Feb. 17, 2006 – Earlier this month, the US State Department denied the visa applications of two Iraqi women who intended to participate in a speaking tour of the United States. Both women say that US troops killed their families. They were slated to travel with other women activists opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In denying the visas earlier this month, the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan said it could not guarantee that the Iraqi women, Vivian Salim Mati and Anwar Kadhim Jawad, would return to Iraq after their visit, according to the anti-war organizers coordinating the circuit.
In a joint statement, Global Exchange and Code Pink said that according to the embassy, the womenâ€™s applications were denied because they supposedly do not have enough family members in Iraq to ensure their return. The women were informed of the embassy decision on February 4, after traveling to Amman from Baghdad to apply for the visas, the organizations said.
"It's appalling that the US military killed these women's families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq," Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said. "These women have no desire to stay in the United States. We had a very hard time convincing them to come, but we told them how important it would be for their stories to be heard by Americans."
The groups were planning to host speaking engagements for the women in New York City and Washington, DC, in addition to helping them meet with legislators and journalists. The groups are urging people to contact the State Department and demand that the visas be granted.
Code Pink member Jodi Evans said she met Jawad in a 2004 visit to Baghdad, a year after US troops killed the womanâ€™s husband and three of her children as the family drove down a Baghdad street. Jawad is now raising a 2-year-old son and a daughter.
According to a Human Rights Watch report on civilian deaths in Baghdad, troops opened fire on Jawadâ€™s husband because he failed to stop at a "poorly marked" security checkpoint. She received $11,000 from the US for the wrongful slaughter of her family.
In Matiâ€™s case, US tank fire took the lives of her children and husband as the family fled the shelling of her neighborhood, according to the statement by Global Exchange and Code Pink. She said she has received no compensation for the killings from the US.
The speaking tour would have been part of a series of anti-war events the groups are organizing around International Womenâ€™s Day on March 8, under the banner "Women Say No to War."