Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Posing the question - is it right for me to stay there?

I had this discussion/argument with my sister after I got back from Iraq the first time last year (May) about me pushing the limits/boundaries of things and she obviously didn't like the fact that I did. In reference to me getting picked up by the police in Syria for filming. She asked me not to put those I was with in danger.

I said I wouldn't make a good journalist/filmmaker/reporter if I didn't push the limits. But I did promise.

Tonight I was on FB and one of the guys in the Assyrian community started a conversation asking where I was going to stay in Iraq, and then said he didn't think it was a good idea I stay in a village. I asked him why and he said it was because I could endanger those in the village - there might be a backlash from the surrounding Kurds or communities. He said historically when Westerners go to live with Assyrians, the non-Assyrians take offense, thinking they are government agents or Church people or whatever, and make trouble.

From a Westerner's point of view this sounds ridiculous, but really the things they do over there are pretty ridiculous - its difficult to imagine until you have been there. But that's part of the fascination.

Anyway, suffice to say I had a long conversation with this guy, trying not to get offended (one thing I like about making the doco - I have to behave better!) and I did pretty good. I felt offended that this guy thought he knew better than those that live there.

But the crux of it is - yes there is a danger, even though I might try to mitigate it (by trying not to draw attention to myself etc), I can't rule it out, but I am not going to turn back now, unless someone stops me. And I am giving people the option to stop me. (I am asking permission of the village chief of Karanjo through Father Aprem to stay there - waiting to hear). Yes it is selfish, its about me and what I want, I am making a film about the problems of Assyrians but who knows if it is going to benefit anyone.

Assyrians do have a kind of innocence about them where they trust, and love anyone who takes an interest in them (the British, missionaries, Americans..). In my tiny way, I am just one more. And historically this has not benefited them - but then who are they going to be friends with? Not the Muslims. And can they do it on their own?

Maybe that's the eternal argument about the Assyrians. Some of them hate Yonadem Kanna (Assyrian MP) because he schmoozes with the Kurds and Arabs to get what he wants for the Assyrian people. But then is he merely being pragmatic? The two sides of the argument - do it alone and be eternally pining for something they never get or sell their souls (and independence) for something possible.

I would never intentionally or knowingly put people in danger. But then, there's this. I would be, possibly, there's a chance.

And I'm going to ignore that guy. I think its about his own agenda. I mean, why isn't he living in Iraq? He's Assyrian, not me.

(P.S. I spoke with Father Aprem and he didn't seem concerned. I trust him).

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