Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Story of Survival

Kurdish refugees in Nashville still struggle with the trauma experienced in their homeland. While some Kurds deal with health issues from physical wounds, many are influenced by the emotional scarring of surviving genocide.

Included in the documentary below, produced by Nashville's WNPT in 2009, are two stories featuring survivors of chemical attacks waged by Saddam Hussein’s regime. One of those stories is about my son-in-law Meran Abdullah, who was living with his family in the Kurdish village of Ekmole, when the chemical attack began...
At this very moment, Meran and my daughter Eva are in Iraqi Kurdistan visiting. During their visit, Meran is doing what is necessary to submit a claim to a genocide victim survivors fund, for compensation.  Nothing will replace what was lost, but it is felt by many that this it is only just to make this offer to the victims, to help them get on with their lives and help their families.  It has taken a long time to get to this point, but the Kurdish people have worked hard to remake their communities.  I am very proud of my son-in-law and his extended family. They are the best of America, they are who America has always been.  People seeking a better life, and working hard to accomplish it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Justice Delayed

My son-in-law Meran's case was decided in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals this week, against him and the other Appellants. 

The case was brought by Meran, his Uncle Mossa, and other Kurdish survivors of Saddam's genocidal chemical campaigns in northern Iraq.  

I hope they have recourse to appeal further, and do so...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

So Eva catches me on MSN Messenger last night and tells she, Meran, and the boys are all in...Fort Benning, GA...Why? Read on...
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Hey! I am in GA
Frau Maus says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
The boys and I went to visit Meran in Columbus, GA...near Ft. Benning...where he is staying till he knows if got clearance to deploy or not
Frau Maus says:
heck is he getting that close? whoa NSA?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
We hadn't seen him for 4 weeks since he went to VA
NSA?? for working overseas in Iraq with company GLS
as civil contracted translator
Frau Maus says:
You mentioned NSA at one point. How did it get from that to GLS?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
NSA was a couple years back...never heard anything from them
Frau Maus says:
so it was a matter of networking and time, eh?
What does GLS stand for, and what does it do?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
This is a different opportunity where recently they were hiring a whole slew of Kurdish translators...200+
Going to work with army engineers from what Meran has heard so far...in the northern Kurdish parts
I guess...as far as networking is concerned
GLS...Global Linguistic Solutions...it is the most recent company that took over the civil contract that Meran's former Employer...Titan...was doing...since then its been taken over several times
Frau Maus says:
It seems the Kurds in the north are still doing well then, eh? Kirkurk sounds like it's still controversial, but are the Kurds already getting oil revenue from it?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I not sure as to the revenue...but Meran's uncle in Duhok said things are quiet and prosperous in north...lots of new construction...new airports...new growth of all kinds...
Frau Maus says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Good investment to have real estate there now
Frau Maus says:
Good to hear. They deserve it after all this time and pain. I hope they can have some peace and prosperity for a good long time....
So will Meran invest while there?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
If Meran goes for sure...maybe I will be able to swing flying you down to visit me and daniel for a weekend or something?
Frau Maus says:
when will he know?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
soon...he is waiting on security clearance...
Frau Maus says:
always waiting on that darn clearance...how long does it take these people?! lol
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I have to go...they boys are swearing they could eat pillows! I have some cute videos and pics I will share soon...love ya Mom! (So would you be interested in what I just mentioned...when I know for sure I wll talk with you more about it) Say hello to Will!
Frau Maus says:
definitely interested...
tell everyone hello and I love them and tell Meran best of luck and I am proud of him...
Eva/Nirgaz says:
oh...and we have a kitty now too...nameless so far!
i will

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Meran and his family have started a class action against the chemical companies and the Iraqi government for the gassing of their villages over 20 years ago. Good luck, Son-in-Law!
Ethnic Kurds file class action in Baltimore against chemical makers
Daily Record Assistant Business Editor
April 9, 2009 7:32 PM

Five survivors of the 1988 poison gas attacks of ethnic Kurds in Iraq have filed a class action lawsuit in Maryland claiming three American companies and the government of Iraq violated the Geneva Convention by using mustard and nerve gasses to kill tens of thousands of people.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the lawsuit says the companies supplied the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the chemical precursors and compounds needed to make the poison gases used in the six-month long “Operation Anfal.”

