Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An Iraqi Woman writes to North Carolina

I got this message via an email:

“Dr. Zaydan has written to North Carolina to mark the 4th anniversary of our invasion. Please pass it on…….

In 2003, shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Dr. Zaydan, a successful Baghdad doctor (pharmacist) and business woman sold her pharmacy and created an organization that networks homes, food, and supplies for widows and orphans in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. Dr. Zaydan also cared for her four children and her aging parents. Her youngest, not twelve, has suffered this war since she was eight. Her husband, a successful engineer, is very supportive of her peace work despite their own struggles in Baghdad.

In March 2006, Dr. Rashad Zaydan was one of only five Iraqi women given a two week visa to come to the United States for speaking engagements. Dr. Zaydan zig-zag across the country speaking in front of the United Nations, Chicago, St. Louis, and DC. She came through North Carolina twice speaking at the Fayetteville Peace Rally and paying a visit in Charlotte, 4 days later she returned to Raleigh for an engagement at NC State University. During her visit in Raleigh, she had private meetings with Rep. David Price and Rep. Brad Miller.”

More about the Iraqi Women’s Tour HERE. This tour was arranged by Code Pink.

Code Pink has made a DVD about this tour, called Iraqi Women Speak. I bought a copy, watched it, and passed it on to the local progressive radio station. Dr. Zaydan spoke about her young daughter in this DVD, and how she called home and her daughter said she was so proud of her mother for trying to get peace for the people of Iraq. Her daughter claimed she was helping her father all she could around the house so that her mother could continue her important work for peace.

Below is Dr. Zaydan’s letter to North Carolina on the eve of the 4th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq:

Dear Friends,

A year has passed since my last visit to your state. I tried my best during that long trip to reach you all: statesmen, representatives, peace makers, teachers, students, ordinary people, VIPs, religious men, parents of US soldiers and even children. I tried hard to tell you the truth about what was happening in my country Iraq. I was far away from any watching eyes of politicians or media.

I have spent my life with the eyes of a mother watching her children growing up healthy, well educated, and useful to their people. I hoped their future would be great. Their dreams would come true. They would find promising jobs. They would be happily married. But, I find that my country has been occupied by foreign forces, with hundreds of thousands of civilians killed and some more thousands detained, and millions of unemployed, in addition to the destruction of all infrastructure. My hopes and dreams may not come true.

In Iraq, there are three million widows and some more orphans, along with a sectarian government supported by the occupier and neighboring countries. It was very painful for me to see for many times bodies of dead people thrown in the streets without being able to do anything other than crying. The medical oath I have sworn when I graduated from college to help any needy people seems as a dream from the past. Last year, many people asked me if I was concerned about the sectarian war that may break up in case the US would pull its troops. I always answered, “If this sectarian war is possible, it would have happened three years ago during the first days of the invasion when there were no authority in the country.” That did not happen. Our state was not built that way since it was born in 1921. The principles of the new state made by the present occupier do establish for this sectarian violence. Moreover, the borders of my country have not been well guarded. Fighters from different countries with different agendas kindle the fire of violence and keep it burning on and on.

What I did during my visit was to ask all of you to help stop this crisis and to listen for a while to the voices of widows, orphans, handicapped, wounded, grieving parents and all other victims of this mad war. I hoped your press would change something in our life. I hoped 2006 would not end before my country becomes free. Then, I will be able to take my children to school safely. I’ll be able to say “Hello” to my neighbors without being afraid of the shootings or bombings. I’ll see my son being wed in an ordinary ceremony with all my relatives and friends attending the wedding and celebrating late at night without being worried lest the curfew starts without being able to go back home. But my dream did not come true. I only see the number of widows sky rocketing, the orphans crying louder, the dead bodies scattered over pavements and garbage, the sick people getting worse with no hope of improving, resources shortening thin, houses being emptied of their inhabitants, universities emptied of their professors.

I heard that the voting of some of you changed. But I didn’t get any tangible results from it. On the contrary, some more 21000 US soldiers are packing their gears to come. Some of them have reached, while the others are supposed to come during these two months.

I was asked by one of my American friends who helped me last year to write a letter to you on the fourth anniversary for the invasion of my country. I can’t find more words to say. I just have one more thing to add. Try hard to stop this tragedy for the sake of yourselves, your families, your human rights principles, your true belief in freedom and democracy. All this violence will reverse on you and your generation. I once heard a professor in English said, “Violence breeds violence.” This is what your government is breeding. Try hard to convince your government to use your money in a wise way. Let it spread education, improve health care, achieve peace instead of killing and bombing civilians. Now you are paying for the deaths of your sons, for the disabilities of your brothers, for the misfortunes of your daughters, for the destruction of your resources. Let alone the death, disability, misfortune and destruction of my nation.

