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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Thursday, March 27, 2003 at 12:20PM :

I can't believe that a single Assyrian would support this war. I can see how *brainwashed* American masses or military would support the war (out of ignorance), but I still can NOT understand how ANYONE from "our people" would support this war. How??? How is it *possible* for an Assyrian to think that anything good could come from a bomb??? Or from mass starvation???
March 27, 2003
Toronto Star

Witnesses to War Hear Talk of Revenge
Bombing of Baghdad killing thoughts of peace
Canadian, U.S. activists at home among Iraqis

by Leslie Scrivener

When Canadian peacemaker Robert Turcotte arrived in Baghdad a few weeks ago, he listened as the Iraqis talked of peace. He doesn't hear much of that any more.

There's talk of revenge and defending their own now that mothers and children despite coalition talk of precision bombing are dying in their arms.

An Iraqi mother comforts her wounded three year-old in a Baghdad hospital. Iraq accused the US is using cluster bombs on civilian areas of Baghdad.(AFP/Karim Sahib)

"They say `This kind of attack gives us the energy to fight for the defense of our brothers and sisters.'" Turcotte said yesterday from the Hotel Andulus, not far from the Tigris River.

"Before the bombings they said, `We want peace.' But now, with families injured, they said they will fight.

"It's a kind of provocation from the United States the more civilians killed, the more the Iraqi people will fight."

Lisa Martens, a 24-year-old from Winnipeg who's been in Iraq since February as a member of the Christian Peacemakers Team, said she was close enough to yesterday's bombings to feel the ground shake.

Living in Baghdad is "kind of like being under a death threat, and it's scary," she said.

"It's a miserable thing to know that bombs might hit you.

"I've been cheering for the dust storm because it keeps people in their homes," she added, and that means they've probably saved lives.

Turcotte, a 53-year-old from Cap Rouge, Que., is one of 35 peace activists in Baghdad six are from Canada, but most come from the U.S., with a smattering of others from around the world.

He's a member of the Iraq Peace Team, activists who report on events, take photographs, visit hospitals and bombed-out neighborhoods as on-the-ground witnesses to war.

With sandstorms smothering the city in dust and gloom, he heard only two bomb attacks yesterday, he said.

"It's very strange. The air is brown, the houses, the streets, the trees, there is brown everywhere. There's been a little silence from the shooting bombs today. It's like a vacation usually it's every hour."

Turcotte left Baghdad yesterday to visit a nearby farm, where two families had sought refuge from the bombing. The house took a direct hit: three died and eight were injured.

"There were no government buildings around there, nothing military," he said.

The Iraqis have cordially received the peacemakers, Turcotte said.

"They say `thank you, thank you, for being with us.' I saw many farmers and I thought they would be angry with us, but they shook our hands and were very nice, because we are living the same thing as them.

"We don't have to explain."

Martens, a Mennonite and one of three Canadians on the Christian Peacemakers Team, said she was taught to love her neighbor, and her enemy.

"That means not bombing them, not putting economic sanctions on them. I want to be a model of non-violence to the U.S. government," she said.

Martens said she wants "to live to be 100, to get a teaching degree, to be a masseuse," but is in Baghdad now because "I feel this is where I should be."

"I don't know what it would be like if we were not here, but I wouldn't be surprised if we made the government of the U.S. take pause," she said, speaking from a room layered in mattresses, with windows boarded up as protection from shattering glass a safe room of sorts, and the safest Baghdad's al-Daar Hotel has to offer.

"I think they might be more careless without us here."

Cathy Breen, a 54-year-old nurse from New York City who's been in Baghdad for five months, described yesterday what she saw during a visit to the city's Yermuke Hospital: A 2-year-old killed when a rocket shattered her house; an 8-year-old, his head and abdomen wrapped in gauze, who lost three family members, including his father; a 10-year-old with multiple broken bones who waited a day to be brought to hospital.

"It's the most tragic thing I have ever seen," she said.

"It is a slaughter. I have no words left to describe it." Breen said an Iraqi friend told her: "Tell your president to stop talking about humanitarian aid.

"Tell your president to shut up. Our lives, our houses are being destroyed."

Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited


-- Sadie
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