|jo van der spek on Tue, 11 May 2004 18:04:45 +0200 (CEST)|
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|[Nettime-nl] Baghdad Diaries (updated)|
news from Tigris Woods project this is the updated version of my diaries from baghdad and basra, Iraq. I was there from March 31st until April 15th, when I was forced to leave by plane. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2004 09:09:09 +0200 (CEST) From: jo<AT>xs4all.nl Subject: diary from Baghdad Full Moon in Baghdad It is 23' past midnight, the last day (8th of April) has brought more fighting and more tension in every house. The streets of baghdad are getting more and more empty, especially when the sun is gone, and the full moon has taken over. I am writing in the house of the Zayer family. Head is Ismael Zayer, founder and editor-in-chief of Iraq's biggest newspaper Al Sabah, which means "morning", a newspaper caught between two fires: the Americans and the muslim extremists, especially of mister Muqtada Al-SSsadr. His wife Anneke van Ammelrooy is a free lance journalist from the Netherlands and chief of Civil Pillar, an agency that supports upcoming civil society projects, NGO's etc. I just made a good interview with Anneke in Dutch and now I am coaching Dhafer doing her first recordings on my MD recorder. We are all in door, and the guards come by every 15 minutes to check. Ismael today noticed a car with four armed men of Muqtada Al-SSsadr's men in black circling the house. Other cars with men armed with rocket launchers on their shoulder stopped in broad daylight in front of the Al Sabah building, provoking, showing their manhood. In the press of Muqtada the attacks on Al Sabah, the threats become more violent. For them Al Sabah is the voice of evil, of the new Moguls. Ismael tells me they have infiltrated in the print shop and half of the workers did not show up at all today, just like 6 of the journalists. So the question becomes: will they be able to produce an issue at all? After a few tries I talked with Sanja on the phone, to discuss what she can do to improve communication ( in the chatroom?). She will inform Herman of AIDA (www.aidainternational.nl) of my whereabouts, and Yvonne Towikromo (the only editor willing to give me an assignment to make a radiodocument for the NMO (Dutch Muslim Broadcaster) and, why not, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (The pioneer ambassador in Baghdad is not very communicative and we simply don't have time to go out of our way to visit him. Anneke send him an E-mail months ago but never received a reply.) I went with Anneke to civil pillar, feeling comfortable in Ahmeds fast car (carrying a gun and measuring 1.91 but also taking his responsibility very seriously). I took photo's of the six rooms and 2 balconies and talked about the plans for a Media Training Centre here (to be directed by a woman called Media!) We had lunch with the other Ahmed (Rekabi who misses Den Haag) and bought a mobile phone for Salam. We received the news that a general strike has been called for saturday 10th, all shops, schools and workplaces are called to close by the Baathists and some Mujahedeen. At 4 in the afternoon I went with Salam (see: iraqiartist.com) to meet with Mufid Al-Jazairi who happens to be the Minister of Culture. He wanted to see me about radio. His communist party is starting broadcasting and he as a Minister wants to start a cultural radio as well. To encourage people to express and perform their culture, to reflect everyday life. In fact people in Iraq need to learn again how to do these things because the terror of saddam has destroyed normal habits of communication between humans. While I look at his face I am reminded of another Minister of Culture (briefly), who wrote a famous book,called the long road (?) about his transport to Buchenwald. Anyway, I try to explain my approach and experience about community radio in places like Afghanistan and Kosovo, but also as a representative of alternative media culture in Amsterdam. And I bluntly put to him that I don't think that a ministry of culture is the proper agent to start a radio station, but should only facilitate it. He completely agrees. He sees his role as encouraging, creating an example, a model. And he thinks that creating a station needs a lot of money, a lot of people and a big building to serve the nation. I tell him my approach is rather to create 100 or 1000 small radio station, with not so many people and not more than 10.000 or so dollars