Iraqi academics in the killing zone.

 

 

 

The BRussells Tribunal urges for an independent international investigation.

Read this article in Spanish - Portuguese - Français

 

Dirk Adriaensens, BRussells Tribunal

02 February 2006.

Dr. Ali Abdul Razaq Al Naas, lecturer in the media college of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and a political analyst,  was shot dead in Waziriya north of Baghdad at 00:13 hours on friday 27/01/2006.

During a recent appearance on a panel show, Abdul Razaq Al Naas, a Shiite, spoke out strongly against the government's failure to improve security and the economy. He often appeared on Arab TV talk shows to discuss Iraqi politics and criticized the continuing US occupation of his country.  As usual, there are no leads into this assassination. 

One more family  mourning, one more step towards the annihilation of Iraq’s intellectual wealth. After this murder of yet another Iraqi academic, the Iraqi committee for Sciences and Intellectuals in Scandinavia issued the next statement:

The Iraqi committee for sciences and intellectuals in Scandinavia gives its strong regrets and its huge losses for the murder of Prof. Abdul Razzaq Al Naas, Baghdad University. The mass murder and killing of all Iraqi scientists and intellectuals has its own aim, that aim is very clear and obvious, it is to empty the land of Babylon, the land of all civilization since 8000 years ago. We have understood that Iraq will stand forever.”

Signed: Abbass Nagim

Following the murder of Dr. Al Naas,  student demonstrations and riots broke out but were not authorized by the government and severely repressed by the police.

The problem of the assassinations on Iraqi academics is becoming very urgent. The killings seem to be systematic and very well prepared. The Iraqi university personnel is desperate. It were Iraqis who urged the BRussells Tribunal to start a campaign about this item. And in cooperation with them and other international organisations, we launched the petition to save Iraq’s academics, that can be found on our website: http://www..brusselstribunal.org/Academicspetition.htm in 12 languages. It can be signed online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/Iraqacad/petition.html.

Since we started the campaign, we received many mails in support of this action, and a lot of comments and useful information, from inside Iraq. I will copy some of these messages to give the reader an image of what’s really going on behind the smokescreen of the corporate media. We’re dedicated to gather as much information as possible and convince the special rapporteur on summary executions at UNHCHR in Geneva to investigate this matter urgently and thoroughly.

An internationally renowned Iraqi professor wrote us:

“Dear Friends,
While the world is celebrating Christmas and new year, three more Iraqi scientists were assassinated last few days.
Dr Nawfal Ahmad / Prof. of fine Art in Baghdad Univ.
Dr Mohsin Sulaiman Al-Ajeely/professor of Agriculture in Babel UNIV.
Dr Kadhim Mashhoot Awad / prof of soil chemistry in Basrah Univ. who has been found cut into pieces after taken by the police from his house. He was one of the finest scientists in his major, and worked as a Dean for the Agriculture college in the university. The other two were shot dead by a bunch of armed gunmen.

Best wishes.”

Another Iraqi professor wrote us:

Merry Christmas and happy new year to all of you in the BRussells Tribunal. The appeal for action looks fine. You have done a great effort. I think it is very important to launch the appeal now where the real murderers of the academics of Iraq are pinpointed by the international community. In Iraq, everybody knows that the Badr Brigade, the armed militia's of Islamic Revolution in Iraq are among the assassins of the academics in Iraq. Those armed forces turned into national guards of the Interior Ministry, so they have a license to kill now!! The petition idea is very good, but the response from the Iraqi academics will not be so great since the real criminals are still free to kill any of us under the blessing of occupation. Killing the educators and the academics would make it easier for the illiterate religious fanatics to govern uneducated people, terrified for their lives. Finally, I just wanted to tell you that I left the PhD programme and I am working in a Private university to keep away from being killed too.

Well, since the petition started, about 100 Iraqi academics from inside the country have signed the petition, despite the danger this could bring to them. 

Who kills Iraq’s academics? 

Another professor wrote us: 

“We, as University lectures, are going through exceptional conditions in which any one of us may get killed intentionally or otherwise. It became normal that we greet one another when we meet, we wish each other safety and thank God to be still alive. Messages of threats to kill became something very usual. I myself got threatened after being elected Head of the Department of (omitted for safety reasons) at the college and was consequently obliged to move to another college.
Below are some facts concerning Iraqi academics:
1. Murdering involves University and other academic institutes as well, teachers of different ages specializations, and political and religious beliefs.
2. Assassins are professional people, and we never heard till now that one murderer got arrested.
3. Murdering takes place everywhere: on the road, at work, and home as well.
4. Nobody has taken responsibility, and reasons have not been clarified.
5. Murdering is carried out by fire-shooting, some got killed with 3 and others 30 bullets.
6. The number of those killed in the
university of Baghdad alone has exceeded 80 according to formal reports.
7. people are afraid to ask for details about those crimes.
8. Many of the killed are friends, one is Prof. Sabri Al-Bayati, a Prof. on Arts was killed on 13/6/2003 near the college. Another is Prof. Dr. Sabaah Mahmood Dean of the college Al-Mustansiriyah University who was killd near the college 2003. Prof. Dr. Abdullateef al Mayaahi was killed with more than 30 bullets. He occupied the post of Director of the centre of Arab studies in the
Mustansiriyah University.
I suggest that you correspond with the presidents of Universities to get data and details of these killings from the presidents of the universities of Baghdad, Mustansiriyah, Basrah, Kufa, Mosul…….
9. Many famous professors, doctors have left Iraq to save their lives.
 
Best Regards and happy new year to you and your family.

We hope to have continuous communication.”

Some of the killings are apparently carried out by Iraqi police, and others by the Badr Brigade, as can be read in the messages above. But the assassinations also take place in the North of the country, which is controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga militia’s.  These militias have been financed and trained by the occupation forces.  The Pentagon spent 3 billion dollars, out of the 87 billion $ budget for 2004, to create militia’s & death squads.  Negroponte has certainly learned his job well in El Salvador, before he was appointed ambassador to Iraq. He transferred his methods of systematic liquidations, employed in the dirty wars in  Middle and Latin America during the 70’s and 80’s, to Iraq.  Many Latin American mercenaries who belonged to dead squads in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador etc.. were recruited by private companies and are now operating inside Iraq.

Organisations like the Badr Brigade, the Wolf Brigade, the Peshmerga’s and foreign mercenaries have replaced the dismantled regular Iraqi army and can be held responsible for a lot of the extrajudicial killings that take place. They made their appearance on the Iraqi scene on the backs of US tanks. These militia’s also operate alongside the US forces against the Iraqi resistance. But they’re not the only ones involved in the killings of Iraq’s academics.

According to Osama Abed Al-Majeed, the president of the Department for Research and Development at the Iraqi Ministry for Higher Education, it is the Israeli secret service, Mossad who perpetuates the violence against Iraqi scientists. The Palestine Information Center published a report in June 2005 and claimed that Mossad, in cooperation with U.S. military forces, was responsible for the assassination of 530 Iraqi scientists and professors in the seven months prior to the report’s publication.

An example of an assassination by US forces is f.i. Prof. Dr. Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly. He was an Iraqi chemistry professor, tortured and killed by the American Interrogation team, and died in American custody from a sudden hit to the back of his head caused by blunt trauma. It was uncertain exactly how he died, but someone had hit him from behind, possibly with a bar or a pistol. His battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue and the cause of death was initially recorded as "brainstem compression". It was discovered that US doctors had made a 20cm incision in his skull.

We received a mail about this particular case from a US citizen who wrote us:

I have found information for individual information on victims in two cases:
* al-Rawi - president of
Baghdad University and Saddam Hussein's physician
* Prof. Dr. Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly - chemistry professor apparently involved in poisoning human subjects.

These two cases are not particularly strong in helping gain "sympathy" for the victims. While it is true that everyone has fundamental human rights, no matter how criminal his/her actions may have been, calling someone apparently involved in testing poisons on human subjects a "distinguished Iraqi chemistry professor" without any caveats is likely to make many people distrust the whole list.”

We asked an Iraqi professor for more information about these 2 cases, and received the following answer:

Good Day.

 The information about the two Iraqi Scientists are false allegations. Dr Mohamed Al-Rawi was a fine MD and head of the university of Baghdad. He worked, like other well known specialists in Ibin Sena hospital in the middle of the Presidential Palace Area (currently called the Green Zone). Some of his colleagues are still working in that Hospital.
Generally, they treat all the cabinet and Presidential Palace Staff and personnel and their families, who are still working in the green zone after the occupation. This hospital and others can call any specialist when they have no choices in their staff members, even from other Iraqi cities. The only well known doctor associated with Saddam Hussein name was Dr Alaa Basher, who is still alive and kicking, but out of Iraq. So the whole idea is Brain Drain Iraq from its brilliant figures, so the Molaas of Tehran would be able to rule it easily. The same thing is applicable on Dr Al-Izmeri. The occupation was desperate for one confession that Iraq’s program of WMD was still active, but with all the torture they couldn't get that out of him. His family in London accused the Pentagon officially of killing him during interrogation based on false allegations. I would like to remind our friend about the terrible accusation of Huda Ammash, of associating her with biological weapons which is totally untrue, and after holding her in detention for three years, they released her because everything they have accused her of, was all occupation propaganda.

Accept my best wishes.”

This is another case of malicious disinformation, apparently: “demonise to colonize”.

Conclusion: we don’t know all the organisations and individuals who are involved in planning and carrying out these murders, but if we put all the scarce available information together,  there seems to be a pattern of systematic liquidation of the Iraqi middle class that refuses to cooperate with the occupation. The shooting of peaceful academics is done by many different forces who share the same interest in further dismantling the Iraqi state.

Other conclusion: the violence against the Iraqi academics is not primarily a sectarian Sunni-Shia issue. Neither are Baathists the only victims. Every Iraqi who opposes the occupation and its puppet government is a possible target.    

One particular reaction drew our attention, because it showed that the Iraqi academics indeed want to oppose this situation, but are obstructed by the Quisling-government from doing so.

“That’s great. OK I will give you some names. In fact the list is so big I will do a scan and send it to you as I wish we can do something about that, and I am ready to work with you on that, but please keep my name  secret for security reasons ..

Give me a couple of days. Then you’ll receive a list of more than 100 Iraqi professors who were murdered. As well as I have my own stories about that.

The head of our dept. was killed a month ago. I arranged for a rally in the university and I invited all the media. I wrote a press release, I tried to make it official, I mean not only among the students. And you know what? Many important people in the university and the government told me we should not show the weakness of our government. I became very disappointed. I didn’t know how to work on that and if no one helps you it will be useless ...

I hope we can raise our voice this time.” 

And that’s what this campaign is all about: create awareness of the atrocities that are taking place, support the academic community in Iraq in their efforts to raise their voice against the killings of their educators, and safeguard them from further decimation. 

The case of Prof. Hameeda Simeisim. 

Prof. Hameeda Simeisem, was and still is the most admired scientist of media in Iraq over the past 30 years.

After her PhD she produced 17 books through which she analyzed the anti Iraqi propaganda and the Iraqi media. She also wrote a standard work that became a curriculum in school of journalism. As an expert, she helped many Iraqi and Arabic media and women organizations.

The profs and students of the school of media-Baghdad University in which she is lecturing for the past 30 years elected her as the Dean of the school after April 2003.

Most of the professors of the university, appointed in the last ten years, were and are her students.

Hameeda is a secular Shiite. On Jan 22 2006, an order was signed by the President of Baghdad University expelling her from the function as a Dean, in accordance to the Higher National Committee for Deba'thification.

