly release the data results from the July Tigris River Trip that I organized ... and after repeated trips to the Ministry I am throwing my hands up in disgust (if not defeat!).

Perhaps it's just because I'm a stupid "ajnabia amerikiyah" (American foreigner ... and a woman at that!), perhaps they don't like Voices in the Wilderness (even though Voices really wasn't involved in the Tigris River Project, I told the MOE that I was working with Voices and that may have done me in) ... I'm not sure what it is but they just wont give me the information.

It's ridiculous because I know from talking to the Ministry that the data is very basic ... dissolved oxygen, sulfates, phosphates, pH ... that kind of thing ... not anything that could be remotely considered a "state secret."

I went up the chain as high as I could go ... the Director General of Governate Affaires for the Ministry (I have to laugh, because I don't know if this is a "high" office within the Ministry or not ... but you had to walk through alot of rooms overfilled with ministry employees to speak to Mr. Raidh). Today was my last visit with him. In the end, I asked him,

"Is the Tigris River polluted?"

He said that it was, so I asked him,

"Can the Ministry clean up the River by itself?"

He shook his head, no.

"Then you need help from others, right? And if that is the case it is vital that you share information. The information I'm asking for isn't that important in and of itself. It's a small thing, but it sets the precedent for how the Ministry behaves with all its information."

He agreed with me.

I guess that it is simply fear that is the problem. Saddam is gone but the Saddam psychosis that everyone suffers from is alive and well. And when you point this out to people, everyone nods their heads in agreement ... they even joke about it. They think of it like it's the weather ... it's raining cats and dogs outside but, oh well, what can you do about that? It may be awful but you just have to put up with it. The only thing is that it ISN'T like the weather ... it is a human attitude that merely perpetuates itself in the absence of anyone who is courageous enough to stand up and change it.

So I thanked him for his time and said goodbye. There wasn't much more I could do.


Anyway, I'm here for just one more day and then return back to the States soon thereafter.


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