per What is needed is training of cadres and year. It is really time to get a team of technicians together for classic broadcasting and for streaming. On Al Jazeera I watch how some Japanese hostages are being man handled with knives to force to confess that Allah really is the greatest. It seems that they also took two Dutch soldiers hostage like this in As-Samawa, but you in Holland will probably have more details on this. I wonder if Mustafa Oukbih is in baghdad for Radio 1, and whether or not the delegation of the Socialist Party will come over in two days. I think they should if they can afford the risk. In this situation the presence of foreigners is quite important, and like I have written before, it is a rteal pleasure to feel the warmth and love of so many people here. Maybe in autumn it will be possible to organize international volunteer camps to come and help with NGO and other activities... (Following a good tradition from Croatia and Bosnia). It is really good to be able to do something positive and not just sit around waiting for the enemy to show up or rely on guards I don't know. I checked between 2.25 and 2.30 but I didn't see them. A truck is standing in front of the neighbors' house. I hope it's not explosive. The Al Nidar Mosque is calling us for our morning prayers, so I will kiss you all good night. (dog barking in the background f.o.) Oops, now it's 4.30 a.m. and the first Helicopter flies over. 4.47 some more helicopters flying over near and low the birds start to sing. Jo van der Spek, for http:///www.radioreedflute.net -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2004 16:31:20 +0200 (CEST) From: jo<AT>xs4all.nl Subject: diary from Baghdad Tuesday 6-4-4 Monday evening the writers' buses arrived from Basrah back in Baghdad. On our way into Baghdad we passed by a nice big park, but I did not see anybody playing...??? The problem is that the Americans also occupied this: there were some vehicles parked. I asked what is being done about this. Yes, the newspapers have written about it, but nothing has changed. I wondered loud, what will happen when 25000 children will climp over the fence. Will they start shooting? No probably not. So why can't the Communist Party organize such a thing? They are the third political force in Iraq. At the writers' association building some would-be writers were getting drunk and started to yell and fight. Nice live theatre! It could be a daily ritual. I went out with Hamid to make a phonecall at a public phonebooth. It was hard to pass the number to the guy inside just when 2 tanks passed by: believe me, that makes a lot of noise. They were probably on their way to Al Thoura, or Ssadr City (before known as Saddam City, poor and mostly shiite), where big fighting was going on all day. We don't know how many were killed yet, tens of people, maybe 100 in all of Iraq and many wounded. Only one US Marine got killed and one from El Salvador..(source "Stars and Stripes" of Monday 5-4, I guess they will have their US numbers correct:) It seems Muqtada Al-Ssadr has mobilized heavily against the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). One of his aides was arrested so he has reason to feel provoked, and also Shiites are walking to Karbala to do a religious celebr! ation. We some thousands of them walking on one half of the Motorway, waving black, red and green flags, and pink too. All along the road stalls and tents are set up for refreshments, a peaceful sight and I really admire there perseverance to walk 300 miles in the sun, the wind and the dust. And on the 9th of April it is one year after "libaration"/occupation of Baghdad. So big time for Al-Ssadr. But he is only head of a small faction of the Shiite majority, and he does not have a lot of cash. Iran prefers to sponsor Sistani and other more moderate/controllable/responsible Shiite organizations it seems. Question: is Al-Ssadr an ordinary crook, who exploits the fame of his father, tries to make cash by robbing, or does he have a political program, vision or sth? Most lefties think he is dangerous. Of course I am dying to go into Ssadr City, but it is closed for now by CPA forces. And it would upset all my friends... I could sleep in the Writers' House, from 22 till 5.30 this morning. I enjoyed sunrise on the roof with the birds and then the cars. I waited to record the call for morning prayers, but it didn't come. Why I don't know. At 8 I went straight to find Anneke van Ammelrooy. I arrived at Al Sabah, the