Two Kiwi-Iraqis living in east Auckland are working to raise awareness of violence in their Middle Eastern homeland that’s resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
Hisham Anuaimy and Judy Siddawi want more New Zealanders to know what’s happening in Iraq and why.
Unrest broke out in several parts of the country in October over unhappiness with the country’s leadership, high unemployment and a lack of basic services.
International news media recently reported that more than 400 Iraqis have been killed by security forces with more than 17,000 injured.
Siddawi, who lives in East Tamaki, says she feels helpless watching the violence unfold from so far away.
“It is extremely sad that in 2019 things like this can happen with the innocent victims and the loss of human life.”
Anuaimy and Siddawi recently met Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross to ask him to use his voice as their local MP to draw attention to the situation.
Ross addressed questions on the protests in Iraq to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the Parliament on December 10.
He asked whether the Government had taken any action to condemn the “excessive use of force” by security forces against protestors in Iraq.
Ardern said she had been advised the New Zealand Ambassador in Iraq has directly raised concerns “over human rights breaches relating to the demonstrations, and they’ve done so directly with senior representatives of the Iraqi Government”.
Ross says Botany is a melting pot of people and cultures from around the world and he’s pleased to have been able to speak up on behalf of local Kiwi-Iraqis about the situation in their homeland.
“We are many miles away, but New Zealand can join other international efforts in condemning violence, standing up for human rights, and supporting those protesting peacefully.”
Anuaimy, who lives in Highland Park, has family – including his parents and sister – in Iraq.
The medical doctor and lecturer says people protesting there are just asking for their basic rights.
“They want highways, schools, hospitals and other simple requirements. There is no future, no jobs, no factories and no hope for these people.”
Siddawi says she wants the New Zealand Government to take a stronger public stand in opposition to the violence in Iraq.
“What Jami-Lee did for us is huge and it means a lot to this community. It opened the door for us to be listened to. No other MP has listened in the past. Jami-Lee is the only one to do anything.”