Column: Iraqi Refugees Free Film; LGBTQ Youth Law Day

Column: Iraqi Refugees Free Film; LGBTQ Youth Law Day

Free Screening and Legal Info Available This Week

By  Sayrah Namasté

The first time I was arrested, it was for protesting the war in Iraq.

Like so many, I had marched, held candles at vigils, organized teach-ins and caravanned to protest at the White House – but none of it seemed to make a difference. The war became more personal for me after I befriended Naba Saleem Hamid, a community organizer who was forced to flee Baghdad. Getting to know her challenged me to do more than hold up a sign on yet another anniversary of the war.

One cold March morning, I joined a group in direct action, shutting down a military recruitment center as we read the names of every Iraqi killed in our war (or every name we could find). High school boys were startled by us, unable to make their appointments with a military industry that wanted to sell them on a glamorous war. It took hours for the police and fire department to remove us from the doors and roof of the building, infuriating the recruiters.

Sitting in the back of the police car with the handcuffs digging into my back, I hoped I had done some small thing to try to stop the violence. As an American, I was complicit in Naba’s trauma and that of the millions of Iraqis who became refugees as a result of our immoral invasion and occupation and subsequent chaos in that country.

If you don’t know any Iraqi refugees, you will feel that you do after watching the film “The Wind of Al Amal.” This moving documentary about the travails of refugees resettled in the United States and the obstacles they faced fleeing their country will be shown as part of The Migration Experience from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the African American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro Dr. NE. The Migration Experience is a free film and discussion series focusing on the lived experiences of immigrants and refugees.

Rana Saad, a UNM research assistant who has worked with Iraqi refugees who have resettled in Albuquerque, will speak after the film. Suha Amer, a graduate of the University of Baghdad, will share her experiences. The goal of the series is “to deepen our awareness of immigrant and refugee issues while generating meaningful dialogue.” More information at artful-life.org/migration-film-series.

Also this week, Equality New Mexico, the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico and the UNM School of Law Clinical Program are hosting an LGBTQ Youth Law Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 149 Jackson St. NE. The free event will showcase an array of services for LGBTQ youths of ages 14-22.

Law students will provide free, brief legal assistance to LGBTQ youths regarding name changes, identity documents, emancipation and guardianship. They will also address issues about age of consent to medical care, including STD/HIV testing and treatment, birth control and pregnancy.

The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center will provide immigration assistance and information. Young people will be able to enroll in health insurance with assistance from Equality New Mexico and the Truman Health Center. There will be food. It’s really good to see this level of collaboration among the various organizations to serve our youth. More information at eqnm.org.

Sayrah Namasté is an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee in Albuquerque. She writes about events of interest to Albuquerques activist community. 

 

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.