Jamail Signing Off For Now -
Back In March

By Dahr Jamail
AMMAN, Jordan -- After 9 weeks in occupied Iraq, I am en route to home.
This will be my last dispatch until I return in March. I would like thank everyone for reading what I've been sending. I also want to thank those of you who have taken the time to comment, to support, and to thank me for doing this. There have been so many, most of whom I don't even know personally. The responses have been overwhelming at times. So often, I would be deeply saddened by what I'd witnessed, only to log on and find yet another supportive email.
Just a few notes on my departure - the dangerous journey out went fine. No bombs near me, no Ali-Babas (a recent peace delegation was robbed on their way in), and I made it to the border with no problems.
The border - while the US Administration continues to tout security, and speak of brining it to Iraq-THE BORDER IS WIDE OPEN!!! Not one US soldier was at the border on my way in, or yesterday on my way out. So many other journalists I know report the same situation. Why is this? It is a question which must be answered, and I will write my Senators (Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, both staunch supporters of this illegal invasion and occupation), so that it can at least be on record. I encourage others to write theirs as well.
I entered Jordan with mixed emotions. Exhausted, relieved, and deeply-saddened. I can leave there and go to the west. While my Iraqi friends can come to Jordan, the vast majority of them don't even have the option of traveling outside of the Middle East, simply because of their nationality.
It reminds me of one night when I was taking chai with one of my Iraqi friends. I was saddened from the day spent talking with two daughters whose father was beaten and tortured with electric shock by the Americans until he went into a coma. I asked my friend, "How do you stay here and keep living? How do you not give up hope?"
He took a deep breath, paused, and told me, "Two reasons, Dahr. First, this is our home. Second, we are unable to leave. We have no choice."
The day before I left, my friend Ahmed showed up at the hotel with tears in his eyes. He was friends with one of the CNN journalists, an Iraqi, killed the other day.
All of my Iraqi friends knows someone personally who has been threatened, detained, killed, or their homes damaged or destroyed by the US military. The stories continue to pour in on a daily basis.
I feel it imperative to maintain a solid presence of independent journalists in Iraq, as there are so few. Most of the mainstream media are just parroting the news fed to them by the CPA and military. This only angers Iraqis, as well as jeopardizing the safety of independent journalists.
It isn't safe - on any given day your life is at risk, particularly when you are around US military or Iraqi Police - as they are always targets of the resistance fighters. In addition, their tendency to open fire randomly when a patrol or convoy is hit jeopardizes everyone's safety - theirs, ours, and most importantly, that of the Iraqi people.
That said; if you have any inclination to go to Iraq to bear witness and document the horrible effects of the occupation on the Iraqi people, I strongly encourage you to go. We need help. We need more people willing to do the endless job of documenting the illegal occupation and its horrible effects on everyone involved - Iraqi people and US soldiers alike.
You will be greeted warmly by the Iraqi people when they know you are there to tell the true story. They will risk their own lives to protect yours. They will thank you. You will make friends for life, your life will be changed forever, and part of your heart will always remain in Iraq; in solidarity with the Iraqi people who are struggling for a true freedom and a better life.
If you need any help or information about going, I am more than happy to assist in any way I can with transportation information, lodging, contacts, interpreters and drivers.
If you aren't able to go, stay tuned. I will keep my list, and resume the dispatches as soon as I return. In the meantime, read the real news from the ground there at sites like:
From my heart, a deep thanks again for the support.
Dahr Jamail in Amman, Jordan, signing off.


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