Monday, November 13, 2006
Forced Migration II: Story of a Shiite
Pictures of one of many abandoned vegetable stands in our district; the result of the forced migration policy being carried out. Shiite veggie sellers, fish grillers, trash collectors and mechanics were killed over the summer in our area.
A few weeks ago, Cousin 'E' was telling me how her grandfather's house is now overcrowded with different aunts and uncles who have moved back in, after being 'forced' out of their homes. Cousin 'E' is the daughter of a Shiite father and a Sunni mother who live in Amiriya. Since conditions have worsened in Amiriya, E's father has left the neighborhood and moved back in with his mother (without his daughters and wife [school]). Along with E's father, her paternal aunt has also moved out of her Amiriya home, back in with her mother. This is the part of her story which shocked me:
E's aunt, A, was living in Amiriya for years, along with other Shiites and Sunnis. This past summer, while on vacation in Northern Iraq, she got news that her youngest brother had been brutally murdered in his store in Yarmouk, following the infamous Jihad District slaughter. His brothers (including E's father) found him lying dead in a pool of blood in the furthest corner of his store, as if he had been trying to escape the murderers' brutality.
Following this tragic murder, Aunt 'A' was warned not to return to her Amiriya home, which had become a mostly Sunni district. 'A' took her children and husband and moved into her mother's home. Every week or so, she would quietly go to her house to check up on it, without her husband, fearing for his safety. One of those weeks, she was warned by her neighbors not to come back, not even to check up on her home, because they could not guarantee her safety. She has not returned since.
Instead, she asked her Sunni sister in law, 'E's mother, to check up on her home. During her last visit there, E's mother was shocked to find a family 'occupying' her sister in law's house, having unhinged the doors to get into the different locked rooms. Not only that, but they had the audacity to ask her who she was and what she was doing there, instead of being apologetic about their actions. When she told them that the house belonged to her sister in law, they gave her a questioning look, like 'You're married to a Shiite?!'
She feared for her safety at that moment, and decided not to go back. But they were able to get that family out of the house, on the condition that they would rent it out immediately to a Sunni family. They were able to rent it out, but at a fraction of the price it should bring.
Now, 'E's mother and sisters are looking to move out of Amiriya, not because they are Shiites, but because their husband and father is. And because life has become almost unbearable there.