NPRs Nell Greenfieldboyce is reporting on science so let's note that:
NASA has decided to send two new missions to Venus, our closest planetary neighbor, making it the first time the agency will go to this scorching hot world in more than three decades.
The news has thrilled planetary scientists who have long argued that Venus deserves more attention because it could be a cautionary tale of a pleasant, Earth-like world that somehow went horribly awry.
"I never knew it was possible to cry and have goose bumps at the same time, because that's what happened to me when I heard the news," said Darby Dyar, a planetary geologist at Mount Holyoke College who is the deputy principal investigator on one of the missions, and chair of NASA's Venus exploration advisory group.
"The Venus community has waited decades for this moment, and to have NASA give us two missions in one, both complementary, is out of this world," Dyar said.
Venus may have suffered a runaway greenhouse effect
Venus has been called Earth's "evil twin" because it is about the same size as Earth and probably was created out of similar stuff; it might have even had at one time oceans of liquid water.
The link has audio as well. I didn't post last night, by the way. Sorry. Curiosity was in the news. I love the land rover on Mars. Several e-mails came in asking if I'd missed the news. Nope. Planned to blog but my daughter is all done with high school and eager for college to begin this fall but she was wanting some parental time -- not complaining on my end. She's the last of the baby chicks to fly. If she'd wanted to take a gap year, I'd have been thrilled. But she's eager for college and I'm happy about that too.
So let's go over to NASA for news about Curiosity:
The team behind NASA’s InSight Mars lander has come up with an
innovative way to boost the spacecraft’s energy at a time when its power
levels have been falling. The lander’s robotic arm trickled sand near
one solar panel, helping the wind to carry off some of the panel’s dust.
The result was a gain of about 30 watt-hours of energy per sol, or
Mars is approaching aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun. That
means less sunlight reaches the spacecraft’s dust-covered solar panels,
reducing their energy output. The team had planned for this before InSight’s two-year mission extension.
They’ve designed the mission to operate without science instruments for
the next few months before resuming science operations later this year.
During this period, InSight will reserve power for its heaters,
computer, and other key components.
The power boost should delay the instruments being switched off by a few weeks, gaining precious time to collect additional science data. The team will try to clear a bit more dust from the same solar panel this Saturday, June 5, 2021.
Dust in the Wind
InSight’s team has been thinking up ways to try to clear dust from
its solar panels for almost a year. For example, they tried pulsing the
solar panel deployment motors (last used when InSight opened its solar panels after landing) to shake the dust off but didn’t succeed.
More recently, several members of the science team started pursuing
the counterintuitive technique of trickling sand near – but not directly
on top of – the panels. Matt Golombek, a member of the InSight science
team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which
manages the mission, noted that it might be possible to strike dust on
the panels with sand grains that would “saltate,” or hop off the solar
panel surface and skip through the air in the wind. The larger grains
might then carry off the smaller dust particles in the wind.
To try the technique, the team used the scoop on InSight’s robotic
arm to trickle sand next to InSight’s solar panels on May 22, 2021, the
884th sol of the mission, at around noon Mars time – the windiest time
of day. It was easiest for InSight’s arm to be positioned over the
lander’s deck, high enough for the winds to blow sand over the panels.
Sure enough, with winds blowing northwest at a maximum of 20 feet (6
meters) per second, the trickling of sand coincided with an
instantaneous bump in the spacecraft’s overall power.
“We weren’t sure this would work, but we’re delighted that it did,” Golombek said.
While it’s no guarantee that the spacecraft has all the power it
needs, the recent cleaning will add some helpful margin to InSight’s
Surviving on Mars
InSight’s panels have outlasted the two-year prime mission they were
designed for and are now powering the spacecraft through the two-year
extension. Relying on solar panels for power enables such missions to be
as light as possible for launch and requires fewer moving parts – thus,
fewer potential failure points – than other systems. Equipping the
spacecraft with brushes or fans to clear off dust would add weight and
failure points. (Some members of the public have suggested using the
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s whirring blades to clear off InSight’s
panels, but that’s not an option, either: The operation would be too
risky, and the helicopter is roughly 2,145 miles, or 3,452 kilometers,
However, as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers showed, gusts and
whirlwinds can clear solar panels over time. In the case of InSight, the
spacecraft’s weather sensors have detected many passing whirlwinds, but
none have cleared any dust.