Never in her lifetime Hameeda was a Ba'thist. Many sectarian accidents happened in the school as they are happening in every university. Professor journalism Dr. Moayad Al-Khaffaf was attacked in his office by 8 students accusing him of speaking badly about the Shiite clerics! This attack on Al-Khaffaf made many journalists, media networks and even the minister of higher education criticize the sectarian trends inside the universities. The university had no other choice but to expel Hameeda in an attempt to calm down the tension. 

Under the pretext of deba'thification and by assassinating the Iraqi academics, the scheme of destroying Iraq is going on. 

Is the US government responsible for this state of affairs? We believe it is. The so-called "transfer of authority" was not, despite any Security Council recognition afforded to the interim Iraqi government, the end of the occupation. Nor was the supposed free election of a National Assembly and the formation of a government in January; both because the framework (the Transitional Administrative Law) was illegal as such (an occupying force cannot change domestic law, as stated very clearly in the Geneva Conventions) and because none of this could have occurred without the presence of US troops on the ground. Our understanding is that a state of occupation is much a de facto judgment call as it is a de jure one. So we should rest easy in continuing to refer to US presence in Iraq as an occupation, whether they or the UNSC see it as such or not.  

And finally: As mentioned before, the Pentagon spent 3 billion dollar, out of the 87 billion $ budget for 2004, to create militia’s & death squads. It’s these thugs who apparently carry out some or many of the extrajudicial killings. And not one person has been arrested for these crimes. The lawlessness in all these cases is striking. Inside the Green Zone is the largest US embassy in the world, including many intelligence officers.  They should have been able to investigate and solve a minimum of these crimes and arrest the murderers.  Those responsible for the assassination of academics must also have access to sophisticated intelligence techniques and information.  

If one puts all the yet available pieces of the puzzle together, the only logical conclusion is that the US occupation is at least complicit in this assassination campaign and in any case bears final responsibility, as an occupying power, for this dreadful situation.  

The BRussells Tribunal is planning to investigate this issue more thoroughly in the coming months.

And we need all the help we can get to expose the truth, by distributing the petition as widely as possible and to furnish us with all the information you can find.

Please send all information and comments to info@brusselstribunal.org.  

Dirk Adriaensens.

Member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal.


Universitaires irakiens en zone de tuerie.

Le BRussells Tribunal exige une investigation internationale indépendante.

Dirk Adiaensens, BRussells Tribunal, 02 février 2006. 

Le Dr. Ali Abdul Razaq Al Naas, conférencier à la Faculté de Communication de l’Université de Mustansirya à Bagdad et analyste politique, a été abattu à Waziriya au nord de Bagdad à 00h 13 le vendredi 27/01/2006. 

Au cours d’une récente apparition à une table ronde télévisée, Abdul Razaq Al Naas, chiite, s’est fortement prononcé contre l’échec du gouvernement à améliorer la sécurité et l’économie. Il est souvent apparu aux débats des télévisions arabes pour discuter les politiques irakiennes et a critiqué la poursuite de l’occupation de son pays par les Etats-Unis. Comme d’habitude, il n’y a aucune piste concernant cet assassinat. 

Une autre famille est en deuil, un autre pas franchi vers l’annihilation de la richesse intellectuelle de l’Irak. Après ce meurtre d’encore un autre universitaire irakien, le comité irakien pour les sciences et  les intellectuels en Scandinavie publie la déclaration suivante : 

« Le comité irakien pour les sciences et les intellectuels en Scandinavie témoigne des forts regrets et de l’énorme perte que lui cause le meurtre du professeur Abdul Razaq Al Naas, Université de Bagdad. Le meurtre de masse, la tuerie de tous les scientifiques et intellectuels irakiens a son propre but, ce but est très net et évident, il est de vider le pays de Babylone, le pays de toutes les civilisations depuis 8000 ans. Nous avons compris que l’Irak tiendra à jamais. » 

Signé : Abbas Nagim 

A la suite du meurtre du Dr. Al Naas, des manifestations étudiantes et des émeutes éclatèrent, mais ne furent pas autorisées  par le gouvernement et furent sévèrement réprimées par la police. 

Le problème des assassinats d’universitaires irakiens devient très urgent. Les tueries semblent être systématiques et très bien préparées. Le personnel universitaire irakien est désespéré. Ce sont les irakiens qui ont poussé le BRussells Tribunal à entamer une campagne à ce sujet. Avec leur coopération et celle d’autres organisations internationales, nous avons lancé une pétition pour sauver les universitaires irakiens. On peut la trouver en 12 langues sur notre site :

http://www.brusselstribunal.org/academicspetition.htm et la signer sur :

http://www.petitiononline.com/Iraqacad/petition.html

Depuis que nous avons entamé la campagne, nous avons reçu de l’intérieur de l’Irak de nombreux mails appuyant cette action, et beaucoup de commentaires et informations utiles. Je copierai quelques uns de ces messages pour donner au lecteur une image de ce qui se passe réellement derrière l’écran de fumée des grands médias. Nous nous sommes consacrés à rassembler autant d’information que possible et à convaincre le rapporteur spécial sur les exécutions sommaires au HCDHNU à Genève de mener urgemment une enquête approfondie en cette matière. 

Un professeur irakien de renommée internationale nous a écrit : 

« Chers amis,

Tandis que le monde célèbre Noël et la nouvelle année, trois scientifiques irakiens de plus ont été assassinés ces quelques derniers jours.

Dr. Nawfal Ahmad / professeur de Beaux-Arts à l’Université de Bagdad.

Dr. Mohsim Sulaiman Al-Ajeely / professeur d’agriculture à l’Université de  Babel.

Dr. Kadhim Mashhoot Awad / professeur de chimie des sols à l’Université de  Basrah qui a été trouvé découpé en morceaux après que la police l’ait emmené de chez lui. Il était l’un des meilleurs scientifiques de sa spécialité, et travaillait comme Doyen pour la Faculté d’Agriculture de l’université. Les deux autres ont été abattus par une bande d’hommes armés. 

Meilleurs vœux. » 

Un autre professeur irakien nous a écrit : 

« Joyeux Noël et bonne année à vous tous du BRussells Tribunal. L’appel à action a bonne allure. Vous avez fait un grand effort. Je pense qu’il est très important de lancer l’appel maintenant que les meurtriers réels des universitaires d’Irak sont pointés par la communauté internationale. En Irak, chacun  sait que les Brigades Badr, les milices armées de la Révolution Islamiste en Irak, sont parmi les assassins des universitaires en Irak. Ces forces armées se sont changées en gardes nationaux du Ministère de l’Intérieur, ainsi ont-elles maintenant un permis de tuer !! L’idée de pétition est très bonne, mais la réponse des universitaires irakiens ne sera pas si grande tant que les véritables criminels restent libres de tuer chacun de nous avec la bénédiction de l’occupation. La tuerie des enseignants et universitaires voudrait rendre plus aisé aux religieux fanatiques illettrés de gouverner un peuple non éduqué, terrifié pour sa vie. Finalement, je n’ai que  voulu vous dire que j’ai quitté le programme de Doctorat en Physique et travaille dans une université privée pour éviter d’être tué aussi. » 

Bien, depuis le lancement de la pétition, à peu près 100 universitaires irakiens l’ont signée de l’intérieur du pays, malgré le danger où cela peut les mettre. 

Qui tue les universitaires irakiens ? 

Un autre professeur nous a écrit : 

« En tant que conférenciers à l’Université, nous traversons des conditions exceptionnelles dans lesquelles chacun de nous pourrait être tué intentionnellement ou d’une autre manière. Il est devenu normal que, quand nous nous rencontrons, nous nous saluions l’un l’ autre et nous souhaitions à chacun d’être sauf et remercions Dieu d’être encore en vie. Les messages de menace de mort sont devenus quelque chose de très habituel. J’ai moi-même été menacé après avoir été élu Chef du Département de (omis pour raisons de sécurité) de la faculté et ai été par conséquent obligé de passer dans  une autre faculté.

Voici  quelques faits concernant les universitaires irakiens :

1.       Les meurtres impliquent les universités aussi bien que d’autres instituts académiques, des professeurs de tous âges,  spécialisations et convictions politiques ou religieuses.

2.      Les assassins sont des professionnels, et nous n’avons jusqu’à présent jamais entendu qu’un assassin ait été arrêté.

3.      Les meurtres ont lieux partout : sur la route, au travail, et aussi au domicile.

4.      Personne ne les a revendiqués et les raisons n’en ont pas été éclaircies.

5.      Les meurtres  sont accomplis par tir, certains sont tués avec 3, d’autres avec 30 balles.

6.      Le nombre de ces tués, dans la seule université de Bagdad, a dépassé 80 selon les rapports officiels.

7.      Les gens craignent de demander des détails sur ces crimes.

8.      Beaucoup des tués sont des amis, l’un est le professeur Sabri Al-Bayati, un professeur d’art tué les 13/06/2003 près de la faculté. Un autre est le professeur Dr. Sabaah Mahmood, doyen de Faculté à l’Université de Al-Mustansiriyah qui a été tué près de la faculté en 2003. Le professeur Dr. Abdullateef al Mayaahi a été tué avec plus de 30 balles. Il occupait le poste de Directeur du Centre d’études Arabes à l’Université de Mustansiriyah. Je suggère que vous correspondiez avec les présidents d’université pour obtenir dates et détails sur ces tueries de la part des présidents des universités de Bagdad, Mustansiriyah, Basrah, Kufa, Mosul…

9.      Beaucoup de professeurs et docteurs  célèbres ont quitté l’Irak pour sauver leurs vies. 

Mes meilleures pensées et bonne nouvelle année à vous et votre famille. 

Nous espérons avoir une communication permanente. » 

Une part des tueries sont apparemment menées par la police irakienne, d’autres par les Brigades Badr, comme on peut le lire dans les messages ci-dessus. Mais les assassinats ont aussi lieu dans le nord du pays, qui est contrôlé par les milices kurdes Peshmerga. Ces milices ont été financées et entraînées par les forces d’occupation. Le Pentagone a dépensé 3 milliards de dollars, des 87 milliards du Budget 2004, pour créer des milices et des escadrons de mort.  Negroponte a certainement bien appris son travail au Salvador avant d’être nommé ambassadeur en Irak. Il a transféré ses méthodes de liquidations systématiques, employées dans les sales guerres en Amériques centrale et latine au cours des années 70 et 80, à l’Irak. De nombreux mercenaires d’Amérique latine qui ont appartenus aux escadrons de mort au Chili, Nicaragua, Salvador etc. ont été recrutés par des compagnies privées et opèrent maintenant à l’intérieur de l’Irak. 

Des organisations comme les Brigades Badr, la brigade « Wolf », Peshmerga et mercenaires étrangers ont remplacés l’armée régulière irakienne démantelée et peuvent être tenues pour responsables de beaucoup des tueries extralégales qui ont lieu. Ils ont fait leur apparition sur la scène irakienne aux talons des tanks US. Ces milices opèrent aussi auprès des forces US contre la résistance irakienne. Mais elles ne sont pas les seules impliquées dans les tueries d’universitaires d’Irak. 

Selon Osama Abed Al-Majeed, le président du Département pour la Recherche et le Développement au Ministère irakien de l’Enseignement Supérieur, ce sont les services secrets israéliens, le Mossad, qui perpétuent la violence contre les scientifiques irakiens. Le Centre d’Information Palestine a publié un rapport en juin 2005 et déclaré que le Mossad, en coopération avec les forces armées US, était responsable de l’assassinat de 530 scientifiques et professeurs irakiens dans les sept mois précédant la publication du rapport. 

