Wrong thing over and over.

Four years ago we started hearing about “change” and yet we get the wrong things over and over.  We look to our president.  We usually look to someone else to make changes, and we remain as we are except to maybe get more and more discouraged.

I started this somewhat ridiculous project………and I have gained quite a few followers (thank you) and I look at it now and ask myself who I thought I was that I could make any changes.  I choose this one thing to first work on, but oh man it is a doozey.

Now you can either stop following me or stay, but I must tell you that I am feeling a little down today.  Everybody loves a winner, and nobody loves a loser, but consider that a lot of people at first fail in their endeavors. And I may not even make a noticeable dent with my efforts, and you can call me crazy if you want and I will take it not completely brave, but I will continue onward with this goal of mine. I am not yet finished.

There are people who worked with American troops in Iraq, and they were left behind there to fend for themselves in the aftermath of a mess we made.  Even this old grandma here could see that the interpreters were going to be persecuted, and yet VERY LITTLE has been done to get them to SAFETY.  And these people are being tortured and killed in post-war Iraq.  Well, there are plenty of other people on the planet in harm’s way…………one can argue that……… But this is the cause that I chose to work on.

And since I am a stubborn old girl I ask you to retweet this message.  Send me IDEAS!!  I also ask you to send a message asking for help for our allies, the Iraqi interpreters.  The message phone at the White House is  (202)456-1111.   Just please do something.  Tomorrow I will still be here doing this no matter what.

Words cannot express.

Words often do not seem good enough to explain my thoughts, but I try anyway.  News out of the Middle East has been so very bad and I wonder how I managed not to hear about all the strife before, when I managed to be oblivious to it.  I just told myself the issues are too complicated, so I would not need to pay attention.  So I understand how and why many Americans manage to be un- phased by the events in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.  If these same things were happening here the US the whole country would be in uproar.  But we can ignore it too easily, because it is “over there”.  This is not something we should do.

We also make the mistake of hearing things with a biased ear.  A crazy “Muslim” man goes on a killing spree and we cite the religion.  A crazy US non-Muslim soldier goes on a killing spree and we do not cite religion at all.

Sixteen people lay dead in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and an American soldier is arrested and is held in American custody.  Effigies of President Obama are burned at the site of the awful deed, because otherwise-vigilantes cannot get their hands on the soldier himself who did the killing.

But they can and will get their hands on others.  In Iraq dozens of young men are being killed by Sadr’s extremist militias simply for having an American style haircut. In Iraq and Afghanistan both, anyone having connections with the United States is considered “fair game” to be killed in retaliation for lost life caused by these fruitless wars.

Was the cost of life truly worth it?  I think not.  Even after the American troops withdrawal from Iraq the killing continues.  You may not know the person that is killed, because he or she lives “over there”, but it breaks my heart because I made a decision of getting to know some of the people.  Via the internet I know maintenance guys who worked at the US Embassy and many interpreters who bonded with our American troops while working side by side.

I want no more people to die because of hatred towards America but there are continuing events that stir the pot. Americans should especially protect our allies; these people who worked alongside US troops in the  Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These people will not be forgotten and left to die without someone making noise, and one of the noisemakers will be me.  They should not be left behind to fend for themselves in such a reactionary and violent  surrounding.  It is an awful abandonment of those who put their lives at risk for America.

I would appreciate if you would call the White House comment line and leave our president a message in favor of protecting our Iraqi and Afghan allies. The White House comment phone number is    (202)456-1111      .

 

Mojo writes again. Pleading for help.

Letter to:

President of United State of American (Barak Obama), Senators, United State ambassador in Baghdad (James F. Jeffrey), Leaders of American Army, United Nation, Civilian Society Organizations, Human Rights Organizations, American and International Media, Iraqi Refugee Assistance project, The List Project, The Peace Project and who ever can help us in this matter.

