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Thread: Interesting Article

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    I found this article, some of you may find it interesting.

    Everyday tales of Saddam's cruelty

    They were jailed, beaten, tortured or vilified for daring to express views that offended the president. Now eight Iraqis, from poets to political activists, tell Luke Harding what should happen to their tormentor

    Monday December 22, 2003
    The Guardian

    Dr Hashim Hassan
    Writer, 48

    My problems began back in 1993. Saddam's half-brother, Watban, decided to have me kidnapped. I was sitting in my favourite cafe when his men came in and dragged me away. They blindfolded me and drove me across Baghdad. They then locked me up in a dog kennel. I still have no idea where I was. Watban's men doused me in water and told me I was going to be executed. They also kicked me repeatedly. At the time, I worked for a newspaper owned by Uday Hussein [Saddam's son]. I managed to get a driver to take a note to him and he got me released.
    I was regularly in trouble because of the dozens of essays I wrote criticising the regime, many of which complained about the human rights situation inside Iraq. Not surprisingly, the authorities came for me many times. From 1999 I spent three years in prison, including one year in Saddam's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. I couldn't believe the people who worked there. They were supposed to be intelligence officers; in reality they were extremely stupid. Eventually they let me out. I then fled to northern Iraq, and from there to Syria and Jordan, where I wrote a book about Uday. My family stayed behind in Baghdad. We lost our house. My family lived in terror every day.

    What should happen to Saddam? He should be put on trial in a public court. The Iraqi people should have the opportunity to pass judgment on him. But before he is executed, Saddam should be forced to write his memoirs. People need to know why he did what he did. Perhaps after reading his autobiography they won't be deceived by him, or others like him, in the future .

    Ahmed Abdul Kahar
    Artist, 35

    In 1998 I was walking down the road in central Baghdad when I saw a UN weapons inspector. I said "Salamalikum" to him, hello. Iraqi intelligence officers then dragged me off and started interrogating me. I spent 22 days in prison. They kept me in a cell that measured two-and-a half metres by three metres. I found this extremely difficult. I was a free bird and now I found myself in jail. Why did I say hello? If you are an Iraqi, it is in your nature to be friendly. I was summoned to the security HQ on two other occasions. Several other artists I knew were active politically against the regime, and I must have come under suspicion. The first time I spent a week in jail. After I got out I tried to keep as low a profile as possible. I avoided all my old friends.

    I think Saddam should be brought before an international tribunal. Everybody who was affected by him should have an opportunity to participate in his trial. The trial has to be public. Everybody should be able to see.

    Brigadier Sabah Swadan
    Former Iraqi air force pilot, 54

    I joined the Iraqi air force as a pilot in 1969. I was posted to Tikrit and trained in France before returning to Iraq in 1981 because of the Iran-Iraq war. I flew sorties against Iran and was sent to the Soviet Union for training, before joining the general staff. In 1989 I was told to investigate the helicopter crash in which Adnan Khairallah [Iraq's popular defence minister and Saddam's brother-in-law] mysteriously died.

    I concluded it was pilot error. The pilot had failed to pass his exams, but was promoted because he was distantly related to Saddam. Saddam, apparently, wanted the crash explained by bad weather. I also refused a request to teach Saddam's 14-year-old stepson, Yassir, to fly. He was too small. At the same time, Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, [Chemical Ali] demanded that I give him 100 acres of my land. One day I got home from work, turned on the news, and discovered that I had been sacked. They took away my car. I spent the next six months in a military prison. The only reason I wasn't executed is that I come from an influential Sunni family. My mother met Saddam and I was released. In February 2002 Iraqi intelligence officers turned up at my office. They arrested me again. They blindfolded me and tied my hands. Then they beat me up. By this stage I was a businessman. This time it wasn't about politics, but money. They had no questions to ask: they simply came to my house and forced my family to hand over $28,000. When Saddam announced a general amnesty [in October 2002] I got out too. What should happen now? I hope Saddam isn't executed. He should stay alive so he can see that Iraq is better off without him.