One of the companies, Alcolac Inc., was headquartered in Baltimore at the time of the attacks but is now defunct. Some of its assets were acquired by a French firm, Rhodia Inc., which is mentioned in the complaint but not named as a defendant.

A spokesman for Rhodia, David Klucsik, said Alcolac was not acquired until 1989 - by a predecessor to Rhodia called Rhone-Poulenc. Rhodia, the chemicals arm of Rhone-Poulenc was spun off in 1998.

"Rhodia did not exist until 1998," Klucsik said. "And, Rhone-Poulenc had no awareness of the allegations against Alcolac because the acquisition didn't occur until 1989."

Kenneth McCallion of New York, the lead attorney in the case, told The Associated Press he filed the complaint in Maryland because all three companies have operations there and because Alcolac pleaded guilty in 1989 to knowingly violating export laws by shipping a mustard-gas ingredient that ultimately went to Iran.

The lawsuit accuses the companies — Alcolac; West Chester, Pa.-based VWR International LLC; and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. of Waltham, Mass. — of selling lab materials and chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. Valerie Collado, spokeswoman for VWR International, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The plaintiffs claim the use of mustard and nerve gases during the attacks is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1925.

“The ban on the use of chemical weapons in warfare was respected even during the depths of World War II, when only Nazi Germany had sarin nerve gas,” the complaint says.

Attempt at genocide

According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, Operation Anfal was an attempt at genocide of part of the Kurdish people in northern Iraq. The group said its investigation revealed that during Anfal — Arabic for “the spoils” — tens of thousands of ordinary Kurdish citizens were executed or disappeared. In addition, some 2,000 villages were destroyed, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

The Nashville-based Kurdish National Congress of North America, also a plaintiff in the case, has been working for years to build the case against the defendants and find a lawyer willing to tackle it, according to Dr. Kirmanj Gundi.

Gundi, president of the Kurdish National Congress, said they never considered giving up, even though more than 20 years have passed since the attacks.

“We’re doing this on the behalf of the tens of thousands of victims of the Anfal attacks,” Gundi said. “We still have wounded people in Kurdistan — the impact of the chemical attacks still affects the lives of people to this day.

“This will remain with our people for decades to come,” he added.

Burying the dead

One of those who lived through the attacks was Meran S. Abdullah, 34, of Nashville. In 1988, Abdullah lived with his family in Ekmole, a village near the Turkish border that was under the control of Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga.

On his last day in Ekmole, Abdullah said Iraqi airplanes bombed the village. And, while bombings were not uncommon, it became apparent that this time it was a chemical attack.

As his mother, father and older brother stayed behind to gather personal effects, Abdullah and others headed to higher ground in the mountains nearby.

He said his parents and brother were killed in the attack, their bodies found near a creek with suitcases still in their hands.

After burying the dead, Abdullah and others hiked to a village on the Turkish border. Eventually, the refugees were let into Turkey.

Abdullah said they did not attempt to go back to Ekmole after that.

“The Iraqi Army was after us, trying to kill us with tanks, planes and chemical bombs,” he said. “It was either stay there, or go back and die.”

He said while he hopes that victims of the attack will be compensated for damages, his main goal is to help raise awareness about the horrors of Operation Anfal and its long-lasting impact on the Kurdish people.

“It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, or how young I was,” Abdullah said. “Things like this, you can never ever forget.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Great article on Kurdish women fighters - fighting for their culture, and equality.

Amen, Sisters...

Monday, February 12, 2007

From Alive in Baghdad:
Alive in Baghdad was formed to counter the sound-bite driven, “Live From” news model. Through the work of a team of Americans and Iraqi correspondents on the ground, Alive in Baghdad shows the occupation through the voices of Iraqis. Alive in Baghdad brings testimonies from individual Iraqis, footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments from Iraq to you.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Eva just told me that "...I ran into this BBC reporter at Salahadeen Mosque on Saturday and in the midst of our conversation we talked about the Saddam trial and I mentioned about Meran's Uncle...she was very familiar with him and wanted to speak to him...so one thing led to another and I helped arrange a meeting with her, him, and Meran. Also I was Mossa's translator and was also recorded. It was an audio interview for the program The World - are you familiar with that program? She works out of Boston and if the story airs, she will send a link. I told her about our blogs also. [And I even threw in that I was always available for them when they do stories where they want to interview Kurds in Nashville and/or do freelance work...!]"

