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Jordan’s Failing Security and Xenophobia Muffles Syrian Abuse and Neglect

Republished from NSNBC http://nsnbc.me/2016/04/19/jordans-failing-security-and-xenophobia-muffles-syrian-abuse-and-neglect/

Siraj Davis (nsnbc) : Below is an interview with an elderly Syrian wife and mother, whose handicapped husband was forcefully kidnapped from their peaceful home, humiliatingly tied to a tree in broad daylight, and publicly whipped without interruption with several strokes of a belt. Their adolescent daughter witnessed this shameful unjustifiable tragedy. Insult to injury, the ‘unbiased’ Jordanian government sought ‘compromise’ with no criminal prosecution against the landlord who committed this unconscionable offense. She is one of seven Syrian families victimized by this same landlord in Salt, Jordan.

Siraj Davis

The tumultuous civil war in Syria has had detrimental repercussions upon calm neighboring nations. The massive influx of fleeing Syrians and the protracted conflict against Daesh, questions the volatility of Jordan’s security. The answer is it has gotten severely worse. An augury was the shocking arrest in July of a Jerash man stashing 40 kilos of explosives.

Preceding this, there were portent signs when the Jordanian media attempted to Baghdad Bob the security problem with non-astute logomachy, when in gossamer fashion describing the arrest of ‘fugitives’ or ‘criminals’ with hand grenades, high powered automatic weapons, and foreign designed RPGs in the city of Maan , Jordan within the same month.

Then in March, for the first time in my five year stay within the Hashemite Kingdom, Daesh openly exchanged fire with security forces – killing an officer- in Irbid. Recently this month, Daesh surprised and embarrassed the Jordanian mukhabarat (intelligence), by overpowering allied troops and unexpectedly taking the northern border of Jordan and Southern Syria (publishing a photo of themselves at the border between Jordan and Syria on social media. In these circumstances, the Syrian voice is stifled underneath the mainstream spotlight of Jordan’s War of Terrorism narrative.

 

Jordan_Syrian Refugees_Siraj Davis_Apr 2016The deteriorating security concerns above amalgamated with a proliferating Nazi regime substance N type anti-American sentiment (due to Islamophobia in the West, wars in the Middle East, and an unresolved Palestine/Israel issue) and emetic Jordanian xenophobia against Syrians in consequence to a lingering unemployment and deteriorating economy; has made Jordan subtly dangerous. Most definitely, with the closing of the Muslim Brotherhood office this week, and more, something horrible is inevitably going to occur. Syrians are now trapped and marginalized in the above manifestations of a failing Jordanian security. Additionally, Syrians are twice victimized, as they are stigmatized as potential terrorists by governments and victimized by discrimination from the Samaritans in their Hashemite refuge. A growing proportion of the Jordanian population today, are blaming Syrians for all that has negatively transpired with the economy and security of Jordan.

During numerous interviews with Syrian victims within Jordan, the systematic abuse and tacit neglect against Syrians were obviously increasing. Something dangerously worse and more malicious was also materializing in interviews. The Jordanian government was refusing to append crime statistics in Jordan, by ignoring Syrian complaints. Even worse, some in the government commenced intimidating Syrians to remain silent upon abuse and discrimination. During one interview, a Syrian victim’s son from the third family of the seven Syrian families victimized by the same landlord was arrested early the following morning after the previous day’s interview, by civilian clothed individuals (Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch participated in this interview). Afterwards, the remaining terrified four Syrian families after initially agreeing, refused to participate in any interviews. It is unknown what has occurred to this woman’s son still.

This systematic abuse and neglect, such as what occurred above, doesn’t fall entirely on the Jordanian government’s lap though. Such tragedies as the above two videos in this article were enabled because the Jordanian media , schools, and NGOs have disgracefully failed to raise awareness upon these drastic transformations and blatant violations of Syrian rights. The tenant/landlord experience is an exorbitant and occasionally exploitative tribulation for some Syrians. There is a dearth of Jordanian media publications on this, education programs to deter it, or laws enacted to protect Syrians from it. I’ve witnessed greedy landlords persistently-within five years residing in Jordan- quickly raise rent prices with every influx of new refugees arriving in Jordan. Despite what NGOs state, it is not because of limited capacity. Anyone within Jordan may take a brief drive around the cities and count the empty buildings and apartments. Plenty!

It is because corruption is still a pernicious endemic norm while international aid is still not more forthcoming. And despite being the land of the prophets, exploiting defenseless victims of conflict is not perceived as something shameful by a disturbingly large sector of society. Also, the tightwad ambivalent government of Jordan is cautiously waiting for more funds –which like the Bermuda Triangle mysteriously becomes less every time shipped to the Levant by the Jordan shipping route- from the international community and United Nations -while simultaneously attempting to determine if Syrians will remain long term- before completing building projects slowly being constructed now. For example, in 2015, there was a six month freeze on residential projects for refugees and afterwards NGOs were told to not fund any new housing projects. Finally, the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, is carefully watchful of a possible security implosion within the kingdom and has buckled to the Jordanian xenophobia and corruption by lauding the Jordan Response Plan. This strategy amalgamates “short term humanitarian, and longer term developmental responses” between Syrians’ and Jordanians’ future aspirations into one. It is not an action of altruism meeting the exigent needs of languishing Syrians. On the contrary, this prevaricating concoction is a COIN strategy of demonstrating to the selfish Jordanian constituents that the refugee influx may be a beneficial plus for Jordan, rather than an enervating burden. By using international donations to both help Syrians and push forward with Jordan’s development and infrastructure. In other words, Syrians’ miseries and misfortunes, may be Jordan’s happiness and opportunities.

Regardless of the determinants behind the Syrians’ misery in Jordan, the conditions of urban housing for Syrians outside camps are horrible and not mentioned enough. They dwell in old unwanted apartments, some without basic amenities as water and electricity, and also very overcrowded. This increases chances of physical and verbal confrontations, and sexual exploitation, according to female Syrians. Additionally, Syrians must pay for wear and tear of already old furniture and used electronics in furnished housing. Syrians are given the worst housing as well, yet pay more in rent than Jordanians . Also their rights as a refugee/tenant is precarious, a joke! As the videos included in this article highlights. Many Syrians strongly complained of paying unjustified fees, physical abuse and assaults, regular insults, and even being removed expeditiously from their dwelling upon the tiniest of nuisances without evidence. Worse, one interview revealed -in an uninvestigated and unconfirmed case- a Syrian child was held ransom for late rent.

It is transparent that despite foreign military financing, Jordan’s security is worsening. Its economy seems to be increasing in GDP annually, yet as with Porifiro Diaz’s regime in Mexico, that isn’t trickling down to many poor Jordanians and Syrians who are angry at the king now. As with Diaz’s government, the cause was and is today, corruption  And yet again, the Syrian narrative of struggle and victimization is cruelly muffled by the royal dog trainer melodramatically cadging the West in his crusade against ISIS, while puppy-faced and holding his hands out for donations to support the dichotomy of war and the Jordan Response Plan.

It is hopeful more will be done to focus on the issue of tenant rights and housing for Syrians. Yet it is honestly unlikely. If the neglect of citizenship and adequate housing toward Palestinian refugees lingering in camps such as Jerash for half a century, has been denied due to the political ambition of a right to return, it is likely to be the same for Syrians. Especially since Syrians have a home to return to, unlike Palestinians. It is my prediction that the inhuman treatment and dishonorable neglect and daily growing number of Syrians in Jordan will become the Achilles Heel, unless addressed more seriously. The economic and political conditions of both Syrians and Jordanians haven’t been improving, security is decreasing, the Syrian population is still rising despite comprising 20% of Jordan, and by intermarrying the Jordanians and Palestinians are slowly surpassing governments’ propaganda of Syrian terrorists and identifying more with the Syrian plight. It doesn’t look good. But, it’s a human phenomenon in history. While residing in the Middle East for six continuous years with prior knowledge of the history of this region, I’ve discovered that:

The historiography of the ‪Middle East‬ and the Holy Land can not be completely fathomed without viewing it from a refugee’s perspective. Major prophets of antiquity were all refugees. And today in a tit for tat hot potato game between ethnicity and religions and nations-since the origin of this region’s history-the refugee plight is a continuously over-looked, yet palpable reality. Each victor for the time and present, completely effaces or ignores or manipulates the perspective and history of the refugee. One day’s victor, is another day’s refugee. And thus, peace is an incomprehensible language in this region.

Siraj Davis, nsnbc – 19.04.2016  –   After being exiled from Jordan by orders of the Jordanian intelligence for Mr. Siraj Davis’ pursuit for employment and refugee rights, he is now in Erbil , Kurdistan teaching Japanese and World History at the American International School and teaching the Peshmerga English in the summer. Holding a Master of Arts, History, he intends to return to Japan to finish his PhD in 2018.

The Grim Conditions of Jordan’s Immigration Detention Camps. Blatant Human Rights Violations An Expat’s Perspective

Republished from Global Research Centre for Globalization

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-grim-conditions-of-jordans-immigration-detention-camps-blatant-human-rights-violations/5520571

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http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-grim-conditions-of-jordans-immigration-detention-camps-blatant-human-rights-violations/5520571

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The following elucidates the grim conditions of immigration detention camps and the defective process of deportation existing within Jordan, which innocent migrant workers have endured for so long, in silence. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Tamkeen, Global Detention Project, and more have persistently attempted to raise awareness on the preceding conundrum.

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I strongly feel my personal experience may append some insight to their efforts. Recently, I and my wife (an Iraqi refugee), were unexpectedly arrested and quickly deported from Jordan -upon orders of the Jordanian Mukhabarat (intelligence)- for my passion in highlighting Syrian refugees’ tribulations and for me reporting labor violations and corruption  to the National Centre of Human Rights, Tamkeen, and the Anti-Corruption Commission of Jordan. My labor complaint was in regards to the International Independent School on Airport Road and Sands National Academy in Khelda , Jordan. 

It has unfortunately become the norm in the Hashemite Kingdom for indigent migrant workers and others to be booted from Jordan, violating international laws, before their trials commence or labor grievances against employers investigated. This is what occurred to me and my wife. In other words, if employees protest loud enough or their complaint possesses substantial merit, they are discreetly punished via deportation, even though their employers’ failure in abiding by Jordanian Labor Laws, resulted in immigration infractions which consequentially led to such deportation. It is hopeful this publication may provide a closer glance at the conditions of Jordan’s detention camps and deportation process for expats, Human rights NGOs, and those affluent supporting the Hashemite Kingdom’s persistent (media assuaged) violations of international human rights laws. 

