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I am a Palestinian from Iraq. I grew up in Baghdad. My people have lived in Iraq for sixty years, but have neither citizenship nor freedom. Since 2003, they have been attacked by various militias and have suffered kidnapping, torture, imprisonment and assassination. I am a human rights worker and torture survivor. I left Iraq in 2005 and fled as a refugee to Syria. I created many paintings in the refugee camp. Eventually, the secret police imprisoned me and deported me back to Iraq. I fled again, and finally arrived in the U.S. in April 2008, to begin a new life.

I have painted and drawn since I was a child, when I discovered that art was a world so much larger than the one room which I shared with my parents and ten siblings. I drew on everything – the walls, the door – to my mother’s chagrin!

Today, I use art to express the pain and also the strength of my community in Baghdad and of those scattered as refugees in many corners of the world. I also paint scenes of nature and people interacting with nature. Life does not stop, and it is still beautiful.


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September 2018: Thaer Abdallah