By August, as Mars moves in its orbit closer to the Sun, InSight’s
solar panels should be able to gather more energy, allowing the team to
turn the science instruments back on. Depending on the available power,
they might begin by turning some on for short periods at key times
during the day, as they’ve been doing to save energy.
Whether the instruments are on or off, InSight operations will pause
again around Oct. 7, when Mars and the Earth will be on opposite sides
of the Sun. Known as Mars Solar Conjunction,
this period happens every two years. Because plasma from the Sun can
interrupt radio signals sent to spacecraft at that time, all of NASA’s
Mars missions will become more passive, continuing to record data and
send updates to engineers on Earth, though no new commands will be sent
back to them. The moratorium on Mars commands will last several weeks
until late October.
More About the Mission
JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight
is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in
Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and
lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.
A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National
d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are
supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for
Interior Structure (SEIS)
instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut
de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came
from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in
Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in
Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United
Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties
instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research
Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland.
Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, June 3, 2021. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
both issue alerts on Iraq and the editorial board of THE CHRISTIAN
SCIENCE MONITOR weighs in -- been years since Iraq got that level of
attention from the western world.
start on a topic that's not Iraq, start with THE VANGUARD. I don't hate
them. I called them out -- noting it was a peeve of mine -- for doing a
segment on Rose McGowan and mispronouncing her name throughout the
segment. I also called them out for not understanding her criticism of
Alyssa Milano. But we noted them before that and we've noted them
since. Even so, we get a few e-mails every week asking why I hate them?
don't hate them. I'm just not impressed. Can they do good work? Yeah,
they can. They usually do not do good work. Right now they've got a
video lapping at Kyle Kulinski's nuts (which I'm sure he loves, he'll
probably do another broadcast about his balls any day now -- THE TINY
AND FEY BALLS OF KYLE, airing weekly on LIFETIME, TV for women). Oh,
Kyle's so brave, he's so this, he's so that.
They're so stupid.
He's so brave and he stood up to THE HILL when they threatened him with a lawsuit?
waited months to tell that tale, didn't he? Not very brave. When
someone threatens to sue us, I don't fall silent. Robert Kagan
misunderstands what we wrote here -- because someone played a prank on
him -- and I'm noting it here. I am wording my reply to him in a
dictated snapshot. David Sirota gets upset and says he's suing us, it's
up here. Not months later, when it happens.
THE HILL is so mean thinking they own Krystal Ball!!!!
when she was under contract, they did. That's what a contract is. If
they gave permission for Krystal to do a podcast with Kyle, they gave
permission and it going up at YOUTUBE, if already agreed to, shouldn't
have been a problem. But Krystal worked for MSNBC and she knows what
contracts are. So if permission was given, she should have known to get
it in writing.
THE VANGUARD and Kyle are throwing all
this junk out there trying to create sympathy for Krystal -- less so for
Saager -- and it's not going to work.
I am sympathetic
to Krystal and Saager. They did create the show and it appears that
they were pushed out. At the very least, they were not appreciated. We
are not noting RISING without them currently and I have no expectations
that we will start noting RISING again. I am sympathetic to both
Krystal and Saager.
I am sure there are many valid points to make with regards to how they have been treated.
if you have someone under contract, yes, you do have the right to say
yes or no to this or that. You're worried not just about tarnishing the
brand but also diluting it. Issues like overexposure are real.
VANGUARD has two hosts who I am sure are very nice -- even though they
apparently only know a tiny number of people who look like them, same
skin color, same genitals, etc -- but they never do the work required.
Sunday chat & chews? We didn't enjoy them from corporate media.
Why would we support them on YOUTUBE? That's all THE VANGUARD does. It
bloviates. Can they stop grabbing two-seconds of information that they
then inflate into a ten minute segment which only demonstrates how
little they know about anything?
