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Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones


Republished from the New Indian Express   By Blessy Mathew Prasad Published: 30th May 2016 06:00 AM Last Updated: 28th May 2016 01:51 PM Gun shots, bloodshed, refugee camps, hatred, basically …

Source: Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones

Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones


Republished from the New Indian Express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/edex/Teaching-for-Peace-and-Change-in-the-Worlds-Biggest-War-Zones/2016/05/30/article3454921.ece

 

Published: 30th May 2016 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 28th May 2016 01:51 PM

Gun shots, bloodshed, refugee camps, hatred, basically anything that says ‘war’ – would probably scare away millions of us who have never seen that side of life. Except maybe for a few like Siraj Davis. An American citizen of Japanese origin, Siraj made one of the biggest decisions of his life six years ago, when he entered Syria, determined to do everything he could to remove refugees from their misery. It would come at a huge price, of course. And he was ready for it.

Six years without departure, witnessing war first hand, and even being deported for his pursuit of refugee rights, Siraj has seen it all. Syria to Jordan and Jordan to Erbil, Kurdistan, Siraj has spent the last six years researching, documenting and helping Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian refugees in the Middle East.

He has taught at numerous international private schools and language institutes and now teaches at the American International School in Erbil, Kurdistan apart from teaching Permerga fighters and fighting for the rights of Yezidi refugees.

Ask him why he loves teaching so much and he emphatically replies, “because that’s the only way out”. For Siraj, education is the door to peace in the Middle East. “It is absolutely necessary to employ and uplift education to deter a trajectory of violent struggle derived from alternative ideologies  surrounding our youth outside of the schools, as opposed to non-violent resistance and tolerant meaningful dialogue,” he says.

He believes that it is the responsibility of teachers to introduce students to the acceptable  rhetoric, to be more forthcoming in the dialogue with the ‘other’ society that teaches them to repel, and to do away with the negative intolerant impediments.

When injustice and violence have become the cultural norm, when you’re constantly told to flee your home to avoid being mistakenly bombed as a terrorist, when you’re separated from loving families for prolonged periods of duration, endure second to third class citizenship, experience languishing penury and cruel abuse and merciless exploitation in your own region and specific nation of refuge, and desperately await a visa to a developed nation which is the only pathway to a real life for them, so often, the young are led to believe that it’s hopeless to even attempt to change things.  That, according to Siraj, is the worst form of submission in any human, to attempt nothing and feel content at such hypnosis. “I have taught students that simple things such as viewing or liking a video about humanity can improve the world. Sending a thank you letter to those who fight for our rights is a step. Making a blog can make a difference. But the first and most exigent step is getting the students to believe in themselves. If it takes an entire school year to convince them of this,  it is absolutely worth it,” he says with conviction.

Deeply inspired by his mother’s compassion for the downtrodden, Siraj has made it his life’s mission too. Little wonder then that the legend Noam Chomsky penned a note of appreciation for Siraj, something that will remain safe in his treasure box.

The Davis Docu

His first book was Religious Fanaticism and Abolition: Early 19th Century Marginalization of David Walker and Nat Turner. In it, he researched the application of religion by the abolitionist movement to justify violence at slave rebellions

He did something never done before in the historiography of the abolition movement by taking prolific author Herbert Aptheker’s record of slave rebellions in America and analyzing it statistically, which demonstrated the phenomena that every 20 years, the level and frequency of violence of rebellious groups tends to increase in a struggle, as it did in abolitionism

Reach out: https://www.facebook.com/siraj.davis

Gaza Camp: The Untold Story

January 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Ahmad Amrah, Al Haddada, Ammon News, arab spring, Arab Spring in Jordan, Corruption in Jordan, Gaza Camp, Gaza Strip, Jerash, Jordan, Jordan Times, Palestine, Palestinian refugee, palestinian refugees, Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, Police Brutality in Jordan, Police Misconduct in Jordan, Protests in Jordan, Refugee camp, Refugee Camp in Jordan, Siraj Davis, Torture of Prisoners in Jordan, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

via Gaza Camp: The Untold Story.

Gaza Camp: The Untold Story

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Gaza Camp: The Untold Story.