Un exemple d’assassinat par les forces US est celui du professeur Dr. Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly. Professeur irakien de chimie, il a été torturé et tué par l’équipe de l’Interrogation Américaine, il est mort sous garde américaine d’un coup subit à l’arrière du crâne, par traumatisme contondant. Comment exactement il est mort est incertain, mais quelqu’un l’a frappé par derrière, probablement avec une barre ou un pistolet. Son corps battu est arrivé à la morgue de Bagdad et la cause du décès a initialement été enregistrée comme «  engagement cérébral ».  Il  a été découvert que les médecins US avaient fait dans son crâne une entaille de 20 cm. 

Nous avons reçu un mail à propos de ce cas particulier d’un citoyen US nous écrivant : 

« Pour information individuelle sur les victimes, j’ai trouvé de l’information sur deux cas :

*al-Rawi – président de l’Université de Bagdad et médecin de Saddam Hussein

* professeur Dr. Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly – professeur de chimie apparemment impliqué dans l’empoisonnement de sujets humains. 

Ces deux cas ne sont pas particulièrement puissants à favoriser le gain de « sympathie » pour les victimes. S’il est vrai que chacun a des droits humains fondamentaux, quelles que criminelles que  ses actions aient pu être, appeler quelqu’un apparemment impliqué dans le teste de poisons sur des sujets humains un « distingué professeur de chimie irakien » sans aucun avertissement revient à faire perdre à de nombreuses personnes confiance dans la liste entière. » 

Nous avons demandé plus d’information sur ces deux cas à un professeur irakien, et avons reçu la réponse suivante : 

« Bon jour. 

L’information sur les deux scientifiques irakiens sont de fausses allégations. Dr Mohamed A-Rawi était un bon docteur en médecine et un chef de l’Université de Bagdad. Il travaillait, comme d’autres spécialistes bien connus à l’hôpital d’Ibin Sena au milieu de l’Aire du Palais Présidentiel (actuellement appelée la Zone Verte). Plusieurs de ses collègues travaillent encore dans cet hôpital.

Généralement, ils examinent tout le cabinet, l’équipe et le personnel du Palais Présidentiel (et leurs familles) qui travaillent encore dans la zone verte après l’occupation. Quand ils n’en disposent pas parmi les membres de leur équipe, cet hôpital et d’autres peuvent faire appel à tout spécialiste, même d’autres villes d’Irak. Le seul docteur bien connu associé au nom de Saddam Hussein était le Dr. Alaa Basher qui est très vivant encore, mais hors de l’Irak. Toute l’idée est donc une Fuite des Cerveaux vidant l’Irak de ces brillantes figures, ainsi les Molaas de Téhéran seraient capables de le dominer plus facilement. La même chose s’applique au Dr. Al-Izmeri. L’occupation désespérait d’obtenir la  confession que le programme irakien d’A.D.M. était encore actif, mais, avec toutes les tortures, ils n’ont pas pu l’obtenir de lui. Sa famille à Londres a officiellement accusé le Pentagone de l’avoir tué au cours d’un interrogatoire basé sur de fausses allégations. J’aimerais rappeler à notre ami la terrible accusation de Huda Ammash l’associant aux armes biologiques, qui est totalement fausse et qu’après un maintien en détention de trois ans, ils l’ont relâché parce que tout ce dont ils l’avaient accusé était pure propagande d’occupation. 

Acceptez mes meilleurs vœux. » 

C’est, manifestement, un autre cas de malicieuse désinformation : « démoniser pour coloniser ». 

Conclusion : nous ne savons pas toutes les organisations et individus qui sont impliqués dans la planification et l’exécution de ces meurtres, mais si nous rassemblons toutes les rares informations disponibles, il semble y avoir un modèle de liquidation systématique de la classe moyenne irakienne qui refuse de coopérer avec l’occupation. Le tir sur de pacifiques universitaires irakiens est le fait de plusieurs forces différentes qui partagent un même intérêt, celui de démanteler davantage l’état irakien. 

Autre conclusion : la violence contre les universitaires irakiens n’est pas d’abord une sectaire question sunnites-chiites. Ni les Baathistes ne sont les seules victimes. Tout irakien qui s’oppose à l’occupation et à son gouvernement fantoche est une cible possible. 

Une réaction particulière a attiré notre attention, parce qu’elle a montré que les universitaires irakiens veulent en fait s’opposer à cette situation, mais en sont empêchés par un gouvernement de Vichy. 

« C’est bien. OK, je vais vous donner quelques noms. En fait la liste est si grande que je la scannerai et vous l’enverrai parce que je souhaite que nous puissions faire quelque chose à ce sujet, et que je suis prêt à y travailler avec vous, mais s’il vous plait gardez mon nom secret pour raisons de sécurités… 

Donnez-moi quelques jours. Alors vous recevrez une liste de plus de 100 professeurs irakiens qui ont été tués.  D’autant que j’ai mes propres histoires à ce sujet. 

Le chef de notre département a été tué il y a un mois. J’ai organisé un rassemblement à l’université et invité tous les médias. J’ai écrit un communiqué de presse, j’ai essayé de le rendre officiel, je veux dire pas seulement parmi les étudiants. Et savez-vous quoi ? Beaucoup de gens importants dans l’Université et le gouvernement m’ont dit que nous ne devrions pas montrer les faiblesses de notre gouvernement. J’ai été très désappointé. Je ne savais pas comment y travailler et si pas un ne vous aide, c’est  inutile… 

J’espère que cette fois nous puissions élever notre voix. » 

Et c’est tout ce sur quoi porte cette campagne : créer une conscience des atrocités qui ont lieu, supporter la communauté universitaire en Irak dans ses efforts pour élever sa voix contre les tueries de ses enseignants et les garder d’être davantage décimés. 

Le cas du professeur Hameeda Simeisim. 

Le professeur Hameeda Simeisem était et est encore le scientifique le plus admiré des médias en Irak au long des 30 dernières années. 

Après son Doctorat en physique, elle a produit 17 livres où elle a analysé la propagande anti-irakienne et les médias irakiens. Elle a aussi écrit un travail de référence qui est entré au programme des écoles de journalisme. Comme expert, elle a aidé beaucoup de médias irakiens et arabes, et des organisations de femmes. 

Les professeurs et étudiants de l’école de communication – Université de Bagdad – où elle a donné des conférences ces 30 dernières années l’a élue doyenne de l’école après avril 2003. 

La plupart des professeurs de l’université, nommés dans les 10 dernières années, furent et sont ses étudiants. 

Hameeda est une chiite laïque. Le 22 janvier 2006, un ordre a été signé par le président de l’Université de Bagdad l’expulsant de la fonction de doyen, en accord avec le Haut Comité National de Débaathification. 

Jamais au cours de sa vie Hameeda n’a été baathiste. De nombreux accidents sectaires ont eu lieu dans l’école comme ils ont lieu dans chaque université. Le professeur de journalisme Dr. Moayad Al–Khaffaf a été attaqué dans son bureau par 8 étudiants l’accusant de parler défavorablement du clergé chiite ! Cette attaque de Al-Khaffaf a fait critiquer les tendances sectaires au sein des universités par de nombreux journalistes, réseaux de médias et même le ministre de l’éducation supérieure. L’université n’a pas eu d’autre choix que d’expulser Hameeda en attendant que la tension s’apaise. 

Sous prétexte de débaathification et par assassinat des universitaires irakiens, le procédé de destruction de l’Irak se poursuit.                                             

Le gouvernement US est-il responsable de cet état de fait ? Nous le croyons. Le dit « transfert d’autorité » n’était pas, malgré la reconnaissance fournie au gouvernement irakien intérimaire par le Conseil de Sécurité, la fin de l’occupation. Pas plus que la supposée élection libre d’une Assemblée Nationale et la formation d’un gouvernement en janvier ; parce que leur cadre à toutes deux (le Droit Administratif Transitionnel) était illégal comme tel (et la force occupante ne peut pas changer le droit domestique, comme il est très clairement établi dans les Conventions de Genève) et parce que ni l’une ni l’autre ne se serait déroulée sans la présence sur le terrain des troupes US. Notre compréhension est qu’un état d’occupation est, juridiquement dit, plus de facto que de jure. Ainsi ne devrions nous pas éprouver de difficulté à continuer de parler de la présence US en Irak comme d’une occupation, qu’eux-mêmes ou le CSNU la voient comme telle ou non. 

Et finalement : le Pentagone a, comme susmentionné,  dépensé 3 milliards de dollar, du budget de  87 milliards de 2004, pour créer des milices et escadrons de mort. Ce sont manifestement ces gangsters qui exécutent une part des tueries extralégales. Et pas un individu n’a été arrêté pour ces crimes. Dans tous ces cas, l’état de non-droit est frappant. A l’intérieure de la Zone verte se trouve la plus grande ambassade US au monde, incluant de nombreux officiers des Renseignements. Ils auraient dû été capables d’enquêter et de résoudre un minimum de ces crimes et d’arrêter des meurtriers. Ces responsables d’assassinats d’universitaires doivent également avoir accès à des informations et techniques de renseignements sophistiquées. 

Pour qui assemble toutes les pièces déjà disponibles du puzzle, la seule conclusion logique est que l’occupation US est, dans cette campagne d’assassinats, au moins complice et en tout cas porte la responsabilité finale, comme puissance occupante, de cette situation atroce. 

Le BRussells Tribunal planifie, pour les mois qui viennent, une enquête plus approfondie sur cette question. 

Et nous avons besoin de tout l’aide que nous pouvons obtenir pour exposer la vérité en distribuant la pétition aussi largement que possible, et nous fournir toute information que vous pouvez trouver. 

Envoyez s’il vous plaît tous commentaires et information à info@brusselstribunal.org

Dirk Adriaensens. 

Membre du Comité Exécutif du BRussells Tribunal

 


The Elimination of Iraq’s academics

By Haifa Zangana 

On the morning of Monday 23rd January, unknown militants assassinated a veterinary doctor, Dr. Atheer Husham Abd al-Hamid, in the district of al-Saidia.  At the same time, Dr. Hilal al-Bayati, president of the Iraqi Association of Computers, escaped an assassination attempt on the main road between the districts of al-Saidia and Hayy al-Baya’, in Baghdad.  This is not the first time a doctor, academic or scientist has been assassinated in occupied Iraq.  With a heavy heart, I predict that it will not be the last.  Our Iraq is threatened on all sides and at all levels, with every shot aimed with precision at our country’s enlightened minds.   

The operation to eliminate Iraqi academics, which intends to put an end to the academic scene, create a ‘brain drain’ of effective minds, force people to disperse, and to put an end to all initiatives, continues apace.  Not a week has passed since the invasion of Iraq without news of the assassination, or attempted assassination, of a teacher, scientist, or specialist.  Contrary to the statements of officials during this time of occupation, whether Iraqis or foreign forces, the assassination of academics is organised work, targeting only particular people, stopping at a given point, with no relation to incidences of kidnappings targeting the rest of the populace and demanding ransoms.  The perpetrators of on-the-spot executions of scientists, teachers and specialists, are not men with normal nerves, found on the sides of the roads, or from the Mafia, which is now widespread.  The mechanics for carrying out the assassinations immediately indicate that the operations are not intended to be kidnappings, demanding money to free hostages, but rather that they are deeper and more serious, and aim to demolish the ideological framework of Iraqi society.  