My name is (MOJO) my nickname, I am (30) years old, from (Iraq-Mosul), single, I have a college degree in chemistry science, and I worked for American Army for almost (five years and six months) as an interpreter.When first the American Army came to Iraq, I was so happy because they came to liberate us from Saddam regime, and they brought the freedom and democracy to my country (Iraq), so I decided to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I worked with American Army as an interpreter, and I was proud of doing my job to be as a linguist bridge between the American soldiers and Iraqi people, I was not listing to what the other Iraqis says that the American came to occupy Iraq.

During my work with the American Army I received several dead threat letters such as:

1)      My real name was found on Anti-American propaganda published by some terrorists groups in (Talafar/Mosul). The propaganda stated that if the interpreters on the list did not stop supporting Coalition Forces, they will be killed.

2)      In 2010 I received phone calls from unknown numbers they were saying: you are a (traitor, spy, American agent) we know who you are, and where you live, so either you will quit supporting the infidels (Americans), or we will harm you and your family.

3)      In June 2011, my (15) years old niece (my brother’s daughter) was kidnapped by her teacher from school, and convert her religion to Islam, and force her to marry her teacher who is about 29-30 years old.

Her father (my brother) was also working with American army as an interpreter in that time but he quit right after the incident to take care of rest of his family and start look for his daughter.

After that my brother reported what have happened to the local police and also he reported to the American Army but it was all useless, because the kidnapper was well protected by (Al-Sader) militia and no one could capture him.

After the kidnap for about a month my brother received a phone call from the kidnapper saying do not bother yourself for looking for her, you will never find your daughter, and the kidnapper said : we kidnapped your daughter because we warned you and your brothers to quit supporting the Americans but you did not listen to us.

I believe that my niece is dead because until now we have not heard anything from her, until present day we get threat phone calls and messages from the kidnapper.I have a copy of most of the police investigation paper works for kidnapping of my niece and I gave a copy of it to the American embassy in Baghdad during my visa interview.

My family is well-known in my Town that we are close friends to the Americans, because me and two of my brothers we were working for the Americans and we were, I can say the first people who start working with them in 2003 Mosul.

Because of the dead threats, we applied for the immigration program, in 2010 I applied for the SIV as the first step and because of my niece kidnapping situation, I contact the American embassy in Baghdad and I had an expedite visa interview in August/2011.During the interview I explained for consulate officer that me and my brothers in big danger and we get threats from the kidnappers, even that I possess about 12 recommendations and certificates of appreciation from high ranking officers in American army that shows how loyal I was in my job and for American army and it shows that I am poses no threat to national security or safety of United States. But the staff at embassy said: your visa will take at least 8 months to be issued.

The purpose behind me writing this letters is:

1)      Visa delaying.

2)      Dead threat that I face as an interpreters in Iraq, because the American left and we have no one to protect us now.

3)      Some militia statements such as (Moqtada Al-Sader), (Hezb Alla), (Asab Al-Haq) and (Jaesh Al-Mahdi) and their sympathizers that they will continue fighting the Americans who been left in Baghdad and who ever support them.

I believe that it is too easy for those militias to hunt us, because in 2009 during the security agreement between the Iraqi government and the American government we (interpreters) signed documents stated that we have to pay taxes to the Iraqi government, and I believe the reason behind that was; so the Iraqi government can have our information such as our full name, address, phone numbers, etc. by the way (interpreters were the only employees in Iraq that paid the taxes to Iraqi government until present day.

4)      It is hard for us to find job in Iraq and feed our families after the American left because people in Iraq they see us in different angle (traitors, agents, spies).

5)      Whoever knows that I was an interpreter they ask me those questions: why are you still in Iraq? Why your friends (Americans) left you behind? Are not you afraid to be killed by terrorists?

To be honest when I heard those questions it is really hurt my feelings, and makes me feel sorry that I participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

                        Please AMERICANS DO NOT LEAVE US BEHIND…………
Kindest Regards
MOJO

The waiting is the hardest part.

