BRussells Tribunal [ For security reasons the name of the writer of this article
can not be revealed ]
April 26, 2005
One of the saddest parts of the agony is the helpless women the men leave behind.
The three women in K's house, we wrote about weeks ago, were one example. Sana
and Afrah were other different examples. Two young women, with two different
stories, but the silent agony is the same. Tarmiya, like almost all of the Iraqi
rural areas, is a very conservative town. Women rarely go out to work, may be
only as teachers in girls' schools, that is all. It is a shame on men in the
family, the tribe, even the neighborhood, if a woman relative has to follow
a case, or some business, definitely not at the gate of an American military
base. This is the utmost humiliation they can imagine. "If I had to choose
between execution and my wife coming to ask about me in an American prison,
I would choose death" one of them told me.
Sana is a wife of a mentally ill man, Jasim. People in Tarmiya call him (Jasim
the crazy).He was dismissed from the Iraqi army 15 years ago. Sana showed me
a thick dossier of medical reports, doctors' receipts, medicines …etc
saying that Jasim suffers from chronicle melancholy, personality disturbances
and impotence. Jasim was arrested by the American troops 9 months ago; he is
in Bucca prison, number xxxxxx. He was watching a football game in his house
when they raided it and took him on June 28, 2004. His father, who was very
worried about his sons' safety inside the prison, complained to the troops trying
to explain that he was ill, but it was useless. Sana finds it too cruel to say
that her husband is crazy, "he has some psychological problems "she
insists." I wish I know why they took him, they searched the house and
did not find anything, he does not leave the house at all, all the time sleeping"
-"how do you live now?"
-"my family supports me. The American took all Jasim' documents, I can
not get his pension now, and the monthly food ration was cut too."
-"why do not you go and ask for the documents?"
-" I can not, I am afraid of the American"
Sana is heavily covered with a black hijab, with veil and gloves. "If
she goes like this, they would shot her form a long distance", one man
Sana and her younger sister Afrah are married to two brothers, Jasim and….
When Jasim was arrested, his brother brought his family to live with Sana.
Afrah husband is a taxi driver, he goes every day in the morning to Baghdad,
to the Kadhymiya hospital, and waits there for ill people or families to bring
them back to Tarmiya. On October 2, 2004, he left at 7 in the morning as usual
and never returned back. The father asked every where, the American bases, the
Iraqi police stations, they announced him missing in the newspapers, but there
is no news of him ( The Islamic Party printed out a list of 1181 men missing
,they were arrested but have no numbers in the prisons lists). Even the car
is gone… was a soldier and he lost his job when the Iraqi army was dissolved.
He used to receive 225 Iraqi dinars ($150) each three months. Now, after his
disappearance the family does not have any income
Afrah has three children, a girl and two boys. The oldest boy is 6 years.
-" How do you live now?"
-"My family supports me. The pension is cut; I am working on getting a
document saying that I am supporting my kids now, so that I can get the pension.
But it is too expensive; you know the lawyers, transportation, and other thing.
People say that there are many missing in Al-Taji military base, that they do
not have numbers, and we are trying now to ask there, but no success yet".
On our way to Tarmiya, we saw the Taji American military base. Before the invasion,
it was the second biggest military barracks in Iraq. Now, on the very long base
fence , there were many signs, may be one each 10 meters, saying this is a military
area, authorized to shoot , do not come near". The gate was heavily guarded
by tanks, armored vehicles, blocks, and many soldiers. There were many Iraqi
men, may be hundreds waiting at a distance of the gate.
The Water Project
The Karkh water project is one of the most important water projects in Iraq.
It supplies the Baghdad area with 1.200.000 barrel of water daily. It has 8
separate stations, a tower of 30 meters, and 3 huge reservoirs. The people of
Tarmiya know that very well, that is why they protected the project during the
invasion. Many of them work in it. But in the spring of 2003, when the Iraqi
government was toppled, the Tarmiya people formed teams to protect the project.
They chose 3-4 armed young men from each mosque to guard it 24 hours. They had
fights with looters, but they succeeded in protecting it. They also worked on
keeping the water flowing to Baghdad by encouraging the employees to go to work
in the project during the bombing. They collected money in the mosques to pay
part of those employees' salaries. They went on that for 3 months, until there
was some kind of relative stability in the country.
