Category Archives: English
Textbook co-authored by Kurdish scholar offers marginalized youth and those with disabilities fair access to education
Textbook co-authored by Kurdish scholar offers marginalized youth and those with disabilities fair access to education
By: Cklara Moradian
It is with great honor and a deep sense of pride that I share with you Dr. Soraya Fallah’s textbook Learning Challenges for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Students With Disabilities, co-authored with two other leading national educational experts Dr. Bronte Reynolds and Dr. Wendy Murawski. I have so much respect and admiration for the work they have been able to contribute to our world.
I write this note from a dual perspective. First and foremost, I am the daughter of a scholar and so a witness to the journey from the book’s inception in those early dissertation days to what is now a remarkable accomplishment of a scholarly, peer-reviewed reference source meant to provide guidance and knowledge to educators, teachers, administrators, social workers, clinicians, and parents. But maybe, more importantly, I am sharing my thoughts about this book as a former student with a disability from an understudied and underserved population myself, and as a current professional Social Worker and Psychotherapist serving Culturally and Linguistically Diverse youth with disabilities at a leading pediatric hospital.
This book is the culmination of over five years of scholarship, research, thought-provoking exchanges, conversations, revisions, and edits. It does more than point out learning challenges, the textbook also sheds light on the existence and educational needs of a population of students that are often erased or misrepresented (namely, students with disabilities from Middle Eastern and North African backgrounds) and offers a culturally humble approach to looking for solutions and serving this population within the United States Special Education system.
The book is grounded in a mixed methods rigorous research program that Dr. Fallah conducted directly with this population. Her study was one of the first in the country to look specifically at the experiences of Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asian (MENASWA) families with their children’s special education system. The research coined the umbrella term MENASWA to encompass a group of people who are often stereotyped and racialized together in the US, but this term is not there to further erase the nuance and multiplicity of identity. Rather, it helps us have an inclusive approach to the many ethnic and religious minorities that exist in a vast region gripped in conflict.
The developed book delves into issues of equity, intersectionality, stigma, ableism, and systemic oppression. It also does not shy away from difficult conversations about the role of cultural norms that impact service utilization for these families. I remember very early on we had heated but fruitful conversations about making sure the initial study did not further stigmatize or alienate, that it did not leave out the voices of those most impacted, and that it remained rooted in a liberatory and anti-oppressive theoretical framework. As with all studies, it had its limitations, but I know intimately that it honored the spirit of the disability justice motto: “Nothing About Us Without Us!” The book builds on that study and adds guidance for administrators and educators to further serve this population.
Another critical development in the book is that Dr. Fallah identifies what she calls “A Triple Threat” or Triangle of Triple Threat (TTT) model of looking at this population. In short, this population faces both internal and external stressors of being a minority group, as well as facing structural and institutional barriers to success. I will be the first to critique our education system as often failing our most marginalized students, and we routinely, if not intentionally, leave behind students with disabilities.
We see it today. As COVID-19 forces us to adapt to distance learning, IEP meetings have been cancelled, and very little focus has been given to accommodating students with disabilities. But this has historically been the norm, and this book speaks to that reality. When we add on issues of power and privilege, historic intergenerational trauma, direct experiences of consecutive wars in the Middle East, and a basic erasure of identity and difference, the effects are compounded to create an environment where learning is not just a challenge, but rather a hostile feat. The Triangle of Triple Threat begins to detangle some of these intertwined challenges.
I can say that many of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse youth and families I serve have institutional trauma from their interactions with the education system. Some of that trauma is caused by lack of understanding from seemingly well-meaning, well-intentioned educators and administrators, but it is also caused by policies and practices on a larger scale, such as the fact that the specific needs of this population have been veiled under the category of “white,” and yet they continue to be racialized, stigmatized, and marginalized. This book tackles these issues head-on.
At the core of this book and central to its mission is this idea that we simply have very little information about the experiences of MENASWA families with their children’s special education system, and we must begin by asking them and learning from them in the hopes of creating a more inclusive space where learning can be possible. This should be the beginning of a longer conversation and I hope this book leads to other young scholars and researchers picking up this work, not just to fill the gaps in the literature, but to contribute to policy shifts that will help serve our students.
I am hoping that as people are forced to stay home in safety, they can find refuge in imagining new possibilities for a better world, one where the needs of all our students are considered and met. This book helps guide us toward that possibility.
You can access the webpage and book cover here.
Cklara Moradian, MSW is a adolescent Psychotherapist, a diaspora Kurd, former refugee, survivor, social justice advocate, spoken word poet, and writer.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kurdistan 24.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
Amnesty International – Iran – PRISONERS AT RISK OF COVID-19 INFECTION
Please find attached and copied below an Urgent Action that Amnesty International issued today calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing other prisoners – especially pre-trial detainees and those who may be at more risk from the virus – and take necessary measures to protect the health of all prisoners, including providing equal access to testing.