Most of these assassinations resemble each other in their particulars, with the exception of the cases of on-the-spot executions which were carried out by the occupying forces.  To investigate the pattern of the mode of operations for these crimes, we must read the reports of someone who was at the scene of the crime on 23rd January, whilst the crime was committed.  Raed Ali Salih, of the Baghdad police, said in a press statement that militants opened fire on Dr. Atheer Husham as he left his house in al-Saidia, to go to his office in the district of al-Sanak, in central Baghdad, and killed him on the spot.  He then said that two cars carrying militants obstructed the car Dr. Hilal al-Bayati was climbing into, and fired a hail of bullets at the car from both sides, which injured two of his companions.  Dr. Hilal himself escaped from the attack, which is part of a larger campaign targeting scientific people in the country.  There are other noted attacks on teachers.  A source from Mustansiria University announced on 5th August that unknown men had rained down a hail of gunfire on Dr Zaki Bakir Sajr al-‘Ani, a lecturer in the College of Literature, and Dr. Husham Abd al-Amir, a lecturer in the College of Education, killing them as they were going out of the university gate.  In addition, unknown men kidnapped Dr. Samir Yalda, the assistant director of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics at the university, in front of the university gate, with no known reason or motive for the kidnapping.  His corpse was found, wrapped up, in a street on 3rd August.  These incidences represent the first type of assassinations.  The second is the on-the-spot executions carried out by the occupying forces in a direct manner, such as in the case of the well-known architect Bassam al-Bair.  He was fired upon by American soldiers in the middle of the day last July, as he drove his car in the vicinity of the public sports-ground in Baghdad, on his way to run some errands.   

It is well-known that the organisations responsible for the crimes of both types of deliberate killings remain at large, ready to carry out more crimes, especially since they feel secure because their crimes continue to go unpunished.  The investigation into these crimes has not been completed by the government of occupation, rather they were recorded and attributed to unknown forces.  As for the assassinations of the second type, committed directly by the occupying forces in broad daylight and in the presence of witnesses, investigations by Iraqi judges are completely impossible, for the simple reason that the occupying forces, of all differing nationalities, enjoy legal immunity and cannot be held accountable in front of the law or Iraqi judges, whatever crimes or violation of our people’s rights they have committed. 

At last, an Iraqi campaign has been launched in Brussels, petitioning to bring down the walls of silence surrounding the elimination of academics, and to place the blame on those who committed the crimes and those responsible of colluding with them.  The campaign was launched by the BRussells Tribunal, a people’s initiative set up about 3 years ago under the framework of establishing war crimes and crimes of occupation against the Iraqi people, and falls under the initiative   The operation to eliminate Iraqi academics which is taking place in an organised fashion is one side of the tragedy which is taking place in Iraq since the occupation”.  On the strength of most sources, the number of assassinations is at least 250 academics. There are hundreds of missing people and thousands of people who have fled from Iraq, fearing for their lives.  This tragic situation does not only indicate that the operation to empty Iraq of intelligent minds and capable people is continuing; it also indicates that it is up to the educated middle class civilians who refuse to cooperate with the occupation to resist the operation of complete elimination, which would definitely threaten the future of Iraq.  The campaign of assassinations targets both men and women, not one side or one party in particular, and in all parts of Iraq.  It does not target specialists of particular disciplines; it targets geography, history and literature teachers, as well as science teachers.  Despite all these assassinations, not one person has been arrested in connection with them.   

According to the report of the United Nations University, 84% of Iraqi higher education establishments have been set on fire, looted or destroyed since the occupation.  The Iraqi education system was one of the most progressive systems in the region, and the wealth of educated people was one of the greatest riches of Iraq.   

The academics’ situation is a mirror reflecting the general situation of the occupation: a most startling human catastrophe, taking place in the shadow of a general lack of attention paid to the criminals of the occupation.  According to international law, the United States, as the occupying power, is responsible for protecting the Iraqi civilians, including the academics and the well-educated.  The signatories to the previously-mentioned initiative, who number nearly three thousand people around the world, including academics, lawyers and well-educated people, in addition to many human rights organisations and organisations concerned with the implementation of international law, call for a programme to tackle the assassination crimes.  They demand the immediate implementation of an independent international investigation into the continuous killings, on the condition that the investigation has a clearly defined authority, and there are high standards of accountability for anyone who makes an accusation.  A campaign has been set up by the BRussells Tribunal to present the appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions at the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva.  They issued an appeal on the website http://www.brusselstribunal.org/academics.html, aiming for collaborative action from everyone who believes in the rights of Iraqis, including academics, to oppose the organised assassination campaign, to live in a stable country, free from any colonial, Anglo-American supervision, and to establish justice.   

The only solution available to us is independence, freedom, justice and the preservation of human riches.  The way to limiting the terrorism of the occupation is to expel the Anglo-American occupation forces from our country, as soon as possible.  As long as the forces of occupation remain on our land, enjoying legal immunity which provides them with total protection to commit violations and crimes, including the crime of killing our people, they will remain the true decision-makers in our country and the absolute master, whatever the politicians of the occupation say to the contrary.  And talk of these forces remaining in our country at our request, to establish democracy and to protect human rights, will remain mere empty words.    

Original article in Arabic: http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=2006\01\01-28\a33.htm

(With thanks to Ruth Braine for the English translation of the article)


Will harsh weed-out allow Iraqi academia to flower?
The Times Higher Education Supplement
Turi Munthe
Published: 25 July 2003

After sanctions, bombing and looting, Iraq's universities now face political purges. Turi Munthe looks at how US rule is affecting efforts to rebuild academe.

Outside Baghdad University's faculty of fine arts is the Starlight Café.

Two students, a young man and a young woman, sit on a bench. They look exhausted. A third sits opposite them, drawing the woman - a kitsch charcoal, all eyelashes, like you'd find touted in Montmartre. "She's prettier than the picture, isn't she," the artist observes.

The three have just spent two hours in the stinking Baghdad morning sun protesting against the dismissal of Sa'ad al-Zuhairi, the college's former administrator. They insist that he is a good man who has been treated unfairly. Like thousands of other Iraqi academics, he has been sacked for being a high-ranking member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. While many sympathise with his plight, others are glad to see the back of him. His successor, Shafiq al-Mahdi, later tells me that al-Zuhairi had to go because he had led a group of the Fedayeen, the irregular forces close to Saddam. "Before he left, he set fire to the library," al-Mahdi says, pointing towards a charred building across the college square.

It is not the only gutted building in Iraq. The ministry of higher education, in Baghdad, a beautiful slim-line castle, turrets and all, was spared the bombing. It is now the colour of burnt toast - looters stripped it bare and then set it on fire.

Like most higher education institutions across Iraq, Baghdad University also escaped almost unscathed from the bombing. But it was a short reprieve. In the subsequent looting and burning, 20 of the capital's colleges were destroyed. No institution escaped: the faculty of education in Waziriyya was raided daily for two weeks; the veterinary college in Abu Ghraib lost all its equipment; two buildings in the faculty of fine arts stand smoke-blackened against the skyline. In every college, in every classroom, you could write "education" in the dust on the tables.

Nevertheless, the universities have been a rare success story for the post-Saddam regime. Things are moving. A committee of university presidents from around the country has begun meeting weekly. Faculty members have been voting for new heads. And the university curricula is being updated after 12 years of academic isolation.

There are even indications that once salaries rise in October, many of the thousands of academics who fled the country will return. USAid is bidding for a contract worth up to $30 million (£20 million) to help rebuild the higher education infrastructure, exchange programmes are being set up with western universities, and large quantities of books and scholarly texts have been donated.

At Baghdad University, classes are running again, albeit for three days a week. The students are helping on all fronts, from patrolling campuses to rebuilding damaged facilities. Most importantly of all, however, they are turning up. Their classrooms have been ransacked, their campus looted, their dormitories overrun by homeless families, and kidnapping threats abound, but still many students have come.

Andrew Erdmann, the US senior adviser to the ministry of higher education who has overseen efforts to restore higher education, is determined that the class of 2003 not become a lost generation. "Students have been prioritised over everything else," he says.

Exams are taking place. Notebooks, pens and fans are being supplied by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Unesco, and I have seen students graduating across the capital: the boys wear perfume and the girls carry flowers. They are relieved; they almost look happy.

But if the students are getting help, their professors are living a nightmare. For the past three months, they have funded reconstruction from their own pockets. They were paid their salaries for April on June 7. For a full professor, that equates to £100, the equivalent of three days'

work for a driver at one of Baghdad's big hotels. But money is not their chief concern. It is politics that continues to turn the academics' world upside down.

On May 16, the CPA issued Order No 1: "De-Baathification of Iraqi Society".

Section 1.2 states: "Full members of the Baath Party holding the ranks of udw qutriyya (regional command member), udw far (branch member), udw shu'bah (section member) and udw firqah (group member) (together, 'senior party members') are hereby removed from their positions and banned from future employment in the public sector." It is the single most important policy decision that Paul Bremer, administrator of the CPA, has made since becoming the US's top man in Iraq.

That order has had a devastating effect in academe. In Baghdad University alone, 283 staff lost their jobs. Across the country, university heads and faculty deans were sacked.

Muhammad al-Rawi was one. Even before Bremer's order came through, students had been calling for the removal of the president of Baghdad University.

Al-Rawi is a cardiologist who became Saddam's personal physician. His appointment to the presidency was a reward. He spent little time in the university and had no interest in its workings. In late April, Steve Curda - Erdmann's second in command - asked al-Rawi what emergency help he needed. It was three weeks before he responded. Al-Rawi had better things to do with his time, such as running his private practice.

Others did not need pushing. When Erdmann called his first meeting of university presidents, five of the 20 leaders asked not to be sent back.

"They just said they wouldn't be wanted," Erdmann says. Many reputedly had links with Izzat al-Douri, the much-hated vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.

Baghdad University's new, non-Baathist president, Sami al-Muthaffar, sits in an office on the second floor of a building that looks more like an abandoned warehouse than the nerve centre of what was once the the Middle East's top university. "We can cope with de-Baathification, we can cope with the staff shortage," he says, "but we hate it." Because for all the al-Rawis, there are dozens of other intellectuals who, as al-Muthaffar puts it, "were professors first and Baathists a very distant second".

"The CPA doesn't interfere with the daily affairs of the university, and yet we feel we are not free," al-Muthaffar says. "We are a people who are unaccustomed to freedom, but if we have to suffer like we did before... that is simply impossible."

The founder of Baathism was Michel Aflaq, a Christian from Syria. From the late 1940s, he preached Arab unity with a Christian Democrat-type socialism and a nationalistic, anti-imperialist flavour. Baathism began as an idea consonant with the politics of the day. Under Saddam Hussein, however, it simply became a profession; at best, a Baathist was a paid hand; at worst, an executioner. They were playground bullies of grotesque proportions, labelled hyenas and locusts by their fellow countrymen.

But while thuggish Baathism sank its claws deep into every aspect of life in the old Iraq, a more idealistic current flourished in the universities.

True, party membership was foisted on many - it was compulsory even for teaching assistants in Baghdad's faculty of education - and simply carrying the party card added 5 per cent to your entrance exam scores. But in the rarefied environment of the Iraqi academy, unlike perhaps anywhere else, the Baath Party actually stood for something. Hussain al-Saadi, the former assistant dean of the faculty of education and a recently sacked firqah -level party member, insists it was full of good ideas: "Its slogan is Unity, Freedom, Socialism." Further, he argues, the party's ideology was never put into practice even though Saddam ruled in its name.

Hussam al-Rawi al-Rifa'i sits beneath his own portrait in the architecture school. He was until recently faculty dean, a shu'bah -level party member, and now is spokesperson for the purged staff of Baghdad University. On June 29, 100 of them signed a petition seeking their reinstatement. The document was then sent to Bremer. They wrote: "Every individual has the right to enjoy human rights, without political, gender or religious exceptions."

They ended with a call for their request to be considered "in a humanitarian spirit" according "to the legal, moral rule that the accused is innocent until proven guilty". Al-Rifa'i believes de-Baathification is a "collective punishment" that contravenes the Geneva Convention.

I ask him why he stayed in the party when he could see that it was killing his country. He is apologetic, embarrassed: "We kept hoping that something would change. I thought we might be able to fight from within.