The interpreters are watching the minutes crawl by and waiting for the visas to be processed. Some of them have been rejected from the Special Immigrant Visa program; and others worry that they might also be rejected and this adds to the already intense stress of waiting. They can’t go outside for worry their faces will be recognized as being what many of their fellow Iraqis consider traitors.  This happened because they believed and invested in the dream of a democratic Iraq.  They risked their lives alongside American soldiers in battle, but they were left behind to fend for themselves against death threats.

Many have lost their lives, and many are losing their hope for a halfway normal life. They wait and some are starting to feel like fools.  It is wrong to treat anyone this way….to put their lives in great danger for your own benefit, and then refuse them safety when they need it desperately.

I wait with the interpreters that are fortunate enough to have internet access.  I chat with many every day, and I watch the deterioration of hope.  It is not comfortable.  You say to them, “don’t give up”………and yet there are no promises. You might only be able to help them pass time by focusing on a different subject, but the worry and uncertainty are still there in the background.

There is not good enough reason why these people should have been put through this.

 

My faith.

Some people say I am “straddling the fence” on the subject of religion.  They think I am “playing it safe” by not choosing  an official creed.  I personally think nothing could be further from the truth……

It would be so much easier to belong to one particular religion. I would have plenty of friends in my chosen group and I would be cleanly ignored by other sets of people that wish to convert me to their own religion. That would be NICE.  I would like that; except I don’t seem to be able to say that one religion is “better” than another.  Some may seem more evolved than others, but I think we’re all reaching for the same thing.  I see the good in all of it.  There may some things that I disagree with, but that is my choice.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the lovely young lady, Suehaila Amen who starred in the television reality show, All American Muslim.  She seems like a very fun person and she is Muslim, of course.  I went to see her at a mosque.  I go there most Fridays, to pray for the interpreters; and I will do this at least until they are out of danger, because most of them are Muslim, and I want them to KNOW that I care this much for them….  And when they are all rescued I will probably only go there once in awhile; but I think I will still go, because it has been a pleasant experience for me.  I see many good things about my Muslim brethren.

I see many good things about my Christian brethren also; and this is the religion I was raised in, so it feels more familiar, but I disagreed with some about the church I was raised in.  Even the great Christian, ex-President Jimmy Carter had to stop attending at his lifetime denomination when the values seemed to not change for the best.  But this is opinion; what the best is, and we must each determine this for ourselves.

A Muslim friend asked me to find the root words for the terms God and Allah, and I have not yet done this.  But already I think the root word for God is “good”, because I decided this made the most sense, on my own, and because this scholarly friend did confirm it….. And I am glad to have it confirmed that what I pay reverence to is indeed good.  If the word Allah is rooted in something I also pay reverence to I will not be surprised.

Here we are in a day when religion is quite controversial; but it has always been so.  Years ago when the Mormon religion began to gain strength in numbers, other Americans persecuted them to the extent that they murdered and drove them out into the desert of Utah.  And yet today there is a Mormon campaigning for presidency of our United States.  Today we stand at a position of choice; do we fight against intolerance of other religions or have we not learned our lesson?  Immigrants take an oath of loyalty to America and swear to abide by the laws.  What more do we want of them?  Surely we cannot expect them to convert to a new religion?  And many have already been here for many years living in peace; do we need to spy on them now to hear if they plot against their own country?  It seems ridiculous to me.

There is no way to avoid pain if a group wants to inflict it upon you…. (but don’t think that real Muslim people would do that).  Look no further than the example of Irish terrorism for so called Christian foul activity and Anglos should know this is not what Christianity is about. The same applies to many other religions whose fringes wish to include themselves. There is no way to avoid all the “crazies” and trying to do so is pretty much futile.

And I believe the best way to live is to know that your life has spiritual meaning.  So live like you MEAN it.  Live out loud and love and fear little.  I don’t believe we were created to cower.  Live, and let your neighbor live too; until it is each our time to go……..

 

 

 

Burning holy things.

