Thursday, October 20, 2005

The trial, as some Iraqis see it...

The hot topic in Baghdad today is Saddam’s trial and one can easily see opinions divided about it; some see that it is a true victory for justice while others think the trial was seriously weak and in my opinion this is not unexpected from a people living the transition from a totalitarian regime to a state of law and institutions thus why some (or actually many) still think that the trial has to be repressive so they didn’t like the calm behavior of the judge especially when he addressed Saddam using the word “Mr”.

One friend siad to me “I was shocked when I saw Awad Al-Bandar (the chief of the former revolutionary tribunal) who sent countless numbers of people to execution and who broke world records in trials’ duration, sometimes as short as two minutes” as a matter of fact the man had to be fast because the lines of defendants awaiting their trials was endless!
This former “judge” complained to the court demanding his igal (traditional headwear) which he described as his identity to be returned to him and said that he won’t speak until he has his igal on his head again…my friend wondered “were victims of that very man allowed to do the same?” one columnist commented on this issue in a newspaper by saying “defendants in the past wouldn’t demand any headwear because after all what’s the benefit of one if the head itself was going to leave the body in a matter of a few hours?!”.

Of course opinions vary when ages vary as the age more or less determines how much suffering the person had to go through. Today I was talking to victims of Saddam who are friends of the family; a mother (52) and her daughter (25). The rest of their family was exterminated by Saddam; the daughter lost her grandfather, father and uncle.

I was one year old when that happened and I didn’t realize the situation until years after but I tell you one thing, I never said ‘DAD’ in my life…

Why do you think the trial was fine? It was pathetically weak and you cannot imagine the pain I felt when I saw the bloody murderer being allowed to speak and to defy the court. I could see the smiles on the faces of the Ba’athists and the Arab mercenary who speak of Saddam as a brave lion, haven’t you heard what Raghad said on Al-Arabiya? She said: I never saw a greater or a braver father.

She killed me again, killed me and my mother whom Saddam stole her life. I was small when my dad was murdered but I see sadness in my mother’s eyes everyday, that woman had to bury her father, brother and husband.
I cannot celebrate justice now because to me justice means that Saddam must be cut into pieces and burned with his gang and family…justice means that the suffer like we suffered.
I am so depressed today, he ought to be kicked, slapped and humiliated in front of us. Where was justice when my grandfather, my dad and my uncle were murdered just because they had a different opinion that that of Saddam!!

I stood silent and I couldn’t answer back, I just told her that Saddam stole my life too but she wouldn’t listen, she was only crying and repeating her words…
The mother who lost her father, husband and brother was calmer and actually she sounded happy when told me “yesterday we avenged the blood of our martyrs, I can’t say how happy I was to see fear and anxiety in Saddam’s eyes. You don’t know how much I awaited this moment, only yesterday I felt safe and I don’t really care if they hang him or leave him to rot in jail, all I care about is that this time HE is in the cage, isn’t that great?

I don’t have much time left son but you and your children shall harvest the fruits of this victory…

If you’re interested in knowing about the background of this family’s story, I’d like to include snapshots from it:

Back in 1972, the Ba’ath created the “National Patriot Progressive Front” in order to attract the opposition parties, especially the communists, the Kurds and the pan-nationalists. These parties didn’t realize that it was a trap designed by the Ba’ath to infiltrate the parties and identify their cadres. So after the Ba’athists seized control over the country they thought it would be a good idea to eliminate those in the opposition who naively thought the Ba’ath fascists wanted to share governance.
My guest begins telling her story:

It started first when they executed 34 members from the leadership of the communist party and this forced the rest of the higher ranks to runaway and hide. One woman activist (Ayda Yasin) sought refuge in my father’s clinic (he was a dentist) and he did hide her there until she was spotted by the Ba’thists.
He was attacked and arrested in his clinic and then taken to some unknown location.
We were scared and we felt the family was being watched including my brother who carried a PhD in geology.
We kept a low profile waiting for news about my father but then we were fired from our jobs and the pressures increased upon us. Then came the horrible news that my father was executed and that the rest of us were on the hit list.
We decided to head north to the Kurdish region; me, my husband and brother joined the “Ansar” movement and we fought for years defending ourselves in the mountains that were besieged by the government’s army.
I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter and I had to leave the mountains and escape to Syria and in 1983 I learned that my husband and my brother among 94 other heroes fell in a battle in the mountains outside Erbil.

The world became black in my eyes, I lost everything and I’m responsible for two babies who know nothing about the disaster that fell upon us.

You know, we never thought of carrying arms and fighting, we were good citizens serving the country with the knowledge and degrees we earned with hard work and we never imagined we would be forced one day to carry arms and battle the Ba’athists in the mountains and deserts but it’s Saddam and his oppressive regime that left us with no other choice…
I’m telling you this and I’m free again and I’m proud of what I and my family did while that miserable coward is sitting in a cage and about o beg for mercy.

Yes I do feel that justice is winning….

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