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Iraq – Life, Death, Rape and Execution

Stories of life in Iraq have been so varied this past week. In this post I hope to give a cross section on how life is for Iraqis in a world of violence and general insecurity.

My condolences go out to Konfused Kid whose uncle, the only Shia in the Kids Sunni family, was killed by one of the rockets aimed by Shia militias against Sunni districts of Baghdad. Although Konfused Kid may not want my condolences. He writes:

“I woke up at 7 AM the next day, my mother came and told me immediately….I have cried like crazy over my four dead friends, and I was very upset about the death of a number of people, but that day I glanced uninterestingly…and then I shrugged, I said: ‘Serves him right. He should've went out of the hellhole a long time ago.’ … Death is to us a fact of life – examine the beautiful irony in the previous sentence.”

I also pass my sincerest condolences to ANarki 13 who lost two members of his family in as many days. He writes: “it's hard to lose a close someone. its hard not to be there for someone in his/her final hours. its hard to finally be there and have that someone die in your arms. its hard to bury someone with your own hands. life is hard. death is even harder. but it is much more peaceful.”

Alive in Iraq

Bloggers still write stories of survival but not without a bitter twist. Sunshine recounts the story of how her grandfather faired at hospital after a heart attack. She writes:

When they reached the emergency room , no one came to help grandpa , no one at all ran , mama asked for help , no one even looked at her , So , she stood in the middle of the room which was crowded with patients and national guards badly injured who were waiting for someone to take care of them
and said in a loud voice :
” if you are Muslims , I am too, if you are doctors , I am a doctor too , if you have someone you care about and love , I have too , why no one come to help ? did you ever see how real doctors run to save their patient ? why don't you be like them ?” one of the doctors came towards mama and said ” helllllloooooo?! You are not in USA, you are in Iraq” mama said ” Iraq became horrible because of you , and people like yourself “. …

Fortunately we know many doctors , some of them are my relatives and some are family friends, that's why grandpa was treated at the end the way people should be treated , but what about other people?????, no one will help them , because the doctors didn’t help grandpa till they read his name , and when the doctors in our family came to the hospital to visit grandpa , the doctors showed up.

Fatima had some good news about a kidnapped friend: “My good friend's brother in law, who was kidnapped almost a month ago, was released a couple of days ago for a $60,000 ransom. I'm so happy for his 20 year old wife, and his two young daughters (three years old and three months old). … Now, his family has to search around for a way to pay back the whopping $60,000 ransom that they borrowed from various friends and relatives to save their son's life. As with so many Iraqis in their shoes, there's a sense of complete relief at having him home alive, and a feeling of being so burdened by this sum of money, which if they worked all their lives, they might still not be able to pay it off.”

The Rape of Sabrin

An Al-Jazeera report of the rape of Sabrin Al-Janabi by Iraqi security forces has raised the ire of a number of bloggers. Rape is an emotive issue in Iraqi culture and is not something that is admitted lightly – Caesar of Pentra explains why:

There is nothing can piss me off more than raping an innocent person cuz that … incident sticks in the victim's mind permanantly, making that poor victim to live in the shadow with painful memories. And what makes it worse that our arabian … societies don't forgive and excuse those unfortunate ladies. At the contrary, they start to talk about them badly calling them bad names, they also avoid to mingle with them in order not to “sooten thier reputations”… *pouts* They live alone with thier misery, cuz most of the pigs…. sorry, I mean “men” wouldn't think about getting married from those ravished ladies.

Some of them can't get a job afterwards, so either they a. emigrate to some place where they can start a new life (and this option is so difficult without a great support and hope in life). b. or some of them start to work as prostitutes to keep some food on the table (which is very common here). c. and not so few women commit suicide after a while.

Riverbend translates the interview and adds:

She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. …

I look at this woman and I can’t feel anything but rage. What did we gain? I know that looking at her, foreigners will never be able to relate. They’ll feel pity and maybe some anger, but she’s one of us. She’s not a girl in jeans and a t-shirt so there will only be a vague sort of sympathy. Poor third-world countries- that is what their womenfolk tolerate. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.

And the Iraqi government response?

Caesar of Pentra:

the government statement said. “After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded,” it said.Why I'm not so surprised, and we belong to a state where the blood is shed for free and the wail is becoming its national anthem? Why I'm not surprised, and the hangman is the assassin and the victim is the accused one?

