Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What War Brings: unending grief

Photo: Hadi Mahmoud cries after having lost his mother when their vehicle was caught in the crossfire during clashes between the al-Mahdi army, loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr city, Baghdad, Iraq, on Aug. 23, 2004. (Karim Kadim/ AP Photo )

I wonder how many Iraqi children have gone through this. I wonder how they will ever recover.

WHAT WAR BRINGS: unending grief

It is really stating the obvious that wars and occupations bring unending grief to the people in the occupied countries. Yet, no matter how good my words are, no matter how well I present this information or how well I craft the presentation, I could never come close to describing something so vast and so devastating that I do not know myself. So, instead of writing, I am going to present some photos and some reports. This is just a very small drop of grief in a very large ocean.

I have known grief in my life from death due to sickness, accidents and even violence – but the loss of one person at a time, spread out over years, will never compare to what people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have come to know. Even the one friend who was killed by violence is easier for me to bear than the loved ones lost to violence in these wars and occupations. And that is because the person who committed the crime was caught, brought to justice, and imprisoned for life. He was also clearly insane.

None of those factors are present in the brutal war and occupation and bombings of Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan by the US military. No one has been brought to justice, and it is unlikely that any one ever will. I will forever object to that reality. And it will forever make me ashamed of the country of my birth.

There is a "whole lot of singing never gonna be heard" because the voices were silenced, or made so sad they can no longer sing.

Just take a look at some photos from Iraq from the month of March 2007. You will see unending faces full of pain, grief, and sorrow. Grief is present to the point that it drives them insane. It is a pain that has mainly been ignored by the American people.

And what was captured on photos or reported in media outlets is but a small, small slice of the vast unending grief that has been visited on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From the babies killed in US bombings,

To the child severely injured by crossfire between insurgents and US troops,

To the child who died from a cluster bomb,

To the grief of a father and brother, who lost his loved ones to fire from a US gunship – that fired on the sleeping……

We will just never know what we have done. May God forgive us. I really cannot say anymore than that.


Refugees in pain for decades

In less than a month, Maisoon Al-Qayem's son was kidnapped, her husband died, her grandson was taken away from her daughter and she had to flee her Iraqi home. "They destroyed us," Al-Qayem said of the kidnappers who took her only son.

"I hoped that they would kill all of us; it's better than they would leave us," she said, tears in her eyes as she paused to think.

Don’t forget displaced women

“You destroyed my country,” said one woman. “Those ruling have no place for us. What will you do?” Millions of people have been displaced inside and outside the country. Small numbers have returned home. For others, insecurity, plus the absence of the rule of law, infrastructure, employment prospects, or basic services like water, sanitation, education or health care prevent them from returning home. Individuals or members of groups targeted for religion, ethnicity or politics are unlikely to return. These families, often headed by women, live in extremely poor, overcrowded conditions, subject to extreme heat and cold.

A McClatchy reporter reflects on what war brought to Iraq

We called it a good day when only 10 died, but then there were the bad days. The day a friend died. The day when more than 300 lives were taken in minutes. The day a mother wept in my arms about her lost son, who'd been killed by a militia member, and his widow curled up in a corner of the empty room they'd shared. The day a man described washing his wife's bullet-ridden body in a mosque named for a religious scholar she'd loved. The day a daughter cried in the arms of her dead mother, mistakenly shot by a U.S. security team.

…..The day I wept with my closest friend in Baghdad. The country she'd welcomed me to and the places she'd shown me no longer were safe for her, and she was taking her daughter and her husband and leaving.

……Before the U.S. invasion in 2003, she'd never heard of such a group, but it's some of what the war brought her. She's never returned to Yasser al Khuthayer since that fateful day, and she never will. "Why would I return?" Hassan said as she put her head in her hands and silently sobbed. For a few minutes, she couldn't speak. Why would she go back to the place where her family was killed, her home of more than 30 years destroyed and her life changed forever?

18.54 Minutes of a Soul Wound

Someone forwarded me this very moving and powerful video. The four artists interviewed, summed up in 18.54 minutes, my three years of blogging. I have mentioned, referred, inferred to, in all of my previous posts -- the Iraqi Soul. Yes I believe that there is a collective Soul of a People, in particular an ancient people like the Iraqis.

I don't want to say much. I invite you to watch closely this short documentary. Watch it closely with attention and listen to what is, and most importantly to what is not said.
For those of you - whose souls are not deadened out or numbed out with denial, justifications, rationalizations, apathy, indifference, spite, or greed...have some tissues handy. 18.54 minutes may sound too long for you, too long in your very busy schedules, but 18.54 minutes for us, is only a second of what we have witnessed and experienced. A second of our errant Souls.

Inside Falluja: ‘nothing to come back to’

I was there, inside the city — about 60% to 70% of the homes and buildings are completely crushed and damaged, and not ready to inhabit at the moment. Of the 30% still left standing, I don't think there is a single one that has not been exposed to some damage. One of my colleagues... went to see his home, and saw that it is almost completely collapsed and everything is burnt inside. When he went to his neighbours' home, he found a relative of his was dead and a dog had eaten the meat off him.


US air raid kills Afghan civilians

Roozben Khan, the father of the bride, said he had lost six relatives. "I lost two sons, two grandsons, a nephew, my mother and a cousin," Khan said. His daughter was among seven of his relatives who were wounded. The groom survived but his father, mother and sister were killed, he said. Mullah Mohammad Asim, the village cleric, said he had counted 36 bodies. "They bombed six to seven houses. They pounded and fired into the village from afternoon until midnight," Asim said.

Victims’ families tell their stories following NATO airstrike

"A man comes and says, 'I lost my brother and cousin', so we gave him two bodies," said Omar Khan. "Another says I lost five relatives, so we gave him five bodies to take home and bury. When we had run out of bodies we started giving them limbs, legs, arms, torsos." In the end only five families went away without anything. "Their sons are still missing." Omar Khan's small eyes narrowed and his mouth formed a disgusted circle. "The smell was so bad. For three days I smelled of burned meat and fuel."

Afghan villagers slain as they took cover

Tears streaming down her face, the Afghan woman sat in a corner of a room with no roof and broken windows, mourning 19 of her closest and dearest relatives. “They were parts of my heart,” she said.


Homeless in the mountains of Pakistan

“There is a poem we recite now, it is the only way we can express our grief,” Mannu says, suddenly animated.

Then she starts to sing.

“Lord of the world, oh God, I would like to tell you something.

My sweet Swat has caught on fire, not just from one side but from everywhere.

The fire has engulfed everything - our people, our customs, our schools, our markets.

But no one knows how to douse these flames.

My beautiful Swat, with its valleys and peaks, its perfumed flowers, all have lost their lustre.

In every direction there is war. The people who laughed, who sang, are now silent.

The once majestic and peaceful River Swat has dried up.

The beautiful and pure landscapes, the trees and the plants. They have been burnt too.

The beautiful town of Mingora, your markets all lie destroyed.

Our hopes and dreams, our way of life, all has been lost in the flames.

I pray to you God, bring back the paradise, the peaceful Swat I remember.”

I have not commented on the above stories because I really don’t have anything to add.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: unending grief.


Video from an Iraqi

The fuel filled in your cars
is the blood of my country.
You have killed my parents:
Tigris and Euphrates.
Leave me alone
with the tears of my sisters and brothers
with palms engulfed in flames on the banks of mesopotamia.
Leave me alone
to cure the injuries of my land of Iraq.
He knows how to reborn from ashes
Maybe you have forgotten that he is the "Cradle of civilization".

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