Sad news out of Afghanistan a few days ago and the “official report” is that it was some sort of accident rather than an act of hate; but either way a terrible mistake has been made.  It shows either virulent meanness or a big lack of control on the military’s part.  Soldiers were burning Qurans.

Anyone that was “raised right” knows you don’t burn someone else’s equivalent to the Bible.

Donkeys, Dogs and so called Terrorists

What do they have in common?  Someone with power cares enough about them to take them to safety.  The Marines mascot “Smoke” is an adorable four-legged friend who now lives in Nebraska. Adorable puppies “Mama” and “Boris”, that belonged to a deceased soldier are now in Michigan. More precious doggies were brought to America through a group called “Operation Baghdad Pups”. I am glad about that.

If you have the power (which I do not) it is good to remove anyone that is being oppressed or otherwise attacked, killed or injured within a war-torn place.  There is a People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran that ran into northern Iraq in the old days after the death of the Shah and have a camp called Ashraf there. They have been under strong attack from Iraqi militias and just about a week ago (2/11/12), this group was relocated to safety into housing at an empty military base (Camp Liberty), outside Baghdad. This was arranged under the name of the United Nations. And so……because the United States is part of the UN, it has now helped a group that is on its list of “terrorist threat” groups to have safety.  Good that anyone should have safety in war I say………. and innocent until proven guilty.

But what about our allies, the Iraqi interpreters that our government left behind when the troops withdrew?  They are still over there and some have been murdered.  Some are in hiding in neighboring countries, but some unable to move away because of circumstances; they are constantly threatened.  Please if you have not; read their stories here at the link in the black bar above…..  How? How can our government  allow that they run here and there dodging danger? ……bombs going off ten feet from the front door of the family’s home? ………a daughter kidnapped and the torment of phone calls afterward?……….one living in a cave in the snow of the mountains near the border of Turkey; going insane and freezing with his dog there with his cans of tuna…………  How can our government not help these interpreters???  How is it that it could not put THEM at Camp Liberty or one of the now abandoned bases?  Where are you my fellow citizen?  Tell them this is not acceptable.  The White House comment phone number is (202)456-1111.

 

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/18/us-donkey-marines-idUSTRE74H6FQ20110518

http://landofpuregold.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/grieving-family-fetches-sons-dogs-from-iraq/

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/rescuing-the-dogs-of-war/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/iranian-exiles-leave-longtime-iraq-home-for-camp-near-baghdad-in-hopes-of-speeding-immigration/2012/02/18/gIQAJub7KR_story.html

 

Liability of your presence.

The vast majority of interpreters are still waiting. A few of the interpreters have recieved visas. Some have been rejected but given no reason why; this, after they have been shot at for years while assigned to combat units.  Am I going to believe those that make these decisions have it right this time after they let known terrorists into the country previously?  They were too lax before and so now they give a thumbs down to a person who traveled into Iran five years ago visiting their wife’s sister??  Seems like the interpreters have to pay for the state department’s mistakes.

If you are American you have no comprehension of what this waiting is like.  Imagine a bomb going off ten feet outside your front door; it breaks the windows out of the house, ruins your car and sends your grandmother to the hospital.  The next day you’re on your way to relatives’ who may or may not want the liability of your presence………

Imagine having your child kidnapped and the kidnappers call your home and taunt you. Keep imagining because it gets worse and worse and no one makes a move to help you.

 

Overly involved.

I worry a lot about the Iraqi native interpreters that my government’s military left behind in Iraq to fend for themselves amid death threats.  My husband wakes up at three in the morning and sees me on the internet and says,  “you need to sleep”.  Well of course I need to sleep.  I know that.

But you see, it’s another time of day in Iraq, and someone may need to talk.  I only got five hours of sleep in two days, so I was pretty tired and could barely hold my head up and type when I got a message yesterday; an interpreter’s home was visited by three armed gunmen.  The interpreter was not found and thankfully the gunmen didn’t hurt the family.  So the interpreter had to leave.  He could stay with another relative for a little while, but not long.

