IPT update March 31, 2003

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 at 5:00PM :

Dear Friends,

Since the last update, several of our people have left Iraq, most of them
ordered out of the country by Iraqi officials. Many if them were in Iraq as
volunteers for the Chicago based Christian Peacemaker Teams. An
Associated Press report of the expulsion and team's eventful journey to
Jordan follows.

We have had almost no contact with our team in Baghdad over the last few
days. However, an email from Kathy Kelly managed to find its way to our
inbox this morning:

"Cathy Breen and I visited Amal at the home of her friends, having heard
that her home had been further destroyed by ongoing bombing. She then
took us to her house which faces the river, graced by a garden where
flowers are blossoming. Picking our way through broken glass at the
entrance, we entered what was once one of the most well appointed homes
in Baghdad. The rooms are in disarray. Several walls are cracked, the
windows are all shattered, and a thick layer of dust and grime covers the
exposed furniture, books, carpets and floors.

"'It was my silly feeling,' Amal said matter-of-factly, 'that this will not
happen. I did not move anything.' She emphasized several times that
neighbors could have removed everything, in the past two days. 'The
house is open. The whole area knows about it. But nobody moved
anything.' Amal wasnıt in her home when the windows shattered and the
doors were blown out. 'By chance, that night, I forgot my key and for that
reason I stayed with my friends.' Ten minutes after we arrived at her home,
the US began bombing. 'They are starting it again," sighed Amal. "We
should go very quickly.'

"We rejoined Amalıs friends, two sisters who, like Amal, are elderly,
scholarly, staunch, and furious. I first met them in the summer of 2002,
when they invited me to tell a gathering of two dozen or so Iraqi friends
about my experiences, in April 2001, inside the Jenin Camp, in the West
Bank, just after Israeli troops had destroyed hundreds of homes in a
civilian neighborhood, using overwhelming military force. Amal and her
friends were deeply angered when I showed them enlarged pictures of
homes in the Jenin Camp that were reduced to rubble. They said theyıve
always felt intense grief for the Palestinians whoıve suffered under
occupation. It was unthinkable, then, that Amal herself would become
homeless and face life under occupation less than a
year later.

"'It is so unfair,' said Amal. 'From the simplest people to the highest
people, all have suffered.' Later that night, we learned that Voice of
America radio had confirmed that an Iraqi military officer approached a US
military checkpoint in Iraq appearing to be a cab driver wishing to
surrender. The driver detonated a load of explosives inside the cab,
killing himself and four US soldiers.

"Amal has paid a high price for guessing wrongly about whether or not the
US would wage a massive attack against Iraq. She didnıt bother to
safeguard her impressive collection of valuable artwork, books, and other
belongings. She and her friends arenıt guessing now. They are positive that
US warmakers will pay a lethal and grisly price for any attempts to overtake
and occupy Iraq. 'We will lose the battle, but the US is not the winner,' she
vowed. 'The children talk about the monster coming. We will push back
the monster, with our hands.'"

We will continue you send you updates on our teams staus and experience
inside Iraq.

All my best,

Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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