newspaper that many believe to be the voice of CPA, but according to Anneke is going to break all ties with the CPA, USAID, etc. very soon. On the 20th of March a new media law was declared by Paul Bremer, regarding all RTV, wireless, internet, etc. And for some reason CPA and Iraqi Media Network (IMN) included Al Sabah to fall under this law, as the only newspaper. Clearly they want to tighten their grip on Al Sabah, and it is very unclear who is the owner. Any day CPA humvees may arrive to take over the building and the printshop, but it seems the journalists are well prepared for this. Again I am happy to join them. I took photo's of the workers in the print shop, half of them are women and all wanted on the photo. In fact the rotation press was closed, people were working to collect books. The presses are very old and neglected. They need repairs and maintenance all the time, so Al Sabah is quite happy to go to another printer, but what will happen with this printshop is unsure. They do rpint some other newspapers, but quite afew may loose their job, since Al Sabah is printing 75.000 copies daily. Still, this printshop started Al Sabah together with journalists. This kind of workers' selfmanagement is created right after the war and will hopefully be more than a crisis solution... You know, once you have seen their faces and received their warmth I cannot but feel solidarity with them. But then again, I seem to be a romantic person... Talking about crisis media, the rumours are going round like always in situations like this. The governing council is flying down and up to Kuwait every siongle night to party. Saddam has been moved to New York, or even Israel. The Mossad has bought 200 square kilometers of land in Kurdistan. Impossible, since it is impossible to buy land in Iraq at this stage. Property rights, both of land and real estate are very very unclear and floating. From Al Sabah I wen with Anneke van Ammelrooy to her home, where I can put my excited and tired body to slep (thanx), and then on to her Civil Pillar office not far from here in the south (Ssadr City is in the North, so don't worry). Civil Pillar is a node in a network of initiatives, projects and small enterprise. It is a meeting place, that Annke tries to coordinate, help with fundraising, training, advice, exchange etc. So she organizes a meeting with (radio)journalists who are into free media, networking, creating content and use internet for publishing, activism, alternative media and, of course, the Tigris Woods project. Anneke has this crazy idea to reclaim the island in the Tigris and has approaced Al Jazeera for sponsoring. Al Jazeera means Island in Arabic u know, and it would give this satallite TV station an opportunity to improve it's image among the citizens of Baghdad. They don't like al Jazeera for being anti-American or sth. Anyway, one island helping the oth! er to come to life sounds like a brilliant idea. So what about Vlieland, Fiji, Trsitan da Cunha and Pampus??? It would be a very nice place to land the Tigris Woods project too. Oops, I still have lots of photo's to download, compress and mail for the website . So I better stop now. p.s. this was written in wordpad on a computer configured for Arabic, so it may appear a bit funny here and there, right to left, a nice exercise in the higher art of Kellek (thank u Marnix) Right now, or rather aside from this, I am writing a mailinglist of all friends and relations to send this to, (thank u Sanja, my snake:). This may again lead to confusion, but then, this is Baghdad u know. (no u don't) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2004 09:59:29 +0200 (CEST) From: jo<AT>xs4all.nl Subject: REPORT FROM bASRA, sUNDAY 4-4-4 sorry master, I need more guidance. Where do I go from the parent directory http://radiostudio.org/ostream ? Did you notice any streaming yesterday? I did it with dynebolic.org 1.2, just a looped music piece u nor Jaromil were online, I am afraid. But the guys in Radio 2 Rivers were quite excited. I gave them a copy, making sure they include it in their proigram on onternet, AND explaining that it is for free. So nobody goes about selling the shit. Today, Sunday, time of writing 10.20 AM. It is cloudy and there's a serious wind blowing from the south, from the Gulf. This brings an occasional drop of rain, but mostly dust. So I got one piece of cloth from a chambermaid, sitting on the floor of the landing in hotel Merbed. I tried to accomodate it on my head, to serve