But the project was exposed to sabotage few months ago. One of the big pipes,
which are buried 9 meters under the ground, was exploded, drowning all the farms
and orchards around. During the Eid Al-Adhha, (the Sacrifice Feast) and before
the January 30 elections, there was a very big water crisis in Baghdad. Media
published many statements saying that the terrorists did that. Tarmiya people
believe that this is not true, and that the American troops probably did that.
-" But why would the American troops do such a thing?" we asked
The Tarmiyians have little evidence of who did it, but they have evidence of
who did not do it: Few months ago, papers were attached to walls asking the
employees to evacuate the complex (meaning that it is going to be exploded by
fighters). All the Tarmiyia mosques began calling on minarets, asking whoever
is planning to attack the project not to do it, saying that such deeds have
nothing to do with resistance, that this facility is the property of the Iraqi
people, that no one has the right to attack it, that for humanitarian reasons,
it is religiously forbidden to do such thing, and hurting the people of the
beloved Baghdad…etc. After these calls, a message was sent saying that
the project would not attacked, and it was not.
Later, American troops raided the place, searched it, searched the houses,
and arrested the employees. The director was forced to lie on the ground, and
was called Ali Baba. He felt so humiliated that he does not go to his office
since then, and he works in one of the project's secondary stations. 18 workers
were arrested, houses are raided, and 1.300.000 dinars were stolen during the
raids. No weapons were found. Few days later, they left the project, leaving
behind all their remains. The same night, the project exploded.
People say that the attack was technically too sophisticated to be done by
the fighter. "We know that these fighters are not capable of more than
a roadside bombed, it is impossible that they can dig 9 meters to bury explosives
under the huge water pipe, especially that the American troops were there, so
how was that possible?"
Tarmiyans believe that the American needed an excuse to be there to control
the whole area. Now the American troops occupy the project and the tower, many
check points were put and intensified.
Life is becoming very difficult especially for the farmers in this little town.
They live in terror. Working in the farms and the orchards became very dangerous.
Irrigation, which needs to be checked in different times during the day, especially
early in the morning and night, is extremely risky. Harvest, which farmers wait
for the whole year is ruined. They have to go to the farms accompanied by their
families to prove that they are not fighters. Citizens have to raise their hands
when they pass beside the American troops, which these citizens find very difficult
and again humiliating, because Iraqis raise their hands when they salute a friend,
so they consider this sign as a compulsory salute for the enemies, and they
do not want to do it.
Abu Mohammad, an old man in his sixties was shot from the tower while driving
his car. Sheikh J, one of the prominent old personalities in the area, and an
educational inspector, was humiliatingly searched; his house was searched, his
furniture broken. The American soldiers told him that they were looking for
some body called Abdul Ilah, and he simply does not know such a person.
The Tarmyians agree that the American troops are attacked from their area,
but that does not mean that the fighters are from the area." After they
attack they move, they do not stay here" they insist. They have no right
to scrooge villages. In al-Ishaqi, they were attacked, for two nights hundreds
of bombs of bombs were sent to the village.
Ahmad Ismael, a father of 2 children, works as a building security (special
forces created after the occupation to guard public facilities) in the water
project. One afternoon he was driving in when the American troops shot him twice
in the neck. "I had the car's double signal on, I was blinking with the
car lights all the time, driving very slowly, but they kept on shooting until
the car turned over. I was bleeding, I waved to them, they were looking at me
by binoculars, but they did not move to help. I lost so much blood that I felt
I was dying. I began walking towards them, putting my hand on the wound and
holding my guard ID in my mouth, falling to the ground many times, when I reached
them, and they saw my ID, they called a doctor, who put a pad on the wound and
let me go. It took 45 minutes until the project director took me in his car
to the hospital. Even then, they blocked the road and kept on asking questions"
Ahmad can not move his right hand now, one shot went out through his shoulder,
and the other remained in. Ahmad's older brother was killed a year ago in the
random shooting. He went out to check the water in the farm, when he got a shot
in his kidney and intestine.
-Did you complain?
-"What for? Compensation? What would compensate my brother or my hand?"
-"not only compensation, this is unfair!!
-" what is fair?!"
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