Monday, March 12, 2007

Palestinian Refugees of Iraq

Rafeef Ziadah, The Electronic Intifada, 11 March 2007

"On the border between Iraq/Jordan and Iraq/Syria today live hundreds of Palestinian families who fled the US war to find themselves stranded in no-mans land. These families live in tents, in squalor, with little certainty or hope for the future, like their parents and grandparents did after their expulsion from their own homeland in the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) by the Israelis. The Al-Hol, Al-Tanaf, Al-Ruweished and Al-Walid refugee camps in the Iraqi desert are examples of the on-going Nakba that Palestinian refugees face. The fate of the 34,000 Palestinian refugees who once lived in Iraq can be added to the many tragic stories of the US invasion and occupation of that country.

There are Palestinian refugees all over the world, and every one of them is being denied their right to return to their homes and villages from which they were expelled. This is a right that cannot be canceled and a right that doesn't have a statute of limitations. And while Palestinians continue to demand their right of return, other rights - to safety, to freedom of movement, to work and shelter and food - are violated as a matter of routine. The names of Palestinian refugee camps have become references to massacres and crimes committed against the Palestinian people: Sabra and Shatila (Lebanon), Jenin (West Bank), Rafah (Gaza) and today we add Al-Tanaf, Al-Hol, Al-Walid and Al-Ruweished.......

Palestinian refugees that fled Iraq report arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture. Sometimes they would be picked up by uniformed Iraqi secret service, other times people in civilian clothing would just knock down their doors and kidnap them. Those kidnapped would be found dead, thrown away on the streets after being tortured with electric drills, many times their limbs amputated. Those not murdered were held for ransom, forcing their families to sell all they owned to get them out. Armed men hand-delivered death threats to several Palestinians in Baghdad, setting off widespread panic among the Palestinian population......"

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