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No Phone Call to Stay in Jordan

The mandatory one phone call – upon arrest- expected in most western nations to prisoners, is out the door in Jordan. While incarcerated within Jordan’s deportation camps, no one – other than those with ‘wasta’ or money- could access the telephone to buzz a lawyer or embassy.I was denied by every single officer from Jabal Shemalia to Tababour to Claa Ali detention centers for an entire week. I was either given a flat emotionless ‘no’ or the tautology of ‘later’. The latter reply, ‘later,’ of course never materialized within the Hashemite Kingdom’s ‘luxurious’ detention camp. However, if deportees submitted to voluntary deportation-prior to seeing an immigration judge- previously forbidden telephone privileges shockingly appear like the “SS Cotopaxi” ship once lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

It is quite simple, yet a cruel process. If you possess no one on the outside to facilitate your departure from Jordan, you are inured in waiting for an immigration judge. You should be prepared to inform your loved ones that over-stay fees are demanded to be paid in addition to travel costs.  Thus, if you are estranged from family (as some Muslim reverts ) or an introvert, you’ll be incarcerated for a long period of unknown Rip Van Winkle, amount of time.

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Miserable conditions 

The conditions at the detention camps are miserably unacceptable. The heatless rooms are dark. On two occasions, I saw cells with four lamps , but only one functioning. The bathroom is an 18th century replica, a hole in the ground with water well beside it. Ventilation is meager and even the whiff of someone’s butt percussion is generously distributed to unsuspecting nostrils. People sleep on plastic mattresses with a thin sheet and rock hard pillows, surrounded by the unclear pitch of deep conversation by others clueless what will occur to them, and moldy decaying walls that stare emotionlessly at you. Although the Middle East is a male-dominated and gender repressive society, female facilities are chivalrously better. As my wife explained, the female prisoners have their own elevated bunk beds.

You are unlucky to be a tenant of the Amman Shemalia detention camp though. It is an ‘equally generous’ concrete sweet built for a capacity of twenty, but one may see fifty humans jammed inside like a rusty can of dead sardines. This crowdedness seems to proliferate animosity and verbal/physical confrontations between prisoner and prisoner and correctional officers (COs) and prisoners. Prisoners also are coerced to catch shut-eye without their mattresses, on top of each others’ feet and chests, while regularly tip-toeing to the bathroom around others’ vulnerable limbs who are helplessly laying on the cold concrete floor.  Also medical assistance is non-existent. One obese detainee’s pleas for medical help as he held his palm flat against his chest and collapsed to the floor, went completely ignored. Also, prayer in the Amman Shemalia camp must be performed directly in front of the bathroom, in which I witnessed some vainly protesting this occurrence. In addition, there are is no washing laundry nor hygiene products nor access to a shower or a change of clothes.  Bad breath, stinky underarms, lice, and cancerous-like sores distinguish seniority among the knowledgeable and experienced male prisoners. However, the female prisoners are allowed a shower daily and the ability to do their laundry and change clothing.

The glamorous victuals at the Jordanian detention facilities are distributed once in two days. It is comprised of watery soup, old vegetables, and tasteless rice which barely suffices what is necessary for human nutrient intake. However, the female prisoners are given a more varied amalgam of healthy vegetables, bread, rice, and meat for breakfast and dinner, twice a day. Male and female prisoners were administered just a bottle of 1/4 liter water. More bottles, better cuisine, and snacks are available to individuals who possess currency (prisoners maintain money on them while imprisoned). Unlike prison films, these detention camps luckily had no bugs in the chow. Thankfully, bugs have better slop outside the detention camps.

The Bad Correctional Officers

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It is pertinent to not generalize because there is good and bad everywhere. And the Jordanian Cos and police are humans as well. Some are honest with you in regards to what occurs at the centers. Others attempt to connect you with the outside world by passing messages. A few even attempt to accommodate you if possible, when in urgent need. Another sneaks outside meals to certain prisoners. There were good Cos and police I met there which I respect tremendously now, and forever. However, there are ghastly ones as well.

While being transported between facilities, I surprisingly witnessed a childish armed officer playfully point his automatic double-handed firearm at one of the handcuffed detainees. I also witnessed two COs mercilessly take turns repetitively slapping a cornered handcuffed Turkish prisoner in the head and face, for the minor infraction of talking back. After this cruel beating, he was –while still handcuffed-thrown back into the holding tank for duration of time. An additional CO aggressively dragged a blond-haired outspoken Jordanian prisoner -who loudly bemoaned for coffee in the early morning- out of the inmates cell. The CO then violently shoved, repeatedly slapped, and like a pugilist, punched him with hooks and straights and uppercuts; while this helpless victim was handcuffed to a chair.

The CO ceased when breathless and exhausted. He then forcefully threw this prisoner out the door to other awaiting officers, who consequentially escorted the injured patient into solitary confinement.  In a different incident, I witnessed one inmate remain in handcuffs for two entire days, sleeping in this manner, in consequence to his bold decision to go on hunger strike. I don’t know what his ultimate outcome was because he was unexpectedly and discreetly transferred out. When speaking to other prisoners about the horrible occurrences I witnessed, many retorted with worse horror stories. Eg. One unnamed prisoner was beaten unconscious, handcuffed, and his lifeless body thrown into the bathroom according to witnesses. The sole abuse I suffered were racial slurs against Asians by a CO at Tababour facility and shouts of “Fuck America” by one police man at the Claa Ali center. The aforementioned cases of abuse, of arrogant fear as author Ghassan Kanafani would describe, mostly occurred at the Amman Shemalia detention center.

My wife also witnessed one female Jordanian prisoner severely beaten and stomped by three female guards, and an officer, for the unthinkable dereliction of asking the staff to light her cigarette. One female staff  retorted to this prisoner’s query by screaming, in which the prisoner calmly reminded the CO that she -as a human- has some right to dignity to shield her from unreasonable shouting. The pummeling then commenced. At the conclusion of this malaise, the female COs threatened to falsely accuse this inmate of insulting the King of Jordan, if she dared mention what occurred. That same victim a few hours later -while laying bloody on the ground- suddenly began gasping for oxygen in wild convulsions in front of everyone, until unconsciousness silenced her.

Testimonies of Hope

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The experience in Jordan’s detention camps was utterly horrible. Yet the resilient in life discover some positive, under such tribulations. I recollect my Clemson University professor’s advice , Professor Lance Howard, to unearth the tiny glimmer of light in any gloomy situation, and nurture it. And I did. I formulated lasting friendships with ‘good’ people who despite suffering pitiful treatment equivalent to that reserved for dangerous felons, were solely guilty of pursuing their dreams of a better life. Some like an engineer Mohammed Bayo, who like me and others, swallowed our self respect to survive. I witnessed Jordanian COs and police on occasions, coerce him to loudly sing and shout chants of praise to the King of Jordan and recite the Jordanian National Anthem, in order to win their approval and avoid a more difficult imprisonment. Conversely, such childish treatment wretchedly failed to coax us into loving the Hashemite government and the King of Jordan. On the contrary, it subconsciously, and perhaps by the purpose of God’s will,  permanently etched into our minds the recollection of this horrid Royal treatment and criminal violations of human rights laws with that of the Jordanian government, and the King of Jordan, all as the same.

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Lance

Professor Lance Howard

I beheld these pioneers of human history, migrant workers, vehemently stripped of human dignity and some cruelly abused, denied natural rights accorded to the average human, and lingering in anguish without any glimmering contact to their own loved ones; while patiently awaiting an uncertain outcome in the squalid Jordanian detention camps. Their only crime, the many kind Syrians and Egyptians and Africans and Asians I met. They did not possess sufficient funds to pay for exorbitant immigration or labor fees. Or because they made a single small-minded immoral Jordanian citizen , enraged enough to barefacedly lie and fabricate a charge against them.  Or these migrant workers were incarcerated and being deported as a result of punishment by an employer, for wrongly entrusting in a crooked Jordanian government and its superficial laws, when initially filing their own complaints against that employer first. One of the few occasions in the detention camps wherein a zephyr on the pinnacle of this mountain of tribulation cooled my nerves and comforted me, was when I came to the realization that my situation was not an anomaly.

I spoke with many migrant prisoners –who like me- filed official complaints against employers, but as with Arnold Abbot of Ft. Lauderdale Florida who was imprisoned for feeding the poor, suddenly found ‘themselves’ arrested for doing the right thing. My interviews and casual conversations with these victims for a week, abridged a closer revealing glimpse into this Jordanian injustice which synchronously augmented previous accusations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Tamkeen. I am a believer in both HRW and Tamkeen now!

The palpable testimonies from the casualties of King Abdullah II’s obtuse immigration laws and detention camps touched my heart deeply in an indescribably sad manner. Some of these twice-victimized prisoners-forgotten and unloved,-were under the callous sponsorship of abusive employers who discreetly beat and pugnaciously locked them in tiny apartments, after illegally confiscating their passports. Silence was demanded by employers via threatening their employees with endless imprisonment. Others were capriciously sold off as property or sheep to a different employer without consent, separating dear friends and family. Others were reprimanded with imprisonment and deportation after complaining that their salaries were unpaid for months and even years. Many were refused the very labor contracts assured to them by employers, which inevitably resulted in their imprisonment. One Egyptian was incarcerated because he equally traded insult with insult, against a single Jordanian antagonist. These were not criminals! They were the indigent all of the real prophets of old respected and defended. They were innocent victims crushed within a cold machinery of corruption in Jordan! They were innocuous victims without the heroes and heroines of today, to grant them real justice.

Jordan’s Violations of International Human Rights Laws

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King Abdullah’s regime is not the worst amidst the Middle East. Yet Jordan’s cajoling declaration as a staunch ally of Israel and the West doesn’t efface the truth. The Hashemite Kingdom is committing human rights violations with impunity while waving the banner of the War of Terrorism as an excuse. Jordan, is not an ally of humanity in the world. As NGOs as Tamkeen pointed out, Jordan is violating international laws in consequence to deporting migrant workers under incredulous conditions of detention and disgusting treatment, despite pending trials and doing so on the flimsiest of evidence. Contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture.Additionally, I witnessed approximately ten to twelve Syrian refugees in these camps awaiting deportation which is against recognized international laws opposed to refoulement.My Iraqi  wife was one of the deported asylees. Those refugees informed me, as well as other inmates, the deportation of Syrian refugees was a normal monthly routine.

Conclusion

Although I was not allowed to call anyone outside of the detention facilities, Mohammed Bayo , by the grace of God, handed me a telephone in the back of a police transport van.And with the help of others blocking the view of the police, I made phone calls. Certain ‘good’ police worked with my wife to financially arrange my departure. Those were my heroes and heroines. I humbly thank all of them dearly. I also recollect seeing a mentally handicapped beggar in the detention camp. From my arrival to my departure from Jordan, within a period of 5 years, I occasionally saw this man with his hands out at the intersection of the University Street, at the corner of the University of Jordan’s mosque and the street which led to the West Gate of the university. Till this day, I am proud  that, unlike many Jordanians who attempted to convince me otherwise, I never refused handing him money, if I had it. I think reconnecting with him in jail was a sign from God. I would be released a week later.