Article by Siraj Davis

Excerpts:

“The nascent conundrum escalated to brawls between multiple parties wherein Jordanian police reportedly participated in looting shops and aiding Al Haddada antagonists in Gaza Camp.

One resident stated, “the fight started at Haneen shop between just little kids.The Jordanians from Al Haddada attacked the father of one [Gaza Camp] kid who complain in police station. Then burn cars, library or bookstore, telephone shops, kitchen shops, and pharmacy…the police help them!”

According to all of those interviewed, after witnessing some of the Jordanian police siding with the assailants of Al Haddada village, Gaza Camp youth turned their hostilities toward both Al Haddada assailants and the Jordanian police by throwing stones and rocks in defense of their neighborhoods.
Though certain representatives of the Jordanian authorities have denied this narrative, one video has arisen to support such claims, and others are reported to be circulating still.”

******(One of the Videos is in the article) *********

“Reports from residents indicate no warrants, verbal reasons, or evidence were presented at time of arrest as some were dragged from their families’ homes or picked up individually on the streets. There are also complaints that bystanders inquiring into these arrests were either arrested or beaten.

Before EID, ten of the sixteen prisoners were released on bail, six remained incarcerated. Interviews with five of the ten released indicated torture in the form of hour long beatings, two continuous days of food and water deprivation with denial of bathroom privileges, and the administering of electrical shock.

One fourteen year old prisoner complained the police discharged a firearm near his feet to induce fear and anxiety. Another sixteen year old prisoner complained an officer took a shoe off his sole and began to slap him in the face many times, ending the malignant crescendo by shoving it into his mouth to near suffocation. This same teenager also stated he was beaten while seated with handcuffs on him. All of the formerly imprisoned maintain their innocence, that they were not asked any questions during the ordeal, and have also indicated that the remaining five in prison have worse injuries including broken teeth and bones.”
http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleno=23374#.UmfdbhBo80l

Gaza Camp: The Untold Story

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Ahmad Amrah, Al Haddada, Ammon News, arab spring, Arab Spring in Jordan, Corruption in Jordan, Gaza Camp, Gaza Strip, Jerash, Jordan, Jordan Times, Palestine, Palestinian refugee, palestinian refugees, Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, Police Brutality in Jordan, Police Misconduct in Jordan, Protests in Jordan, Refugee camp, Refugee Camp in Jordan, Siraj Davis, Torture of Prisoners in Jordan, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

via Gaza Camp: The Untold Story.

 

Article by Siraj Davis

Excerpts:

“The nascent conundrum escalated to brawls between multiple parties wherein Jordanian police reportedly participated in looting shops and aiding Al Haddada antagonists in Gaza Camp.

One resident stated, “the fight started at Haneen shop between just little kids.The Jordanians from Al Haddada attacked the father of one [Gaza Camp] kid who complain in police station. Then burn cars, library or bookstore, telephone shops, kitchen shops, and pharmacy…the police help them!”

According to all of those interviewed, after witnessing some of the Jordanian police siding with the assailants of Al Haddada village, Gaza Camp youth turned their hostilities toward both Al Haddada assailants and the Jordanian police by throwing stones and rocks in defense of their neighborhoods.
Though certain representatives of the Jordanian authorities have denied this narrative, one video has arisen to support such claims, and others are reported to be circulating still.”

******(One of the Videos is in the article) *********

“Reports from residents indicate no warrants, verbal reasons, or evidence were presented at time of arrest as some were dragged from their families’ homes or picked up individually on the streets. There are also complaints that bystanders inquiring into these arrests were either arrested or beaten.

Before EID, ten of the sixteen prisoners were released on bail, six remained incarcerated. Interviews with five of the ten released indicated torture in the form of hour long beatings, two continuous days of food and water deprivation with denial of bathroom privileges, and the administering of electrical shock.

One fourteen year old prisoner complained the police discharged a firearm near his feet to induce fear and anxiety. Another sixteen year old prisoner complained an officer took a shoe off his sole and began to slap him in the face many times, ending the malignant crescendo by shoving it into his mouth to near suffocation. This same teenager also stated he was beaten while seated with handcuffs on him. All of the formerly imprisoned maintain their innocence, that they were not asked any questions during the ordeal, and have also indicated that the remaining five in prison have worse injuries including broken teeth and bones.”

