I've finally crawled out from under my rock ... feeling better, finally. Now I need to make up for the down time I took. The following is an update/snipet sent out from the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq. I know of only one peace group still working in Iraq at the present moment and that is CPT. They have kept their team member numbers down for many months now ... usually having only two or three people keeping the office open and trying to maintain some of their projects in Iraq. Recently they conducted a nonviolence training for a new group called the Muslim Peacemaker Team.
The team is currently hosting a delegation from the U.S. in Iraq. Many people have debated the wisdom of bringing Americans into Iraq at this time.
I am currently living in Jordan with one of CPT's primary translators ... he was asked to join the delegation as the translator, but he felt it was far too dangerous for him and for the delegation right now and he declined. Even within the CPT organization (based in Chicago) I know that the debate must have raged on as to whether this was a good idea or not and the delegation was informed that their trip could be canceled on a single days notice. But the team in Iraq reported that they were receiving many invitations from Iraqis for a delegation visit and they believe that there is great value in bringing ordinary Americans in to see what is happening largely in their name. So they decided to go forward.
When the team went in this past week, everyone in Baghdad and here in Amman was crossing their fingers. Fortunately everyone made it in safely and the delegation was split into two groups to spend their time in two different locations. Below is an update from one of the groups.
Said Salah, Farmer
By C. Kindy, February 24, 2004
Said Salah is a farmer with his father and uncles in a rural area outside of Kerbala. During the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 soldiers attacked and bombed this farm. Sixteen family members died in the attack and another nine were injured. The house was demolished and furniture and belongings were destroyed. In addition, the attack killed 75 sheep. Shepherding is one of the ways he makes his living.
Four days after the war he went to Iraqi Human Rights Watch, in Kerbala, to document the tragedy. Media from around the world carried stories of the event. Then Human Rights Watch International visited his farm. Human rights workers found unexploded ordnance on the farm and he was able to report to them that he knew the locations of six mass graves from the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein.
The United States is pushing the documentation of the deaths by the Saddam Hussein regime in the 1991 uprising and, with the interim Iraqi Government, has established a committee to find the disappeared from those years. War crimes charges are being brought against members of the Iraqi Government from the Hussein years.
Nevertheless, the United States has refused to offer compensation for any damages or deaths that occurred during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Said Salah has received no help from the U.S. military, from the Interim Iraqi government, or from anybody else. He, as a Shi'a Muslim, told CPTers in Kerbala, "Jesus gave his life for peace. The lives of my family were given for peace. Let the Christians of the world hear my story."
He continued, "Nothing can replace my lost family members. I need no compensation. I only want people to understand how this affects my heart."