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"I Was Wrong." (Another Protester Comes His Senses)
Capitalism Magazine ^ | Ken Joseph, Jr.

Posted on 04/01/2003 6:18:01 AM PST by conservativecorner

Summary: I had been demonstrating against the war thinking I had been doing it for the very people I was here with now and yet I had not ever bothered to ask them what they wanted...Over and over I questioned them 'Why could you want war? Why could any human being desire war?' They're answer was quiet and measured. 'Look at our lives! We are living like animals. No food, no car, no telephone, no job and most of all no hope.'

[CAPITALISM MAGAZINE.COM] How do you admit you were wrong? What do you do when you realize those you were defending in fact did not want your defense and wanted something completely different from you and from the world?

This is my story. It will probably upset everybody - those with whom I have fought for peace all my life and those for whom the decision for war comes a bit too fast.

I am an Assyrian. I was born and raised in Japan where I am the second generation in ministry after my Father came to Japan in answer to General Douglas Macarthur's call for 10,000 young people to help rebuild Japan following the war.

As a minister and due to my personal convictions I have always been against war for any and all reasons. It was precisely this moral conviction that led me to do all I could to stop the current war in Iraq.

From participating in demonstrations against the war in Japan to strongly opposing it on my radio program, on television and in regular columns I did my best to stand against what I thought to be an unjust war against an innocent people - in fact my people.

As an Assyrian I was told the story of our people from a young age. How my grandparents had escaped the great Assyrian Holocaust in 1917 settling finally in Chicago.

Currently there are approximately six million Assyrians - approximately 1.2 million in Iraq and the rest scattered in the Assyrian Diaspora across the world.

Without a country and rights even in our native land it has been the prayer of generations that the Assyrian Nation will one day be restored and the people of the once great Assyrian Empire will once again be home.

HOME AT LAST

It was with that feeling, together with supplies for our Church and family that I went to Iraq to do all I could to help make a difference. The feeling as I crossed the border was exhilarating - `home at last, I hought, as I would for the first time visit the land of my forefathers. The kindness of the border guards when they learned I was Assyrian, the taxi, the people on the street it was like being back `home` after a long absence.

Now I finally know myself! The laid back, relaxed atmosphere, the kindness to strangers, the food, the smells, the language all seemed to trigger a long lost memory somewhere in my deepest DNA.

The first order of business was to attend Church. It was here where my morals were raked over the coals and I was first forced to examine them in the harsh light of reality.

Following a beautiful 'Peace' to welcome the Peace Activists in which even the children participated, we moved to the next room to have a simple meal.

Sitting next to me was an older man who carefully began to sound me out. Apparently feeling the freedom to talk in the midst of the mingling crowd he suddenly turned to me and said `There is something you should know.` `What` I asked surprised at the sudden comment.

`We didn't want to be here tonight`. he continued. `When the Priest asked us to gather for a Peace Service we said we didn't want to come`. He said.

`What do you mean` I inquired, confused. `We didn't want to come because we don't want peace` he replied.

`What in the world do you mean?` I asked. `How could you not want peace?` `We don't want peace. We want the war to come` he continued.

What in the world are you talking about? I blurted back.

That was the beginning of a strange odyssey that deeply shattered my convictions and moral base but at the same time gave me hope for my people and, in fact, hope for the world.

THE STRANGE ODYSSEY BEGINS

Beginning that night and continuing on in the private homes of relatives with whom I stayed little by little the scales began to come off my eyes.

I had not realized it but began to realize that all foreigners in Iraq are subject to 24 hour surveillance by government `minders` who arrange all interviews, visits and contact with ordinary Iraqis. Through some fluke either by my invitation as a religious person and or my family connection I was not subject to any government `minders` at any time throughout my stay in Iraq.

As far as I can tell I was the only person including the media, Human Shields and others in Iraq without a Government `minder` there to guard.

What emerged was something so awful that it is difficult even now to write about it. Discussing with the head of our tribe what I should do as I wanted to stay in Baghdad with our people during their time of trial I was told that I could most help the Assyrian cause by going out and telling the story to the outside world.