Gaza Camp: The Untold Story

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Reposted from Ammon News

Gaza Camp The Untold Story

* Ammon News photo by Siraj Davis

* Ammon News photo by Siraj Davis
[10/23/2013 11:02:37 AM]

By Siraj Davis

Gaza Camp near the tourist district of Jerash‘s

Roman ruins in the country of Jordan, is a refugee camp teeming with

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, who began fleeing to this safe

location in 1967.

It is the worst Palestinian refugee UNRWA camp

in Jordan with an antiquated sewage which occasionally overflows into
the cramped alleys and streets near children, dilapidated houses without
roofs and doors, a plethora of old solar heated trash accompanied by decaying animal carcasses in the streets, a dearth of public transportation and recreational facilities, and polluted water.  The rates of disease, birth rate, school drop out rate, and unemployment
rates are very high. The inhabitants are underprivileged as some do not possess the ability to travel abroad, can not own vehicles or property,require a financial sponsor for education past the tenth grade, are excluded from many jobs necessitating the minimum amount of security clearance in the government sector and not permitted types of employment with higher incomes, etc. They are second class citizens by nearly every criterion.

On Thursday, October 3rd, at approximately 7:00 p.m, the Gaza Camp was host to a conflagration which was initially sparked between the youth of its refugee camp and
Jordanian residents of a neighboring village, Al Haddada. The nascent conundrum escalated to brawls between multiple parties wherein Jordanian police reportedly participated in looting shops and aiding Al Haddada antagonists in Gaza Camp.
One resident stated, “the fight started at Haneen shop between just little kids.The Jordanians from Al Haddada attacked the father of one [Gaza Camp] kid who complain
in police station.  Then burn cars, library or bookstore, telephone shops, kitchen shops, and pharmacy…the police help them!” According to all of those interviewed, after witnessing some of the Jordanian police siding with the assailants of Al Haddada village, Gaza Camp youth turned their hostilities toward both Al Haddada assailants and the Jordanian police by throwing stones and rocks in defense of their neighborhoods.

Though certain representatives of the Jordanian authorities have denied this narrative, one video has arisen to support such claims, and others are reported to be circulating still.
Gaza Camp residents still persist in their claims that a high ranking officer of the Jordanian Gandarmie is a relative of one of the Al Haddada antagonists and therein lay some of the bias against Gaza Camp by the Jordanian police.

(Here, two Jordanian police officers including what is suspected to either be a non-uniformed officer or resident from Al Haddada village, are fighting with with others from Al Haddada village against Gaza Camp youth.)

Reserve law enforcement forces were called into the area in the form of an estimated thirty to fifty officers and more than five armored personnel carriers. An occupation followed wherein the main streets were cordoned off allowing different individual high ranking officers to use
discretion as to who may or may not pass. Shops for businesses, schools, and recreational facilities were shut down.  Jordanian police
engaged a group of approximately twenty Gaza Camp youth from ages of ten to twenty years of age, up and down residential streets while firing tear gas and rubber bullets directly at protestors. Injuries include deep red abrasions, lacerations, and heavy bruises with victims’ ages
ranging from the youth to the elderly. The tear gas saturated the neighborhoods of Gaza Camp making it impossible for inhabitants to deter
the seeping gas from entering their homes. In one incident, tear gas shot into the vicinity of a Abu Bakr mosque interrupted Friday prayers
as worshipers immediately vacated the mosque because the gas was unbearable.

It is interesting to note that tear gas canisters have on them a warning message, “Dangerous if used after the validity
date” yet there is no validity date on the canisters. There were also unconfirmed reports of rubber bullets being shot from rooftops at
protestors, beatings of protestors backed into corners by several law enforcement officers, and the discharging of live firearms into the air
by both Jordanian law enforcement and Al Haddada participants.

After many vehicles and buildings were set ablaze and damaged, hostilities ceased when Jordanian police retreated to the eastern portion of Gaza Camp after two continuous days of violence.
(In the following videos, it can be clearly seen that those fighting with the police are young children and adolescents. It also can be seen that the tears gas canisters have no dates on them.)

