Sunday, December 20, 2009

Iraqi Refugees Before 2003

Iraq Pundit wrote another great post:

'The Atlantic magazine has a moving pictorial about Iraqi refugees. The slide show is accompanied by this commentary: "It has been almost seven years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. While the war is officially over, another crisis continues to unfold, attracting far fewer headlines and less public debate. All across Iraq, civilians are fleeing their homes. There are nearly three million of these refugees, according to various NGO and relief-group estimates."

No Iraqi would begudge the attention these people are getting. But some of us can't help but ask where this thoughtful commentary was when we were forced to leave Baathist Iraq? Thank God for the agencies that help the great number of refugees who fled since 2003. But trust me, the story is incomplete.

Iraqis do not have a tradition of emigration the way the peoples of the Levant do. Most Iraqis left in the 1980s and 1990s. Certainly the last several years resulted in the deaths of countless Iraqis leading to refugees next door. But so did the Iran-Iraq war. Also, Saddam kicked out, chased out, and murdered millions. Otherwise, travel was not possible. Saddam had all sorts of rules about how and when anyone could travel -- if allowed to leave Iraq at all. I don't remember anyone losing sleep over the artists, the musicians, the scientists, and scholars who had to start life over again far away from home. I know first hand what it's like to leave the life you know and start all over again. My heart goes out to those mentioned in magazine.

Many people left in recent years for serious reasons. But those of us who left earlier also had serious reasons to leave. I do recall countless articles about the well-connected political people, but there was nothing about ordinary people. One reason is probably that the fear of the Baathists was so strong that Iraqis lived quietly. That same fear remains so strong that many continue to do so. It sounds to me as though if one opposes Saddam and the Baathists, his plight is not as interesting as one who opposes the United States. My question to The Atlantic is simply why?'

1 comment :

Ishtar said...

May God and all of us help the refugees. All of them.