as a disguise. But she told me not to, coz the cloth is dirty. I went outside where Salam was interviewing Salah Hassan for his weekly Arban program on Radio Lora Zuerich. I helped him to cover the mike with the cloth. MD's don't like dust. And besides, it is not bad to hide your elctronics from evil eyes. There is some tension in town. Yesterday an angry mob of joibless people invaded the post office and looted the place. Today it seems there's another demonstration. And I am told that we cannot go out. Not even by taxi. Everybody is afraid of primitive, islamic, extremist, anti-western, anti-intellectual, anti-whatever. They are not after your goods, but after you. They might follow you until they can isolate you and beat you up. In fact they are more afraid trhan I am, which is understandable. Iraqi's tend to be scared, that's how they've lived for years. And they also feel very responsible for my well-being. So we hang around in the lobby. Very boring, I hate prisons. Personally I would prefer to go out and join the demonstration, disappearing in the crowd. But I tell myself I should not embarrass my hosts. I am overwhelmed by the attention, the gifts and the love I receive from the young and the old. Salah Hasan walks in a T-shirt of Amnesty. His white hair makes hium suspicious. He somehow looks more Dutch than Iraqi. I have chosen a nichname: Aziz Shati, meaning precious river. I had a hair cut in Amman (Jordan) and I hope to find a woollen cap to look even more like an Iraqi. We just have to go out. I got permission to walk one block to the next hotel to write this report. But Salah has business: the container with books from Holland is on a ship now and should arrive the 25th. So he has to make sure that it arrives in one piece at the University. We must find the prof, maybe find a shipping agent. I have to go to CPA where Clare Baxter has arranged gfor my Canon battery to be charged (I left my charger in Baghdad....). And I need a massage... I just about broke my back yesterday, when it took me 2 hours to send 3 pics from the poetry festival. I am happy to see trhe photo of Gulala Noory on the site now. Gulala is a young poet and TV maker from Mosul. She just started to make a TV documentary on the Tigris. Yesterday afternoon I spend at the radiostation 2 rivers to give and try the streaming software of Jaromil (dyne.org). Then dinner with Yousef who went with me to be presented to Shakir Al-Serraf, the retired engineer and founder of NGO. Yousef is a bright and quiet guy, who served with Washington Post (watching ther looting of the Sheraton Hotel on the bank of Shat Al Arab (that's the name of river here, actually it is Eufrate and Tigris together). Then I was interviewd by local correspondent of Al Sabah. I said the leftovers of the Sheraton should be destroyed completely, coz it's very ugly. Or else turned into a people's palace. Why not launch a contest for architects and have the citizens vote for the best design? Then I had a very emotional exchange with a guy who wanted me to see his diary.A story of terror and love. Salam had to cry when he saw the cloth with flowers and writing the mother of the authjor had brought to him while in jail. Say no more. Then we went to the room of Muafak Muhammad, 54, from Babylon. He invited me to come to his house. To walk around, see the farms, have traditional breakfast and go to the bath house (Hamam).Then we recorded poetry, discussion and singing. Eating lovely nuts, drinking beer and Arak (of Dades). How to get Saddam out of Iraq, that is the question. For each and every person having survived him. They have only just started. Young people see me as a saviour. I tell them only self-confidence can save them, and feel embarrassed again for preaching. But DIY is the only way. At breakfast (sorry I try in vain to keep some sort of chronology...) we looked at photo's of paintings of Ryadh Al-Fuad. Really beautiful. I hope to visit his atelier and take shots pof his work. So much to see, so much to do, so much intensity. shukran habibi Aziz Shatty -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2004 10:10:33 +0200 (CEST) From: jo<AT>xs4all.nl Subject: April 2 I am now in Basra, safe and sound. I upset many people when I wanted to roam the streets at night. I did it with a policeman in a chevy. Fact finding? Fuck finding? No, internet. But no network. Only by daylight... Lots of photo's but uploading takes long time. Will try later on. Yes, I keep diary. But not always on