I don't see the point
in that. They know nothing about contracts and they're rushing to pimp a
coward -- Kyle -- for his 'bravery' in coming forwards months after
something happened. There was nothing brave about him coming forward.
Nor was there anything brave about his 'standing up' to THE HILL and
refusing to take his podcasts with Krystal down. THE HILL would have
gotten bad publicity if they'd pushed and they knew that and he knew
As for THE HILL saying that Kyle could no longer be a guest on RISING after he and Krystal started their own show?
the right decision. RISING is part of THE HILL. It has to meet
certain standards. You can't be bringing on a co-host's business
partner on another venture to be a guest. It's a conflict of interest.
It looks like you're promoting a product (Krystal and Kyle's show).
used to be real rules about this in independent media. People miss
that because Amy Goodman broke every one of those rules and PACIFICA was
too scared to stand up to her (actually, Leslie Cagan pretty much
ensured that Amy could not only steal millions from PACIFICA but also
destroy the ethical guidelines in place). She broke every rule as she
promoted her books, her book tours, her speaking gigs, over and over.
There were real segments on breaking news during this time that were cut
short so that Amy could tell you what cities she would be in on her
book tour in the next two weeks -- they cut news segments short to do
There are rules.
VANGUARD hosts don't understand that. But if they're going to do a
segment, maybe they need to do a little work on preparing for the
segment which requires more than just repeating what one person says.
Equally true, their fawning over Kyle (they're in love again!!!!) was ridiculous and embarrassing.
Like ignorance, diseases spread. THE NEW ARAB reports:
The feared "black fungus" illness that has been gripped India has now killed two people in one area of Iraq, health officials have confirmed.
Dhi Qar Governorate health services spokesperson, Ammar Al-Zamili, acknowledged the deaths from the disease overnight Monday, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He said the cases occurred in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar's capital city but stressed that the illness is "very rare".
He said the disease is developed through
"exposure to mould" in the soil and rotting fruit and veg, noting that
those with conditions such as cancer and diabetes are most at risk.
spread. It often seems, throughout the world, that silence spreads as
well. Self-imposed or intentionally blocked, needed information is not
passed on. That explains a great deal of what takes place in Iraq and
what has taken place in Iraq. Militias have never been the answer. But
everyone wanted to grab quick term 'solutions' -- that's the press,
that's the government. THE NEW YORK TIMES was happily pimping militias
in the '00s. They praised, for example, the Sons of Iraq over and
over. That was a militia. We called it out and we noted that the
Sunnis were not erupting in joy, "We got our militias now!" No, they
saw that as a threat to their own safety. But a militia might let Iraq
turn a corner!!!! That was always the hope, that this or that thing
would wash away the illegality of the Iraq War and make it all good.
Fruit of the poison tree and all that, it was never likely to happen --
even in a world where anything can happen.
government picked up on short term 'solutions.' That's why the Shi'ite
militias went from being disbanded and political parties being told they
couldn't run for office if their party maintained a militia to the
militias being brought into the Iraqi military. Now they're part of the
government units. But there is no governmental control over them.
Amnesty International notes today:
On the fifth anniversary of the enforced disappearance of at least 643 Iraqi men and boys by Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militias
during military operations to retake control of Fallujah from the
so-called Islamic State group, Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for the
Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said:
"For five years, the families of these men and boys have been living
in anguish, not knowing the fate of their loved ones, or whether they
are even alive. Young boys were ripped away from their parents and
entire families torn apart. The families deserve to know what happened
to their loved ones. They deserve an end to their suffering.
"To date, the Iraqi authorities have never publicly revealed the
outcome of an investigation into disappearances and abuses committed
during the retaking of Fallujah, leaving families in a perpetual state
“The Iraqi authorities must end this anguish and reveal the fate and
whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared by the PMU. We also urge the
authorities to publicly disclose the findings of their official
investigation and hold those responsible to account."