Simply put, those living in Iraq, the common, regular people are in a living nightmare. From the terror that would come across the faces of my family at a unknown visitor, telephone call, knock at the door I began to realize the horror they lived with every day.

Over and over I questioned them `Why could you want war? Why could any human being desire war?` They're answer was quiet and measured. `Look at our lives!`We are living like animals. No food, no car, no telephone, no job and most of all no hope.`

I would marvel as my family went around their daily routine as normal as could be. Baghdad was completely serene without even a hint of war. Father would get up, have his breakfast and go off to work. The children to school, the old people - ten in the household to their daily chores.

`You can not imagine what it is to live with war for 20, 30 years. We have to keep up our routine or we would lose our minds`

Then I began to see around me those seemingly in every household who had lost their minds. It seemed in every household there was one or more people who in any other society would be in a Mental Hospital and the ever present picture of a family member killed in one of the many wars.

Having been born and raised in Japan where in spite of 50 years of democracy still retains vestiges of the 400 year old police state I quickly began to catch the subtle nuances of a full blown, modern police state.

I wept with family members as I shared their pain and with great difficulty and deep soul searching began little by little to understand their desire for war to finally rid them of the nightmare they were living in.

The terrible price paid in simple, down to earth ways - the family member with a son who just screams all the time, the family member who lost his wife who left unable to cope anymore, the family member going to a daily job with nothing to do, the family member with a son lost to the war, a husband lost to alcoholism the daily, difficult to perceive slow death of people for whom all hope is lost.

The pictures of Sadaam Hussein whom people hailed in the beginning with great hope everywhere. Sadaam Hussein with his hand outstretched. Sadaam Hussein firing his rifle. Sadaam Hussein in his Arab Headdress. Sadaam Hussein in his classic 30 year old picture - one or more of these four pictures seemed to be everywhere on walls, in the middle of the road, in homes, as statues - he was everywhere!

All seeing, all knowing, all encompassing.

`Life is hell. We have no hope. But everything will be ok once the war is over.` The bizarre desire for a war that would rid them of the hopelessness was at best hard to understand.

`Look at it this way. No matter how bad it is we will not all die. We have hoped for some other way but nothing has worked. 12 years ago it went almost all the way but failed. We cannot wait anymore. We want the war and we want it now`

Coming back to family members and telling them of progress in the talks at the United Nations on working some sort of compromise with Iraq I was welcomed not with joy but anger. `No, there is no other way! We want the war! It is the only way he will get out of our lives`

Once again going back to my Japanese roots I began to understand. The stories I had heard from older Japanese of how in a strange way they had welcomed the sight of the bombers in the skies over Japan.

Of course nobody wanted to be bombed but the first sight of the American B29 Bombers signaled to them that the war was coming to an end. An end was in sight. There would be terrible destruction. They might very well die but finally in a tragic way there was finally hope.

Then I began to feel so terrible. Here I had been demonstrating against the war thinking I had been doing it for the very people I was here now with and yet I had not ever bothered to ask them what they wanted. What they wanted me to do.

It was clear now what I should do. I began to talk to the so called `human shields`. Have you asked the people here what they want? Have you talked to regular people, away from your `minder` and asked them what they want?

I was shocked at the response. `We don't need to do that. We know what they want.` was the usual reply before a minder stepped up to check who I was.

With tears streaming down my face in my bed in a tiny house in Baghdad crowded in with 10 other of my own flesh and blood, all exhausted after another day of not living but existing without hope, exhausted in daily struggle simply to not die I had to say to myself `I was wrong`.

How dare I claim to speak for those for whom I had never asked what they wanted!

ALL I COULD DO

Then I began a strange journey to do all I could while I could still remain to as asked by our tribe let the world know of the true situation in Iraq.

Carefully and with great risk, not just for me but most of all for those who told their story and opened up their homes for the camera I did my best to tape their plight as honestly and simply as I could. Whether I could get that precious tape out of the country was a different story.

Wanting to make sure I was not simply getting the feelings of a long oppressed minority - the Assyrians - I spoke to dozens of people. What I was not prepared for was the sheer terror they felt at speaking out.

