Sophia's Peace Work

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Let us hear your voice!

That was the translation of the colorful billboards leading into Zarqa, a small town near Amman, Jordan. The billboards were calling Iraqis living in Jordan to come to the polling centers and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice ... though their choices were limited and ill-defined.

I was traveling into Zarqa (incidentally, I was told that this is the hometown of Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist leading a portion of the resistance in Iraq) with my Iraqi friend S., who was registered there to vote for the Iraqi Transitional Assembly.

"You don't have to tell me," I whispered on the bus to my friend, "but who are you voting for?"

"I will tell you," he said quite formally, "I am voting for Allawi (Ayad Allawi is the current Prime Minister of the Interim Government and heads one of the lists on the ballot)"

"He is not the best one," S continued, "but it is a beginning."

The polling center was at a secondary school in central Zarqa and security was high, though voters were few. In fact, S was the only one there to vote. It was the last of three days that was alloted to voting outside the country (in Iraq, today was the only day of voting).

Here is what a friend in Baghdad wrote to me about the day of voting in Iraq itself,

It was really spectacular today. F (an Iraqi friend) called sometime in the afternoon. Said he woke up and as he was about to leave his home "they" began mortaring his neighborhood. SO he postponed leaving. But he did look out the window and was shocked to see hundreds of people walking to the polls despite the mortars...a human wave of voters! Can you imagine?

S (another Iraqi friend) said there were folks lined up to vote when he got to his polling station before it opened! Hundreds of people -- and even though gunfire broke out no one left. The stories I heard today -- as if people felt freer than usual to speak about their past horrors. The unification of the Iraqis with themselves...the poll workers, the police, The National Guard many of whom are in their 20's, and the voters. All coming together in a show of defiance and strength that those cowardly fuckers cannot escape from seeing. Let them see.

Here is my friend S standing next to the election list. Each list has a name of the party, a number and a list of one or more members of the list. There is no description of who these people are or what they stand for. In a few cases, the parties have omitted the names of their members for security reasons.

S and the inked proof that he voted. Sorry for the smudged face but I want to try and protect his identity.


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