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Mohammed Bayo above

 

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Beggar in Amman, Jordan

It is pertinent to express my own opinion on King Abdullah II’s detention facilities and immigration laws. I feel that the deportation of migrant workers in Jordan is a discriminatory instrument of unnecessary punishment in Jordan, nothing to do with justice. Employers liberally employ  ‘administrative detention’ and deportation- once reserved for state security motivations- as an instrument of repugnant punishment in Jordan.  It is not a policy of prudence for Jordan’s future, but in contrast a tool to enforce the dominance of the repulsive racial and political hierarchy based upon the procreation of the progenitors of Jordan’s posterity. Those with exceptional skills, unmatched abilities, and extensive education are unimportant to Jordan and thus the brain drain continues its cycle to the Jordanian peoples’ own detrimental loss. The treatment and conditions of migrant workers in Jordan flirts closely – if not already there – with the demarcation line of slavery. It needs reform desperately and no one should hold the Jordan in any regard, other than outright condemnation and shame.

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My wife and me beside each other. Mother-in-law on the left alone. 

Notes: 

1 Wasta is the word Jordanians use to describe a distinct form of unfair influence by an individual or group, which allows one or many to surpasses normal laws or rules. Examples are bribery, close relationships,  tribal names, etc

2 World News Daily Report http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/bermuda-triangle-ship-reappears-90-years-after-going-missing/

3 Daily Mail “Drop that plate Right Now” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2821129/90-year-old-man-arrested-feeding-homeless-Fort-Lauderdale-new-law-introduced-bans-people-sharing-food-public.html

4 “Migrant Domestic Workers in Jordan” Huffington Post. Christoph Wilcke.   https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/10/12/migrant-domestic-workers-jordan

5 Global Detention Project http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/jordan

6 Human Rights Watch Jordan: Vulnerable Refugees Forcibly Returned to Syriahttps://www.hrw.org/news/2014/11/23/jordan-vulnerable-refugees-forcibly-returned-syria

7 Mohammed Bayo https://www.facebook.com/mohamed.mbayo?fref=ts

Our Own Way: Music Video for Syrian Refugees in Amman Jordan

The following music video was produced/directed by Collective Consciousness productions and stars rappers Taiyo “Siraj” Davis, Ahmed Habjoqa, Ali and entails authentic stories from the Syrian victim population residing outside camps in Amman , Jordan. We see the majority of videos by NGOs made within camps, this is the voice of the silent majority who comprise of the 4 out of 5 Syrians living outside the camps in Jordan. It also includes an introduction by community activist, Ronald Moon. This creation has been published in Middle East Rising and its tittup has caught the eye of many.

Our Own Way Music Video

Ronald Moon Huffington Post

The determinants which propelled the creation of this plucky music video lay in the lack of awareness of the public via the dearth of transparency in the media, toward the suffering of these innocent humans whom are stigmatized with the word, refugee. The preceding word, ‘refugee,’ tacitly implies via its frequent usage, that these guiltless victims of war have lost a bit of the legitimacy and worth toward their own humanity, by being conglomerated into such categorical tautology. A plethora of videos, the majority, upon Syrian victims – I prefer to employ the word victim- in Jordan, are not on the teeming 4 out of 5 Syrian victims residing outside of the main camps in Jordan, who are without the basic succor and life replenishing services provided within the camps. This video however, is a bugle call with key notes from the voices of the majority outside the camps, that are coerced to patiently endure conditions of penury no conscious parent would willingly accept for their own precious children, and no rational and kind human heart would nod at for any human.

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World Politicians and the international public fall prey to such media sanitation and government censorship of the reality of the Syrian victims’ lives. The mainstream media attempts to control, gate-keep, or supervise the real-life stories of calamity and adversity, and injustice, of these human thralls. For example, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson -in a brief time reminiscent of the Anglo Zanzibar War – quickly visited Amman, Jordan ,  venturing to Zaatari refugee camp, and callously formulated a sudden all-encompassing resolution for the Syrian crisis in Jordan based on that perfunctory trip alone. And this video presents a retort from those Mr. Carson did not visit.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-surprise-jordan-visit-carson-calls-for-refugees-to-settle-in-middle-east/2015/11/28/5e1eaa38-95d3-11e5-a2d6-f57908580b1f_story.html

Ben Carson visit to Jordan

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It is indeed a gossamer hypocrisy that we advise and coerce these priceless human victims to flee war zones so as to not be falsely arrested or bombed or shot as an insurgent, yet when they do, we reciprocate by classifying and admonishing them as sub-humans or possible ‘terrorists’ appended with very limited protection of human rights while coercing this human flood to reside in utter degradation within barb-wired camps without electricity to have their human spirit exploited, their dignity insulted, and to be atrophied in their own development toward education and life conditions and opportunities. They remain in a stagnant stasis of unknown repatriation and development, while the world offers brief apologies and compendious offers to share food at wedding ceremonies, while enjoying that which these victims have been mercilessly stripped completely of, equal rights. It’s brazenly disgusting and any religion, race, culture, nation, economic or political ideology, organization, society, or media establishment which doesn’t recognize or nod in agreement to the preceding caustic yet honest declaration; is either one which supports complete hypocrisy, or is no longer a viable entity for human kind! Or quiet simply a scurrilous instrument of empire!!

A second impetus for the spawning of this music video, is the assistance contributed by the international community is both insufficient and also being pocketed by extractive institutions and corrupt individuals, thus not reaching the intended target, the Syrians who have crossed the Jordanian border hoping to survive. American selfishness and lack of concern is gossamer. America is not accepting more Syrian refugees as other generous nations like Jordan. Yet one of its smallest states Wyoming, from 50 states, has twice the GDP, 11 times less the population of Jordan, and is about the same in physical size. That’s completely not fair, it’s called the racism and cruelty of empire! To place pressure upon empire’s outposts rather than its own motherland. Such meretricious relationship is not of nurture, but indicative of that relationship between a mother and a feral child like the Russian boy Vanya Yudin who could only chirp like birds. Such preceding outstanding premise warrants the absolute  and unquestionable suspicion as to whether the West’s efforts to liberate or benefit the Middle East, are indeed sincere. Especially, since the West is commonly identified by the international world population as the culprit in causing the political turmoil which has tragically launched this tidal wave, and others, of fleeing human victims. The West needs to accept more refugees and address its Islamophobia.

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Additionally, the aid granted by the ignominious West for Jordan needs to be closely supervised and more effective stipulations or control mechanisms attached to those allocated funds are wanting. The West is blindly transferring resources for the Syrian victims in Jordan to a Tammany developing nation with a very unsettling past of corruption.

  • The protests in Jordan since 2010 have demanded such reforms to thwart the modern Boss Tweeds
  • Two former Chiefs of the Jordanian Intelligence, Muhammad al-Dahabi and Samih al- Battikhi were convicted of corruption.
  • A relative of the royal family was also charged and convicted of corruption
  • Leaders of Jordan’s main Bedouin tribes sent an open letter accusing Queen Rania of corruption.
  • One of Parliementary members, Laith Shubailat , accused the King of Jordan of corruption pointing toward the latter’s valuable land appropriations and shares in the Rotana Group.
  • Former Mayor of Amman, Omar Maani, was arrested for corruption.
  • Poet Haider Mahmoud wrote a poem warning of the proliferating corruption only to be fired and stigmatized as a trator in state-run media.
  • Former minister, Adel Qudah, former JPRC director general Ahmad Rifai, the prime minister’s economic adviser, Mohammad Rawashdeh, and business tycoon Khaled Shahin were incarcerated for corruption in regards to the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company
  • The Anti-Corruption Commission of Jordan has capitulated and admitted it is severely under-funded and under-staffed.
  • There also exists a consensus ‘on the ground’ among NGO and government employees, the regular population, and numerous others that the donated money is ending up in the Tammany pockets of individuals and individual companies, rather than Syrians.

Another circumstantial indicator of this virulent corruption is the severe lack of transparency and follow up of cases by NGOs within Jordan, who slyly refuse interviews (even when questions are provided with notice) and not answering or returning phone calls for pleas of exigent help and service to Syrian victims in Jordan. Worse, no explanation is returned for such silence and circumvention. However, any pphianthropis or donor with money is met with a Fort Knox reserve of blandishments.

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This obvious corruption must yield. Cases of corruption have not surfaced recently in such prior frequency not because it has dissipated into oblivion, but because the normal Jordanian people are becoming inured -rather than courageously protesting and reporting- into becoming accustomed to it as a norm for Jordanian society. They are additionally afraid to suffer the doctrinaire government’s price for standing against corruption. In consequence, human victims I have interviewed and aided for 6 continuous years ultimately suffer in unthinkable anguish while I witness corrupt Jordanian officials’ children living like Param Sharma of Instagram’s “ItsLavishBitch” , speeding through streets in their parents’ lamborghinis, in a version of Amman Drift , while pathetically whistling at young women.VOMIT!

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The region’s volatile security is also dangerously endangered by the discreet yet palpable winking at extremist groups and extremism within Jordanian society. A 60 to 70% sedulous population demographic of Palestinians angry and bitter, while hopeful of regaining Palestine by violence through an Islamic liberation theology (similar to the FMLN in El Salvador) and a incompetent and crooked government bent on ascertaining tangible returns on the exacerbation of the Israel/Palestine conflict; also allows such recruiting and logistical arena for extremist groups and, a breeding ground for such extremism. Hatred fills the air in Jordan like an innocuous gas awaiting transformation into a Substance N of the Nazi regime. And it is spread throughout the Jordanian education system, a place normally reserved for tolerance and non-violence.

Students at Sands National Academy in Khelda , Jordan

Sands National Academy

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Students at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Teacher at Sands National Academy in Jordan

Teacher at Sands National Academy in Jordan



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The education system is not the sole culprit. Also,  a sundry of Parliamentary members such as Hind Al-Fayez demand and push for a better and closer relationship between Amman and Hamas, while I have witnessed Hamas operate with near impunity in front of the security apparatus within the Hashemite Kingdom. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization outlawed by the majority of Arab nations as a terrorist group, is a recognized and powerful fact here in Jordan. And both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have connections to government and security personnel here as well. I’ve seen it. We, the perspicacious and genuine, all apprehend it.It is only denied by the naive or the poker players here, like a Baghdad Bob in the 2003 Iraq War.

jordan-isis-protesters

baghdad-bob-no-infidels

Some within Jordan, may peruse my above comments and maliciously castigate me in quick retort for my comments about unerring Hamas and the perfect Muslim Brotherhood. I only counter that I do not bash the right of resistance to oppression or occupation or the right to practice one’s own religion in a spiritual or fundamental manner; but I absolutely condemn indiscriminate hatred, bigotry’s repression of free thought and tolerance, discreet extortion and financial fraud, falsely accusing innocent journalists and free-thinkers of being spies or traitors, claiming the deaths of innocent Palestinians justifies the death of Israeli or American or any nation’s children, condemning the Jordan government in a pipsqueak ambivalent voice while simultaneously employing and manipulating it as a means of intimidation, victimizing or neglecting other refugees at the expense of channeling aid and funds to Palestinian refugees, discrimination, and worse. Al of the preceding I have emetically witnessed by the aforementioned’s constituents. I castigate anyone or any group or any religion or any nation for not allowing a single individual to be HUMAN! To be different and honest. To dare hold a mirror up to a Medusa of hypocrisy. Although I have glanced at some of the ‘good’ in the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, I’ve also seen activities within Jordan by the aforementioned organizations which deeply disturbs me. And such prior organizations will NOT garnish the transition from exclusivity to inclusiveness, necessary to win the political gambit of legitimacy and recognition they aspire toward, unless they seriously change their desultory course.