"I believed in an ideology that no longer existed, whose leader contravened all its principles," he says. "I still have a strong ideological commitment to Baathism - in Arab unity, and a kind of British Labour Party socialism.

And I still stand against American globalisation. The US has never shown us Arabs any kind of moral justice. But we were torn between anti-imperialism and a bastard. Saddam, the man I hated, stood against America, the power I hated."

Colleagues regard al-Rifa'i as a principled man. He was dean of the faculty of engineering for three years in the early 1980s. But he was sacked for expelling Lu'ay Khairallah, a cousin of Uday Hussein, Saddam's eldest son, who had hospitalised his professor for failing him in an exam.

Jihane, the politically independent half-American departmental coordinator, tells me that al-Rifa'i, because he himself was a Baathist, "got me out of endless trouble, and he stalled pressure on us having to join".

She feels that the Americans have yet to meet any of Iraq's "real intellectuals". "Erdmann is surrounded by advisers who know nothing about academic life here," Jihane says. She argues that it was the lower ranked Baathists and not the senior members who were often the real bullies.

This was the experience of Isam Hikmat, my driver. Like every undergraduate, he took a mandatory patriotic studies course. "In my first year, the teacher kept us in class and threatened that we wouldn't leave until we had all signed up to the party," he recalls. Just three of the 16 resisted, and the teacher would have expected a reward for the new recruits.

Such careerist individuals contrast with the old Baathists, who include many professors. In the 1960s and 1970s, many of the educated urban middle classes joined the party to check the communists' rising power. But once in, it was difficult to leave. Al-Rifa'i admits that after 1990 it was almost impossible to resign without incurring opprobrium. "You had two options: remain a Baathist or flee. I stayed. I had a family to think of."

The new dean of the humanities faculty at Baghdad University is Bahjat Kamil Abd-al Latif al-Tikriti, a former student of the Islamic historian Montgomery Watt at Edinburgh University. He is one of the few who did resign from the party after the invasion of Kuwait, and as punishment he was demoted from his position as president of Basra University.

Al-Tikriti was elected dean on May 18 after his predecessor, Qahtan Abu-Nasiri, a firqah -level Baathist, was sacked. The two were close friends, and Abu-Nasiri was popular with most of the faculty. "We have all suffered tremendously by losing these staff," he says. "Many of them were real presences in their field. They should all come back and teach. If they then do something wrong, we have laws that can deal with them."

Academics had become adept at resisting the politicisation of education, al-Tikriti says. Curricula were written by committees of academic advisers, and until the UN sanctions, they were recognised as the most advanced in the Middle East, he says. "Some Baathists did try to infiltrate and put pressure on us, but with little success," he says.

When al-Tikriti talks of such Baathists, he clearly excludes Abu-Nasiri.

For him, there is a difference between Baathists in thought - those who held to Aflaq's ideology - and Baathists in deed, Saddam's brutes. But Erdmann, a tall, all-American in his mid-30s with a Harvard PhD on Conceptions of Victory in 20th-Century American Foreign Policy, insists: "You can't separate the ideology from Saddam's implementation of it."

Long before May 16, Erdmann had been given directives to exclude high-ranking Baathists. "Part of the concern was symbolically cutting the ties to the old regime, and part of it was practical: some of these guys were just bad at their jobs," he says. Erdmann is ambivalent about the way the Baathists are being removed - he says he might have done it differently - but adds: "The more I see, the more I'm convinced that there's a need for a clean break with the past. Look at what Baathism did. If you want a real education system, you've just got to get it out."

Erdmann believes that it was possible to fight the good fight, noting that nearly half the ministry's department heads were not Baathist. Nor were some of the deans. "A lot of people with the option to leave stayed and rode it out," he says. He feels he has done the Baathists a favour.

"Imagine those student youths mobilising against, say, al-Rawi. We'd been thinking about that from before the invasion. We were ahead of the curve in removing the leadership from the main institutions and preventing riots against them."

I spend a morning at the political science faculty. Pictures of Mohammed Baqer al-Sadr, martyr and spiritual leader of millions of Iraqi Shias, adorn the walls of the cafeteria. Beside them, the Union of Free Students has posted calls for more demonstrations against US soldiers on campus.

Everyone wants to talk - it's the novelty of it. Among the seven or so students who sit with me, there is not one shared opinion. Some want monarchy, others swear by the republic. While they disdain the various political pretenders of today, they have no sense of an alternative. There is relish - savage and vengeful - at the Baath Party's demise, as well as calls for clemency, and despair from one girl called Alia. "They [Baathists] are surviving. That's our greatest tragedy. They're being rewarded for their services just like they were under Saddam," she says.

Then they ask me if I want to talk to a Baathist. To my great surprise, a young man sitting behind me volunteers. Qusay Abd al-Aziz Mohsen al-Salem is 27, and named after Saddam's youngest son. He is articulate and speaks in gunshot soundbites. "Of course life was better under Saddam. He was a nationalist, a patriot, and he was Iraqi. He fought for the interests of our country. We do not accept occupation. We will continue to fight. As for mass graves, they are like weapons of mass destruction - an American lie."

Qusay sees himself as a true Iraqi and a victim of the occupation.

De-Baathification fuels that perception and makes common cause between former party members, turning them into a recognisable entity rather than letting them slip, anonymously, into the new system. As al-Muthaffar says, "this does nothing to help unify the country."

All the professors I speak to say the same thing, even Jamal Abaych, the supremely diplomatic director of Baghdad University's cultural relations department. "The coalition has got this wrong," he says. "It should try the Baathists case by case. In the universities, you'll find that most of them helped each other before they helped the regime. Those who didn't should, of course, be punished - but tried in court first."

The high-level Baathists now excluded from their university posts were complicit in the evils of the regime. Most of them, however, were complicit only in silence. The Baathist ideology to which many of them subscribed was never implemented. Erdmann himself concedes: "Most Baathists didn't really buy the ideology anyway."

Banning the party in universities means banning an idea, not a political process. It wrongfully decorates Saddam with an ideology. It flatters him, legitimises him as a political symbol. It allows Qusay to think he stands for something more than an old regime that rewarded his loyalty. Surely that is the last thing the coalition must have hoped for.

There is a love poem by Nizar Qabbani, one of the 20th century's most popular Arab poets. It begins:

"She sat. Fear was in her eyes.
Raising my upturned coffee cup,
She said: 'Child, don't cry,
Love will find you. It is written.'"

In Iraq, fortune tellers read the future in coffee grounds. I quote the poem to the woman in the Starlight Cafe who had been demonstrating against the sacking of her Baathist college administrator. I pick up her cup and ask what she sees in the future. Carefully, believing, she looks then turns to me: "Tension, death and lies." De-Baathification won't have challenged her pessimism.


Violence keeps lecturers abroad

David Jobbins, Foreign editor
Published: 17 December 2004

Violence in the run-up to next month's election in Iraq is impeding hopes that academics overseas will return to help rebuild the country's shattered university system.

Tahir Khalaf Al Bekaa, Higher Education Minister in the interim administration, acknowledged the level of violence and uncertainty were a barrier.

"We expected faster progress but certain problems have got in the way, including funding and terrorism that clearly targets university professors and teachers, 37 of whom have been killed since the end of the war," Dr Al Bekaa said. Others had been kidnapped for ransom, he said.

The latest incident was a mortar attack on a university in which a female academic was injured, which took place earlier this month while Dr Al Bekaa was on a visit to London. Insurgents fired two mortar rounds into the grounds of the Technology University in Baghdad, claiming their target was US troops who were encamped in the grounds.

Dr Al Bekaa described the attack as "heinous" and condemned the killings.

His own home in Baghdad was shaken by an explosion on the same day, although it seems he was not the intended target.

He dismissed the insurgents as "enemies of democracy" determined to undermine the prospects of elections next month.

Thousands of Iraqi academics fled to the US, UK and Arab countries during the years of sanctions and political repression.

The minister was in the UK to reinforce links with UK universities. Britain has been the most active international partner in university reconstruction, largely through the efforts of the British Council.

While Iraq has 390,000 undergraduate and 18,000 postgraduate students, there are only 16,500 lecturers and barely half have progressed beyond a masters degree.

 


Murder of lecturers threatens Iraqi academia
The Times Higher Education Supplement
Tabitha Morgan, Nicosia
Published: 10 September 2004

A university lecturer in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been shot and killed by gunmen who ambushed her car as she was driving to work.

Police said there appeared to be no motive for the attack on Imam Abdul-Munim Younis, head of the translation department at Mosul University's College of Arts.

According to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, more than 250 academics have been killed since the American occupation began. Among the victims are a number of senior academic figures, including a university president and several deans.

Iraqis cannot explain the motives for the assassinations, which have targeted a high proportion of faculty members from humanities subjects.

"There is no pattern to these killings," said Sahil al-Sinawi, a geologist, who was formerly at Baghdad University. "We are used to threats against Iraqi scientists, but why kill someone working in languages?"

One explanation may be that the country's lawlessness allows the settling of old scores. But the lecturers' union claims insurgents are systematically assassinating members of the country's intellectual elite as part of their general campaign to destablise the interim Government.

A common accusation in Iraq is that the Israeli secret service is targeting scientists in an attempt to prevent the country's re-emergence as a regional scientific power. During the 1960s and 1970s, Iraq's scientific research programme was the most advanced in the Arab world.

But there has been no evidence to back these claims and Israel has denied the allegations.

Many Iraqi academics have concluded that life in their home country is too dangerous. US-based nuclear physicist Imad Khadduri said he received several letters a week from fellow Iraqi scientists asking about jobs.

Many Iraqi academics have lost their positions through the vigorous programme of de-Ba'athification carried out by the former Coalition Provisional Authority.

Dr Khadduri said that under the Saddam regime, Ba'ath party membership was in essence a condition of employment, adding that "these people were not torturers or executioners".

There is a widespread feeling among Iraqi academics that they are witnessing a deliberate attempt to destroy intellectual life in Iraq.

According to Dr Sinawi, the assassinations, compounded by academic dismissals, will lead to a "disruption of higher education in Iraq for years to come. This will dramatically affect the standard of teaching and research for generations".


Tortured, shot, ambushed, victims are found dumped outside morgues. What is happening to Iraq's intellectuals is chilling
The Times Higher Education Supplement
Felicity Arbuthnot
Published: 10 March 2006

 

Dr Mohammed Tuki Hussein Al Talakani Dr Eman Younis Dr Jammour Khammas Dr Mohammed Washed Professor Wajeeh Mahjoub Professor Sabri Al Bayati Professor Laila Al Saad Professor Muneer Al Khiero Professor Emad Sarsaan ProfessorMohammedAl Rawi Professor Munim Al Izmerly Dr Ali Al Naas

The horrific killings of Iraqi intellectuals have left suspicions that occupying forces may be behind some of the cases, says Felicity Arbuthnot.

I t is estimated that between 250 and 500 intellectuals have been killed or have disappeared since the fall of Saddam Hussein. There is a rising surge of anger over attacks on Iraq's intellectuals and many believe some of the killings may be part of a deliberate policy of targeting those who speak out against the "occupation".

A prominent, internationally respected Iraqi academic, who cannot reveal his or her identity for fear of repercussions, says: "Under the American and British occupation, Iraqi academics are being forced out of their jobs and their country under the veil of politics. This is especially true for female Iraqi academics, who once made up nearly half of Iraqi academics in higher institutions and now fear for their lives and the lives of their families. In and outside the workplace they are being targeted by extremists and by the occupiers - more than 200 prominent Iraqi academics have been assassinated in the past three years alone. Those who are not assassinated are abducted or forced out of the country. Iraq is suffering from a huge brain drain that will not be compensated for another 20 years. This is a dramatic loss for the country and, without Iraq's educated middle class, we will be sure to see a rise in sectarianism and extremism, which is what the occupier wants."

