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Iraqi refugees protest killings by security forces in homeland

Mike Desmond

Increasingly, the issues of the nation and the world are argued over in Buffalo's Niagara Square. On Sunday, it was a little of both as Iraqi refugees protested government security forces and allies shooting hundreds of people in the streets as they protested government corruption.
Backed by pounding Iraqi music, the protestors waved Iraqi national flags, carried posters in English and Arabic generally protesting Washington's perceived failure to make the government back in Iraq function for things like schools, instead of opening fire on the protestors.

Lara Almashiakhy compared her situation here and that of her relatives back in Iraq.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"It's sad that the kids have to go through this," she said, "because in America we don't have to worry about us dying or us getting hurt or our parents or our family members getting hurt in a war fighting for us, fighting for our country. We don't have to worry about that. We don't have to worry about our parents getting hurt."

Almashiakhy wants to be a lawyer when she is older. At the other end of a banner was Bari Alokabi. Alokabi said he wants to be an architect or a doctor. He said it is too dangerous to visit relatives in Iraq.
"I would love to go there, too, but the time right now is not a good time and I wish I could visit my family there," he said, "because my grandma and my grandpa they are old and stuff and I want to go see them before something happens. And there are a lot of beautiful kids there. I wish they could have the beautiful things we have here."

Ali Kadhum said there are around 5,000 Iraqis in the area and many are afraid to go back, even for a visit. Kadhum said hopes for democracy are being dashed by government incompetence and failure to do their jobs.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We believed that when Coalition forces came to Iraq in 2003, we are having hope that we are so happy Iraq will be like United States, a freedom country, a nice place to live," he said. "We did live in Iraq, but after a while, we believed it wasn't safe and that's why we came to the United States."

Kadhum said Iraq's government needs help from democratic states to get a democracy up and running.

"We don't have that supervision. Sometimes, Iraq is still a baby needing a supervision from the United Nations, from a country who are expert with all services and ministeries," he said. "This Iraqi government never had a position in a government before."

Kadhum said almost nothing functions back in Iraq, from the schools to the water system.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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