On the morning of 3 June 2016, thousands of men, women and children
fleeing the area of Saqlawiya in the Anbar region were met by a group of
men armed with machine guns and assault rifles. Witnesses identified
the armed men as members of the PMU based on emblems on their uniforms
and flags. The armed men took an estimated 1,300 men and boys considered
to be of fighting age away from their families. At sunset, at least 643
men and boys were boarded onto buses and a large truck. Their fate
remains unknown. The remaining men were taken to what survivors described as the “yellow house”, where they reported being tortured and subjected to other ill-treatment.
On 5 June 2016, the Office of Iraq’s then-Prime Minister, Haider
al-Abadi, set up a committee to investigate disappearances and abuses
committed in the context of military operations to retake Fallujah. The
committee’s findings have never been made public. The Iraqi authorities
did not respond to Amnesty International’s request for information at
The PMU are comprised of large, well-established militia groups and are legally considered part of the Iraqi Armed Forces.
If that alone doesn't drive home the problem with the militias in Iraq, maybe this will:
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is threatening to submit his
resignation to President Barham Saleh and the leaders of the Shia
forces, unless the government gives him a free hand to rein in the
actions of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), which are nominally
affiliated with the leadership of the armed forces.
The PMF is formally linked to the commander-in-chief of the armed
forces, a position held today by Kadhimi. But the PMF will follow Iran’s
vision in all decisions. This is known in Baghdad and recognised by
“The political forces have been in continuous consultations since the
armed parade held in the Green Zone,” a senior Iraqi government
official told the Arab Weekly, adding that “In all circumstances, the
government will not allow this kind of parade to happen again.”
According to the senior official, “Kadhimi has given President Barham
Saleh and the leaders of the various Shia forces, the choice between
him submitting his resignation or giving his government a free hand to
hold accountable the abusers, the corrupt and those involved in
terrorist crimes among the leaders and officers of the Popular
That's from Masar Abdul Hassan Radi's column for ARAB WEEKLY. The editorial board of THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR weighs in with:
Young people in Iraq, whose protests in 2019 brought a democratic
reformer to power, are holding their breath. On May 26, for the first
time the Iraqi government arrested a senior commander of a pro-Iran
militia and – here is the breath-holding part – he has not been released
more than a week later. In addition, an attempt by the commander’s
militia to besiege the capital and pressure his release was repelled by
elite Iraqi forces.
While the arrest of Qasim Muslih on terrorism
charges is small on a global scale, it represents a significant
advancement in rule of law and accountability in a country pivotal to
the growth of democracy in the Middle East. No senior member of the many
Iran-backed militias that reject government control has been held
accountable for the killing of pro-democracy activists over the past two
years. And previous attempts at arresting the militia members of Mr.
Muslih’s Kataib Hezbollah group ended up with them being quickly
His arrest is even more significant as it comes just
four months before parliamentary elections, giving hope that voters and
candidates can enjoy peaceful campaigning and that the integrity of the
electoral process will be upheld.
the state proceeds to sovereignty and order, or the state falls on
everyone’s heads,” tweeted a former prime minister, Haider al-Abadi,
after the arrest. He added that “no one is above the law.”
THE NEW ARAB notes, "Last year, Iraqi forces raided an Iran-backed militia's stronghold in
Baghdad and arrested more than a dozen members of the group. The
arrested men were let go after unidentified gunmen drove to government
buildings in Baghdad's Green Zone to demand their release." And Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reminds:
According to a 2016 report
from Human Rights Watch, militias belonging to the PMF, also known as
Hashd al-Shaabi or the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), entered the
district alongside Iraqi federal police and detained at least 1,700
A day later, 605 detainees were released for medical treatment – many of
them bearing the marks of rape and torture. According to the watchdog,
at least four men died under torture. Some of them had been dragged behind vehicles. Another later died in hospital.
The PMF had a database of wanted individuals. As families fled the
fighting and crossed PMF lines, their names were checked with the
database. If a name matched, the men of the household were arrested and
taken to an undisclosed location.