computer. Also later on. first poetry festival Merbed after Saddam in Basrah 2-4 April - Gulala Noory reading her poem on being a lonely woman here short in Dutch: ik ben met de bus vol schrijvers in Basra aangekomen. Logeren in hotel Al Marbed, tel. 00.964.40.611652, room 125. Het is geweldig, iedereen vind het geweldig dat ik er ben, en ik hoor prachtge verhalen. Bijvoorbeeld de ene schrijver die door de andere is veroordeeld. Want die ene is communist en de andere WAS rechter. j het hotel werden we gefouilleerd en de bagage doorzocht. En ik mocht 's avonmds niet naar buiten. Toch gedaan natuurlijk, in de auto met een politieman. Maar geen internet of telkefoon gevonden: geen network. Nu wel dus, vrijkdagmorgen. Hier eigenlijk zondag. En zondag gaan we met onze drie bussen naar de boom van adAdam, waar de Eufraat en de Tigris samenvloeien. Jo van der Spek Amsterdam firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.xs4all.nl/~jo -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 17:32:34 +0200 (CEST) From: email@example.com Subject: Re: new terror don't worry I am alive I am in Baghdad had a good trip yes, just a detour near Falludzja Baghdad is crazy really crazy I arrived at 10 spent an hour in traffic jams found Al Muajaha (the paper) closed spend half the day in house with girls went out to find Hazim nice driver, has sister in Amsterdam recorded his greetings also for detroit and California took lots of shots of Tigris got headache, slept a bit finally found Majid all phonelines are out of order traffic is a mess but it is beautiful don't know where I will sleep if I go to Basra tomorrow we will see love Jo van der Spek Amsterdam firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.xs4all.nl/~jo > > please gimme ping, now i feel worried about u. > > 15:00 Uhr: Neun Tote bei Anschlägen im Irak > Bagdad: Bei Anschlägen im Irak sind neun Menschen getötet worden. Westlich > von Bagdad starben fünf Soldaten, als ein Sprengsatz unter ihrem > Militärfahrzeug detonierte. In Falludscha wurde ein ziviler Konvoi mit > Granaten und Handfeuerwaffen überfallen. Vier Ausländer starben. Die -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 22:20:53 +0200 (CEST) Subject: Re: !!info!!/re: Welcome to cloudy Amman. It is an ugly city, really. All buildings are grey. Nobody bothers to paint it, not even whitewash. I didn't find a real centre, just some mainstreets. According to Raed, people in Amman have no culture, only electronics. Whereas Baghdadi's have culture only. I stay at Hotel merryland, which has a juicy nightclub in the basement. So lots of dirtyArabs around. One of them advised me to put my dollars in my socks. Which I already did. I hope he doesn't send his cousin to catch me on the way to B.... I had an exciting haircut by a Palestinian hairdresser (most people in Jordan, esp. Amman are Palestinian (or Iraqi, only now Iraqi's don't get residence unless they have 80.000 dollars on their account). Anyway, this hairdresser used a special kind of strong black thread to do epilation, taking off my criminal eyebrows and ear hairs. The catch was of course how to get a safe ride to baghdad. You take off around midnight, after 5 hours you come to the Iraq border, so in daylight you do ca. 600km to Baghdad. I have tested the driver Mahmoud, and he passed. He only charges 100 dollars. Exciting news about connectivity was told by Raed Jarrar (he is an architect, who specialized in post crisis urbanism). In Baghdad they had a system called Senau, a wireless phone system. And now they are ISP offering wireless connectivity. I am sure we can work out a way to do local broadcasting and streaming with them. And what is also very positive: Baghdad is completely flat (umnlike Amman) and houses are mostly just 2 or 3 stories. However Al Muajaha is in a high building, just like above mentioned ISP. The ISP is called Dijla, meaning Tigris. so Allah is with me. < < ok im gonna update. < < -<<<<<< < could you please write some first impressions from Aman??? < all the people here asking me for it and I cant tell nothing < please do it right now. just 5-10 paragraphs. maybe less. < -<<<<<< Jo van der Spek Amsterdam ______________________________________________________ * Verspreid via nettime-nl. Commercieel gebruik niet * toegestaan zonder toestemming. <nettime-nl> is een * open en ongemodereerde mailinglist over net-kritiek. * Meer info, archief & anderstalige edities: * http://www.nettime.org/. * Contact: Menno Grootveld (email@example.com).