Monday, April 22, 2024

Widow going all out for justice


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Life as Moira Jilani knew it came to an abrupt and dizzying halt two years ago on June 11.
The Bajan who left these shores at age ten for the United States with her family is still reeling from what is now her daily grim reality.
Moira made Jerusalem, Israel, her new home when she married her sweetheart Ziad 20 years ago.
After three daughters and a comfortable life with the man her family said loved her unconditionally, bullets broke the strong bond this couple shared.
 Ziad, 40, was shot and killed by Israeli border policemen in the streets of Jerusalem on June 11, 2010.
Moira has now taken her story to the Internet, lobbying for justice for her husband. She went this route after Israeli authorities closed the case against the police officials accused of committing the crime.
Though sad and hurting from this painful void left in her life and the lives of her children Hannah, 19, Mirage, 17, and Yasmeen, ten, Moira doesn’t tire from pushing for justice.
In fact, she says she will not stop until the person who killed Ziad is held responsible for his death.
Moira reached out to the Barbadian public to share her story a week ago through the Nation’s Facebook page. She and Ziad lived in Barbados during 2003 and 2004 before returning to Israel.
A week ago she started a petition, Justice4Ziad.  Today there are 1 411 signatories.
Rewind to 2010 and Moira remembers that fateful day when she and her family were planning an outing to celebrate the end of exams for her children.
It was a day they were all looking forward to, recalls Moira, who wrote her story Message From Moira on the site “June 11, 2010 started off like almost any other day, except that before Ziad left he mentioned to me that we had not taken our three girls anywhere since they finished their exams,” she said.
“He thought that they deserved an outing of their choice. After kissing me goodbye,
he turned one last time to remind me to speak with them and decide where they thought they would want to go. Ziad told me to make sure that we be packed and ready when he honked his horn to ­signal us to grab our gear and head downstairs to his pick-up truck.”Ziad never made  it home.
Moira launched her own investigations. They included an appeal to the Israeli judge to exhume her husband’s body, which then led to a subsequent autopsy being conducted.
In a telephone interview with Ziad’s sister, Iman Jilani, in California and Moira’s sister, Barbadian-born Shari Lobo who now lives in Tampa, Florida, they traced some of the events of that day which led to the death.
Ziad was reportedly driving home from his Friday prayers at the mosque after work at his video games business when he encountered a demonstration and there was stone throwing. To avoid this, he pulled into an empty lane where some border patrolmen were walking. Ziad’s truck apparently hit some of the soldiers, causing slight injuries.
Police then opened fire at Ziad’s truck and the man fled from the bullets and ran to a dead end alleyway to find refuge in his uncle’s home.
After leaping from the car, Ziad was shot in the back and fell to the pavement. Moira, in her “message”, said eyewitnesses reported seeing a policeman walking up to Ziad, aiming a gun at his head and firing three shots.
Shari believes to this day that her brother-in-law would have lived if he had received help. “They (police) wouldn’t let anyone help him when he was lying on the ground,” she said. “He died while on the ground, on his belly, hands up.”
Talking through her tears, Shari said: “This is a horrific experience for all of us in the family.”
Apart from trying to fight this case, two years after the fact, they are all supporting Moira through this challenging time.
Shari admitted that Moira and the children were “going through turmoil”.
“The girls are upset, they are scared, they are angry. They don’t know how to open up. We can see they are calling for help but they are being extremely strong and trying to continue with life. But they live in constant fear,” she said.
She wants her sister to leave Jerusalem, especially since she has an American passport, but Moira is adamant that she will not leave until there is justice for Ziad.
Shari says Moira, who is 44 years old, has aged so much in the last two years. “She doesn’t know where to turn. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring,” she adds, noting that she talks to her every week and sometimes every day. The sisters correspond via email or Skype.
Shari said after the case was dismissed by the criminal court, the Supreme Court ruled there was enough evidence to go ahead with it. On June 20, the Israeli State Prosecutor will decide if to press charges against the border policeman who fired the fatal shots, reported Shari and Iman.
Still the family is pressing on with the petition and appeals for help. Both Shari and Iman are lobbying and talking to political officials in their respective countries about their plight.
Shari said she has also written President Barack Obama, as well as his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Moira met Ziad while he was at the University of Houston.
“He was everything Moira wanted in a husband. They both loved each other,” Shari said.
Moira herself wrote: “My husband loved life and enjoyed it to the fullest. He loved people and animals and he loved us, his family, with a passion. He was not a terrorist . . . .”
Shari and Iman said there were different memorials planned as they remember Ziad, noting the second anniversary of his death was coming up on June 11.
One memorial will be held in Los Angeles, another in New York, and a third in Jerusalem.
“We want you to create your own memorial in your city wherever you are,” Shari said. “What happened is not okay in Jerusalem. It is not okay in the
United States. It is not okay in Barbados.”


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