PM Calls for Better Relations with Hamas

The extremism in Jordan not only derives from its noticeable presence allowed by the security apparatus of Jordan such as the now popular Jabhat Al Nusra, but is persistently perpetuated by its education system as well. According to former Ministry of Education official, Zogan Obiedat , the ideology of ISIS / DAESH is within the school’s textbooks. MEMRI research fellow Z. Harel notes such ideology extends in the universities and also highlights through his astute research an interesting diametric relationship observed in both schools and universities, that see-saw status entails the vehement repression of critical and free thought while ISIS / DAESH ideologies proliferate at favor. I add that after 6 years of working as an observant teacher in the private international schools within Jordan, that I not solely concur, but append that ISIS / DAESH ideologies are routinely regurgitated and steadily propagated by faculty with liberty, at these schools as well. Pun and oxymoron intended.

Eg. An anile colleague and biology teacher named Nura Abboud of Sands National Academy commenced a conversation with me about the Jordanian soldier, Ahmed Daqamseh, who shot innocent Israeli children crossing the border to Israel from Jordan, on a school bus. Because I declared he was not a hero, but a villain, and anyone who kills Israeli or Palestinian children is a villain; she consequentially spread the venemous rumor throughout the school that I was an Israeli spy.

In response, the female hall monitor called me DAESH in front of other teachers after Nura’s childish verbal chronicles throughout the school and the schools principle , Naima Al Momani , responded to Nura’s artifice by directly approaching me face-to-face and stating in a caustic voice that all of us Americans were the REAL terrorists. 

NuraAbboudNuraAbboud1

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XcFjg5oqD0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1koyPZ8nlrY

Ahmed Daqamseh

Nura Abboud

Sands National Academy

I give an Ameen and two thumbs up along with my toes to  Al – Ghad  and Jordanian writer and educator, Zuleikha Abu Risha, who has stated that the presence of such virulent and dangerous ideologies are apparent and serried to the curricula of Jordan schools , and school faculty, and that a state of emergency within the  Jordan education system exists and palimpsests should be immediately created.

Her words,

“The poisoned Islamist tree, planted in the 1960s, has borne fruit – in the form of an educational system that opposes creativity and asking questions, sanctifies the past, does not deviate from its [rigid] path, detests logic and anything new or innovative, levels accusations of heresy, and incites to hatred, violence, and killing – to the point where students have become robots who recite prayers to keep themselves from harm, instead of investing efforts in finding solutions.”

I fear and tremble that if things are not changed, the preceding status quo will only ignite a powder Jordan and risk her neighbors’ and donors’ pristine security consequentially. It will definitely not suffice the criteria for David Cameron’s Golden Thread Theory.

Former Minister of Culture, Sabri Rbeihat, stated:

“Many politicians ignore the fact that the problem today lies in the emergence of a new culture that hates life, celebrates death, and attacks and quickly eliminates anything symbolizing liberty, life, and happiness.”

Jordan Protests

Jordan Intelligence Chief in Jail for Corruption

Bedouin Tribes Accuse Queen of Corruption

Jordan King’s Uncle Convicted of Corruption

Jordan fight Against Corruption Too Small

Mayor of Amman

OPPOSITION PROTEST ON THE CORRUPTION OF THE COURT OF KING OF JORDAN

Syrian victims in Jordan are also impersonalized, dehumanized, due to a rising xenophobia against them and an insufficient and inadequate, or unwilling ,education/media infrastructure to reinforce humanity and stem this racist movement within Jordan. The Jordanian culture here due to labor competition, rising education and housing prices, an ailing economy, and increasing polygamy creating jealous and scorned Jordanian wives;  have concocted canards which deserve to be labeled part of Jordan’s culture due to such myths’ acclaim in Jordan. These tales include the preposterous idea that the meager clothed Syrian beggars are mostly liars, thieves, or potential terrorists. On the contrary, I’ve interviewed those supposed liars, thieves, and potential terrorists to test the veracity of such societal accusations. The preceding current fables have as much veracity as the myths that beer warms the body and using cell phones on airplanes causes airplane crashes. The Syrian victims are indeed legitimately anguishing in penury! To add, these Syrians have no more extremist thoughts, or connections to insurgent groups, as the average Palestinian Samaritan with  Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad, and so on.The Syrian victims in Jordan suffer unwarranted stigmatization in addition to their physical hardships. Due to people who use 10% of their brain.

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The Jordan Times, the government’s pundit mouthpiece which echoes and vomits what it is only allowed or fed, has loudly condemned corruption in the Hashemite Kingdom though has remained cricketing silent to challenging the above aforementioned social canards about Syrian victims in Jordan. It is very repugnantly noticeable that the Jordan Times doesn’t report, not even briefly, on the actual conditions of hardships of the Syrians within or outside the camps. Instead it sticks to loudly trumpeting the Kingdom’s contributions while synchronously chiding or condemning  the international community’s blank stares and reticence, while also table pounding and roaring for more money. Additionally, this literary charlatan occasionally has been caught deceiving its audience in favor of heralding Jordan’s government, sustaining its own loyalties while alleviating any suspicions of a lack of patriotism as in the McCarthy times, at the expense of lowering the dark shroud of nationalism’s bigotry over the harsh Syrian reality on the ground by denying the refoulement of refugees which later was proven true, comically attempting to assert Syrians in the Zaatari Camp are holding continuous demonstrations which have resulted in deaths and imprisonment and deportations not because of the preceding’s camps horrid conditions (which Jordan’s UNHCR rep Andrew Harper even admitted in an Al Jazeera article, is a place he would not live in) but because of the  incredulous myth of terrorists among the Syrian population in Jordan. I can only retort. If you desire the Jordanian reality, read the Jordan Times. The majority of us humans in the world need not click its links. I advise the average and below of intellect to search for a more accurate tabloid.

AndrewHarper

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DAESH / ISIS Ideology in Jordan School Textbooks

DAESH / ISIS Curricula in Universities and Schools in Jordan

Finally, as Ronald Moon declared in the introduction of this video when asked why he capriciously released his own youtube video, “it’s reality.” But reality, sincerity, and honesty; traits ideological systems uphold as an apotheosis to the definition of character, are sometimes, maybe even often, not appreciated in developing nations. There are pernicious entities within Jordan, which shamelessly seek to atrophy free speech and thought via extra-judicial means of deportation, torture, harassment, discrediting bloggers and journalists, and false imprisonment. They in consequence, are guilty of the torment Syrian victims and others within Jordan endure.And they also, like octopuses that indulge in eating their own species and itself, stop the progress and destroy the international esteem of that which they claim to love and espouse, Islam and Palestine and Jordan.  A new globalized world.

img-assault-victim-uses-youtube-to-turn-negative-experience-into-positive

My conclusion.

In order to diminish corruption which detrimentally affects the aid to Syrian victims and reduces the public’s faith in Jordan’s government, to lower the extremist threat within Jordan,  and to protect Syrians within Jordan; the following should be considered:

  • The manipulation of foreign aid to Jordan to coerce cooperation and protection of modern values and human rights for its citizens and ‘asylees’ and to ‘seriously’ battle extremism. The internet censorship and press freedom has been slowly deteriorating every year in Jordan. No one can report the truth. 
  • More supervisory mechanisms for the aid to Jordan against extractive institutions and individuals.
  • More serious reforms against extremism within the education, government, and security institutions within Jordan. More cooperation between intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Also, these extremist entities within the aforementioned sectors of Jordanian society not only threaten Western interests, but are diverting funds away from asylees/refugees to their own pockets and recruiting asylees/refugees into Jabhat Al Nusra or Daaesh recruits. 
  • A large media campaign to place a human face on Syrians and to admonish and to abolish corruption.
  • More jobs and educational programs for Jordanians along with heightened interational investment dependent pon achievements above. 
  • Require religious sheikhs to be licensed within Jordan. 

We can not say it is ‘their’ HILL and ‘their’ laws when they cup their hands out in cadging demand for OUR tax money. Not when the extremism embroiled within their lands find its way to our shores! To our infrastructure. Human rights are NOT cultural, national, nor religious, they are HUMAN.  And every prudent nation across this beautiful world MUST abide by these norms or such horrid microcosms of civilization, order, security; will potentially and inevitably places us all in harm’s black and white grasp.  Regardless if they temporarily serve a purpose to our National Security directives, there are heuristics which must be enforced for aid we give to other nations.

Please like, share, and enjoy the video.

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Sammie: Syrian Refugee Needs Heart Operation in Amman Jordan . Azraq Refugee Camp

 

Sammie is a Syrian Refugee in Amman , Jordan. He is a resident of Azraq Refugee Camp in southern Jordan. He desperately needs a heart operation to continue living but is refused every where he turns for help. Now he just wishes to reside outside of Azraq camp in order to die free in more humane conditions.

Sammie also explains the horrific conditions humans as him endure within the camp which the media, NGOs, and governments sanitize as claiming to be model camps suitable for humans. Here is a primary source, one of many, who disseminate how there lacks noticeable dearth of correlation between media , NGOs, and governments’ sanitation of the experiences of the innocent victims of conflict, with reality.

If there is any kind Jordanian out there who can help sponsor Sammie’s freedom outside Azraq Camp or if you know of anyone who can help him to get a heart surgery, please let us know.

 

Appeal for Donations: Nofal Hamdan Musa: 300 JDs Stolen from Syrian in Jordan

 

The majority of Syrians (4 out of 5) within the geographical confines of Jordan reside outside the squalid and horrid Jordanian Agroville camps. At Zaatari camp for example, continuous protests have persisted since the hamlet was created which have resulted in deaths, arrests, and deportations of the Syrian victims inside. UNHCR rep for Jordan , Andrew Harper, himself stated in regards to Zaatari paraphrase, “I wouldn’t live there.” Syrians daily risk and exchange almost any valuable possession to escape the teeming cramped quarters with no electricity and basic services. They  suffer in anguish from exploitation until they finally find a path from this barbed wire entrapment, into ascertaining that natural human right of freedom and to step closer, to feeling the palpable privileges that an elusive repatriation affords. The following is one tragic story.

 

Nofal

Nofal Musa Hamdan (pictured above) is a widow from Daraa, Syria. Her husband was killed during the conflict and she has one child among three, that is now employed to care for the entire family.

