Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bob Kerr: It takes an Iraqi to tell the story of Iraq , Voices of the People of Iraq and More!

Bob Kerr: It takes an Iraqi to tell the story of Iraq
The Providence Journal, Friday, May 5, 2006

I asked Samir Adil, who's from Iraq, if there would be chaos in his country if U.S. troops pulled out.

"There is not chaos now?" he replied.

Good answer. And it comes from someone who knows.

Adil knows of the murder business in his country, where for 100 American dollars one person will kill another person -- often in clear public view.

He knows death every day. There was a day in Baghdad, where he lives, when 150 people died in the violence.

He knows of people stopped at checkpoints and shot because their papers showed them to be Sunni or Shiite.

He knows how much worse life in Iraq is now than it was before the American occupation.

"Now, all these groups fight for power," he said.

Iraqi society, he said, is like a jungle.

We talked yesterday just before he left for Vermont with Noah Merrill of the American Friends Service Committee. He is on his second visit to the United States. The first was in 2001 when he came to tell of the hardships imposed on Iraqis by U.N. sanctions.

This time, Adil is on the road to tell of an Iraq that is seldom seen by Americans. It is a fear-filled place where people try every day not to offend one faction by appearing too friendly with another.

He says he knows of people who have pleaded with insurgents not to use their houses to ambush Americans. And those people have been shot, he says, and pictures of them and their families put on terrorist Web sites as American spies.

"Iraq is caught between political Islam and the U.S. occupation," he said.

He will wrap up his visit in Washington, D.C., next week when he joins military families, Iraq war veterans and other Iraqis to lobby members of Congress to end the war.

Adil served six months in prison under the regime of Saddam Hussein. He asked the wrong questions, pushed the wrong causes.

Now, he is president of the Iraq Freedom Congress, which was formed last year to try to relieve sectarian violence, peacefully oppose the U.S. occupation and offer non-ethnic, non-religious alternatives that allow Americans to take part in Iraq's future without firing a shot.

He is also raising money for a non-sectarian satellite TV channel in Iraq to counter "pro-violence" media.

It is all about human issues, he said, not Sunni or Shiite issues.

And pushing those human issues has brought death threats from terrorists. Adil moves around a lot. He travels with bodyguards and doesn't use his real name.

When Noah Merrill contacted me about Adil's stop in Rhode Island, he provided an opportunity that is far too rare. It was an opportunity to talk to someone who has come out from behind that frustrating cover of limited news coverage and public indifference.

Adil doesn't think Americans have any idea what Iraq is like now, three years into the occupation. He is surprised and saddened by how little the Western media does to tell his country's story.

In just a few days in the United States he tries to fill the gaps, visit as many places as he can and tell his side. He likes Americans. It is American policy with which he has problems.

We talked far too briefly. He and Merrill had a schedule to keep. There were people waiting in Vermont.

But I know a little bit more now, and this time the information comes from someone whose only agenda is to know peace in his country. / (401) 277-7252

### END ###

Peter Lems
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia PA 19102
Tel: 215/241-7170 / Fax:215/241-7177

AFSC Iraq Update 4 May 2006: Success in the Senate

Beyond Dictators and Occupation: A Way Forward in Iraq (Speaking Tour: 2 - 18 May)

Silence of the Dead | Voices of the Living (11 - 14 May)

Eyes Wide Open Advocacy Day (Friday 12 May)

Iraqis Speak: Voices for Peace in Iraq (Friday 12 May)


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