[lit-ideas] being in Iraq

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 7 May 2004 10:47:37 EDT

A young Iraqi woman living in Baghdad, used to be a computer programmer.  Her 
recent take on the prison situation.  If you've read any of the other posts 
I've sent from her, you know her as Riverbend.

<<Just Go...
People are seething with anger- the pictures of Abu Ghraib and the Brits in 
Basrah are everywhere. Every newspaper you pick up in Baghdad has pictures of 
some American or British atrocity or another. It's like a nightmare that has 
come to life. 

Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and other places & seeing the 
pictures simply made it all more real and tangible somehow. American and 
British politicians have the audacity to come on television with words like, 
the people in Abu Ghraib are criminals, butâ?¦" Everyone here in Iraq knows 
there are thousands of innocent people detained. Some were simply in the 
wrong place at the wrong time, while others were detained 'under suspicion'. In 
the New Iraq, it's "guilty until proven innocent by some miracle of God". 

People are so angry. Thereâ??s no way to explain the reactions- even 
pro-occupation Iraqis find themselves silenced by this latest horror. I canâ??t 
how people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow, pictures of dead 
are easier to bear than this grotesque show of American military technique. 
People would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded by the animals 
running Abu Ghraib prison. 

There was a time when people here felt sorry for the troops. No matter what 
one's attitude was towards the occupation, there were moments of pity towards 
the troops, regardless of their nationality. We would see them suffering the 
Iraqi sun, obviously wishing they were somewhere else and somehow, that 
vulnerability made them seem less monstrous and more human. That time has 
People look at troops now and see the pictures of Abu Ghraibâ?¦ and we burn 
shame and anger and frustration at not being able to do something. Now that the 
world knows that the torture has been going on since the very beginning, do 
people finally understand what happened in Falloojeh?

I'm avoiding the internet because it feels like the pictures are somehow 
available on every site I visit. I'm torn between wishing they weren't there 
feeling, somehow, that it's important that the whole world sees them. The 
thing, I guess, that bothers me most is that the children can see it all. How 
you explain the face of the American soldier, leering over the faceless, naked 
bodies to a child? How do you explain the sick, twisted minds? How do you 
explain what is happening to a seven-year-old? 

There have been demonstrations in Baghdad and other places. There was a large 
demonstration outside of the Abu Ghraib prison itself. The families of some 
of the inmates of the prison were out there protesting the detentions and the 
atrocitiesâ?¦ faces streaked with tears of rage and brows furrowed with 
Each and every one of those people was wondering what their loved ones had 
suffered inside the walls of the hell that makes Guantanamo look like a health 

And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive speeches. He makes an 
appearance on Arabic tv channels looking sheepish and attempting to look 
babbling on about how this 'incident' wasn't representative of the American 
or even the army, regardless of the fact that it's been going on for so long. 
He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attitude towards 
the American peopleâ?¦ and yet when the bodies were dragged through the streets 
Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon themselves to punish the whole 

He's claiming it's a "stain on our country's honor"... I think not. The stain 
on your country's honor, Bush dear, was the one on the infamous blue dress 
that made headlines while Clinton was in the White House... this isn't a 
this is a catastrophe. Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped into 
Iraq and couldn't find the WMD... your reputation never existed. 

So are the atrocities being committed in Abu Ghraib really not characteristic 
of the American army? What about the atrocities committed by Americans in 
Guantanamo? And Afghanistan? I won't bother bringing up the sordid past, let's 
just focus on the present. It seems that torture and humiliation are common 
techniques used in countries blessed with the American presence. The most 
excuse I heard so far was that the American troops weren't taught the 
fundamentals of human rights mentioned in the Geneva Conventionâ?¦ Right- 
values and compassion have to be taught. 

All I can think about is the universal outrage when the former government 
showed pictures of American POWs on television, looking frightened and unsure 
about their fate. I remember the outcries from American citizens, claiming that 
Iraqis were animals for showing 'America's finest' fully clothed and unharmed. 
So what does this make Americans now? 

We heard about it allâ?¦ we heard stories since the very beginning of the 
occupation about prisoners being made to sit for several hours on their 
being deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed with cold water or 
kicked or slappedâ?¦ about the infamous 'red rooms' where prisoners are kept 
prolonged periods of timeâ?¦ about the rape, the degradations, the emotional 
physical tortureâ?¦ and there were moments when I actually wanted to believe 
that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now that it was only a small 
fragment of the truth. There is nothing that is going to make this 'better'. 

Through all of this, where is the Governing Council? Under what rock are the 
Puppets hiding? Why is no one condemning this? What does Bremer have to say 
for himself and for the Americans? Why this unbearable silence? 

I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid pictures. 
You've seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and childrenâ?¦ 
curse, scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with a boot over their 
head. You've seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You've seen them bomb 
cities and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using tanks and 
helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very shocking or appalling? 

The number of killings in the south has also risen. The Americans and British 
are saying that they are 'insurgents' and people who are a part of Al-Sadir's 
militia, but people from Najaf are claiming that innocent civilians are being 
killed on a daily basis. Today the troops entered Najaf and there was 
fighting in the streets. This is going to cause a commotion because Najaf is 
considered a holy city and is especially valuable to Shi'a all over the world. 
current situation in the south makes one wonder who, now, is going to implement 
no-fly zone over areas like Falloojeh and Najaf to 'protect' the people this 
time around? 

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. 
Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while 
you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? 
Bloodshed? Weâ??ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your 
weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, 
your sadistic torturers and go. >>

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts:

  • » [lit-ideas] being in Iraq