Syrian Child Labor in Jordan

She is an innocent victim of war callously brought to her home nation and precious family, and, insult to injury, has also been horribly victimized by theft in Jordan where she sought refuge. Nofal’s pristine innocence was taken advantage of, knifed in the fragile heart, when she naively paid 300 JDs ,entrusting a man who promised her a sponsorship to depart Zaatari Camp. It was a huge amount of money for this humble widow with her beloved children under her nurturing care. This sleazy man absconded with her money and let silence be her only savior and hero in a strange Holy land. Thankfully, she eventually did make it out of Zaatari Camp, but that preceding incident no doubt has indeed deeply affected her detrimentally in regards to her pure trust, delicate innocence, and this crime has permanently tilted her own dear humanity.

We would like to collect this 300 JDs to straighten out this Pisa tower.  We concede others are suffering more. However, we strongly view such minor effort as an at of uniformly recognizing her invaluable humanity and returning her priceless dignity. To send a group philanthropic message that we considerate humans reward the helpless victims which dishonorable and disgusting people target. We ask for your aid to succeed in this small act of grace, not only for her and her children, but for us to be part of something positive and to uplift our faith in this sometimes gloomy and unfair world.

We want her to thank those donors for this appeal, personally in a video message from her to the donors, after collecting enough. We have had one generous donor, Abdul Hamid Faruki https://www.facebook.com/abdul.faruki?fref=ts  , who has donated 50 JDs. I will donate 50 JDs as well. We are humbly asking for others to trust in our good intentions and help our efforts in the name of humanity and God, with the remaining 200 JDs. You may send such donations by Western Union.

Thank you and God bless.

(*Nofal’s story is at 4:50 in the below music video*).

 

Gaza Camp Summer Program

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzCE5jgng4w

Please like the Gaza Camp Summer Facebook page here:
ارجو الاشاره بلايكلهذه الصفحه
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Summer-camp-2015/1618506551740007

Gaza Camp (also known as Jerash Camp) is in Jerash Jordan. Its occupants originate from the 1967 Gaza diaspora. It is the worst Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan.
مخيم غزه وايظا مخيم جرش في الاردن الناس الذين يسكنون في المخيم نزحو من سنة 1967 وهو اسوء مخيم فلسطيني في الاردن

These refugees have less rights than Gazans and Palestinians living in the West Bank. They also live in homes without windows or doors, dirt roads, sewage which overflows into the streets, zinc roofs, and endure the highest unemployment rate of any city in Jordan.
لديهم حقوق اقل من اللاجئين في الضفه الغربيه وهم يسكنون في بيوت خاليه من الابواب والشبابيك والسقوف من الزينكووالمجاري الاسنه طافحه في الشواع ونسبه عاليه من البطاله
Its residents are used to being forgotten. We hope the world will change this and help them. They need donations and volunteers.
الناس الذين يسكنون في المخيم منسيون من الجميع نتمنى من العالم خارج الاردن ان يغيرون هذانحنا بحاجه الى متطوعين وايظا بحاجه الى دعم لوازم مدرسيه وعينيه وماديه

Articles:
مقاله
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=532420
http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleno=23374

Music Video for Gaza Camp:
فيديو موسيقي

Jordan Distorting the Reality of Syrian Refugees’ Conditions through Misinformation Campaign: Siraj Davis

(*Republished from AlWaght News: http://alwaght.com/en/News/12984/Jordan-Distorting-the-Reality-of-Syrian-Refugees%E2%80%99-Conditions-through-Misinformation-Campai)

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Siraj Davis, a Jordan-based journalist and political commentator, says that Syrian refugees are living in miserable conditions in Jordan, stressing that mainstream media outlets and preachers in Amman have launched a misinformation campaign in an attempt to portray a positive image of the migrants’ terrible state and distort the facts about them.

 

“Publications in Jordanian newspapers and on internet forums, are heralding accomplishments of philanthropy and acts of aid for these Syrian refugees, giving an impression that there is sufficient succor, but the majority of the Syrian refugees are NOT ascertaining such help as the preceding boast about in Jordanian news and internet sites,” said Siraj Davis in an exclusive interview with Alwaght news website.

He further added, “Sheikhs [preachers] are convincing the public that refugees begging for aid are really criminals or fraudsters.

Alwaght has interviewed Siraj Davis in a bid to dig a little deeper to uncover the underlying facts about the miserable conditions of the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The following is the full text of Alwaght’s interview with Siraj Davis:

 

Alwaght: Various reports by world’s rights bodies have exposed the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and other neighboring countries of the Arab state. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] published a study “Living in the Shadows” last week, revealing the increasingly desperate conditions of Syrian refugees living in urban and rural areas across Jordan. The report’s findings are based on data gathered using questionnaires answered by some 150,000 Syrian refugees, carried out during home visits by UNHCR’s partner International Relief and Development in 2014. Almost half of the households visited had no heating, a quarter had unreliable electricity, and 20 percent had no functioning toilet. Rental costs accounted for more than half of household expenditures, and refugee families were increasingly being forced to share accommodations with others in order to reduce costs. According to the study, two-thirds of refugees across Jordan are now living below the national poverty line, and one in six Syrian refugee households lives in abject poverty, with less than $40 per person per month to make ends meet. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, stated that large numbers of Syrian refugees are sliding into abject poverty, and at an alarming rate, due to the magnitude of the crisis and insufficient support from the international community. What is your take on this as someone who is an eyewitness to the plight of the Syrian refugees?

Davis: The situation of the Syrian refugees in Jordan is accurately depicted by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Anotion Guterres. The Syrian refugees’ lives are quickly deteriorating into the nadir of living below abject poverty. Some are already below such line. Interviews of refugees indicate severe hardship under conditions near to animal existence. Animal existence meaning the aid necessary for life from organizations and Jordanian communities is becoming more limited. A disturbing number of Syrian refugees are beginning to fend for themselves in many aspects, while only their movement is supervised, as if cattle.

Organizations are closing their doors or finding illegitimate excuses to avoid remedying the dire medical and financial necessities of the Syrian refugees. Affluent individuals in the Jordanian communities with a surplus of money or access to facilities for treatment are turning their backs to pleas of aid as well. The mosques and churches are not doing enough. Worse, a couple of the mosques have religious leaders who on top of their anti-Shiite propaganda every Friday sermon, are concocting detrimental canards against all refugees. Those sheikhs are convincing the public that refugees begging for aid are really criminals or fraudsters. They also over-emphasize the fact that some refugees in Jordan have money yet do not care for their own, thus tacitly implying that Jordanian citizens need not be responsible for nor feel guilty for refusing to aid refugees. It’s becoming endemic thought in the Jordanian public unfortunately.

The UN’s $40 a person grant for Syrian refugee households has now decreased to $10. One family we interviewed had a family of eight, yet was only granted $40 for the entire family in consequence to some clerical error in UNHCR paperwork. Exigent medication including blood transfusions and life-saving operations such as heart surgeries for infants and adults, are less accessible as before. One 6-month-old child has been waiting months in order to get a life-saving heart surgery. Another family contains children suffering from Thalassemia. Their medical costs are approximately 1,000 JDs a month and have not received such treatment in several months. There is no one to help the preceding cases. And there are more cases. Publications in Jordanian newspapers and on internet forums are heralding accomplishments of philanthropy and acts of aid for these Syrian refugees, giving an impression that there is sufficient succor, but the majority of the Syrian refugees are NOT ascertaining such help as the preceding boast about in Jordanian news and internet sites.

In regards to living conditions, Syrian refugees are residing in cramped quarters that are unsanitary. Some even are living in the basements, roves, kitchens, or living rooms of relatives of other kind-hearted community activists. The other option is to reside in the camps where there is no electricity and tents as housing. Although Syrian refugees are not allowed to work, it is tacitly understood the majority do. The majority of their expenses are spent at housing costs. In many cases, Syrian refugees’ rents exceed their income which leaves them little opportunity but to find other alternative means such as asking family members abroad for money, begging in the streets, or working illegally.

One aspect not mentioned often, is the protection and rights these refugees lack. Those working must be in constant fear of being caught and deported. One man ran from police when they raided his place of employment only to get away with a broken leg, no employment, and a medical bill. Another Syrian refugee was working in a salon when it was raided by police, but the owner paid 50 jds for the law enforcement to overlook her. Refoulement has increased as a measure not retained for infractions by Syrian refugees, but as an instrument to depopulate Jordan of them. Palestinian Syrian refugees receive the worst brunt of immigration standards. For example, one man was deported back to Syria because the immigration officer mistakenly identified him as a Palestinian Syrian, when he wasn’t. His mother and pregnant wife remained in Jordan while their 12-year-old child earns income by working at a coffee shop. Another aspect of basic lack of rights is the Jordanian government’s de facto and de jure omission of crimes against Syrian refugees. Officials view the reporting of crimes against Syrian refugees as unfairly raising the crime statistics of the nation so some officials do their best to downplay or efface complaints by the refugees. In one case, a husband was tied to a tree and whipped with a belt in front of screaming children and silent neighbors for late rent, by the landlord of the apartment. The wife and her husband reported the crime but no action was taken. There are also complaints of rape and discrimination that are never addressed.

In summation, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Anotion Guterres’ observations are accurate for refugees but either outdated, or incomplete. The situation is much worse today. The Syrian refugees are living without basic medication, medical treatment, finances, decent housing, and protection that normal citizens and humans of every nation enjoy. It is point-blank, a tragedy. It is hell. Organizations in Jordan are incapable and the Jordanian community unwilling. The international community is failing miserably here in Jordan. There is a scary consensus among Syrian refugees and Jordanian citizens (including government and NGO workers) that the money allocated toward Syrian relief is being pocketed. These reports have not been confirmed though. However, the numbers of refugees crossing into Jordan is increasing, Jordanian authorities and citizens are becoming impatient, and some horrible event is the only foreseeable occurrence with the current trajectory. It is as Angelina Jolie described, “a sea of excluded humanity.”

Alwaght: Syrian and Iraqi refugees streamed across the border after the terrorist group launched an offensive in Iraq in early June 2014 and later in some parts of Syria. The US formed an international coalition in September to battle ISIS terrorists operating in Iraq and Syria through aerial bombardments. The air strikes have so far failed to stop the military gains of the Takfiri group. According to a report published by Fox News on May 29, US military pilots carrying out the air war against the ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria are voicing growing discontent over heavy-handed rules of engagement hindering them from striking targets.

 

For what purposes are such attacks being launched? Why have former and current US officials repeatedly raised the specter of a prolonged war against the ISIS terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria?

Davis: The US Intel and infiltration of extremist groups in Syria have been occurring at least since the 1980s according to CIA memorandums. The US recognized that the only potential force to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, were these extremists. US interests and activity in Syria were severely hindered, but not entirely severed, after Stephen Meade and Whappen and Straggle. Nevertheless, the Agency has been there in Syria with the goal of eliminating a tough opposition to the 2 state solution in Palestine/Israeli regime. And they still are.

The extremists have a purpose for the US. Always have had one. They allow the US to weaken Syria until a viable option presents itself and to convince the Iraqi government that it’s in their best interest to cooperate with the opposing demographic population and to maintain equilibrium between US/Iran relations.