A total of sixteen Gaza Camp residents were arrested by Jordanian law enforcement and detained by the Internal Security Apparatus of Jordan.
None of them residents of Al Haddada village who entered Gaza Camp to begin the original altercation which led to this malaise.
Reports from residents indicate no warrants, verbal reasons, or evidence were presented at time of arrest as some were dragged from their families’ homes or picked up individually on the streets. There are also complaints that bystanders inquiring into these arrests were either
arrested or beaten. Consternation arises from strong vocal grievances that though adolescents were solely involved in the malaise, the
Jordanian law enforcement arrested adults as well. Such complaints appear legitimate as many testimonies and video evidence augments this
claim, which brings into question as to whether the arrests were in fact indiscriminate or not.

On October 9, Wednesday, non-violent protests were held for the release of the detained. One protestor whose son was incarcerated announced that she discovered during a visit to her son that there were signs of torture which seemed as its aim was to provoke confessions.

A second protestor in close proximity to this mother immediately concurred with the former’s statement. Ahmad Amrah, a human rights activist, organized the event in a non-provocative and orderly manner.  He has also been leading the efforts to release the remaining five residents and dispelling the truth of what occurred at Gaza Camp. After the protest, parliamentary member Mohammed Hadeeb castigated another parliamentary constituent Taher Al Masri, over the incident.

Before EID, ten of the sixteen prisoners were released on bail, six remained incarcerated. Interviews with five of the ten released indicated torture in the form of hour long beatings, two continuous days of food and water deprivation with denial of bathroom privileges, and the administering of electrical shock. One fourteen year old prisoner complained the police discharged a firearm near his feet to induce fear and anxiety. Another sixteen year old prisoner complained an officer took a shoe off his sole and began to lap him in the face many times, ending the malignant crescendo by shoving it into his mouth to near suffocation. This same teenager also stated he was beaten while seated with handcuffs on him. All of the formerly imprisoned maintain their innocence, that they were not asked any questions during the ordeal, and have also indicated that the remaining five in prison have worse injuries including broken teeth and bones.

On Monday, October 21, all but one of the prisoners were released. Allegations of broken teeth and bones were confirmed. All of the recently freed still face a court date in the future. In consideration of the aforementioned circumstances, the prisoners and others of Gaza Camp, are demanding financial compensation for damages, for current charges to be dropped, and a return of their dignity by the Jordanian government delineating the truth to the public behind the recent catastrophe in Gaza Camp.

Robert Satloff, Executive Director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and David Schenker, Director for Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, have both suggested that part of Jordan’s pathway for deterring the maelstrom of the Arab Spring is to control the corruption and to check the excessive force applied by security forces.  Such tactics’ intent is to avoid the policital vacuum which injustice creates wherein outside influences can replace the legitimacy of an acting presence. More specifically, Satloff’s and
Schenker’s fears are directed at the Muslim Brotherhood who may take advantage of such unfair anomalies to justice in order to rise to power.
The unfortunate and embarrassing situation of Gaza Camp above, questions whether Jordan is heeding the advice of the US’s affluent in
foreign policy and exacerbating the activities of those on the ground in Jordan concerned about such policies. Or if the event above in addition
to the continuous protests in Jordan which go ignored, are auguries of what is already inevitable.

sirajprotest3

Sirajprotest

*
Siraj Davis has a Master of Arts in History and is currently a teacher with a command of six languages, and a freelance journalist for human rights issues. He has spent eight years researching examples of violent and non-violent insurgencies and counterinsurgencies or Low Intensity
Conflicts across the world, in various contexts and backgrounds. His first book was “Religious Fanaticism and Abolition: Early 19th Century
Marginalization of David Walker and Nat Turner” and he is currently working on his second book “The Pursuit of Love Against the War on
Terrorism.” He has also published various academic journal and newspaper articles. He has organized and lobbied for human rights and
immigration reform with organizations such as Amnesty International, American Families United, SOA Watch, US Campaign for Burma, the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, and more. Davis is president of the Collective Consciousness human rights organization and a
constituent of the Truth Justice and Peace Movement. He is currently focused on the Free Ziyad Yaghi Campaign, Peace in Palestine/Israel Conflict, and all refugees. Davis is also a former pugilist and 1991 AAU/JKA National Shotokan Karate Champion.

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