Human Rights Watch has accused
the PMF militias, many of which are Shiite, of committing war crimes by
destroying Sunni homes and executing civilians accused of ISIS
In other news, Human Rights Watch issued the following nine hours ago:
Recent camp closures have stripped thousands of displaced people of essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic, with inadequate government plans for their return home, Human Rights Watch said today.
government’s plan to end the prolonged displacement of families who
were uprooted by fighting between the Islamic State (ISIS) and anti-ISIS
forces will only succeed if the government ensures that families
recently evicted from camps for displaced people can safely return to
their previous homes or go to new shelters, with full access to
electricity, water, and healthcare services.
“After these families’ years in limbo, it is positive that the
government is trying to find durable solutions for families displaced by
fighting,” said Belkis Wille,
senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But this
strategy will only succeed if it builds on lessons learned from previous
camp closures and forced returns in which aid was cut off and people
were left completely on their own.”
In March 2021, the Iraqi government endorsed a National Plan to Address Displacement in Iraq
drafted by the Ministries of Planning and of Migration and
Displacement. But the government has closed 16 camps over the last seven
months, leaving at least 34,801 displaced people without assurances
that they can return home safely, get other safe shelter, or have access
to affordable services. Only two camps remain open in
Baghdad-controlled territory, one in Nineveh and another in Anbar, and
they are also set to close.
The Migration and Displacement Ministry announced the closures in
mid-October 2020 and closed 16 camps by January 2021. Many residents
were female-headed households displaced by fighting between ISIS and the
Iraqi military from 2014 to 2017, and many of these families are being
labeled as ISIS-affiliated. The Kurdistan Regional Government has not
shut down camps in areas under its control.
These closures proceeded despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,
during which the government put in place numerous lockdowns and other
movement restrictions. In 2020, Covid-19 killed over 12,526 people in Iraq and the pandemic continued to plague the country in 2021, with the latest death toll reaching 16,267.
Despite the government’s stated aim to have displaced people return
home, administrative hurdles prevent families with perceived
ISIS-affiliation from getting documents, including identity cards, birth certificates, and ration cards. This blocks both their safe return and access to welfare benefits and government services.
The authorities and communities are labeling people as
ISIS-affiliated based on suspicions that a relative joined ISIS or was
sympathetic to the group. They are often applying these labels without
any evidence that the people themselves showed sympathy to or joined the
group or committed a crime. There is no way for people to appeal this
Some local authorities are also applying Law No. 20, Compensating the Victims of Military Operations, Military Mistakes and Terrorist Actions in 2009, in a discriminatory manner,
excluding families with perceived-ISIS affiliations. The law is
supposed to compensate anyone who has experienced property destruction,
injury, and loss of life if the property was destroyed by fighting,
regardless of the reason or which warring party destroyed it.
While many families have applied for but have not yet received any compensation,
the authorities are preventing some families with perceived-ISIS
affiliations from applying. As a result, many do not have the resources
to rebuild their homes.
A report published
in December 2020, based on interviews with 2,764 families by a range of
international humanitarian organizations, captures their plight. The
interviews were conducted from September 2019 to November 2020 in the
two weeks after these families’ evictions. Almost a third of the
families said that they had not wanted to leave the camp, and just over a
third said that they had not returned to their areas of origin, with
most saying this was because their properties were destroyed.
Of those who returned, only a third were living in their own homes,
with the rest renting, hosted by others, or squatting in unfinished or
abandoned buildings. Twenty percent said they feared being evicted by
security forces or their local community because of their perceived
ISIS-affiliation. Half of the families evicted said they did not have
access to enough food to meet their basic needs, and over a third said
they did not have adequate access to drinking water.
From November 2020 to May, Human Rights Watch interviewed 14 people
from Nineveh, Salah al-Din, and Anbar governorates who had lived with
their families in camps since 2016, all with perceived ISIS ties, and
who were evicted. The families raised similar concerns. None had been
able to move back into their old homes and eight said they were not able
to return to their areas, fearing being threatened, arrested, or
harmed, and had to rent homes elsewhere. They said they were concerned
they would not be able to afford rent in the coming months.