The Urgent Action is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/2038/2020/en/
Many thanks and best wishes,
URGENT ACTIONThe Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing pre-trial detainees and those who may be at particular risk of severe illness or death.TAKE ACTION: WRITE AN APPEAL IN YOUR OWN WORDS OR USE THIS MODEL LETTERHead of Judiciary Ebrahim RaisiC/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN622 Third Ave., 34th floorNew York, NY 10017, USADear Mr Ebrahim Raisi,I am writing about the distressing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. While I am aware of measures announced by the Iranian authorities to release some prisoners in response to the outbreak, I am concerned that hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain jailed, including human rights defenders, peaceful protesters and others detained solely for peacefully expressing their rights to freedom of expression, association and/or assembly. They should not be in detention in the first place.More generally, I am also concerned about the health of all prisoners in Iran. In several prisons across the country, prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, raising grave concerns for other prisoners held in the same wards. According to the World Health Organization, some groups of people appear to be at particular risk of severe illness or death, including older individuals and people with pre-existing medical conditions. Iran’s prison population includes such groups. Additionally, some prisoners have been systematically denied adequate medical care, which could leave them more vulnerable to the effects of the virus if they contracted it. Amnesty International has documented the denial of adequate medical care as a punitive measure against prisoners of conscience.Many prisoners across the country have pleaded with officials to address overcrowded, unhygienic and unsanitary conditions in prisons that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infections. There are also reports that some prisoners have not been provided with sufficient soap or other sanitary products. Many families have also raised concerns for the wellbeing of jailed relatives and believe that the Iranian authorities should be systematically testing prisoners who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and those detained for peacefully taking part in the November 2019 and January 2020 protests. I also urge you to urgently consider releasing other prisoners – especially pre-trial detainees and those who may be more at risk from the virus – and take necessary measures to protect the health of all prisoners, including equal access to testing.Yours sincerely,
There are concerns about the spread of coronavirus inside Iran’s prisons and that the Iranian authorities have failed to sufficiently protect prison populations. The Human Rights Activists News Agency, based outside Iran, has reported that: in Shahr-e Rey prison (also known as Gharchak), in the city of Varamin, two prisoners have died from COVID-19 in solitary confinement in recent days after being denied medical care and admittance to hospital; in the same prison prior to this, despite some prisoners testing positive for coronavirus, prisoners were only checked for fevers and provided with a bleach-water solution to disinfect surfaces themselves, which, they say, emitted fumes that irritated their lungs; in Central Karaj prison, there have been new cases of coronavirus reported on a daily basis and other prisoners have gone on hunger strike in protest at the shortage of sanitary products and the lack of measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus inside the prison; in Urumieh prison, in early March 2020 over a hundred prisoners in one section of the prison went on hunger strike at the shortage of sanitary products inside the prison despite suspected cases of coronavirus among prisoners; and, in Tehran’s Evin prison, prisoners raised concerns that the women’s ward was disinfected after a guard tested positive for coronavirus, and that, prior to that, the ward had to share use of one disinfectant product between them. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization also reported that two prisoners in Central Ahvaz prison had contracted coronavirus and that other prisoners in the same ward had not been tested. Several prisoners of conscience also went on hunger strike in Evin prison in protest at the authorities continued refusal to grant them prison leave.
Many of Iran’s prisons have detention conditions that fall far short of international standards, including with respect to overcrowding, poor ventilation, limited hot water during the winter season, inadequate food, insufficient beds and insect infestations. Seehttps://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/iran-new-evidence-of-appalling-treatment-of-women-human-rights-defenders-held-in-shahre-rey-prison/; and https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5515/2017/en/ for more information. Such prison conditions are highly susceptible to the spread of infectious disease.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran became publicly known in February 2020, many prisoners’ families have been raising concerns for the wellbeing of those jailed and calling for the release of prisoners of conscience and those held on politically motivated charges. They have repeatedly voiced their fears that the lack of sanitary products and poor prison conditions put prisoners at greater risk. They have also called on Iran’s State Prison Organization, which is under the authority of the judiciary, to regularly disinfect prisons, provide masks and hand sanitizers to prisoners, quarantine those suspected of having the virus and grant prison leave to as many prisoners as possible. While Iran’s judiciary has made a number of announcements about how it intends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, including plans to release thousands of prisoners temporarily and upon payment of bail and to grant pardons to certain types of prisoners, hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain jailed (for more information).
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, prison populations are particularly exposed to infectious diseases like COVID-19 and conditions of detention can exacerbate the risks. These include the risk of higher transmission rates, especially in overcrowded prisons and when health systems are of poorer quality than in the community. Under international law, as reflected in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), prison authorities must ensure that all prisoners have prompt access to medical attention and health care. The provision of health care for prisoners is a state responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, including when it comes to testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Where a prison service has its own hospital facilities, they must be adequately staffed and equipped to provide prisoners referred to them with appropriate treatment and care. Prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery should be transferred to specialized institutions or to civilian hospitals.PREFERRED LANGUAGE TO ADDRESS TARGET: Persian, EnglishYou can also write in your own language.PLEASE TAKE ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE UNTIL: 7 May 2020Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.NAME AND PREFERRED PRONOUN: Group (them/they)