Sunday, March 23, 2003

Student slips back into Iraq, refuses to leave

AMMAN: After hanging around in Jordan for a month, Mohd Rozainy Ghazali slipped back into Iraq just days before the bombings started.
The Terengganu-born had his father’s blessings to go back into Iraq.
He now joins two other Malaysian students, Mohamad Abdullah Osman from Penang and Mohamad Manan Bajuri of Selangor, at Saddam University in Baghdad.
And there is little that the embassy officials can do to get them out of Baghdad.
Mohd Rozainy was in Jordan because he was part of the Malaysian students and embassy staff and their families who were evacuated out of Iraq via Jordan a month ago.
The Malaysian embassy in Iraq came to know of Mohd Rozainy’s return to Iraq on March 15, just a day before Malaysian Ambassador Abdul Latif Awang and staff left for Jordan.
“Before we left, we telephoned the two students to persuade them to come with us, but they refused.
“That was when we came to know of the third student. They told us he had come back and was with them. They said they wanted to remain in Baghdad to continue their studies.
“We cannot force them to leave because they have permission from their fathers authorising them to stay,” said Abdul Latif.
He said the students’ fathers had written to Wisma Putra informing them that their sons had their permission.
After the Malaysian embassy in Iraq was closed, Mohd Rozainy’s father even called the embassy in Jordan to find out whether his son had arrived in Baghdad.
“So what can we do?”
“Many Jordanian students have left Iraq, coming back through the border. I hope they (the three Malaysian students) will join the others who have left,” he said.
Abdul Latif said he drove 10 hours from Baghdad to get to Amman in a convoy with the ambassadors of Pakistan, India, Venezuela and Bangladesh and their officers.
In another development, the Malaysian Government has advised all Malaysian students to leave Jordan as soon as possible.
A Malaysian embassy spokesman here said over the past three days, 30 to 35 students studying here had acted on their advice and had left for Malaysia.