September 19, 2003

Peace...and six million files to work through

You remember a few months ago hearing people say, "give peace a chance?" Well, here are some examples. Peace. There was "Peace" in Iraq. We should have given it a chance. Let it grow. Minded our own business. Avoided an unnecessary war...

...The most biting disappointment facing the IPO members, however, has been the fact that when Saddam's vast prisons were opened, none of the hundreds of thousands of missing people emerged alive...

...Tens of thousands of Iraqis are making a weekly pilgrimage to Kadhimiya, where a human rights centre has been set up to log on computer the names of all the hundreds of thousands of people executed by the regime. They have six million files to work through, seized when the regime fell. They have processed two hundred thousand so far. Abtehale went there searching for her grandfather and uncle. So far, they seem to have vanished without record into Saddam's vast torture machine...

..Yasser says quietly: "The day after the liberation, my aunt put out a black banner [an Arab mourning ritual] with the names of all her relatives who had been murdered by the regime on it. And she looked down her street, and there were black banners on almost every house. On some houses it looks like a long shopping list. She said to her neighbour, `You too?' Under Saddam it was a crime to mourn people killed by the regime - it made you seem suspicious too. Everyone was suffering terribly, but they were suffering alone. They just didn't know that everyone else was hating it too."...

Do read the article this came from. It's not just grim stuff, it's also a heartwarming and optimistic account of a nation slowly starting to come alive. Of people's dawning realization that they are not forbidden to do the simplest things...
To you or me it would seem incredibly basic, but to them it was a revelation. They hadn't understood that you could set up your own organisation, without any orders or permission from anyone. They thought societies and charities were something the state did to you, something secretive and conspiratorial, not something people create for themselves. It was beautiful to see this happening."...

...We explained to the university students that they could have different newspapers - and even have different opinions in the same newspapers - and it seemed totally surreal to them. They just couldn't understand it. But when they realised that it really was possible and nobody was going to punish them, they were so excited that they were just obsessed...

It passes understanding that "liberals" and "libertarians" aren't thrilled about things like this...

Posted by John Weidner at September 19, 2003 1:31 PM
Weblog by John Weidner