Over and over again I would be told `We would be killed for speaking like this` and finding out that they would only speak in a private home or where they were absolutely sure through the introduction of another Iraqi that I was not being attended by a minder.

From a former member of the Army to a person working with the police to taxi drivers to store owners to mothers to government officials without exception when allowed to speak freely the message was the same - `Please bring on the war. We are ready. We have suffered long enough. We may lose our lives but some of us will survive and for our children's sake please, please end our misery.

On the final day for the first time I saw the signs of war. For the first time sandbags began appearing at various government buildings but the solders putting them up and then later standing within the small circle they created gave a clear message they could not dare speak.

They hated it. They despised it. It was their job and they made clear in the way they worked to the common people watching that they were on their side and would not fight.

Near the end of my time a family member brought the word that guns had just been provided to the members of the Baath Party and for the first time we saw the small but growing signs of war.

But what of their feelings towards the United States and Britain? Those feelings are clearly mixed. They have no love for the British or the Americans but they trust them.

`We are not afraid of the American bombing. They will bomb carefully and not purposely target the people. What we are afraid of is Saddam Hussein and what he and the Baath Party will do when the war begins. But even then we want the war. It is the only way to escape our hell. Please tell them to hurry. We have been through war so many times,but this time it will give us hope`.

AT THE BORDER ... A FINAL CALL FOR HELP

The final call for help came at the most unexpected place - the border. Sadly, and sent off by the crying members of my family I left. Things were changing by the hour - the normally $100 ride from Baghdad to Amman was first $300 then $500 and by nightfall $1,000.

As we came to the border we began the routine paperwork and then the search of our vehicle. Everything was going well until suddenly the border guard asked if I had any money. We had been carefully instructed to make sure we only carried $300 when we returned so I began to open up the pouch that carried my passport and money stuffed in my shorts.

Suddenly the guard began to pat me down. `Oh, no`! I thought. It`s all over`. We had been told of what happened if you got caught with videotape, a cellular telephone or any kind of electronic equipment that had not been declared.

A trip back to Baghdad, a likely appearance before a judge, in some cases 24-48 hour holding and more.

He immediately found the first videotape stuffed in my pocket and took it out. I could see the expression of terror on the driver as he stifled a scream.

The guard shook his head as he reached into my pocket and took out another tape and then from pocket after pocket began to take out tape after tape, cellular telephone, computer camera - all the wrong things.

We all stood there in sheer terror - for a brief moment experiencing the feeling that beginning with my precious family members every Iraqi feels not for a moment but day and night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That terrible feeling that your life is not yours that its fate rests in someone else's hands that simply by the whim of the moment they can determine.

For one born free a terrifying feeling if but for an instant.

As the guard slowly laid out the precious video tape on the desk we all waited in silent terror for the word to be taken back to Baghdad and the beginning of the nightmare.

Suddenly he laid the last videotape down and looked up. His face is frozen in my memory but it was to me the look of sadness, anger and then a final look of quiet satisfaction as he clinically shook his head and quietly without a word handed all the precious videotape - the cry of those without a voice - to me.

He didn't have to say a word. I had learned the language of the imprisoned Iraqi. Forbidden to speak by sheer terror they used the one language they had left - human kindness.

As his hands slowly moved to give the tape over he said in his own way what my Uncle had said, what the taxi driver had said, what the broken old man had said, what the man in the restaurant had said, what the Army man had said, what the man working for the police had said, what the old woman had said, what the young girl had said - he said it for them in the one last message a I crossed the border from tyranny to freedom . . .

Please take these tapes and show them to the world. Please help us . . . . and please hurry!

