more images: http://www.peterholderness.com/asraa/index.htm
--text by Frank Dorrel to ActionLA and other listservs--
Wonderful gathering Wednesday night for Asra'a Mizyad with Medea Benjamin, Fernando Suarez, Cole Miller, Don White, Tim Goodrich, Ed Ellis, Andy Manoff, Peter Dudar & close to 300 others!
Wednesday Dec 8: Medical Aid for War-Injured Children of Iraq
Close to 300 people came to the Venice United Methodist Church last night to meet Asra’a Mizyad and her father, Abdul-Ameir Salomon and to learn the story of how they came to the United States, with the help of Cole Miller and Alan Pogue. At the age of nine, while walking to school in her small village in Iraq, Asra’a was severely injured in a U.S. missile attack, losing her arm. This was in 1999, when Bill Clinton was president. Now five years later, Asra’a and her father have spent the last three months in the United States, where she has been given a new prosthetic arm and they have been welcomed by many American’s.
This event was sponsored by NoMoreVictims, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Guerrero Azteca Project, Military Families Speak Out, Global Exchange and Addicted To War.
Don White, the master of ceremonies, was his usual informative self. Don has been the director of the Los Angeles chapter of CISPES (Citizens in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), head of the KPFK Board of Directors and is on the board of The Office of the Americas.
Don introduced Reverend Thomas Ziegert, who welcomed everyone and elaborated on the reasons we had gathered together.
Then the lights were dimmed and we watched a very touching and poignant three-minute film featuring Medea Benjamin, Asra’a and other injured and sick children in Iraq. This short clip was put together by Peter Dudar and Sally Marr, the filmmakers who have just recently made Arlington West, a very moving film featuring interviews with many young soldiers who have already been to Iraq. When the lights came back on, Asra’a, her father and all of the speakers for the evening were on the stage and were given a standing ovation. Don introduced Asra’a and her father to the audience and then 11 young girls walked up to the stage and one at a time, presented Asra’a with flowers. Saleem, the interpreter who has been traveling around with Asra’a and Abdul-Ameir, taught us all to say welcome in Arabic and the audience welcomed Asra’a and her father in Arabic.
This was all quite an incredibly moving opening of the program. We then heard from Viet Nam veteran Ed Ellis, of the Los Angeles chapter of Veterans For Peace, talking about the Arlington West Memorial Project taking place every Sunday, just next to the Santa Monica Pier. Quite a few members of VFP were in the audience.
Ed then introduced Tim Goodrich, a member of Iraq Veterans Against The War, who talked about his experience in Iraq and how he became one of the founding members of Iraq Veterans Against the War: (www.ivaw.com) Tim said there are now at least 80 members of IVAW, who want to work with No More Victims to bring injured Iraqi children to the United States for needed medical treatment that they can not receive in Iraq at this time.
The next speaker was Fernando Suarez del Solar of Guerrero Azteca Project: www.guerreroazteca.org
and Military Families Speak Out: www.mfso.org . Fernando’s son, Jesus was the first marine killed in Iraq on March 27th of 2003. Ever since then, Fernando has been speaking out against this illegal, immoral and unjust war, all over the country. He has been to Iraq and will be going back on December 27th with Medea Benjamin and other parents who have lost their sons in this war. Fernando spoke from his heart about the young people who are dying in Iraq, both Americans and Iraqis. He talked about loving the people of Iraq, about loving the children of the world enough to put an end to the killing and maiming that war brings. He blamed Mr. Bush for these tragic and unnecessary deaths and encouraged the audience to get involved in stopping this insanity. While Fernando was speaking, his 3 year old grandson, Erik who is the son of Jesus, came up to the stage and was picked up and held by Fernando for the rest of his talk. It was a very touching moment.
Cole Miller of NoMoreVictims: www.nomorevictims.org was the next speaker. It was Cole who over two years ago, produced the now very well known poster of Asra’a that has been seen all over the world. And it was Cole who along with Alan Pogue brought Asra’a and her father to the United States.
The final speaker of the evening was one of America's best known peace activists, Medea Benjamin. Medea co-founded Global Exchange: www.globalexchange.org and Code Pink: www.codepink4peace.org . Medea met Asra’a and her family on a previous visit to Iraq. She will be returning to Iraq with Fernando Suarez and others on December 27th, bringing needed medical supplies to the people there. Medea then lead the audience in singing happy birthday to Fernando, as a large chocolate birthday cake was brought into the room.
At this point, Asra’a, her father Abdul-Ameir and their translator, Saleem came to the stage. They both thanked the audience; Asra’a with her beautiful smile and her shy but very heartfelt manner and Abdul-Ameir, who told us that he has learned that there is much goodness in the American people he has met on this trip and that he is very grateful to all of us for showing such support for Asra’a and himself.
Donations from the audience were made at this time to help Asra’a and her family and to help support bringing more Iraqi children to this country for medical treatment.
There were at least four people filming last night. If you would like to get a copy of this event I would suggest contacting Ralph Cole, email: DemocracyU@aol.com
On Monday December 13th, Asra’a and Abdul-Ameir will return to their home in Abu Floos, in southern Iraq, where Asra'a's mother and four brothers and sisters await their arrival. Proceeds from the event will help fund their return, provide a nest-egg to help Asra'a and her family, and fund future medical relief initiatives to help war-injured children from Iraq.
Would you like to make a Tax-Deductible contribution to help Asra’a and other war-injured children from Iraq?
To make a contribution online through Paypal, visit: www.nomorevictims.org
and click on the Paypal button in the left menu.
To make a contribution by check, make the check payable to:
IHC / No More Victims and send to:
International Humanities Center
P.O. Box 923
Malibu, CA 90265