Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, July 12, 2003
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Moderating Brutality

I checked out the latest Baghdad Bulletin in hopes of finding some good developments to blog about. There's some positive stuff, but it's really fluffy, slow news day type fodder (Spanish clowns?!). I found two disturbing articles whose merits are they put a bit more of a human face on Iraqi suffering.

First, a reminder of Saddam's brutality:

A windowless, bullet-ridden building here that once housed prisoners has been turned into Iraq's first a war crimes museum.

Dubbed Amna Suraka (Red Security), the building was used by the ex-regime to house and torture prisoners.

One of the chambers was ironically referred to as the "Sheraton" by the prisoners since it was a clean, tidy room with walls made of sound-proof material so cries would not emanate from the chamber while prisoners were being tortured.

When the Kurdish uprising against the former Iraqi government broke out in the spring of 1991, the building was the last refuge for the Baath loyalists and it was there that the fiercest resistance took place. It then became a home for displaced Kurdish people for several years during the last decade before Hero Ibrahim, wife of Jalal Talabani, secretary general of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, decided to turn it into a war crimes museum.

The funds she raised for the museum were small and intermittently donated, which led to a slow pace of work for the project. The museum now contains five statues of ex-prisoners and a long and narrow hall covered with small pieces of broken glass. Its ceiling is lit by many small bulb lights and there is an archive of pictures and documents seized by Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas during the uprising.

And a reminder of how brutal life still is for some:

Paul Bremer visited our hospital two months ago. We were told that the purpose of his visit was to see the sick children. I was asked to be with the medical personnel and welcome him on his visit.

He met a large number of our doctors, nursing staff and management employees. He talked about the "liberation of Iraq," and he also said that everything will be alright within two weeks. Electricity, he said, will be maintained, the water supply will reach everywhere and the security situation will be okay! This week, multiple events took place that made me remember the words of Mr. Bremer.

The mains electricity went down all over the city last week. We are supposed to have a private cable for supplying our complex when such things happen, but this time when the supply went down, the generator failed to generate electricity. As a result, all our ventilators stopped functioning within two hours, when the emergency Uninterrupted Power Service power supply packs charged off.
Losing Sherrin, a six year-old girl, made things more difficult to deal with. Death chose her over all my other patients. Her system suddenly collapsed. She was an only child with blonde hair and green eyes. Her mother couldn't have children for six years of marriage and couldn't have any more after her. Before her death, her mother felt so dispirited she went to the US forces checkpoint in our medical complex and asked them for help. Somebody there promised her help, but nothing reached us.
When will all these sad stories end? How much longer can we tolerate the pain and suffering of our people? How much more stress and working under pressure? When will it all stop?

They say tomorrow is another day, the problem is that I'm not seeing tomorrow coming.

When tomorrow comes, hopefully women will have a major role:

Over eighty Iraqi women [met on July 9] to discuss their role in the decision making process about the reconstruction of their country.
Subjects for discussion include constitution and democracy, legal reform, education, health and social affairs, employment and the economy.

The conference is an important first step towards the goal of full inclusion of Iraqi women in the rebuilding process. It will bring together many of the women's groups now beginning to work more actively across the country. While differing views are likely to be expressed, there is one common aim - to see Iraqi women play a full role in society.

Maybe Iraqi women will be able to help overcome today's brutality, and bring a life-affirming energy to the future Iraq.


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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