The situation is compounded by the absence of foreign journalists who reported on the UN embargo against Iraq from 1990-2003 and who have been warned that their lives may be at risk if they return to the country.

Those whose loved ones have been killed are similarly afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. It is hard to know who is behind the killings and abductions as very few of the cases are investigated. But the information available is fuelling suspicions that Western forces may be to blame in some cases.

When I was in Iraq during the embargo, one of the people I met was a doctor and fellow of Britain's Royal College of Physicians. His concern was the rise of a rare and rapidly presenting bone cancer. He introduced me to patients and their families and was desperate for knowledge of and access to the latest treatments - vetoed under the embargo. Inflation was stratospheric and, although he had formerly been reasonably well paid, his family was suffering. He had money in a British bank account and gave me the account details so I could get some money out for him. Iraqis are the proudest of people. It was painful for him to reveal his plight to me, and to give me his bank details displayed trust. He needed that hard currency.

But it was all to no avail as even private accounts were frozen. His name is now on the list of Iraqi intellectuals who have been killed since the overthrow of Saddam.

During the 13-year embargo, many academics were forced to leave Iraq, seeking positions in countries with more stable currency, which they could send back to sustain their families. Some Iraqis saw this as a deliberate strategy by the West to deprive a country proud of its intellectual heritage as "the cradle of civilisation" of the critical voices that might oppose Western attempts to take control of the region.

The embargo's brain drain proved a weighty challenge for academia in Iraq, but what is happening to Iraqi intellectuals now is chilling, with people from the entire spectrum of Iraq's professional class dragged from homes, offices and consulting rooms. Tortured, shot, ambushed or simply disappeared, they are found dumped outside hospitals, morgues, slumped over car wheels, on refuse dumps, or in the streets.

The Brussels Tribunal, set up in the tradition of the 1967 Russell Tribunal and backed by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, is looking into war crimes in Iraq and has held hearings and heard testimony from expert witnesses from around the world. It is trying to piece together the facts concerning killings of civilians in Iraq and has verified the names and circumstances of 143 people. Thirty-one of these are professors and 100 are doctors, surgeons, medical specialists or people holding doctorates in other disciplines.

The list is long and varied. It includes Mohammed Tuki Hussein Al Talakani, a nuclear physicist, shot dead in Baghdad just before Christmas 2004; Eman Younis, a lecturer at the College of Art at Baghdad University; Jammour Khammas, a lecturer at Basra College of Art; Mohammed Washed, a tourism lecturer; Wajeeh Mahjoub, a lecturer in physical education; and Sabri Al Bayati, a faculty member of the College of Art, Baghdad University. Laila Al Saad and her husband Muneer Al Khiero, dean and faculty member respectively of Mosul University College of Law, lived together, worked together and were killed together. Two of those murdered in the months following the fall of Saddam were Emad Sarsaan and Mohammed Al Rawi, who was also chairman of the Iraqi Union of Physicians. Both were fellows of Britain's Royal College of Surgeons and distinguished board members of the Arab and Iraqi Boards of Medicine. Experts in paediatrics, oncology, ophthalmology, pharmacology, dentistry, cardiology, neurology, as well as hospital directors and administrators, have all been killed, kidnapped or have fled from death threats.

That the list is incomplete is incontrovertible, with credible reports citing the killings of more than 80 academics from Baghdad University. In the past two weeks alone, 12 more intellectuals have been added to the Brussels Tribunal list. They include the eminent Shia political analyst Ali Al Naas, a US critic who was shot dead in Baghdad on January 27. There are "no leads to his assassination".

The Independent's veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, no conspiracy theorist, wrote on July 14, 2004: "University staff suspect there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage, which began when America entered Baghdad." Some suspect experts in particular areas have been targeted. For instance, several agricultural experts, who could testify to the effects of bombing on the environment, have been killed.

Speaking at a meeting in London in February, Sa'ad Jawad, professor of political science at Baghdad University who heads Iraq's University Professors Association, said some of the academic victims appeared to have been targeted because of links to the Baath regime, but others seemed to have been victims of a campaign to eliminate any potential to develop further scientific and intelligence programmes. He added that there were obvious questions about who would have the ability, and the political support, to carry out such attacks with impunity. With few cases being investigated, what is certain is that under the occupation's watch, a massive cull of Iraq's great academic wealth has taken place. That the occupying forces themselves have been responsible for some of the incidents is well documented. The Guardian reported, for instance, how Munim Al Izmerly, a distinguished chemist, died after his home was raided by the US military in April 2003. He was on the US's 200 "most wanted" list and was accused of meeting Saddam, although Saddam routinely summoned academics for meetings and "no" was not an option. He gave himself up the day after his home was raided. His family were informed the following February that he had died in custody of "brain stem compression". An autopsy found that he had been hit from behind and that his skull had been fractured.

On the Brussels Tribunal website, journalist Saba Ali writes of two doctors, Walid Al Obeide and Jamil Abbar, who were held by US troops in Haditha for a week in May 2005. He says that at one point Dr Abbar was lying on the floor when a soldier came in, kicked him in the head and left.

Ali records in words and with photographs the injuries, swellings and extensive haematomas they allegedly suffered.

Reuters reported in January that the Association of Muslim Scholars in the Umm Al-Qora Mosque complex in western Baghdad had been ransacked and crucifixes scrawled on its walls. The association is made up of an influential group of Sunni scholars, and its leaders have called on US forces to withdraw from Iraq.

Layla Asamarai, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology in the US, tells how her uncle, a prisoner of war in Iran for 16 years, was shot by US troops on his way to a business meeting in Samarra in January. In her anguish, she reflects a poignant view, which the West would do well to heed. "My Uncle Abdulrazak is not the only one; thousands have died in this way," she says. "This is the face of American terrorism... an Iraqi civilian, working hard to support his family, forced to live his life in the midst of an American occupation and dumped like road kill. What makes their lives more worth living? Is it the cross that hangs on their necks? My uncle's murderers will come home to their families... but in their soiled hearts they will carry with them the ugliness of what they have done."


Assassinations Tear Into Iraq's Educated Class

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/07/international/middleeast/07ASSA.html?ex=1391490000&en=1d4f662cec46b775&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND

Published: February 7, 2004

BBAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 6 — Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah was never safe. Not before the war started, and not after.

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Mayah, a 53-year-old political scientist and human rights advocate known in his neighborhood here as "the professor," was driving to work when eight masked gunmen jumped in front of his car. They yanked him into the street, the police said, and shot him nine times in front of his bodyguard and another university lecturer.

In an instant, he became one of hundreds of intellectuals and midlevel administrators who Iraqi officials say have been assassinated since May in a widening campaign against Iraq's professional class.

"They are going after our brains," said Lt. Col. Jabbar Abu Natiha, head of the organized crime unit of the Baghdad police. "It is a big operation. Maybe even a movement."

These white-collar killings, American and Iraqi officials say, are separate from — and in some ways more insidious than — the settling of scores with former Baath Party officials, or the singling-out of police officers and others thought to be collaborating with the occupation. Hundreds of them have been attacked as well in an effort to sow insecurity and chaos.

But by silencing urban professionals, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces, the guerrillas are waging war on Iraq's fledgling institutions and progress itself. The dead include doctors, lawyers and judges.

"This works against everything we're trying to do here," the general said.

It has never been easy being part of the educated class in Iraq, certainly not under the repression by Saddam Hussein. Now, all over the country, it is a lethal business.

In Baghdad, Haifa Aziz Daoud, a high-ranking electricity manager, was shot dead through her front door in June. The deputy mayor, Faris Abdul Razzaq al-Assam, was also shot and killed near his home in October. Every member of the Baghdad City Council has been threatened, said Muhammad Zamil Saadi, a lawyer and council member.

"In the past, it was the party people who got the good jobs," said Mr. Saadi, who has two bullet holes in his windshield. "Now it is the professionals. These killers are desperate to go back to those times."

The American authorities say foreign terrorists may be behind the attacks. "There is a huge incentive for foreign terrorists to create chaos here," General Kimmitt said.

The Iraqi authorities point to former Baath Party elements or displaced military officers. They say the killings have been coordinated.

American and Iraqi officials say there is no tally of all the professionals assassinated. But Lt. Akmad Mahmoud, of the Baghdad police, said there had been "hundreds" of professionals killed in Baghdad.

Mr. Saadi, the Baghdad city council member who works closely with the police, estimated the number at from 500 to 1,000.

Colonel Natiha, the head of the organized crime unit, said there were too many to count. He blamed the general sense of lawlessness in Iraq, which is still struggling to form its own police forces.

General Kimmitt said the military was not involved in the investigations, though advisers from the F.B.I. were helping train Iraqi detectives.

Lieutenant Mahmoud, 28, says he has not met with any American advisers. He has been left to investigate Dr. Mayah's death by himself, one in a sea of similar cases.

In Basra, Asaad al-Shareeda, the dean of the engineering college, was assassinated in November. Two months later, Muhammad Qasim, a teacher in the technical college, was stabbed to death in his home.

In Mosul, Yousef Khorshid, an investigative judge, and Adel al-Haddidi, head of the local lawyer's association, were killed in drive-by shootings in December. The same car was seen by witnesses in both cases.

Iman al-Munim Yunis, director of the translation department at Mosul University, said someone recently slipped a note under her door. It read, "It's better to leave your job or you will face what you don't want." In the envelope was a bullet.

She resigned.

Several physicians have been killed. Many more have been threatened. Some have closed their practices. Others have held on.

"I was given one week," said Abid Ali Mahdi, director of the Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine in Baghdad. "But I can't quit. If I step down, nobody would come and take my place."

Dr. Mayah, the professor who was killed, had also refused to be intimidated. He spent years ducking the secret police under Mr. Hussein. As a member of the Shiite underground, he pushed for the overthrow of the government, his family recounted.

In the 1990's, he formed a secret society called United Iraq Is Our Home. He drove around at night in his blue Volkswagen, other activists said, slipping flyers out the window detailing the government's abuses.

Once, he pasted small messages onto Iraqi dinars, which he folded and left behind on buses and park benches. People would pick up the money and read about revolution.

"He was an old-fashioned activist, completely committed to the cause," said Sami Mahmoud al-Baydhani, a historian at Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, where the professor served as director of Arab studies.

A few years ago, the secret police took the professor to their headquarters. "We have an expression," said Khalid Ali al-Mayah, the professor's brother, "anybody who goes into that building, comes out a body."

But one of the agents was a former student and let Dr. Mayah go. According to his family, he had many allies in the security services. They considered him the professor with nine lives.

His daughter and only child, Hiba, 16, used to sit up with him at night as he drafted fliers. Once, she asked him if he was scared.

"He told me, `If I'm scared and you're scared, who's going to do anything?' " Hiba recalled.

After the war, Dr. Mayah turned down an invitation to meet with Jay Garner, the former general who was first American administrator for Iraq. He told his friends that it was wrong that a military man should control the country.

Instead, colleagues said, the professor concentrated on human rights, going to a conference in Jordan and holding symposiums.

Then the threats started.

Last fall, the police said, a man came to his office and told him to close the human rights center at Mustansiriyah University. The professor told him to go away.

Two days before he was killed, his brother said, Dr. Mayah received a final threat: Resign or else.

He gave a stack of his papers to his secretary for safekeeping. He told his daughter that when the time came for marriage, she should consult with her uncle. It was as if he was saying goodbye.

"I knew my father was surrounded by danger," said Hiba, wearing a black veil and a black leather jacket, a product of two worlds. "I was closer to my father than to my own soul."