Simultaneously, the US may keep its body count of American soldiers low, thus avoid draining popular support for US operations in Iraq and Syria, as what occurred in Vietnam. The US has decided to engage in an El Salvadoran choice for Iraq and Nicaraguan Contra choice for Syria. Furthermore, if Iraq crumbles, it allows the blame to be placed upon the Iraqi government and military as with the ARVN in Vietnam. The ultimate goal of the US is to discover what they describe as ‘moderate’ forces. Those ‘moderate’ forces are not defined by whether they are extremists or not. They are defined by whether they will recognize the Israel. The military persistent costs of defending Israel and recent engagement in wars to topple dictators in Western Asia is not beneficial, unless Israel’s security and Western cooperative governments are set up afterwards.

Therefore, the US bombing campaign is only a tactical surgery which allows the US to be a participatory arbitrator playing periods of a football game, wherein it seems beneficial. US strength as WWI and WWI demonstrates is that of a bald eagle. A bald eagle waits till the fishing hawk catches its prey, then the eagle steals the fish from the fishing hawk when the latter feeds its nest. In addition, Sunni and Shiite differences aggrandized by extremism avoid a unified front by the former and latter which would threaten the US as a tiny King Bird chases the eagle when determined. Finally, the restraint on the US bombing campaign affords the opportunity for ISIS to proliferate to an extent wherein it may convince Arab nations to support and collaborate with US efforts more and also highlight the benefits of modernization and secularism and Israel (though the latter two are an oxymoron because Israel is a Jewish entity) over Islamic government and rule. The US does not want to obliterate ISIS. If the US truly did, a convoy of death as what occurred in Iraq would be commenced without a blink of the eye in Syria and Iraq. This is a chess game. As Alexander Downs “Targeting Civilians” reveals statistically, innocent non-combatants will be the majority of the victims who will pay the ultimate price.

Alwaght: The ISIS terrorist group has been committing heinous crimes in Iraq and Syria, including mass executions and beheading of men, women and children. Many political commentators maintain that an international fact-finding commission ought to be formed in order to prosecute the ISIS and its backers under international law. What do you think?

Davis: I believe that an international fact-finding mission is pertinent to highlighting the abuses of extremism and should be conducted.

However, I feel it should be applied to all sides of the conflict not exclusive to ISIS. Like an Amnesty to all sides based on disclosure of truth supervised by the EU as with El Salvador. Otherwise, a fact-finding mission may not be as effective as some may feel because fresh memories of American (Abu Ghraib, rendition, etc.) and other entities’ atrocities (such as death squads by Col. Steele, Negroponte, and Ford) are still in the minds of the population in Western Asia. Therefore, the effect of such mission would be stymied by the proceedings’ very fact. Furthermore, the effectiveness of a fact-finding mission would also be atrophied because ISIS is now transforming its strategy. Interviews with refugees from Syria and Iraq indicate that ISIS is now engaging in a battle of legitimacy instead of solely military warfare. For example, refugees reported that ISIS is offering public services that former governments did not provide (consistent water and electricity, lower prices for bread, trash clean up). They are also granting payment and jobs to former unemployed residents (e.g. $200 for the unemployed). They are also offering free health care. The preceding is very dangerous and needs to be addressed. Thus, exposing the atrocities of ISIS by principles must be performed, yet its effectiveness in the propaganda aspect is questionable in regards to its timing and its conduct.

It is my belief that a more balanced approach with the El Salvador Peace and reconciliation commission scenario would be much more effective and longer lasting. It would eliminate accusations of bias and reveal real lessons humanity could appreciate and learn from. Even if ISIS were destroyed in name by revealing its inhumane acts, its members, like gangsters on the streets of the US, would only jump from ISIS to Ahram Al Shams, Jabat Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, Naqshbanid, GMCIR, and even moderate elements such as the [so-called] Free Syrian Army. The nature of insurgency precludes destruction of a single group to quell social unrest, only political resolutions can do such. Part of the political solution, a part, but an important role, is reconciliation. Iraq and Syria need this exigent aspect if they intend to survive in the future. We all as humans, as officials, as governments, need to be direct to the point with prudence toward each opposing side’s goals and desires, transparently honest, and forgiving in order to reach unity. The simple formula of placing peace above war includes the prior and if the affluent in a community really desire peace, it will appear. And all parties including Shiite, Sunni, Iran, Saudi Arabia, US, and so on should be involved.

Siraj Davis has a Master of Arts in History and is currently a teacher with a command of six languages and a freelance journalist for human rights issues. He has spent eight years researching examples of violent and non-violent insurgencies and counterinsurgencies or Low Intensity Conflicts across the world, in various contexts and backgrounds. His first book was “Religious Fanaticism and Abolition: Early 19th Century Marginalization of David Walker and Nat Turner” and he is currently working on his second book “The Pursuit of Love against the War on Terrorism.” He has also published various academic journal and newspaper articles. He has organized and lobbied for human rights and immigration reform with organizations such as Amnesty International, American Families United, SOA Watch, US Campaign for Burma, the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, and more. Davis is president of the Collective Consciousness human rights organization and a constituent of the Truth Justice and Peace Movement. He is currently focused on the Free Ziyad Yaghi Campaign, Peace in Palestine/Israel Conflict, and all refugees.

Interview by Javad Arab Shirazi

 

The Forgotten Refugees of Gaza

 

Blogged from Salem News:

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october052012/gaza-jordan-sd-yom.php

Siraj Davis and Yasmine Omar Mahmoud Lulu for Salem-News.com

The infrastructure of the Gazan camp is not only lacking in proper sewage, but there is a severe lack of recreational areas like parks for children.

Gaza refugee home in Jordan
Gaza refugee’s home in Jordan, photo courtesy: Siraj Davis

(JERRASH, Jordan) – The Gaza camp in Jordan, near the northwestern historical area of Jerrash where the ruins of the Greco Roman Empire flourished along with other civilizations, is a camp that originated from the 1967 Arab/Israeli War.

During this war, about 12,000 refugees fled from the now blockaded city of Gaza in Palestine to this area. As of recent, it now has a populace of about 30,000 Gazan émigrés.

This hidden area is unknown to the perfunctory eye and one can easily overlook this extant camp because it lies on the outskirts of the city, connected to the rest of the reigning civilization by a single neglected dirt road.

Many tourists were surprised to know such a horrible place existed, when later told how close it is to the historical ruins of Jerrash.

Some residents of Jerrash often retort to anyone who asks to visit this place with the suspicious and offensive rising intonation on the last word of the sentence, “why do you want to go there!?”

A couple of tourists wonder if the nearby municipality of Jerrash desires foreigners to remain without knowledge of it because of its horrendous and dilapidated conditions so near to a bustling tourist attraction and well kept city.

The conditions at this camp are described by many to be the worst throughout Jordan. The area is enveloped by an empty desert and saturated throughout its streets with children playing innocently around the sewage and trash.

The streets are cluttered with an accumulation of discarded food, old recyclable materials, and more which must be burned frequently because there is an undependable garbage disposal service.

Sometimes a child must step over an antediluvian sewage drain in the middle of the streets in order to avoid feces from smearing on one’s shoe while simultaneously kicking a football. It is a social enigma to a witness of such an event, as to how this child cannot seem perturbed from the offensive smell that is clearly sensible to the noses a distance away.

The solution to this conundrum is an expensive one as the residents pay exorbitant fees in comparison to other cities in Jordan to have this sewage intermittently dumped outside of the city. The result of such costs is the water for bathing and drinking is sporadically available every two weeks and is sometimes a coagulation of sewage and normal water as a result of a scarcity of functioning modern pipes.

If the sewage and water does nothing to perturb you, then the living quarters are also squalid with tiny rooms, antiquated with cracks in the concrete walls, and teeming with residents. Sometimes 10 people can be found in 1 room of a windowless metal-roofed apartment.

Those are the lucky ones!

There are known cases of residents accumulating into one dwelling with 25 people. Others live in roofless apartments or outside in tents where they are exposed to the challenges of the extremely cold seasonal weather.

The shanties Gazan refugees live in also coalesce with the appearance of its surroundings. The infrastructure of the Gazan camp is not only lacking in proper sewage, but there is a severe lack of recreational areas like parks for children and a road system to transport supplies and travel effluently.

If the environment was of no concern, focus on the health conditions of these residents reflect a ghastly image. Volunteers report the presence of many diseases that are easily preventable with access to Western medicine.

There are instances of diabetes, nervous disorders, cancers, high blood pressure, and more going untreated. Others are disfigured without the means to remedy this with surgery and there are paraplegics without wheel chairs.

The above depictions are the stringent means of life often overlooked by the immense annual flow of curious and magnanimous foreign excursionists, desperately wanting to glance eyes upon and be enlightened by the ancient ruins of Jerrash, instead of the impecunious and simple human quintessence found in the Gazan refugees’ lives of today.

There are other serious quandaries as well. The Gazan derived residents have no National ID or travel papers, like breathing and visible ghosts after 5 decades of Jordan being their domicile and giving birth to children inside of Jordan, they and their posterity don’t exist.

Thus they cannot work, receive government benefits, have full access to education, own a car, nor travel freely. The inability to work has spawned unemployment at a peaking 50%. In addition, the school dropout rates are high from a combination of suffocated hope, lack of faith in education’s discernible rewards, and from the more immediate concern for necessary employment to survive.

The life expectancy is also much lower in comparison to the outlying regions in the country. In response, the UNRWA (United Nations Relief Work Agency) has attempted to remedy these consternations via inchoate programs to augment the living standards and proliferate the opportunities of these stateless people.

They provide education at 4 schools that reaches the 10th grade level as well as a food distribution center. Furthermore, some of these nation-less Gazans receive financial assistance from the United Nations at $7 JDs per family member for a period of 3 months.

Although the UN gives them rice, sugar, oil, beans, lentils, and chick peas; there are occasional shortages of food while lentils appears to be the daily meal for dinner. Insufficient aid and services by the UNRWA and other entities are not the only deprivations Gazan refugees complain about though.

The lack of an egalitarian and complete distribution of services and aid to these displaced Gazans in addition to the perception that the UNRWA, other organizations, and surrounding communities are not doing enough; has created fluctuating confidence in the aforementioned relief agencies.

Criticism from some claim that the UNRWA sometimes confuses itself as a single panacea rather than a means to aid these unnaturalized Gazans because the former micromanages the camp.

It has been reported that the UNRWA has strict control of the area whereas no nascent business can begin without their permission, thus atrophying entrepreneurship and possibly affecting the economy.

In addition, sometimes the UNRWA’s sluggish bureaucracy has granted late permits of permission to those wishing to seek medical aid, resulting in a reported death of one resident shortly after receiving this permit. However, the UNRWA is not the only organization which escapes criticism by some of these émigrés and others.

Some have reported that other organizations who receive aid to distribute to the residents of the Gaza encampment have pocketed the money instead. In consideration of all of the above, it is not a jolt or bombshell to hear the neo-aphorism by the inhabitants of Gaza refugee camp that no one seems to altruistically care for their humanity, much less their rights– until the latter is purchased first.

