[Editor's Note: An extraordinary web site was created on August
17, 2003 by a 24 year old Iraqi woman who calls herself "Riverbend".
Her web site (http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/)
is a running weblog of her daily experiences, memories, and thoughts from
inside of Iraq. The site is titled "Baghdad Burning." I'm awe
stricken by this writer's clarity, cohesiveness, accuracy, and sense of
humanity. This single, un-embedded voice of humanity is cutting through
the mountain of wholesale deceit proffered up by the megawatt Radio Liars
and the Fourth Estate Chippies here in the USA like a hot knife slicing
through soft butter. Go there and read it while you can. It might not be
there long. This essay was posted on September 3, 2003 ...Ken Adachi]
By Riverbend <email@example.com>
Sept. 3, 2003
September 11 was a tragedy. Not because 3,000 Americans died… but
because 3,000 humans died. I was reading about the recorded telephone conversations
of victims and their families on September 11. I thought it was… awful,
and perfectly timed. Just when people are starting to question the results
and incentives behind this occupation, they are immediately bombarded with
reminders of September 11. Never mind Iraq had nothing to do with it.
I get emails constantly reminding me of the tragedy of September
11 and telling me how the “Arabs” brought all of this upon themselves.
Never mind it was originally blamed on Afghanistan (who, for your information,
I am constantly reminded of the 3,000 Americans who died that
day… and asked to put behind me the 8,000 worthless Iraqis we lost
to missiles, tanks and guns.
People marvel that we’re not out in the streets, decking
the monstrous, khaki tanks with roses and jasmine. They wonder why we don’t
crown the hard, ugly helmets of the troops with wreaths of laurel. They
question why we mourn our dead instead of gratefully offering them as sacrifices
to the Gods of Democracy and Liberty. They wonder why we’re bitter.
But, I *haven’t* forgotten…
I remember February 13, 1991. I remember the missiles dropped
on Al-Amriyah shelter- a civilian bomb shelter in a populated, residential
area in Baghdad. Bombs so sophisticated, that the first one drilled through
to the heart of the shelter and the second one exploded inside. The shelter
was full of women and children- boys over the age of 15 weren’t allowed.
I remember watching images of horrified people clinging to the fence circling
the shelter, crying, screaming, begging to know what had happened to a daughter,
a mother, a son, a family that had been seeking protection within the shelter’s
I remember watching them drag out bodies so charred, you couldn’t
tell they were human. I remember frantic people, running from corpse to
corpse, trying to identify a loved-one… I remember seeing Iraqi aid
workers, cleaning out the shelter, fainting with the unbearable scenes inside.
I remember the whole area reeked with the smell of burnt flesh for weeks
and weeks after.
I remember visiting the shelter, years later, to pay my respects
to the 400+ people who died a horrible death during the small hours of the
morning and seeing the ghostly outlines of humans plastered on the walls
I remember a family friend who lost his wife, his five-year-old
daughter, his two-year-old son and his mind on February 13.
I remember the day the Pentagon, after making various excuses,
claimed it had been a ‘mistake’.
I remember 13 years of sanctions, backed firmly by the US
and UK, in the name of WMD nobody ever found. Sanctions so rigid, we had
basic necessities, like medicine, on waiting lists for months and months,
before they were refused. I remember chemicals like chlorine, necessary
for water purification, being scrutinized and delayed at the expense of
millions of people.
I remember having to ask aid workers, and visiting activists,
to ‘please bring a book’ because publishing companies refused
to sell scientific books and journals to Iraq. I remember having to ‘share’
books with other students in college, in an attempt to make the most of
the limited resources.
I remember wasted, little bodies in huge hospital beds- dying
of hunger and of disease; diseases that could easily be treated with medications
that were ‘forbidden’. I remember parents with drawn faces peering
anxiously into doctors’ eyes, searching for a miracle.
I remember the depleted uranium. How many have heard of depleted
uranium? Those are household words to Iraqi people. The depleted uranium
weapons used in 1991 (and possibly this time too) have resulted in a damaged
environment and an astronomical rise in the cancer rate in Iraq. I remember
seeing babies born with a single eye, 3 legs or no face- a result of DU
I remember dozens of dead in the ‘no fly zones’,
bombed by British and American planes claiming to ‘protect’
the north and south of Iraq. I remember the mother, living on the outskirts
of Mosul, who lost her husband and 5 kids when an American plane bombed
the father and his sons in the middle of a field of peaceful, grazing sheep.
And we are to believe that this is all being done for the
sake of the people.
“Have you forgotten how it felt that day
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away?”
No… we haven’t forgotten- the tanks are still
here to remind us.
A friend of E.’s, who lives in Amiriyah, was telling
us about an American soldier he had been talking to in the area. E’s
friend pointed to the shelter and told him of the atrocity committed in
1991. The soldier turned with the words, “Don’t blame me- I
was only 9!” And I was only 11.
American long-term memory is exclusive to American traumas.
The rest of the world should simply ‘put the past behind’, ‘move
forward’, ‘be pragmatic’ and ‘get over it’.
Someone asked me whether it was true that the ‘Iraqi
people were dancing in the streets of Baghdad’ when the World Trade
Center fell. Of course it’s not true. I was watching the tv screen
in disbelief- looking at the reactions of the horrified people. I wasn’t
dancing because the terrified faces on the screen, could have been the same
faces in front of the Amiriyah shelter on February 13… it’s
strange how horror obliterates ethnic differences- all faces look the same
when they are witnessing the death of loved ones.
So this is the beginning for me, I guess. I never thought I'd start my own
weblog... All I could think, every time I wanted to start one was "but
who will read it?" I guess I've got nothing to lose... but I'm warning
you- expect a lot of complaining and ranting. I looked for a 'rantlog' but
this is the best Google came up with.
A little bit about myself: I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived
the war. That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway.
All information posted on this web site is
the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
of your choice for medical care and advice.