Dr. Rashad Zaydan

Baghdad – 5th March, 2007

A Video of Dr. Zaydan speaking in the USA in March 2006 can be found HERE. It is called "A Call For Peace." This talk includes pictures from Iraq. She speaks in this video about her fears that everyone in Iraq will become a fighter if the US forces do not leave her country.

And here is a story about another one of the women that Code Pink brought to the USA, a women who is a friend of mine, Faiza Al-Araji:

Speakers: ‘Leave Iraq to the Iraqis

The words rushed out of Faiza Al-Araji. She called the Bush administration "criminals," new Iraqi leaders puppets and the media guilty of keeping Americans "ignorant and blind. The mission of the war is not a noble mission," she said. "It is a dirty mission. Saddam Hussein took people away. Now we are suffering from new criminals." Al-Araji is a civil engineer who managed a Baghdad water treatment company before the war began. She later paid ransom to free one of her three sons — whom she said the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior jailed without filing a charge — then fled with her family to Jordan.

Their message is clear – the US forces have to get out of Iraq, and the sooner the better.

The website Alive In Baghdad, not at all connected to Code Pink, has a video clip of another women doctor from Iraq. Dr. Haseeba (who has practiced medicine in Baghdad for forty years) has this to say to the American people:

"I want the American people to understand something, don’t be fooled. The democracy your government claims to bring to other countires is a lie, it’s untrue.
......We don’t want the US Government’s democracy. Spare us its evil.
......So please leave our country."

Also, over in Afghanistan things are not so good. Demonstrations were held there over the recent killing of civilians by US forces. One man was carrying a sign that said:

Killer Bush! Stop the Killings of Innocent Afghans. Down Down America.

As regards to Afghanistan, I don't know what we should do. The current path that we are on there does not look good, but I can not come to a firm conclusion on what course of action I think the US government should take.

I am very clear on what the US should do in the country of Iraq. LEAVE.

I am really losing patience with the Americans who claim we should stay in Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people. I am particularly losing patience with the ones who never even talked to an Iraqi person, and really don't understand the level of suffering that our occupation has visited on them. We have opened the gates of hell. The claim that we can make things better in Iraq, or keep the people there safe, flies in the face of any reasonable assessment of the situation. The claim that we can somehow still "win" this war goes against history, logic, common sense and the trajectory of the past four years.

Today, about 2% of the Iraqi population is dead from the invasion and occupation. That would be equivalent to 6 million dead in the United States. No one knows how many are injured, but a great many of them are suffering from mental health problems for the violence they have been subjected to since the invasion.

Today, between 8% to 12% of the population of Iraq is displaced. This would be equivalent to 24 to 36 million displaced Americans. Imagine 12 to 18 million Americans having moved to Mexico, 6 to 9 million to Canada, and another 6 to 9 million internally displaced. Keep in mind that Katrina had a death toll under 2,000 and only 400,000 internally displaced.

Here are some photos of that show the current suffering of Iraqi people. If you are under the impression that no Iraqi civilian deaths are from US military action, look closely at the photos from February 22, 2007.

Dr. Zaydan talks about the poor state of health care in Iraq, with often no medicines for treatment. We all know about the lack of electricity, the lack of security, the lack of clean drinking water, lack of employment – did you know that 4.5 million Iraqi children are now malnourished?

It is genocide.
The definition of genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. The culture of Iraq is being destroyed by this occupation. The fabric of life is torn asunder. It is genocide. We must stop this. I like to think of it as "george’s genocide" but the truth is the citizens of this country ARE responsible for what our government does with our tax dollars.

The only freedom we are bringing the Iraqi people is the freedom of the grave. The only democracy we are bringing the Iraqi people is the democracy of death.

bush/cheney and their administration does not care one whit what happens to the people of Iraq, and they never did care, and they never will care.

They are in Iraq to control the energy sources and thereby promote American corporate dominance, and western corporate expansionism in the world.

On Saturday, March 17th please gather in Fayetteville or DC to rally for peace (Asheville, March 24th). Clearly our votes are not enough. We must support the troops and the Iraqi people by standing for peace! And we must do more than rally and march and lobby. We have to stop this illegal and brutal occupation.

Fayetteville March and Rally

DC March and Rally

Asheville Rally

1 comment:

Mignonchang said...

I just read these articles(, from newsweek and then read your input on the Iraq situation. I wonder... if the US pulls out, will it mean a collapse of the current economy in Iraq and more mayhem? America seems to be using the same hopeless tactic to hold things together as in the Vietnam war. If the troops pull out immediately, perhaps the Taliban will suddenly have no enemy to fight, and perhaps then the people can resolve their issues and look for peace. More troops certainly don't seem to help, especially with a great deal of the civilians blaming deaths on the Americans. It is true, we cannot predict the exact outcome for Iraq, but so far either move would be a double edged sword.