Despite the high risk atmosphere of the Gazan abyss, the very limited or missing assistance, and complaints of inadequate or too intrusive aid from some organizations; there appears to be others with much more limited funds making admirable and productive achievements. One group of youths has caught the notice of others around them and inspired onlookers.

This group, whose name translated to English means Youth Before Age, has been journeying to this camp uninterrupted while others refuse to bat an eyelid to the unfortunate circumstances there. They give food not in copious supply such as meat, take the children to an amusement park for a day of gratuitous extravaganza, photograph and corroborate on-the-ground living conditions, report and aid individual cases, give free lessons in English, repair and erect homes, and more.

There are 75 homes that they patrol over but are unable to help 6 of these homes because of a budget deficit. This group is now searching for more sponsors. This group also has an adopt-an-orphan program for 40 kids at $25 JDs a month.

Furthermore, the group has an recruitment program to battle the penury of unemployment. They are a group of cadres that exemplify the saying “be the change,” and their contributions toward humanity echo the sentiments of what many people would like to see amplified more in the world and to undo the obdurate lack of hope in the displaced Gazans.

One of the volunteers, Dr. Essam N. Amiss, travels 1 hour back and forth to the Gazan camp. He has been a volunteer for the group Jordan Volunteers for 4 years and now helps this particular band of humanitarian activists. He is a dentist who believes in the principle that sharing is caring and repeatedly reminded me during my interview with him that the Gazan refugees have never known the degree of happiness we are accustomed to regularly.

When expounding on the conditions of Gaza camp, he described it as a grisly disaster with hapless people devoid of a meaningful existence. He continued that the humidity is scorching high, health and sanitation conditions are dreadful, and repulsive housing and appalling unemployment problems are endemic there.

When asked why he helps he replied, “I have a good life, I am a dentist. Other people don’t have the conditions I have in my life. So I want to make them happy.” When queried what does he want to say to those who prevaricate and acquiesce that they have neither time nor funds to help, he responded, “It isn’t difficult. Anyone can help. You can help in other ways. Blood donation for cancer patients for example. It only takes 15 minutes.”

Dr. Amiss has an unmalleable passion that demonstrates laudatory applause as he works selflessly to help others without asking for anything in return; it’s called heroism, it’s called having a prudent mind, it’s called having a heart, it’s called character, it’s called altruism.

If one were to think that only those with a good life have the ability and time to help, it is necessary to disabuse that false assumption. An English teacher named Amane Saed Ahmed Ghunaim is a 25 year old English teacher at Deaar Alateui School who helps Youth Before Age. Despite having a full time schedule teaching children, she has been participating in the functions of this group for a month. Her inspiration, she stated,

I like to help people because my religion motivates me. The existence of these people in Gaza camp are so poor without a yearly income. I feel so happy to help these people… When I see the children happy, I am happy.

Another heroine, Dua Abdel Rahman Qandeel works hard while rushing back and forth as if racing through a labyrinth, making sure the program is on track. She is the alpha female of this group and a softmore studying Business Accounting.

When inquired about what sparked her interest for helping people, she identified the catalyst for her inspiration was her mother. Since the age of 16, her mother always hauled her out to aid underprivileged people and also never declined the opportunity to succor others.

Dua reminisced about the times during Ramadan where she handed out food to the indigent, feeling the tiny spark within her which seemingly confirmed she just made a difference. As she recollected about her youth, “Everyone has a talent and my talent is to help people.” In the beginning of her humanitarian quest, she wanted to direct her endeavors toward helping the Syrian refugees, but certain agencies within Jordan did not permit her. Therefore, she searched for a calling until she discovered the tiny Gazan community and clung to it after exposure to the extraneous hardships there.

When I asked her about the conditions of Hashemi Shemali where the majority of Iraqi refugees live, in comparison to the Gaza Camp, she replied tersely “it’s a villa! [Hashemi Shemali]” Many can not fathom how no one seems cognizant about the Gazan refugee camp in Jordan. When asked why she believes so few have knowledge of this agonizing inferno, she responded that it is the consequence of the generation of youth today who have become opulently selfish.

In deference from my respect and admiration for Dua and her outstanding colleagues, I refrained from volunteering my opinion to her of the disregarded painful status of the Gazan refugees.

My opinion is much of the anguish, loss, and stories of Palestinians’ victimization at behest of Israel’s and the US’ jingoistic policies have been persistently marginalized in the media.The sad irony is that the marginalization of the Palestinians’ plight like with these Gazan refugees, is exactly what Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin averred was the impetus behind the 9-11 attacks in the US, sparking the conflicts of today which have created new refugees.

If we were to pay attention now, we can see glaring examples of such biased treatment. Recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria has brought a large influx of refugees to neighboring countries. Many websites, news articles and broadcasts, documentaries, grassroots organizations, and more have sprouted up stretching its branches wide to let the world see of the darkness the fresh hapless and innocent refugees of the aforementioned countries endure.

Reactions of remorse for these refugees’ situations and forthcoming assistance has become the status quo. On the contrary, the displaced refugees of the Gazan camp have been living under more difficult tribulations with no land to return to nor an option of resettlement, for well over a period of 50 years with a more diminutive amount of relief. Worse, they have not received a quarter of the media attention as the other nascent refugees.

It is a salient point to make that politics sometimes has a large influence upon creating refugees, the attention and aid granted to soften the hardships attached with such a life, and whether one is forgotten like those of the Gaza camp in Jordan.

I wonder if Dua held the same opinion as to the political determinants in the marginalization of the Gazan refugee camp for over 5 decades. Perhaps her politeness and concern not to offend this American made her hesitant and reserved.

I am sure after this article, I will discover the veracity of her previous explanation later. Albeit I feel that I have a political lesson for Dua in regards to politics’ influence on the Gazan camp, the typical western hubris within me was extremely humbled by her sagacious advice for all of humanity. Advice we should all espouse as a concrete human deterrent and solution to the challenges of the past and today, instead of an undependable and partial political one which may cause future crises via marginalization:

“When you see people who don’t have food, clothes, poor education, poor health, and no foundation; you have to take care of them. There is ignorance, girls suffer from inequality, unemployment, and the deprivation of the elderly who are ill. Despite all of these problems, you will find them [Gazan refugees] magnificent and kind. I hope to carry their voice to the people so others will visit them and see how terribly they are living.”

If there are hearts wishing to sponsor or donate, please contact Youth Before Age at shabab-islam_2013@hotmail.com.

________________________________________

 

Yasmin Omar Mahmoud Lulu was born in 24th of December 1989.

She is now finishing her last semester in Business Administration
and English Literature at the Arab Open University in Amman, Jordan.

She lives in a family of 8 with a widowed mother.

She loves writing because it helps her to swim away from the
painful instances of inhumanity by finding succor in her imagination.

As a Palestinian Gazan herself, she has had an interest in the
Gazan Refugee Camp in Jordan for 4 years. She loves to make
everyone smile 🙂

Taiyo “Siraj” Davis
Teacher of English/History.
Author of two books and has written articles for academic journals, newspapers, and blogs.
Former Human Rights and Immigration Reform Lobbyist in South Carolina
Amnesty International Organizer
American Families United constituent
American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights Coordinator
Promoter for Aldin Entertainment Records
Co-founder of Clemson University Asian Student Association
Founder and President of Collective Consciousness Human Rights Organization
Speaks several languages and MMA enthusiast.

 

Analysis: The forgotten refugees of Gaza

 

Blogged from Maan News Agency

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=532420

By Siraj Davis and Yasmin Omar Lulu

The Gaza camp in Jordan, near the northwestern historical ruins of Jerrash where the Greco Roman Empire once flourished, was set up by the UN as an emergency measure in 1968.

During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War war, about 12,000 refugees fled from Gaza to this area. It now has a population of about 30,000 Gazans.

Hidden in the outskirts of Jerrash, connected to the rest of civilization by a single neglected dirt road, most tourists have no idea about the camp. Locals are known to respond to visitors’ inquiries with a suspicious: “Why do you want to go there?!”

Some tourists wonder if Jerrash municipality wants to keep foreigners out, to hide the dilapidated squalor that is so close to a bustling tourist attraction and well kept city.

Living conditions at the Gaza camp have been described as the worst in Jordan.

Surrounded by an empty desert, its streets are filled with children playing near sewage and trash. The pathways are cluttered with discarded food, old recyclables and other materials, which are burned frequently because garbage collection is unreliable.

 

It is a wonder that children playing football across sewage drains do not seem to notice the offensive smell.

 

The solution is expensive. Residents pay exorbitant fees in comparison to other Jordanian cities to have this sewage intermittently dumped outside of the city.

Water for bathing and drinking is also sporadically available every two weeks, and sometimes mixes sewage and drinking water as a result of the scarcity of functioning modern pipes.

Further, the living quarters are squalid, antiquated with cracks in the concrete walls, and teeming with residents. Sometimes 10 people can be found in a room of a windowless metal-roofed apartment. There are known cases of 25 residents living in one house.

Others live in roofless apartments or outside in tents where they are exposed to the challenges of the extremely cold seasonal weather. The infrastructure also lacks recreational areas like parks for children and a functioning road system.

 

Most camp residents possess neither an ID nor passport. Like visible ghosts, after five decades of living and giving birth in Jordan, their families are not recognized. They cannot work, receive government benefits, have full access to education, own a car, nor travel freely. Unemployment tops at 50 percent, school dropout rates are high and life expectancy is much lower than regional averages.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has tried to remedy these conditions. It provides education at four schools up to the 10th grade, as well as a food distribution center. Some of these displaced Gazans receive financial assistance from the United Nations.

The health conditions of the residents is horrifying. Volunteers report the presence of many diseases that are easily preventable with access to Western medicine. There are instances of diabetes, nervous disorders, cancers, high blood pressure and others, which go untreated.

Some residents criticize UNRWA for micromanaging the camp, restricting local entrepreneurship. Others say charitable organizations meant to help the Gaza refugees have pocketed the money instead.

But amid such complaints, there are some young volunteers making admirable achievements.

A network of volunteers, Youth Before Age, provides food assistance, English lessons, helps repair homes, and other kinds of support, including documenting camp conditions.

One member, dentist Dr Essam Amiss, says anyone can volunteer support, including blood donation which takes just minutes.

Another volunteer, Dua Abdel Rahman Qandeel, said: “When you see people who don’t have food, clothes, poor education, poor health, and no foundation, you have to take care of them … I hope to carry their voice to the people so others will visit them and see how terribly they are living.”

Amid the huge flow of curious guests looking for enlightenment at Jerash’s ancient ruins, the Gazan refugees living next door feel forgotten.

 

Siraj Davis is Japanese-American writer and human rights activist and currently teaches English and history in Jordan. Yasmin Omar Lulu is a refugee from Gaza living in Jordan, currently studying English Literature and Business Administration at the Arab Open University in Amman.