About the Author: Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian, a minister and was born, raised and resides in Japan where he directs AssyrianChristians.com, the Japan Helpline and the Keikyo Institute.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: epiphany; humanshields; iwaswrong; kennethjoseph

1 posted on 04/01/2003 6:18:01 AM PST by conservativecorner
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To: conservativecorner
This appeared before on FR, with lengthy discussion. Ken's videos were SUPPOSED to be aired on ABC TV sometime this week. Have not heard anything further.
2 posted on 04/01/2003 6:21:38 AM PST by AmericanInTokyo (After watching days of Uncle Bunker Buster in action, Kim Jong-il is in BAD need of new underwear.)
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To: conservativecorner
Excellent story--a must read for all.
3 posted on 04/01/2003 6:24:56 AM PST by NautiNurse (Usama bin Laden has produced more tapes than Steely Dan)
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To: conservativecorner
`Life is hell. We have no hope. But everything will be ok once the war is over.` The bizarre desire for a war that would rid them of the hopelessness was at best hard to understand.

`Look at it this way. No matter how bad it is we will not all die. We have hoped for some other way but nothing has worked. 12 years ago it went almost all the way but failed. We cannot wait anymore. We want the war and we want it now`

Coming back to family members and telling them of progress in the talks at the United Nations on working some sort of compromise with Iraq I was welcomed not with joy but anger. `No, there is no other way! We want the war! It is the only way he will get out of our lives`

Someone want to send this to Sarandon and her ilk? You know, all the people who "care" so much about the Iraqi people?

4 posted on 04/01/2003 6:27:30 AM PST by SpinyNorman
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To: AmericanInTokyo
That last encounter with the Iraqi police at the border would have made me crap myself... Thank God he found human kindness in his heart. I hope to see these tapes.
5 posted on 04/01/2003 6:30:12 AM PST by smith288 (Visit my gallery http://www.ejsmithweb.com/fr/hollywood/hollywood.php)
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To: AmericanInTokyo
ABC is kind of "anti war" isn't it? Thanks for the post.
6 posted on 04/01/2003 6:33:23 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: conservativecorner
Where are the tapes?

Surely a just God would want them shown to the rest of the world?
7 posted on 04/01/2003 6:36:46 AM PST by seams2me
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To: AmericanInTokyo; All
A must read...
8 posted on 04/01/2003 6:40:36 AM PST by Mr. K
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To: seams2me
Where are the tapes?

Surely a just God would want them shown to the rest of the world?

They have to be very careful in editing and modifying the tapes not to identify anyone who is still at risk in Iraq. Otherwise those tapes could consign dozens of people to death.

9 posted on 04/01/2003 6:51:39 AM PST by Joe Bonforte
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To: seams2me
I'm not sure I'd want to see those tapes released until the regime falls unless they blur the faces of the Iraqis involved.
10 posted on 04/01/2003 6:51:48 AM PST by DeuceTraveler
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To: AmericanInTokyo
I haven't seen your latest posts. How are things in NK? Do you have a ping list? May I please be added?
11 posted on 04/01/2003 7:00:22 AM PST by netmilsmom (Bush/Rice 2004- pray & fast for our troops this lent-Peace through strength)
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To: conservativecorner
Previous discussion on this article here. Well worth posting again.
12 posted on 04/01/2003 7:05:54 AM PST by TigersEye (Those who preach peace for tyrants thus condemn free men to battle.)
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To: netmilsmom
not much going on right now. Day 45 and Kim Jong il is still underground and unseen/unheard from. The Northies launched a land to ship missile over the Yellow Sea yesterday around 8 pm. US time last night....south Koreans say they have no info, but Japanese have caught that latest. Thats about it.
13 posted on 04/01/2003 7:15:36 AM PST by AmericanInTokyo (After watching days of Uncle Bunker Buster in action, Kim Jong-il is in BAD need of new underwear.)
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To: SpinyNorman
Someone want to send this to Sarandon and her ilk? You know, all the people who "care" so much about the Iraqi people?

Their reply would be....

Have you talked to regular people, away from your `minder` and asked them what they want?

I was shocked at the response. `We don't need to do that. We know what they want.`

14 posted on 04/01/2003 7:21:47 AM PST by N. Theknow
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To: conservativecorner
Excellent post.

bttp

15 posted on 04/01/2003 7:35:15 AM PST by WellsFargo94
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To: conservativecorner
"I Was Wrong." (Another Protester Comes His Senses)

Is this really "another" one, or has there been only one former protester that we keep hearing about over and over and over again? Anyone keeping track?