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kill Us, Too: We Are Also Americans
The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, recently issued a decree to its supporters: Kill at least one American in the next two weeks. Well, I am an American too.
By Aslam Abdullah, September 12, 2006

The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, recently issued a decree to its supporters: Kill at least one American in the next two weeks "using a sniper rifle, explosive or whatever the battle may require."

Well, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, I am an American too. Count me as the one of those you have asked your supporters to kill.

I am not alone, there are thousands of Muslims with me in Las Vegas, and many more millions in America, who are proud Americans and who are ready to face your challenge. You hide in your caves and behind the faces of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. You don't show your faces and you have no guts to face Muslims. You thrive on the misery of thousands of Muslim youth and children who are victims of despotism, poverty and ignorance.

During the past two decades, you have brought nothing but shame and disaster to your religion and your world.

You said you "invite you not to drop your weapons, and don't let your souls or your enemies rest until each one of you kills at least one American within a period that does not exceed 15 days with a sniper's gunshot or incendiary devices or Molotov cocktail or a suicide car bomb -- whatever the battle may require." I invite you to surrender, to seek forgiveness from God almighty for the senseless killing you and your supporters are involved in and repent for everything you have done.

You say that the word of God is the highest. Yes, it is. But you are not worthy of it. You have abandoned God and you have started worshipping your own satanic egos that rejoice at the killing of innocent people. You don't represent Muslims or, for that matter, any decent human being who believes in the sanctity of life. Many among us American Muslims have differences with our administration on domestic and foreign issues, just like many other Americans do. But the plurality of opinions does not mean that we deprive ourselves of the civility that God demands from us. America is our home and will always be our home. Its interests are ours, and its people are ours. When you talk of killing of Americans, you first have to kill 6 million or so Muslims who will stand for every American's right to live and enjoy the life as commanded by God.

By growing a beard, shouting some religious slogans and misquoting and misusing some verses of the divine scriptures, you cannot incite Muslims to do things that are contrary to our religion. Yes, you even fail to understand the basic Islamic principles of life and living. Islam demands peace in all aspects of life, Islam demands respect for life. Islam demands justice.

What you are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, India or other parts of the world is anti-human and anti-divine. You are an enemy of Islam as much as you are an enemy of America. You must understand that God who entrusted you with life is the same God who spelled his spirit in every human being regardless of his or her religion or ethnicity or nationality or status. You are violating him.

We feel totally disgusted with your action and we condemn you without any reservation. Don't come to our mosques to preach this hatred. Don't visit our Islamic centers to spill the blood of innocents. Don't think that just because we share the same religion, we would show some sympathy to you. You are not of us. You don't belong to the religion whose followers are trying to live a peaceful life for themselves and others serving the divine according to their understanding. In our understanding of faith, you appear as anti-divine and anti-human. We reject you now as we rejected you yesterday.

There is nothing common between you and us.

We stand for life, you want to destroy it.

We accept the divine scheme of diversity in the world and you want to impose conformity.

We respect every human being simply because he or she is a creation of the divine, and you hate people based on their religion and ethnicity.

We support freedom and liberty and justice, and you promote bigotry, murder and strangulation.

You will never be able to find a sympathetic voice amidst us. Our differences with others will never lead us to do things that are fundamentally wrong in our faith, i. e. taking the lives of innocent people and killing others because they are different.

So on Sept. 11, when you will be hiding in your caves, we will be out in the streets paying tribute to those who you killed because you failed to see the beauty of life. We will condemn you once again the same way we have been doing ever since 9/11 because we are Muslim Americans.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Meran, my son-in-law (on the right), shares his story with local Nashville media recently...

See more below (click on images to enlarge and read) - you can also try your luck here for the video of this interview, although I don't know how much longer the link will work...

NOTE: August 25, 1988 was the day Meran's parents and brother died