 

Iraqi Refugees: Desperately in Search of Leonor

Blogged from the Fair Observer

http://www.fairobserver.com/article/iraqi-refugees-desperately-search-leonor

Siraj Davis compares the lives of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan in a report, which ultimately indicates that the UNHCR and IOM still have a lot of work to do. Download the full report here.

Background

The following is an executive summary from a report involving interviews with Iraqi refugees in Jaramana, Syria and Hashemi Shemali, Jordan. It is not inundated with data but instead presents personal insight into the real-life stories behind the didactic statistics that are normally accumulated to depict lives of refugees. The investigation provides a few personal accounts of the ineffable tragedy Iraqi refugees have endured while simultaneously providing a conduit for all refugees’ complaints from Syria and Jordan.

There are a few imperious cases in Syria and Jordan which caught my attention. These examples represent what I found to be severe exemplifications of the harsh tribulations of Iraqi refugee life. I admit there are other cases which are worse but they were ignored because the pathway of their files seemed positive; the time length of waiting for relocation was not as considerable; the procedures and the conditions they endured did not seem as antagonizing; their stories were already published by other media; it was not easy to verify their stories; or they chose not to participate. Nevertheless, the ensuing examples allow enough detail to accomplish the objective of illustrating some of the major concerns regarding displaced Iraqis’ lives.

 

Case Studies in Syria and Jordan

In Jaramana, Syria, a single woman by the name of Umm Sandra Alan struggles to hold together a family comprising of an elderly sick aunt and her cat Sherry. She receives only 5,000 Liras from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to pay a monthly apartment rent of 10,000 Liras. After her father recently died, she has no reason to return to Iraq and is inhibited to visit her aunt in Egypt by the Egyptian government. She works tirelessly at a salon for a mere 3 Liras per day. Her sick aunt comments about Umm Sandra Alan’s future, while being interrupted by her niece’s infuriated, yet innocuous, demands for her to be silent: “I want her to go, to be happy. I don’t want her [to] stay for me. Sometimes [I think it] is better if I died.” Umm Sandra Alan feels the UNHCR does not consider single females’ tribulations in the allocation of aid to Iraqi refugees.

In Jaramana, the kind and intelligent Iraqi refugee, Abu Adezar, struggles against severely deteriorating health while simultaneously waiting for his and his wife’s American visa. They had already been approved for travel to the US three years ago. A former oil engineer in Iraq under US occupation, he fears his return to the country will mark certain death by malevolent groups who may target him for perceived collaboration with the American forces. Abu Adezar’s mother, who is a US citizen, calls often, waiting to be reunited with him. When asked what he wants to say to the audience, he replies, “I want rights and a decent life. I can’t get it in my own country or here. I am not sure I will get them before I die. Do you want me to live without having what was taken from me? Is this the promise Americans told me of in Iraq before I had to run away for my life?”

In Jordan, Abu Omar resides, having fled Iraq in 1997 before the war. He waited until 2006 to finally be approved for relocation to another country; his total length of time residing in Jordan is 15 years. He lives on a limited income of 160 Jordanian Dinars with his wife and daughter, yet his medication costs 90 Jordanian Dinars. Abu Omar is lucky that a grassroots organization called Women’s Federation for World Peace has been helping him to pay for his medication and his daughter’s school expenses. His return to Iraq seems a dismal hope as his brother was kidnapped in Baghdad and is still missing, his aunt’s two sons have been killed, and his brother’s son was assumed dead for three years until appearing one day with both hands broken. This torment over the loss of family does not only affect him, but his wife too. His wife’s aunt and her aunt’s cousin and son were murdered in Baghdad. While waiting longer for relocation to a western country, his most apparent pain is the hardships his daughter has to endure. In regards to returning to Iraq, he retorts with a quick “no.”

Another refugee named Abu Saad, shares the life in Hashemi Shemali with Abu Omar. He has a son, a daughter, and wife who live with him. He left Iraq after his brother was kidnapped and his son threatened by affiliates of Al-Qaeda. His application for relocation to another country was accepted for consideration by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2006. Despite having family members who are citizens in America, the UK, Australia, and Sweden, Abu Saad was unfortunately rejected by the IOM and UNHCR for resettlement in all western countries on October 6, 2011. After asking what to do next, he was told by a representative at the IOM to apply for a visa at any embassy in Jordan. He has no aid nor hope for relocation so he lingers with his family in Jordan, terrified of what will happen if they are deported back to Iraq.

Abu Amer is an Iraqi refugee in Hashemi Shemali that has been through trauma with the UNHCR in his process of awaiting relocation to the UK. He and his sick wife left Iraq after being threatened by the armed militias: the Sunni Jihad Army and the Shi’a Al-Mahdi army. His two sons, his daughter, and seven nephews are citizens of the UK. He registered with the UNHCR on August 26, 2007 and since then has been told several times by the UN agency that he would travel in a short time (such as within fifteen days). Each time has turned into a nightmare of waiting longer. His twenty filed complaints to the UNHCR including a sixteen page diatribe to the manager, have been answered with no responses — only a verbal altercation with a clerk at the agency. He is now still waiting for the elusive UK visa by the UNHCR.

There are other cases worth mentioning. One Iraqi refugee named Ali, was falsely accused of a lewd act against a minor and incarcerated. He used his passport for collateral in order to secure bail money. When he went to trial, he was found not guilty. The National Center of Human Rights and an independent lawyer in Jordan confirmed that the courts revealed that the plaintiff had used a false testimony against Ali. He is still without the financial means to ascertain his passport.

Another Iraqi refugee by the name of Raja was sent to the US to live in Boston, Massachusetts only to be returned to Hashemi Shemali, Jordan because it was discovered on her records that she was listed as a man.

 

Common Complaints

Traveling and residing with Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan provokes a plethora of testimonies that share synonymous problems which aggravate their lives. There are slight, but insignificant differences. It is important to consider the similarities in order to understand this social issue, consequently improving these lives.

The complaints by Iraqi refugees indicate that they feel the application process is flawed or corrupt. For example, Umm Sandra Alan asserts that her interviewer at the IOM hinted or suggested to her answers that seemed to imply Muslim against Christian violence or to purport that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. When questioned repeatedly over a long duration of time about her certainty in regards to her negative responses to questions, Umm Sandra Alan replied “I am not going to lie.” Her interviewer retorted, “I am trying to help you go to America.”

Umm Sandra Alan, an Iraqi Christian refugee, stands by her testimony that she chose to be without guile instead of sacrificing her principles for fabricated freedom. Nevertheless, from Syria to Jordan there is a prevalent adage amongst Iraqi refugees that “those who lie, go… [and those] that tell the truth, stay.”

Corruption within the IOM and UNHCR is also another complaint. An Iraqi refugee in Syria named Abu Sabahprovides names of high ranking officials who accept bribes to push their relocation cases. Ironically, Abu Sabah was relocated after our interview much earlier than other refugees who have waited longer and with harsher backgrounds. Many other refugees, from Syria to Jordan, have stated that a couple thousand American dollars can purchase a visa from certain embassies. Moreover, an independent, discreet, and unfinished probe has revealed lower level collaboration in offers of relocation for money. The current status of this probe is that it is extremely difficult to penetrate the top levels of such fraud and also counterproductive to expose by risking splashes in the water from reeling in minnows, consequently scaring off the elusive and larger bass.

The UNHCR monetary aid to Iraqi refugees is also a set allocation despite rising prices. This has exacerbated the ability of refugees to survive. Worse, it has also augmented the number of refugees working illegally, consequently augmenting cases of abuse by employers. Xenophobia against Iraqi refugees has also proliferated as a result of refugees’ rising competition in a floundering job market, positions in schools, and migration into cheaper yet squalid neighborhoods. Ultimately, the limited nature of aid results in the former middle class of Iraq living like beggars.

Refugees also complain that the service and attention to each of their cases by the UNHCR and IOM are deplorable. They assert that both the UNHCR and IOM are lethargic in feedback, inattentive to details that may vet dishonest cases, and slow in processing files. Some refugees in Jordan went to such an extent as to state that if there is an interview with either the IOM or UNHCR on Tuesday, you are likely rejected and if on Saturday, you are accepted. The aforementioned exacerbates the stress refugees live through.

Immigration restrictions by governments where Iraqi refugees reside also prevent them from visiting family in neighboring countries. They are coerced to travel to Baghdad to risk danger and ascertain a visa from an embassy there. The reason for this impediment is countries want to deter growing refugee populations in their country by preventing overstays of visas.

For example, one refugee named Jenan in Jordan has a sister in Syria she has not seen for many years. She points towards her young children during our interview saying, “they have never met their aunt in their lives.” The fear of death in Iraq and lack of mobility is the equivalent of making their country of refuge a prison.

Although some scholars have stated that grassroots organizations fail in distributing aid in an egalitarian way because of a lack of resources, Iraqi refugees complain that some grassroots organizations do not distribute aid equally because of favoritism towards a select few that the organization’s heads have built close relationships with. From Syria to Jordan, many refugees in worse situations than those refugees intimately involved with grassroots organizations, have never heard of some of these organizations.

I witnessed at the Collateral Repair Projectfunded party in Jordan with a plethora of food and drinks, a decrepit female Iraqi with two bedraggled children arrive at the front door in a desperate state asking for succor. Yet, she was turned away by the head undeterred by the fact that this family had no food or nowhere to stay that night.

There are exceptions of course. Abu Omar, noted earlier in this article, states that out of all the organizations in Hashemi Shemali, the only one that served him objectively and consistently was the Women’s Federation for World Peace. Another refugee named, Abu Ahmad, concurs by dismissing some of the other grassroots organizations as “club house activities and cult like.”

 

Conclusion

The UNHCR, IOM, and grassroots organizations have provided minimal relief that does not suffice in securing the physical and mental welfare of Iraqi refugees. Worse, there are many instances of malpractice by these organizations which have exacerbated the lives of refugees.

Iraqi refugees need more financial aid. The lack of this aid has caused them to risk their own welfare via illegal employment in order to survive. In addition, the Iraqi refugees in Jaramana and Hashemi Shemali are living in penury without the security of affording education for their children.

These refugees also need rights or a status in a country. The lack of rights experienced in Jaramana and Hashemi Shemali compounds the issue of illegal employment by Iraqi refugees and consequent deportation or imprisonment. Finally Iraqi refugees need more efficient and organized aid agencies with more integrity.

Author’s Note

The devastation brought to these refugees’ nation has created a humanitarian crisis without an adequate response. When I ask Abu Omar about how people can help Iraqi refugees, his terse response was, “feel with us.”

I know what he means now after painful reminiscence from the plethora of stories I have collected. These souls sometimes feel they are the walking dead. I also understand their pessimism for every person who attempts to help them.

I am reminded every time I interview these beautiful, proud, resourceful, intelligent, and kind humans, of a famous poem by Edgar Allen Poe. All of the questions by interviewers are nothing more than the same repetitious raven squawking “nevermore” in the ears of an enervated people who languish because they have lost the life they loved in Iraq, their own Leonor.

 

 

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