“I can’t even afford my share of the rent,” said a woman with five
children sharing a two-bedroom rental with three other families, a total
of 15 people. “I depend on what people and charities give me to pay it.
I am a widow, with no adult male in the family, so it’s difficult for
me to find work. I am constantly afraid of us getting evicted.”
The families who could return to their home areas were from the
Shirqat district and Yathrib subdistrict in Salah al-Din, a governorate
with significantly less support from international nongovernmental
organizations for displaced families. One man said that his house is
occupied by another family in his village and because of his perceived
links to ISIS he has been unable to get authorities to remove the
The other five said their homes had been completely destroyed and
they couldn’t afford to rebuild them. They were living in tents,
relatives’ houses, or in one case renting a home in another city. All
were struggling to provide their families with adequate food, water,
electricity, and health care.
In a positive step, in the one remaining camp in Nineveh, south of
Mosul, in March 2021, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the International
Organization for Migration, the nongovernmental organization INTERSOS,
and the Displacement and Migration Ministry created a committee to
discuss the barriers that prevent the displaced families from returning
to their homes and to help them find durable solutions that will allow
them to leave the camp.
The Iraqi government should not close the remaining camps unless the
authorities are able to ensure access to durable solutions including
availability of basic Covid-19 mitigation measures such as adequate
shelter and water, Human Rights Watch said.
Meanwhile, as part of the new national strategy, the authorities
should engage with families living in protracted displacement in the
camps and elsewhere to help them get any documentation they are still
missing, understand why they have been unable to return home and where
they would like to live, and ensure that regardless of where they settle
they have affordable access to shelter and basic services. The
government should investigate allegations of discrimination by public
authorities, including the discriminatory application of the 2009
“If the government really wants to close the displacement file then
it should start working on making sure that displaced families actually
have the ability to resettle safely, whether back to their homes or
elsewhere,” Wille said. “This means ensuring that they have the basics –
food, water, a roof over their head.”
Security Clearance and Documentation
In many areas with a former ISIS presence, the authorities have put
in place a “security clearance” system that requires all residents to
obtain a stamp from security forces in their area before they can apply
for civil documents they are missing. This applies to most families who lived under ISIS for an extended period.
Security forces routinely deny the stamp to people if a family member
is suspected by security forces or the local community to have joined
ISIS or been sympathetic to the group, and their name is on a wanted
list. Or, in some areas, they require the families to open a criminal complaint
against that relative to get the stamp. Iraqi law does not justify
preventing these families from accessing their documents, which is a
form of collective punishment. There is no process for appealing the
Families without the stamp cannot renew their documents and often
cannot return home. People are usually required to show their
documentation when passing through the many checkpoints throughout Iraq.
Recognizing this barrier, after years of inaction, the authorities sped
up processes for families to obtain their documentation in at least two of the camps that closed.
However, three people interviewed said they were still missing at
least some of their documents when authorities evicted them from camps.
One father said that because the authorities accused his relative of
ties to ISIS he was worried about leaving his village to look for a job
in a bigger town because security forces might see his name on a wanted
list and arrest him.
The three people could not get ration cards for the government
program that provides food items to almost all Iraqis. The father said
the authorities had refused to renew his family’s ration cards: “It is
neither my nor my children’s fault that our relative joined ISIS. Why
are we being prevented from receiving rations like any other Iraqi?”
A woman from a village in Salah al-Din but living in Kirkuk
governorate said her family could not return to Salah al-Din to renew
their ration cards because they do not have valid civil documentation to
pass through the many checkpoints. Her husband is unable to find work
in the village where they are living and she said, “I don’t know how I
will get food for my children once the food I have now runs out.”
Another woman said that since she and her family returned to their
home village she cannot relocate them somewhere with better services and
job prospects because she has been unable to obtain security clearance
necessary for getting documents for her three young children:
Here in the village, it looks like a desert and there isn’t enough
electricity or access to food or health facilities. We haven’t received
any assistance since we arrived. And we haven’t been able to get any
rations from the government – local authorities are refusing to renew
our ration cards because they say we are linked to ISIS.