I was trying to hold my head up straight and make coherent sentences then…. so I logically decided to message several other people who know a lot more about Iraq than I do.  A national reserve soldier girl (Kimberly Frier) and an Iraqi interpreter (Ali Jalal) in hiding in Jordan.  And I KNEW the endangered interpreter was in good hands and my head hit the pillow and I went out like a light.  When I woke up I learned that it was arranged for the interpreter to stay with a kind soul in Iraq that doesn’t even know the guy.

Such a relief now, to have this kind of proactivity among the group of Iraqi interpreters and some concerned soldiers I am in contact with.  But the interpreter could as well have been killed.  Some ARE being killed, and some of these we will never hear of, because they may not have internet access. But the ones that do have internet access sometimes find the facebook group where I visit with them and there I wait with them.  They are in hiding and cannot go outside.  They get frustrated and depressed.  They struggle to keep their love for America alive, fluctuating between feelings of being betrayed and hope.  They love the soldiers that they bonded with and miss them but don’t hear from them much if at all. And I tell them that if they cannot hope I will keep hoping FOR them.  And I keep praying.

Ali Jalal that I mentioned above, is featured in this newspaper story written by Adam Kealoha Causey:

http://jacksonville.com/news/florida/2012-02-07/story/jacksonville-veteran-fights-bring-iraqi-translator-us

Labeled a traitor.

I think an interpreter or translator working in a wartime environment, should be considered neutral, and otherwise protected from repercussion related to their job in that particular environment.  If there isn’t something written about this in rules developed by the famous Geneva Conventions, there SHOULD be.

Most in Iraq that studied and learned the English language were predisposed to be open to the job of interpreter.  These are studious and forward thinking people who repeatedly tell me they wished to be a bridge of communication; to help understanding and also prevent misunderstanding, between the Arabic speaking natives and the English speaking soldiers.  Even if they did not always agree with everything done, they had the satisfaction of knowing their work helped prevent many deaths, Iraqi and American both.

When I first began to talk to people whom I wished to enlist support from, I was sometimes shocked that even some Americans view the interpreters as traitors to their own people; especially shocked when this thought came from a “liberal”.  It was very disappointing to me when a person would make a blanket statement like,  “I cannot support anyone that was involved with military and war”, but it’s also surprising to hear an American say,  “They are traitors to their own people”.  This seemed particularly strange coming from someone taking advantage of freedom of speech and objecting to the war that employed the interpreters.

When America first toppled Saddam Hussein and the cameras were brought in, there were many Iraqi people that sounded and waved support for the U.S.  But these same people’s mouths are now shut tight.  After the settling of the dust stirred by leaving US military troops, extremists stepped forward to swear retribution against all people who aided the U.S.   I saw this as completely predictable. How could my government NOT?  I am still trying to figure out why America left these allies behind.  But this post is about being labeled a traitor.  People within communities where the interpreters live are sometimes acting as vigilante groups while persecuting these they call “traitors”.  The homes of interpreters are marked with graffiti saying “traitor”.  Even interpreters whose family members have been kidnapped get phone calls tauntingly calling them “traitors”.

Another group that calls the interpreters traitors are conservatives from neighboring Arab countries.  As the interpreters are attacked with guns, bombs, and who knows what all else, there are those in other countries that say,  “Those traitors deserve what they are getting”.

So the branding name of traitor, with it’s sinister connotation is set upon the interpreter like a scarlet letter, and there is nowhere they can go within Iraq where they will not be eventually recognized and killed.  So they must leave or die.

And yet some are being rejected from being relocated to safety; after years of service to the US military.  Much of this is because visas were given to (at least) two Iraqi immigrants who were KNOWN to have ties with extremists, and two were arrested last spring in Kentucky for shipping guns and money to extremists back in Iraq.  So now even the interpreters (who it should be said  have already proved themselves) must stand in a long and very slow line and be scrutinized  to such an excess that some are determined to be untrustworthy and therefore unworthy of the protection of their lives.  This rejection is a death warrant as much as the label “traitor”.