Salam Pax - News from the ground #4

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 11:45AM :

In Reply to: Salam Pax - News from the ground #3 posted by Sadie from ? ( on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 11:44AM :

Salam Pax - News from the ground #4
Salam Pax, Electronic Iraq

20 May 2003

Around a hundred graves at the edge of the road, starting where the pavement should have been. These were people killed during the early stages of the war when it was too dangerous to bury them in a proper burial ground. The nearest empty land was used.

The latest are dated 16th of April. The ones that don't have a name sign are people who could not be identified.

There was another makeshift graveyard near the Dyala Bridge in Baghdad

There were a couple of people buried there, near the bridge, from Basra or around it. We wrote down the names and gave them to a couple of people who were at the cemetery in Basra to put them up in mosques, maybe the word will get to their families.

At another place the Islamic Dawa Party had long lists of names put up at the door of its headquarters in Basra. The names Dawa party members who were executed and killed by the Ba'ath. You see these scenes in all cities.

When the lists were put up in Karbala (not only Dawa but the hundreds of people killed during the uprising in 91) you saw the whole city go into the traditional 3 day funeral. 240 names. Men, women and children, families of 20 and more at a time.

The rest of the time is spent in our way-too-expensive hotel, we only go out for a short walk in al-Ashar by the river.

The war with Iran was just over when Saddam decided to commemorate his officers with a huge monumental project at al-Ashar. 30 officers he chose got larger-than-life statues cast in bronze all pointing towards the east; Iran.

Today all thirty officers have been pulled down from their podiums only one remains. Adnan Khairullah, Saddam's cousin from his mother's side. He was killed by Saddam when he was getting a bit too popular with his troops as a defense minister. The rest were pulled down, cut to pieces and sold on the market for the metal.

Next morning we woke up to the sound of a British Army patrol (below left).

Rushed to the Basra general hospital and met the Basra team (above right), all of the volunteers are medical students. By this time I am really too phased out by all we have seen to listen and join the discussions. Raed goes on like one of these Duracell rabbits.

When we were in Nasiriyah someone made a joke about saddam and the money we are using. Assel responded: "Ha! So now you find your voice?". Yes we are all finding our voices now, suddenly everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks he/she should be involved. Talking to all the volunteers in the cities we've been to really gives you a push.

There was an article before the war, I think by Makiya but I am not sure, saying that Iraqis after all this time have been depoliticized. You wouldn't think so after walking in the streets these days. The people we deal with are my age or younger, we are not apathetic about the politics of this country. The University of Baghdad will be a very interesting place to be in these days.

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-- Sadie
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