Two Women in Iraq
- Friends: Below is a short article written by a friend working with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq."We Are Tired," The Stories of Two Women
July 31, 2005
We planned to spend the evening and night with a renowned writer,
Halla,* and her family and friends. Three CPT women would sleep with
her on the roof of her Baghdad home and see her off early the next
morning to her birth country, Syria, where she would reunite with
her sister, daughter and their families.
It would be Halla's first time to see her three grandchildren.
Because she had married an Iraqi of Palestinian origin, she had not
been able to travel outside Iraq for over twenty years. Her son,
who had been imprisoned for eleven months in Iraq under US forces,
had been released, and she was finally recovering from the cloud of
grief and worry this caused her. Her family and friends were here to
share in her joy and hope for new possibilities in her life.
This occasion gave us the opportunity to also talk to Samia,*
Halla's close friend. She proceeded to tell us her own family story.
Her father had been a well-loved, top official in the transportation
and construction ministries under Saddam's regime. The family never
found out why in 1983 Saddam's government arrested and imprisoned
him and confiscated the family home. They visited their father at
Abu Ghraib prison weekly, supplying him with his food and other
necessities. Samia never got to continue her education at the
university because she had to help her mother support the family by
preparing and selling foods in a shop and doing fancy beadwork and
sewing. When her father was finally released three years later, he
was "very tired" and not able to support his family.
When Samia married, she still continued her sewing and beadwork,
working late every night after the children went to bed, in order to
provide a better standard of living for her family. "I am tired,"
she said, and we could see the accumulation of pain in her eyes.
Since the invasion of Iraq, she helped her sister's family when the
US military imprisoned her brother-in-law. It took the family
several months to simply find where he was and to arrange to visit
"When the Americans came, they said they would close Abu Ghraib
prison," Samia told us. "I never thought I would say this, but now
it's worse here for prisoners and their families and for life in
general than under Saddam," "Every family has at least one member
who has been killed, injured, or imprisoned in this war. We are
For the past two years both women have been working with a local
women's organization which brings women from all backgrounds
together to oppose the occupation. Things have not been improving in
their society. It is hard to bring about change. They are
determined, however, to keep working together to maintain a space of
hope, even if it simply keeps them from being broken by the
tiredness that more and more Iraqis feel.
* Not their real names
Visit my web page at http://daga.dhs.org/max
People tend to think of nonviolence as a choice between using force and doing nothing. But the real choice takes place at another level. Nonviolence is less a matter of "not killing" and more a matter of showing compassion, of saving and redeeming, of being a healing community. One can only choose between doing good to the person placed in one's path, or to do him evil. To do good is to love a person; but not to do that is as good as killing him. To love someone is to restore that person physically, socially, and spiritually. To neglect and postpone this restoration is already to kill. Andre Trocme
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