That last night, Dr. Mayah went into town for an interview with Al Jazeera, the Arab television network, in which he criticized the occupation and called for prompt elections.

The next morning, Jan. 19, Dr. Mayah left for work in his blue Mitsubishi. He made it as far as a dusty side street about a mile away.

"We had a pledge, to live together and die together," Khalid, the professor's brother, said as he started to cry. What hurts most, he said, is that after all the years his brother secretly worked for democracy in Iraq, its arrival was just around the corner.

"These people are not just assassinating our brothers," he said. "They are assassinating our future."

 


Another Voice of Academia Is Silenced in Iraq

Professor backed a Shiite cleric's call for direct elections. Had he not, 'he would have been killed by the other side,' one analyst says.

By Nicholas Riccardi
LA Times Staff Writer

January 21, 2004

BAGHDAD — They buried Abdul Latif Mayah on Tuesday, and with him, many academics' hopes for intellectual freedom in the new Iraq.

Gunned down only 12 hours after advocating direct elections on an Arab television talk show, Mayah was the fourth professor from Baghdad's Mustansiriya University to be killed in the last eight months, his death the latest in a series of academic slayings in post-Hussein Iraq.

"His assassination is part of a plan in this country, targeting any intellectual in this country, any free voice," said Salam Rais, one of
Mayah's students. "He is the martyr of the free world."

Tuesday, many academics acknowledged that the killers had succeeded in their campaign of intimidation.

"After the assassination of Dr. Abdul Latif, we feel that all of us are targeted," said Ahmed Arrawi, a colleague of Mayah. He said he and other academics would think twice before making controversial statements.

Professors and hundreds of students, many of them sobbing, joined Mayah's funeral march Tuesday as his coffin was carried through the campus of the university where he was director of the Institute for Arab World Research and Studies. Mourners beat their heads and howled in despair, chanting, "There is no God but Allah."

Mayah's wife held aloft a weathered photograph of her gray-haired husband and wailed to his coffin: "You are a martyr! Your coffin is covered with the flag of our country!"

Attacks on Iraqi professors strike at one of this war-torn country's last remaining symbols of pride. Its university system was the envy of the Arab world in the 1950s and '60s. Despite nearly three decades of repression by Saddam Hussein, higher education here is still viewed with great respect.

"In the same way that the ransacking of the [National] Museum went to the heart of many Arabs, this will hit them in the same way," said Rachel Bronson, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "It just adds to this sense of helplessness and hopelessness."

Students and colleagues said Mayah was an enthusiastic teacher whose seminars often extended off campus. He used his own money to buy computers for his classroom. After Hussein's ouster, he grabbed the family gun to fend off looters at the university. He insisted that classes continue during the war and after, and gave his finals on schedule.

Despite Mayah's impromptu stint as an armed campus guard, he spoke of  the need for peaceful, deliberate government. One of his favorite sayings, colleagues said, was "Let the language of the gun die forever, and let us follow the language of democracy."

He spoke optimistically about Iraq's future, but in recent weeks had been troubled by the continuing disorder.

Mayah, whose friends said he was 54, was a longtime pro-democracy activist who had been jailed by Hussein after calling for elections in 1996. He had received anonymous death threats for several weeks, friends and family said, and began traveling with a bodyguard.

As he drove to work Monday, his Mitsubishi sedan was stopped by unidentified men. Mayah, the bodyguard and a colleague were ordered out of the vehicle. The gunmen opened fire only on Mayah, and he died at the  scene. One local media report said he was shot 32 times.

People are slain for many reasons in Iraq, and it is often hard to determine motive because the killers are rarely caught. Professors have been at risk from the various sides battling for power in Hussein's wake.

The night before he was slain, Mayah was a guest on a talk show on the  Al Jazeera channel, where he supported a call by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, for free elections by June 30, when the U.S. is scheduled to return sovereignty to Iraq.

Thousands have marched to support the cleric's call, including at a demonstration Tuesday in Baghdad. Wire services reported other demonstrations in the southern cities of Basra, Najaf and Karbala.

In calling for quick elections, Mayah was opposing the United States, which has proposed a caucus system to choose the country's new leaders.

Mayah, a Shiite and a former low-level member of Hussein's Baath Party, "was supporting Sistani," said Jabber Habib, a political scientist at Baghdad University. "Had he not supported Sistani, he would have been killed by the other side."

Habib, a prominent commentator, said Mayah's slaying has made him reconsider his own regular television appearances.

The killings of the three other Mustansiriya professors came amid anonymous notes left on campus warning members of the outlawed Baath Party that they faced execution. In the northern city of Mosul this month, the dean of a local university's political science department was slain, an attack seen as the work of Baathists against someone they viewed as a collaborator in the U.S.-led occupation. Some Iraqis say there was no obvious motive behind the killing of another academic, an engineering professor, in Basra last year.

Iraq's insurgents — largely Sunni Muslims and Hussein loyalists — are among the suspects in Mayah's slaying. The Sunnis feel threatened by the majority Shiites' call for direct elections.

Mayah's mourners suggested there was a foreign element to his killing but offered no details. A banner carried at the head of the funeral procession blamed "America and the Zionists."

Other students and professors at Mustansiriya University say they were at a loss to imagine who might have killed Mayah.

"Why such fear of an idea?" asked Kasim Fellahi, a colleague.

Rais, Mayah's student, said his professor saw good things ahead for Iraq.

"He was optimistic," Rais said. "Always optimistic."

* Researcher Raheem Salman of The Times' Baghdad Bureau contributed to this report.


The mysterious murder case of Wissam Al Hashimi

Dirk Adriaensens  BRussells Tribunal - 04 April 2006

Dr. Wissam Al Hashimi was murdered in August 2005.  The announcement of this murder by his daughter Tara can be read underneath.

Dr. Al-Hashimi authored a large number of scientific papers, in both Arabic and English, published in local, Arab, and international journals, and covering a wide range of topics, including carbonate sedimentology and diagenesis, petrology, mineralogy, geoarchaeology, engineering geology, underground storage, industrial rocks and minerals, and hydrology. He was also a regular contributor of analytical articles to newspapers in Iraq covering various political, oil, and water issues in the Middle East and the Arab world.

Yes, he was a specialist in oil and water, two of the most precious and strategic resources, especially in the Middle East region. Were US oil companies involved in the murder of this renowned geologist, secretary-general of the Arab Geologists' Association? Was Israel involved? If the responsible bodies don't even bother to look into this case, speculations about this death can easily flourish.  The Istanbul Chamber of Geological Engineers raises reasonable doubts about the circumstances of his assassination.

Excerpt from their statement: “When he was killed, he was preparing a paper entitled "Porosities Of Carbonate Reservoirs Of The Mesopotamian Basin: An Insight Into Their Origin" to be delivered in the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) International Conference and Exhibition in Paris on 14 September 2005.”

”He was kidnapped on his way to work on
24 August 2005 and his body riddled with two bullets was found 2 weeks later in a Baghdad hospital. The notes of his latest study were stolen.”

“GEOCOME-VI will meet in UAE at the end of March 2006. There is no mention of Wissam now, in any of the announcements or on the web site.”
”However, among the organizers and supporters of the congress, are imperialist institutions such as the BP, Schlumberger, American Geological Institution, etc. who are behind the occupiers of Iraq.”

We have followed this case with astonishment. And as I mentioned before, this murder has not been investigated, of course not. Another war crime of the US occupying forces, who show total inadequacy in protecting Iraqi civilians. Or is there intent and method in the way they are occupying this country? If it would have happened to a US scientist of a similar reputation, all means would be used to bring clarity into this murder case.  But human life - under US occupation - is the cheapest good in Iraq today. And Iraqi academics seem to pay a very high price if they want to remain in Iraq: they are targeted from all sides. The BRussells Tribunal has compiled a list of 218 killed Iraqi academics (http://www.brusselstribunal.org/academicsList.htm). An international Seminar on this issue will be held in Madrid 22 April 2006.

INTELLECTUALS AND SCIENTISTS ARE CALLED ON DUTY

The BRussells Tribunal War Crimes Tribunal has launched a campaign against the dirty extermination targeting the Iraqi intellectuals and scientists under occupation. As geological engineers we support this campaign with all our hearts. The Chamber of Geological Engineers informed the public and the press of  its position on the issue in a press meeting held at 11:00 am, in Istanbul on 27 February 2006. The Press Statement can be read hereafter.

With our best regards,

Press Statement by the Istanbul Chamber Of Geological Engineers

PRESS STATEMENT

We Call on Intellectuals and Scientists to do their Duty!

The BRussells Tribunal has launched a campaign against the dirty massacre being waged on Iraqi intellectuals and scientists.

We, as Geological Engineers, support this campaign with all our heart.

The covert and dirty massacre in question continues all around Iraq.
Heads of Universities, professors, academicians, engineers, jurists, artists, in short, all those who have the potential to revive Iraq tomorrow and help it stand on its own feet, are being kidnapped one by one from their homes and places of work and being murdered. It has been possible to identify the names of 250 intellectuals killed in this way. Much greater numbers were compelled to leave Iraq.

The victims are of very different world views, a variety of sects and ethnicities. It looks like no differentiation is made on the basis of convictions, sects and ethnic groups.

Not one of the perpetrators of these assassinations have been caught.

According to a study carried out by the United Nations University, 84% of the institutions of higher education in Iraq have been burnt, looted and destroyed.

The Iraqi education system, which was the strongest in the region prior to the occupation, has now been rendered inoperative.

The responsibility for this massacre lies on the US occupation army and its collaborators, which today constitute the sole dominating power under the prevailing circumstances of chaos.

Two of the named victims of this massacre are our colleagues; they are geological engineers.

One of them, Wissam Al Hashimi had come to Turkey together with his colleagues in Iraq in the 70s, he was our guest. At the time, we co-organized the first "Conference on the Geology of the Middle East" (GEOCOME-I). Wissam was then and later on the secretary-general of the Arab Geologists' Association until his assassination. Wissam was a renowned expert on the topic of carbonate type rock that play an important role in the formation and accumulation of oil reservoirs. He made innumerable studies and had countless students. He played  an important role in continuing the GEOCOMEs. He held the 2nd., 3rd., 4th. and  5th. GEOCOMEs in different Arab countries. He contributed to the enrichment of scientific knowledge on the natural structure and natural resources of the Middle East as well as to the development and empowerment of Middle Eastern scientists. He was engaged in preparations to hold GOCOME-VI in United Arab Emirates.

When he was killed, he was preparing a paper entitled "Porosities Of Carbonate Reservoirs Of The Mesopotamian Basin: An Insight Into Their Origin" to be delivered in the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) International Conference and Exhibition in Paris on 14 September 2005.

He was kidnapped on his way to work on 24 August 2005 and his body riddled with two bullets was found 2 weeks later in a Baghdad hospital. The notes of his latest study were stolen.

His daughter Tara wrote a letter to the AAPG International Conference, requesting that his paper be kept on the agenda of the meeting.

GEOCOME-VI will meet in UAE at the end of March 2006. There is no mention of Wissam now, in any of the announcements or on the web site.
However, among the organizers and supporters of the congress, are imperialist institutions such as the BP, Schlumberger, American Geological Institution, etc. who are behind the occupiers of Iraq. One of the separate and independent sessions of the congress has been reserved for "the Geology of Iraq." It has been announced that the papers presented to this session on Iraq shall be published as a separate book.

It is very obvious why Wissam and his friends who shared the same fate were killed. The natural resources of Iraq and the whole Middle East are being plundered. The culprits are very aware that the knowledgeable people of those countries can be a big force obstructing this plunder.
They are carrying out very obvious "GENOCIDE". This is an act of genocide targeting intellectuals, scientists and artists.

