Beleaguered Iraqi family forced to emigrate in the face of “Pyramid” graft practices rampant in the country

March 29, 2021: Hassanein Mohsen, an Iraqi national with strong moral values was once a part of the anti government protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir square in 2016.

The protesters wanted an end to corruption in bureaucratic and political circles leading to citizens being deprived of basic living amenities including employment, water, electricity and healthcare.

With infrastructure destroyed after years of turmoil, Iraq, which was ranked 21st most corrupt country by Transparency International, has a deeply entrenched culture of corruption dubbed a “pyramid” by Hassanein, whereby state officials stole the money intended to improve public services, so now people have to pay extra for clean water, a power generator, health bills.

The corruption endemic means simple processes such as filing tax returns and importing goods from abroad to sell are now impossible unless people are willing to line pockets of whoever is “in-charge”.

When the anti government protests started to dwindle in Tahrir and his contemporaries already emigrating, Hassanein tried a different tack, he filed complaints against corrupt officials and politicians.

All that has achieved however, is that he has managed to paint a target on his back and now fears for his life after receiving threats from so called “intelligence services”. A lawyer who wished to remain anonymous said “law in Iraq only tended to apply to “the weakest”. With one phone call, elected representatives, can make a judge drop the charges against them, either with a threat or by paying a bribe.”

Hassanein, now umemployed and largely dependent on largess from his in-laws living in the US, is stuck in a spiral of fear and inaction. His wife Nour, who regrets not leaving the country to start afresh earlier while some family savings were intact, feels nothing but despair.

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