July 11, 2006
It promises to be a long summer. We're almost
at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by.
It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no
electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere.
day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the
killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there,
black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in
the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the
street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or
Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were
executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and
claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.
horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for
nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans.
Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people
in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded
in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full
of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one
is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't
respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area,
and let the massacre happen.
At nearly 2 pm, we received some
terrible news. We lost a good friend in the killings. T. was a
26-year-old civil engineer who worked with a group of friends in a
consultancy bureau in Jadriya. The last time I saw him was a week ago.
He had stopped by the house to tell us his sister was engaged and he'd
brought along with him pictures of latest project he was working on- a
half-collapsed school building outside of Baghdad.
left the house at 7 am to avoid the morning traffic jams and the heat.
Yesterday, he decided to stay at home because he'd promised his mother
he would bring Abu Kamal by the house to fix the generator which had
suddenly died on them the night before. His parents say that T. was
making his way out of the area on foot when the attack occurred and he
got two bullets to the head. His brother could only identify him by the
blood-stained t-shirt he was wearing.
People are staying in
their homes in the area and no one dares enter it so the wakes for the
people who were massacred haven't begun yet. I haven't seen his family
yet and I'm not sure I have the courage or the energy to give
condolences. I feel like I've given the traditional words of
condolences a thousand times these last few months, "Baqiya ib
hayatkum… Akhir il ahzan…" or "May this be the last of your sorrows."
Except they are empty words because even as we say them, we know that
in today's Iraq any sorrow- no matter how great- will not be the last.
was also an attack yesterday on Ghazaliya though we haven't heard what
the casualties are. People are saying it's Sadr's militia, the Mahdi
army, behind the killings. The news the world hears about Iraq and the
situation in the country itself are wholly different. People are being
driven out of their homes and areas by force and killed in the streets,
and the Americans, Iranians and the Puppets talk of national
conferences and progress.
It's like Baghdad is no longer one
city, it's a dozen different smaller cities each infected with its own
form of violence. It's gotten so that I dread sleeping because the
morning always brings so much bad news. The television shows the images
and the radio stations broadcast it. The newspapers show images of
corpses and angry words jump out at you from their pages, "civil war…
death… killing… bombing… rape…"
Rape. The latest of American
atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's
being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to
be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason
this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole
immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in
Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been
hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and
during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three
years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are
committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an
occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the
In the news they're estimating her age to be around 24, but Iraqis from the area say she was only 14.
Fourteen. Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter.
Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the
girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her
parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the
American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation'
- your troops have made you proud today. I don't believe the troops
should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed
over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly
served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an
'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded
compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped,
probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands
of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.
It fills me
with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for
foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities
in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and
killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I
can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring
myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to
care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I
can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the
horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed
and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young
Iraqi girls will they rape?
Why don't the Americans just go
home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will
fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they
aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are
being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done
about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other
and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join
in with murder and rape.
Buses, planes and taxis leaving the
country for Syria and Jordan are booked solid until the end of the
summer. People are picking up and leaving en masse and most of them are
planning to remain outside of the country. Life here has become
unbearable because it's no longer a 'life' like people live abroad.
It's simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in
one piece and coping with the loss of loved ones and friends- friends
It's difficult to believe T. is really gone… I was
checking my email today and I saw three unopened emails from him in my
inbox. For one wild, heart-stopping moment I thought he was alive. T. was alive and it was all some horrific mistake!
I let myself ride the wave of giddy disbelief for a few precious
seconds before I came crashing down as my eyes caught the date on the
emails- he had sent them the night before he was killed. One email was
a collection of jokes, the other was an assortment of cat pictures, and
the third was a poem in Arabic about Iraq under American occupation. He
had highlighted a few lines describing the beauty of Baghdad in spite
of the war… And while I always thought Baghdad was one of the more
marvelous cities in the world, I'm finding it very difficult this
moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of T. and so
many other innocents…