Appeals to Help Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

A Question of Safety

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A Question of Safety

Leaving their homeland of Iraq was a difficult choice. Fearing for their safety, Omar Farook, his parents, and sister made the arduous journey and began their new lives in Jordan as refugees.

In November 2008, while Omar and his family were out, their home was burglarized.  Two hundred JOD in cash, their television set, and various other items were stolen. The family could barely afford the few possessions they had, so it was especially heartbreaking to have them stolen.

Omar related this situation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office, which recommended that the incident be reported to the police. Tellingly, fellow Iraqi refugees urged Omar not to go to the police. They told him that often times the tables were turned and the Jordanian police saw the victims as criminals. As a result, he didn’t report the theft.

In March 2009, his home was again burglarized. This time he was home and tried to stop the two men, who badly beat Omar in the process. He decided to complain to the police even though he was again urged not to. When the police came, they couldn’t locate the two criminals. Omar was left with a black eye, a bruised body and no justice.

About two weeks later, the same two men returned with two of their friends and various other family members. This time, the men were strung out on drugs and looking for a fight. Members of the Family Protection Center (FPC) and the thieves’ families witnessed the men beating Omar until he was bloody. Omar’s friends from the FPC took him to the center to avoid further abuse. Frighteningly, instead of exhibiting shock and dismay at the violence and beating of an innocent man, the crowd outside his home hurled insults.

Omar again reported the incident to the police. The police then brought Omar and the men into the station. The police officers asked the men why they beat the helpless Iraqi man, but the two attackers denied their involvement. It was then that the situation became nightmarish for Omar—a high ranking office accused Omar of beating a child in the men’s family. Shocked by the outlandish comments of the officer, Omar denied harming any children, especially not one related to the men who robbed his house and beat him twice.

Needless to say, the officer accused Omar of lying and proceeded to arrest him. While in jail, Omar was beaten until he pleaded guilty to the charge of child abuse. He was then taken to Juwaidi jail for 45 days, even though the judge had ordered that Omar be held for only 14 days. On the fourth day, a lawyer came and had Omar sign some papers. He promised to solve the poor refugee’s problems, but failed to return for the remainder of the 45 days.

After 45 days, Omar was transferred to Kafkafa jail, where he stayed for an additional 135 days. Omar’s friends contacted his lawyer, who said he would work on the case but never did. They finally paid over 2000 JOD (2,819 USD) to secure a new lawyer who was then able to get Omar out of jail. A judge found two of the men guilty of assaulting Omar, but the other two men who took part in the burglary and attack were never charged. Even though Omar was released, his name is still found on the criminals’ list and his passport has yet to be returned.

This experience has been terrifying for Omar. Not only was his home invaded, but he was beaten by thieves and the police, falsely accused of child abuse and unjustly imprisoned. He wonders when the next assault will occur.  One thing is certain—Omar will never again report crimes committed against him to the police. It is better to take the abuse than to involve the police.

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Written by Ayman Fadel

July 16, 2010 at 09:36

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Iraqi refugees often times find themselves against odds when dealing with Jordanian law enforcement. Some are even accused of crimes that they didn’t commit, as is the case with Omar Farook. […]


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