Here is a subset of the recent story about Iraqis being denied asylum and other services by the US.
I received this from my friend Mana at Harvard. Felt that it needed attention - maybe one of my state.gov readers can help Omar?
Date: Sat, 03 Feb 2007 18:16:19 -0500
Subject: Denied Entry!
Dear friends and colleagues,
As some of you know I have been trying to get back to school for the last three months after completing my fieldwork last August in London. Last October, I managed to get an interview at the American Consulate in Montreal, where I am currently residing. The consulate informed me that my application needed to go through security clearance at the US State Department. My minimum wait was supposed to be 3 weeks. Three months later (three days ago), I received a phone call from the embassy, telling me that they have approved my visa application, but cannot issue it on my current passport. I was told that since the beginning of January 2007, the US Homeland Security is not accepting any Iraqi passport that does not carry the 'G' series number on it (this is the most recent series of Iraqi passports issued by the current Iraqi government). I have the N series passport that is still valid and is accepted by the Iraqi government and consulates abroad. However, it is not accepted anymore by the US and the UK (and probably some other European countries). I spoke to the Iraqi consulate in Ottawa to schedule an appointment to renew my passport. They informed me that they don't issue the new G series passport and that the only way to get this new and 'valid' passport is to go personally to Baghdad and apply for one!
The Iraqi consulates in north America has been writing to the US State Department about this issue and has only received the deaf ear. This is not only affecting me personally but also millions of Iraqis who are stuck abroad; who have fled the sectarian violence in Iraq and cannot return back to Iraq.
The US State Department has declared bureaucratic war on Iraqi citizens. The message is that we are not welcome anymore, even when we have legitimate and formal reasons, such as being students at respectable universities. I have no idea when, that is if,I will be able to return to school. It is so humiliating and degrading. I wanted you all to know what is going on because I am really sick of being docile and having to internalize this form of mistreatment and violence. I call on you, my friends, to try to vocalize and communicate this issue to let it be widely known to people in the Harvard community. I am not really sure what to do right now. I am debating going to the media here to make this story more public. Also I am trying to speak with Canadian immigration officers to try to apply for some form of canadian travel documents, through declaring a 'stateless' status.
I need all the support and help that I can get.
Ph.D. Candidate, Social Anthropology
This is disgusting...actually, its beyond disgusting...I think we should all be grateful he is not in Guantanamo already. How did that quote go, the one on the Holocaust Museum in DC?: "They came first for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics because and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up." I guess, I can add to that, "Then they came for the Anthropologists, and I didn't speak up because I was a Historian of Religion."
Bad news_to think they "democratised" your nation for your own well being but wonÂ¬Â¥t let you move around the world freely. Yet another great job by the U.S.A.
Has Harvard done anything about this? Anyone know?
The latest word is that now Canada has agreed to issue Omar an Identification Certificate valid for international travel. The US consulate has confirmed that this document will be acceptable for his passage. It remains to be seen if he is actually allowed access to The Homeland. There was a large outpouring of support from Harvard profs and grad students, and I understand that the chair of the anthropology department, in consultation with the International Office and various lawyers employed by the university have been hard at work on the case. It is worth mentioning that Omar, with the dedicated support of one of the world's most powerful academic institutions will likely get in, but such resources are not available to the thousands of Iraqis currently stranded in various locations with passports now deemed unacceptable.
Glad to hear that the Canadian government came to Omar's aid despite its own spotty record on similar issues. This is completely bloody appalling, and with this exception, no one seems to be talking about it. So the question is: why NOT go to the media? As dacoit points out, this is clearly of relevance even beyond the hallowed towers of Harvard.
It's so sad. Wasn't there a similar case with a Wharton student a couple of years ago?