Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another day mixing bad memories and hope

Morning in the business center, listening to songs that Butros Butros normally plays (right now "Marry me" by the Drive By Truckers, a song that my friend Jeff sang at his own rehearsal dinner the day before his wedding in Virginia two weeks ago). Having an iPod really improves your life, shouldn't the state hand them out for free?! That would cure quite a few depressions.

Yesterday was yet another interesting day here in Kurdistan/Northern Iraq. We started the day with a visit to Amna Sureke, the infamous "Red building"/Security Head quarters that was also used as a prison/torture center during Saddam's dictatorship. It was stormed by the people of Suleymani in 1991 after the first Gulf war and today the building is a museum. I was personally very touched by the visit, I am sure Emma and Claes felt the same and for our Kurdish friends it was even more emotional. To walk right into rooms were people have been treated in the most inhuman way really makes you think about the nature of human kind. I am writing a column about the visit and I will publish it here (in Swedish) as soon as I get some spare time again.

We also got the fantastic opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of this region, Mr. Omer Fatah. For 45 minutes we sat talking with him in his office and I will write a longer piece about that discussion as well. The most interesting part of our discussion was about the city of Kirkuk and his view regarding a Turkish membership of the EU. Mr. Omer Fatah said that he favors Turkey joining the EU since it would improve the lives for the Kurdish people in that country. Between the lines I think this means that the dream of a Kurdish state including parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran will stay a dream for at least quite a while. The near goal must instead be that all Kurds should enjoy democracy and human rights in the state where they live. Seems like a natural starting point to me.

Today we will meet with Kurdish students again. We will have some kind of debate panel and also discuss the projects we are trying to start here. We will also give interviews to TV and newspapers. I guess I will be sitting in a very hot room soon having to explain why Sweden did not support getting rid of Saddam Hussein... That is a question I get from the media and students quite often.

Practical question of the day: After empirical research during a hot wedding in Virginia and some really hot days here I have come to the following conclusion. If you are supposed to dress in a formal way (tie and shirt and stuff), always use an under-shirt. It is not that much hotter and it keeps your shirt dry. That can not be said about the under-shirt, but that's the trick y'know. OK, off to face another hot and interesting day here.


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