A Mason City native has just returned from Iraq, where she worked with Iraqi families who were searching for loved ones who’d been detained by the American military. Twenty-six year old LeAnn Clausen, a human rights worker for “Christian Peacemaker Teams,” says no one in the Bush Administration was paying attention to their pleas until those pictures of prisoner abuse were published.Clausen says people are now paying attention to what’s going on in the prisons there, and the last few weeks before she left were “pretty exciting.” Clausen says her group was not allowed inside the now-infamous Abu Ghirab prison, but they stood outside the prison gates and worked with families who were trying to find out if their loved ones were being held there. Clausen says even the Red Cross had problems getting inside the prison to assess the conditions. She says it was really frustrating for her and the families because the got the runaround from the U.S. military and couldn’t find out where their loved ones were.Clausen says families still can’t visit prisoners inside the prison and she says thousands of Iraqis are still looking for loved ones who were taken away — somewhere — by the American military. Clausen listened to President Bush’s speech this week on the issue, as she was back in the states by then.Clausen says she was hoping for “something a little more progressive” and a “change in attitude.” Clausen graduated from Wartburg in 2000.Clausen was a human rights worker in Palestine for three years before moving on to work in Iraq. She plans to start Lutheran seminary in the fall. Clausen hopes to make it back to work in Iraq, but this summer before seminary she’ll work at a human rights project along the U.S./Mexican border or with another Christian Peacemaker Team in Columbia.
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