    Salman Dawood Mohammed
    Poet, 46

    In 1997 I wrote a poem which the regime didn't like. I didn't criticise the regime directly - I used metaphors of course - but the poem was nonetheless rebellious in content. It was about regimes, systems and the way the Iraqi people were being governed. After it was published in the Al-Jumhuriya newspaper, three security men turned up at my door. They wanted to talk to me about my work, and the poem. Like all of the Iraqi media, the newspaper was government-controlled and I found myself being investigated by people from the newspaper itself. After several weeks, they concluded that I had not deliberately set out to criticise Saddam. The culture editor who had published my poem, however, Sami al-Zubaidi, lost his job and was forced to flee from Iraq. During this entire period I felt absolutely terrified. I was very afraid. Afterwards, I was forbidden from publishing my work. Other friends of mine, such as the novelist Hamid al-Mukhtar, were tortured by the regime. What should happen to Saddam? He should be ignored and forgotten. That would be the utmost punishment for him.

    Mohammed Sadun
    Communist activist, writer, 54

    I was first arrested in 1974. After that they arrested me numerous times. They wanted to make me a Ba'athist. I was a member of the Iraqi Communist party and wrote articles for the communist newspaper. I frequently criticised the government, describing it as a "gang", and pointed out that it had not managed to achieve anything good for the Iraqi people. Every time I wrote something they would come and arrest me. They usually took me to the security headquarters in Basra. They would then keep me prisoner for seven to 10 days. Later they shifted me to Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. I am a chemist by training and they forced me to work in the prison pharmacy. This carried on for eight years. Finally I retired. I carried on writing of course and won a prize for one of my short stories.

    What should be done with Saddam? The Shia parties want him executed. My feeling is that there should be both international and Arab participation at his trial. A lot of very embarrassing things could emerge about Saddam's links with the outside world.

    Dr Mohammed Ahmed Salih
    Physics lecturer, Baghdad University

    There isn't much of an interface between physics and politics, and so I was obviously better off than many of my colleagues at Baghdad University during the long Saddam years. Nevertheless, many of the people I knew were arrested. Others fled to Libya, or to Jordan and to Europe. And of course the Saddam regime also interfered with our syllabus. A university is a place where people should be free to develop ideas of their own and develop a philosophy of life. Saddam took away the possibility of proper thought and replaced it with his Ba'athist ideology. I feel very strongly that an Iraqi court should try Saddam, and not an international one. He wasn't just a man: Saddam was a philosophy, a system; he was virtually a religion. We should try him. Saddam destroyed our lives and not the lives of people sitting comfortably in England. What he means to us Iraqis is completely different from what he means to you. You can't begin to understand. I was eight years old when Saddam came to power, and now I am 43. I feel that my life has been stolen from me.

    Mohammed Darwish Ali
    Journalist and editor, 43

    Under Saddam the situation was very bad. His security forces and government simply controlled us the whole time. Like under any dictatorship, criticism was almost impossible. Instead, we had to resort to mythology and symbols to express our ideas. I was the editor of my newspaper's cultural section. Many of my colleagues were tortured and arrested. One of my close friends was arrested 10 days before the fall of Baghdad, after a friend of his came to see him from abroad. The Iraqi Mukhabarat suspected the friend of working for the opposition. Many other people were arrested too. Under Saddam, there was no real journalism in Iraq; it was simply ideological journalism controlled by the government. This was a dismal state of affairs. What should happen to Saddam? Well, obviously there should be some kind of public tribunal. But a tribunal is unlikely to satisfy the Iraqi people, given the huge crimes that Saddam committed. In my view, nobody has yet invented a sufficient punishment that could be applied to Saddam.

    Amer Abed
    Poet, 42

    We poets in Iraq were a neglected bunch. We were not paid salaries by the poets' associations and societies and most of my work was published outside Iraq. One of my books of poetry appeared during Saddam's reign, but the most important poem in it was censored. I wasn't tortured myself, but I know plenty of people who were. When they found Saddam in his hole I was delighted. I saw the news on TV and danced round my living room. My mother came in and asked me what the fuss was about. I told her that Saddam had been captured. I felt so happy. I was listening to Kuwait Radio and immediately turned on the BBC.

    There is only one possibility now for Saddam: he has to be hanged. He has committed too many murders of Iraqi people, of Iranians and of Kuwaitis for there to be any other way. He has used biological weapons against the Kurds. And don't forget that back in 1979 he killed most of his friends. We need some form of justice.
    From the Guardian

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  3. The Drawing Room   -   #2

    What is your angle, we all know that he is a cork-sucker.
    Aren't we in the trust tree, thingey?

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Originally posted by hobbes@23 December 2003 - 00:51

    What is your angle, we all know that he is a cork-sucker.
    You'll have to be more specific mate.

    There are a lot of ice holes about.


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