One woman said her family returned to their village and set up a tent
next to the rubble of their destroyed home, but a village leader
threatened to evict them unless they sold him their land.
Our land is worth 20 million IQD (US$13,590) but he is only offering
half. The security forces in the area know he is threatening us but will
not intervene. We also own a plot of farmland and other villagers are
farming it and refusing to give us any proceeds or give it back to us.
Access to Compensation, Shelter, Water, Electricity, Health Care
Families across Iraq whose homes were destroyed by fighting have filed compensation claims under the 2009 compensation law,
which compensates anyone for property destruction, injury, and loss of
life, regardless of the reason the property was destroyed by fighting,
and regardless of which warring party destroyed it. However, Human
Rights Watch has heard for years from Iraqis who say that families with a
member on a wanted list for ISIS affiliation have been barred from
receiving such compensation.
In a news conference
on January 31, a senior commander from the Anbar Operations Commander,
an integrated military and security command in Anbar, criticized
security forces and community leaders for allowing families with
perceived ISIS affiliation to return to their home areas and to apply
for compensation. He said his command would continue to “track” and
“chase” families with perceived ISIS affiliation in part to ensure they
could not receive any compensation for property damage. He threatened
that security forces and community leaders who endorsed their
compensation claims would be arrested, saying, “Those who killed us and
destroyed our houses won’t be allowed to receive any money from the
Human Rights Watch has not been able to identify any legal basis for
denying people with relatives wanted for a crime access to compensation
under the law.
Twelve of the people interviewed said they were unable to apply for
compensation because of their alleged family ties to ISIS. A woman with
three children said that both the mayor and security forces in her
village refused to give her security clearance or let her apply for
compensation because of a relative’s alleged ties to ISIS:
My home is destroyed, and we have had to set up our tent near the
house of my relative where we are not allowed to build a toilet or
shower. We own another plot of land in the middle of the village, but
another family is occupying it claiming it is theirs and won’t let us
put our tent there. Because of my situation, the security forces won’t
do anything about it. So, I have to collect buckets of water from my
relative’s house and we only have electricity for few hours per day.
All the families said they lacked regular access to running water, an elevated concern given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The six interviewees who had returned to Salah al-Din said they did
not have adequate access to water and electricity. A man with a wife and
child said that the authorities had informed him that his family must
leave the camp where they were living within seven days. They told him
they would either transport him with his belongings to his village or
force him out of the camp right onto the street, so he agreed to return
to his village:
Once we arrived we saw that it wasn’t a village anymore, it was a
desert. The homes were all destroyed and there was no water or
electricity, the networks had been destroyed by the military operations.
I set up a tent next to the rubble of my old home and went to collect
water from an agricultural project about 300 meters away, even though I
know this water is not safe for drinking. I wanted to purify the water
but I couldn’t find water filter pills anywhere.
After 10 days I decided to leave the village, where there were no job
opportunities or assistance, and move to a city where there are
services. The camp was better for us, I had a job there and we were
receiving food and hygiene kits and didn’t have to pay rent. Given that,
I cannot understand why the authorities would have forced us to return
to a village with no standing homes and no services.
Another women from Salah al-Din said that in her family were no
longer able to keep clean because they had run out of hygiene kits and
soap they had taken with them from the camp.
Six said they ended up in areas without adequate healthcare
facilities. One woman with four children said that her family was forced
to return to a village with no clinic whereas in the camp she could
just walk over to the health center.
Eight of the families did not return to their areas and moved
elsewhere in the country. The families that left the camps and resettled
in Mosul said that authorities in the city allowed them to resettle
there despite communities stigmatizing them for perceived links with
ISIS. All eight said they were struggling to provide their families with
adequate food, water, electricity, and health care. One woman said:
I am now renting a house with two other families. In the camp, we
used to live in peace and dignity. Now I am struggling to think about
how I will pay for the rent, electricity, water, and food. In the camp
we got all of these for free. If the government can’t make our home
areas safe for return, they should let us stay and live in the camps.
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