And Riverbend replied: “It was less than 14 hours between Sabrine's claims and Maliki's rewarding the people she accused. In 14 hours, Maliki not only established their innocence, but turned them into his own personal heroes. I wonder if Maliki would entrust the safety his own wife and daughter to these men.

This is meant to discourage other prisoners, especially women, from coming forward and making claims against Iraqi and American forces. Maliki is the stupidest man alive (well, after Bush of course…) if he believes his arrogance and callous handling of the situation will work to dismiss it from the minds of Iraqis. By doing what he is doing, he's making it more clear than ever that under his rule, under his government, vigilante justice is the only way to go.”

Konfused Kid posts the video with his own subtitles. But he is sceptical about the whole story:

It is not unlikely for Iraqi soldiers to commit such acts… But as I sat down to translate it, which makes me in direct contact with every sentence and every nuance, all the fishiness came in the way.

First, like dear Riverbend here would say, it is highly unusual for an Iraqi woman to appear on television and to tell a story of her own rape. … But I beg to differ, first, the girl's accent is very countryside, and those people usually stick to the traditions I mentioned above, they don't think in such a way of exposing the truth live in front of millions of viewers, all they care about is to silence the matter. … But Sabreen not only told her story pubicly and on al-Jazeera, of all stations, she actually had the nerve to recount very graphic details of her rape without the expected emotionality – no self-respecting tradition-abiding parent-observing girl would talk about her rape in the very graphic and vulgar way that she did.

And he also sees a sectarian dimension:

Rape is common, and what it occurs, the family distance itself from the woman, especially if they are a traditional family, it is very rare that you would hear of a story of a woman raped, and when it does get out in the open, the family is not very intent on talking about it everywhere, for instance, here is a 22-year-old Christian woman, Luana, whose story is almost identical to Sabreen, she is Christian, she doesn't hold necessary those severe traditions regarding rape, and yet even she wasn't so compelled to talk about it. All I heard of her was a small story on IraqiSlogger. The fact that she was Christian might also explain why nobody cared about her.

Execution in Iraq

Several Iraqi bloggers joined in an appeal to stop the planned execution by the Iraqi government of three Iraqi women. woman i was gets the details in a letter:

The imminent execution of three Iraqi women: Wassan, Zainab and Liqa, without a fair trial, is expected to take place on March 3. The executions of what they call ” Terrorists” and ” criminals” in their dozens have been going on over a year now. A public execution took place in Mosul City , North of Iraq, two months ago. however, this is the first time we hear about sentencing women to death.

She says:”The situation is too painful that could not be described. Yet I received the following letter from a friend; please do read it well and raise your voice; do appeal.”.

Rejected takes time from her usual subject to publish the appeal she adds: “Away from Dubai, my frustration and murdered dreams, back to Iraq, where other dreams are about to be murdered savagely.”

Riverbend also hears of the appeal and gave her opinion:

They are being accused of ‘terrorism’, i.e. having ties to the Iraqi resistance. It could mean they are relatives of people suspected of being in the resistance. Or it could mean they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of them gave birth in the prison. I wonder what kind of torture they've endured. Let no one say Iraqi women didn't get at least SOME equality under the American occupation- we are now equally as likely to get executed.

And finally some general insecurity…

Marshmallow26 experiences her first explosion in Iraq:

Since Marshmallow has never witnessed a real tangible explosion in her entire life, now its time to live that moment, once I completed my words, a big explosion shook the entire region, a black smoke covers the vision, that damn sound scared the hell out of me!! and guess what, an Iraqi military check point was next door, two soldiers were standing right beside that blown roadside bomb….well hello??????? What is your duty buddies? Aren't you supposed to search for that bomb instead of creating a traffic jam??? As soon as the bomb blew out, those soldiers ran away, what a shame!

Thanks to God we got home and unharmed…but I can't forget that scene.
I wonder how people lived the moments of blasts caused by horrific car bombs or suiciders…

God be with them and us.

1 comment

  • doug trenton

    you speak of the iraqi people as if they have played no part in their plight, the barbarism of sectarian violence over islam, killing one another due to religious differences . . . they could have had their country back a long time ago were they not so blind to see that an end to violence would mean an end to occupation.

    and unlike some who write here . . i’ve spent 2 years of my life among the iraqi’s and their culture of killing.

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