Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Post from a Good Friend here in Amman

Dear friends,

The Jordanian Police at the border gave the Iraqi mother a choice “You can cross over, but your children can’t.” Pregnant and with two small children under five years of age, she had traveled with a driver and her father the death defying road from Baghdad to Amman to be with her husband. He was already in Amman and wanted her to have a rest for one week from the violence and stress in Baghdad before he would return with them to Baghdad. I was sitting next to the desperate husband and father yesterday afternoon in Amman as he tried to maintain phone contact with his
wife. He had asked me if I could speak in English, as an “American” on her behalf if she could find someone in authority? Of course, I said, if there is anything I can do to help. Our attempts were in vain, she was sent back to the Iraqi side.

“It is the dirty way” the husband said to me after the connection broke. What kind of decision is this, I thought, to put to a mother? Yes, it is a dirty way; it is a dirty war. I was thinking of all the other desperate Iraqi families who would be trying to “cross over” to a safer place. Safer than Baghdad maybe, but by no means safe. Iraqis have no peace inside their country and no peace outside. Here in Amman Iraqi “refugees” are rounded up on a daily basis for deportation. From the stories I have heard, more and more of the few countries that have received Iraqis
are now closing their doors to them. They are stuck. Not able to return to Iraq, they are also not able to resettle here. Except for wealthy Iraqis who are able
to deposit $100,000 in the bank (which is then frozen), the less fortunate are “fair game” for Jordanian authorities. “I don’t care where I live” one Iraqi man said to me the other day, “I just want to live in peace.”

Yesterday morning I had my unkempt head of hair cut. I put on a nice blouse and went to pick up the “business” cards I had ordered from a nearby printing shop. I was to begin a project as part of Voices for Creative Nonviolence to visit the 70 or so embassies in Amman. Following the suggestion of a trusted Iraqi friend who arrived a few days ago from Baghdad, we are pursuing the idea of doing a survey of the embassies to ask what immigration possibilities their countries offer Iraqis. Our friend told us that “rumors” abound among Iraqis both in Iraq and Amman as to what embassies might receive them or deny them entrance. Perhaps the project will serve to dispel some of the confusion as well as to surface new ways to address
the desperate situation of Iraqis.

Iraqis I have spoken with are overwhelmingly in support of the idea. After visiting 3 embassies in the last two days, I am heartened. Not about the results of the visits which have not proven favorable toward Iraqis, but about what we might be able to do on down the line with the information. More and more I believe that we need to appeal to the international community on behalf of our Iraqi brothers and sisters.

Much love, Cathy


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