Ramadi doctor Raed Samir is seriously considering moving out of the central Iraqi province of Anbar. But it’s not because of the security or the economy there. It’s because of the hassles he faces so often at a military checkpoint on the road going between Anbar and the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The much-criticised checkpoint, called the Al Soqour checkpoint, which in English translates to the falcon’s checkpoint, often keeps cars waiting for up to six hours. Those who abandon their vehicles to get out and walk must hike several kilometres in the 50-degree Centigrade summer heat before they can catch a taxi and continue their journey into the capital.
The process of checks at the station, around 22 kilometres southeast of Fallujah, has been criticized as unnecessarily long and painful. “The humiliation I see there and the way people are deprived of their rights makes me confident that there are other agendas at work here,” Samir told NIQASH.
“They are trying to punish the province. They want to keep the province empty and they are pressuring well-qualified people, teachers, and doctors, so they don’t want to return to Anbar. In fact, a lot of local people won’t return to Anbar, they have moved elsewhere – to Baghdad or to Iraqi Kurdistan to escape this harassment. All the local people from Anbar are treated as suspects at this checkpoint. It makes us feel as though all of Anbar is a prison.”