They are trying to force these countries and peoples to fall on their knees in a way that they will not be able to rise again.

We hereby join the campaign launched by BRussells Tribunal for the identification and punishment of the perpetrators of this genocide and we call on all people of  common sense to support this effort.

Istanbul Branch of the Chamber of Geological Engineers
(member of Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers in Turkey)

Appendix: The announcement of the death of Wissam Al Hashimi and his curriculum.

12/09/2005

Dear Colleague

I would like to inform you of the sad news of the murder of Dr Wissam Al Hashimi in Baghdad in  August this year.

Ina Lil Allah Waina Elaehe Rageoun.

This is another Iraqi scientist killed in Baghdad by the "organised criminal and or organised terrorists". Another number to be add to body count of civilian Iraqis since the "Liberation" which now amounts of more than 1000 Doctors and University staff murdered and thousands of similar qualifications who have been forced out of Iraq since the "liberation." The total death toll of civilian Iraqis ranges between 25,000-160,000 depending on your side of the political fence.

Dr Al Hashimy was until his murder the president of the Union of Arab Geologists. He persevered in serving Iraq throughout his career and helped improve the co-operation between Geologists in Arab countries. He organised several (GEOCOME) conference of the Arab Geologists Union under difficult conditions in several Arab capitols, including Cairo, Baghdad, Amman, Beirut, etc. and he was planning another GEOCOME conference in Abu Dhabi in early 2006.

Dr Wissam Al Hashimi is an internationally known experts in Carbonates, and he is well known for his important contributions to dolomite and dedolmitisation in and outside Iraq. He was killed while he was preparing his last paper "Porosities Of Carbonate Reservoirs Of The Mesopotamian Basin: An Insight Into Their Origin" to be delivered in the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Paris in the Wednesday 14/9/05 morning session.

He will be remembered by many Iraqi student of Geology whom he supervised and or helped with their PhD and MSc projects.

Attached is an emotional letter from his daughter Tara to Dr Sadooni.

If you are like me was thinking of attending the planned Iraqi Higher Education Conference in Baghdad later this year or earlier next year, I would rethink again.

Regards,

M W IBRAHIM  

Dear Mr. Sadooni,


I am Tara Al-Hashimi the daughter of the late Dr. Wissam Al-Hashimi. I'd like to inform you that my father (Dr. AL- Hashimi) has died. He was kidnapped early in the morning on the 24th Aug 2005 while going to work, his recent papers were stolen. A ransom was given but unfortunately he was shot twice in the  head and died. May his soul rest in peace. As his ID was taken from him it took us about 2 weeks to find his body in one of Baghdad's hospitals.
Lately he was very busy preparing a paper that he was going to talk about it in a meeting in Paris, Unfortunately he will not be able to attend the meeting. On behalf of myself and the family we would like that at least the abstract  of his paper remains in the meeting's agenda and to be lectured by someone else.
NB: please contact me as soon as possible

Regards
Tara Al-Hashimi

 

Further reading: In Memoriam: Wissam S. Al-Hashimi, Former IUGS Vice-President murdered in Iraq

                                 Wissam S. al-Hashimi and Dr Wissam Al-Hashimi

                                 Obituary: Dr Wissam Al-Hashimi, Ph.D. - 1942-2005

 

Translation of the statement of the Istanbul Chamber of Geological Engineers, and bringing it to our attention: our dear friend Ayse Berktay, World Tribunal on Iraq organizer. And congratulations to the Istanbul Geological engineers, who had the courage to stand up against this atrocity. They didn't attend the meeting of GEOCOME-VI in protest and solidarity with their assassinated colleague.

 


Iraq's universities are in meltdown

As Iraq descends into chaos its scholars are calling on Tony Blair for help

By Lucy Hodges

Published: 07 December 2006 - http://education.independent.co.uk/higher/article2049192.ece

 

Universities in Iraq are in meltdown. On 30 October 2006, Professor al-Rawi, head of the University Professors' Union, was shot outside his home, the victim of unknown gunmen. He was trying to highlight the dangers on Iraq's campuses - and he was not alone in his fate.

 

A few weeks later a Baghdad University dean, Jassim as-Asadi, was returning home with his wife and son when gunmen drove alongside and sprayed his car with automatic weapons. All three were killed.

 

Since the war began in 2003, hundreds of Iraqi academics have been kidnapped or murdered - and thousands more have fled for their lives, many ending up in Britain. So far more than 470 academics have been killed. Buildings have been burnt and looted in what appears to be a random spree of violence aimed at Iraqi academia, a conference organised by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (Cara) at University College London was told last week. No one knows who is responsible for the mayhem.

 

The sense is that Iraq's leading scholars are being systematically liquidated or hounded out of the country in an orgy of mindless terrorism by local militia and other factions. Planned acts of assassination against academics are taking place daily. The kidnapping of staff at the Scientific Ministry in Baghdad is one illustration of this. It is thought to be no coincidence that afterwards the Iraqi government closed all universities. "What we are seeing today in Iraq is a cynical and ruthless strategy of destabilisation," said Dr John Withrington of Exeter University, chairman of the British Universities Iraq Consortium. "The strategy is to intimidate, to introduce anarchy instead or order, despair instead of hope."

 

This a tragedy for the individuals affected and their families, and it is a serious threat to the intellectual foundations of modern Iraq, putting the recovery of that country at risk.

Because of the urgency of the situation, Cara has decided to take immediate action to help Iraqis. Set up in the 1930s by William Beveridge when he was director of the LSE with the help of eminent scholars such as Maynard Keynes and Lord Rutherford, it sought to help the Jewish intelligentsia being persecuted in Germany.

 

"Now we have a crisis that is comparable in magnitude to the 1930s," said John Ashworth, president of Cara and a former director of the LSE. "In the 1930s Jews were not only being encouraged to emigrate but were also being murdered. We intend to support Iraqi academics wherever they may be."

 

To this end Cara has decided to change one of its rules. Until now it has only ever agreed to help people who have won formal refugee status in the UK. From now on it will help Iraqis who aren't officially classed as refugees. And it is immediately allocating £100,000 for this purpose.

 

Last week, the organisation wrote to Tony Blair asking him for both moral and financial support for Iraqi academics. Professor Ashworth called on all universities in the UK and all student unions to "adopt" an Iraqi - to give an Iraqi academic work or give a student a place at a British university.

 

When Professor Ashworth was a student in the 1950s at Exeter College, Oxford, he and other students adopted a Hungarian refugee, George Radda, who came to Britain to study law and quickly switched to chemistry. That charitable act had important repercussions for Radda, who subsequently became Sir George Radda, after a long and distinguished career in the UK, ending up as secretary of the Medical Research Council and a fellow of the Royal Society.

 


Double bombing kills 65 students at Iraqi university

By Kim Sengupta

Published: 17 January 2007

 

At least 65 students were killed and 110 others injured in a double attack on a university in Baghdad yesterday. The slaughter coincided with the release by the United Nations of figures showing that almost 35,000 people were killed in sectarian violence in the country last year.

 

The UN figures, more than three times the numbers reported by the Iraqi government, come as the first batch of 20,000 US troops deploy for the "surge" into the Iraqi capital widely seen as George Bush's last-ditch attempt to salvage victory in Iraq.

 

The bombs targeting Al-Mustansiriyah University were the first direct, large-scale attacks on students in Iraq. They went off in a mainly Shia part of the Iraqi capital. However, both Shia and Sunni Islamist groups had warned the universities against continuing mixed teaching of young men and women and also disseminating secular education.

 

The first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his car packed with explosives in a square near the entrance to the university as students were boarding minibuses after finishing classes at about 3.45pm. The second bomb followed soon after as panicked students rushed back into the building.

 

About half an hour later, gunmen killed 10 people at a market near the university. Fifteen more people were killed when two bombs went off at another market and an explosion on a bus killed four others.

Professor John Akker, of the UK-based Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, said: "This is just another example of the deliberate targeting of university staff and students in Iraq. Since the occupation over 280 staff have been assassinated and countless more students have been killed. There is a deliberate policy of targeting those connected with education and many are on lists of the factions and groups awaiting assassination."

 

The UN estimate of the number of deaths - contained in its two-monthly human rights report on Iraq - drawing on data from hospitals and morgues, put the civilian death toll for 2006 at 34,452, or 94 each day. Just over 4,730 of the deaths were in Baghdad, most as a result of gunshot wounds. The report also noted that figures from some governates had not been included in the total for December.

 

Much of the violence has been blamed on Shia militias, particularly the Mehdi Army led by Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a key supporter of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The head of the UN human rights mission in Iraq, Gianni Magazzeni, said: "Without significant progress on the rule of law, sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control. The situation is particularly grave in Baghdad, where most casualties and unidentified bodies that are daily recorded also bear signs of torture."

Mr Maliki's government, which had claimed the last UN report on Iraq casualties was grossly exaggerated, had banned its officials from giving casualty statistics to the organisation.

 

In Washington, a White House spokesman said: "Unfortunately it is a war. The actual number, whatever it is, is too high."

 

Speaking about the university bombing, Mr Maliki blamed "terrorists and Saddamists" and said the deadly explosions were the work of those seeking revenge for the hanging of Saddam's co-defendants.

 

* The brother of the murdered British hostage Ken Bigley has welcomed reports that an alleged al-Qa'ida militant has been questioned in Turkey about his death. Loa'i Mohammed Haj Bakr al-Saqa, a Syrian, has been interviewed by a Turkish prosecutor in the presence of British police. Stan Bigley, from Wigan, said he was hopeful it would lead to his brother's body being found.

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2160084.ece


Gates Foundation to help Iraqi academics escape persecution

By Victoria Kim in New York

Published: August 16 2007 03:00 | Last updated: August 16 2007 03:00

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is making its first foray into Iraq, helping to fund a new initiative to relocate more than 150 Iraqi scholars who are facing persecution.

In a departure from its usual focus on health and development projects, the foundation will provide $5m (£2.5m) for fellowships to Iraqi scholars trying to continue their work at institutions in other countries, notably Jordan. The US Congress has also approved $5m to rescue Iraqi scholars.

The attempt to help Iraqi academics is the most ambitious project of the Scholar Rescue Fund, an organisation founded in 2002 by Wall Street figures including investors George Soros and Dr Henry Jarecki; Tom Russo, vice-chairman of Lehman Brothers; and former Salomon Brothers economist Henry Kaufman.

Officers at the fund, which has helped scholars in countries ranging from Iran to Zimbabwe, began focusing their efforts on Iraq after mounting violence - such as the bomb attack outside a Baghdad university that killed 70 people this year - caused the number of applications from scholars there to soar.

Requests for help from Iraqi academics jumped to as many as 40 a week after averaging three or four a month before autumn 2006. So far, the fund has helped 17 Iraqi scholars find work in other countries.

Iraq is "the closest thing that any of us have seen to the Holocaust in terms of attacks on science and learning", said Allan Goodman, president and chief executive of the non-profit International Institute of Education, which administers the fund.

"It is not even clear who is doing it," said Dr Jarecki, the fund's chairman. "No one is being arrested. No one is being punished for harming scholars."

Bill and Melinda Gates support the project because "the protection of part of Iraq's intellectual capital . . . will be essential for Iraq's future development," a spokeswoman for the foundation said.

The fund, which is working with the Iraqi ministry of higher education, hopes scholars will eventually be able to continue teaching students in Iraq through long-distance learning programmes, said Dr Jarecki.

Many of the scholars pulled out of Iraq will be relocated to neighbouring Jordan, where many Iraqi scholars are already living in poverty as refugees, in some cases driving taxis rather than teaching.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/198bf7bc-4b91-11dc-861a-0000779fd2ac.html