16 posted on 04/01/2003 7:39:42 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: DeuceTraveler
AHHH.... I see your point. Shoulda thought of that.
17 posted on 04/01/2003 8:03:22 AM PST by seams2me
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To: Joe Bonforte
You're right, I'm a dope. I'm sure the tapes will be out when it's safe....but dang it, it sure would help make the point, wouldn't it!
18 posted on 04/01/2003 8:04:11 AM PST by seams2me
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To: AmericanInTokyo
Good Job, thanks.
I feel safer knowing you are watching for us.
(you did know I was kidding about the soot sprite, right?)
19 posted on 04/01/2003 8:30:00 AM PST by netmilsmom (Bush/Rice 2004- pray & fast for our troops this lent-Peace through strength)
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To: AmericanInTokyo
I saw on another thread that it is to be on a 20/20 show with Barbara Walters. Unconfirmed so far though.
20 posted on 04/01/2003 9:44:03 AM PST by jiggyboy
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To: conservativecorner
bump
21 posted on 04/01/2003 9:46:31 AM PST by VOA
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To: seams2me
Showing those tapes now ensures the death of the participants.
22 posted on 04/01/2003 9:46:46 AM PST by Maelstrom (To prevent misinterpretation or abuse of the Constitution:The Bill of Rights limits government power)
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To: conservativecorner
The 20th century Assyrian genocide planned and carried out by the Muslim Turks.

Recent history aside, Muslims have been carrying out mass extermination (preferably for them forced conversions) against Christians ever since they first appeared on the scene. If it wasn't the Assyrians, it was the Armenians... if it wasn't the Armenians it was the Greeks and on and on.

23 posted on 04/01/2003 9:52:33 AM PST by eleni121
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To: AmericanInTokyo
If you *do* hear anything further on the ABC presentation please ping me! (or preferably, freepmail - more likely I'll see it that way).

thanks!

I also read a good one from a... Dennis... something that was posted in the UK telegraph, very similar sounding story.
24 posted on 04/01/2003 10:39:26 AM PST by Terriergal (In Your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies)
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To: Eaker; habs4ever; Ditter; shaggy eel; general_re; dorben; Son of Rooster; Gun142; Tennessee_Bob; ...
This is the guy that's supposed to be on ABC sometime this week -- not sure of the time. Maybe ABC will get cold feet.
25 posted on 04/01/2003 10:40:18 AM PST by Terriergal (In Your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies)
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To: AmericanInTokyo
whoops this is the other story:

I was a Human Shield sf.indymedia.org ^ | 3-25-03 | Daniel Pepper

was also printed in the UK telegraph.

26 posted on 04/01/2003 10:42:08 AM PST by Terriergal (In Your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies)
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To: CheneyChick; vikingchick; Victoria Delsoul; WIMom; one_particular_harbour; kmiller1k; mhking; ...
Thanks for the flag, TG. This is a must read, even if it's for the second time.



27 posted on 04/01/2003 10:51:54 AM PST by Sabertooth
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To: AmericanInTokyo
Yes this was posted before, but I read it again anyway. I am watching for word of the video tapes being released. Please let me know if you hear anything.
28 posted on 04/01/2003 1:47:44 PM PST by Eva
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To: Sabertooth
Thanks for the flag.
I do believe I can make some use of this.
29 posted on 04/01/2003 8:45:55 PM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
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To: conservativecorner
Through some fluke either by my invitation as a religious person and or my family connection I was not subject to any government `minders` at any time throughout my stay in Iraq.

Hmmm... I'm sorry to say this, but suddenly a red flag goes up when I see this sentence...

30 posted on 04/01/2003 8:49:25 PM PST by Anamensis
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To: Valin
So many skulls, so much empty space.



31 posted on 04/01/2003 8:50:56 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Terriergal
Ok ;)...
32 posted on 04/01/2003 8:56:16 PM PST by Ben Bolt
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To: conservativecorner; 1066AD
I stopped when he got to Stamford bridege . I'm an Anglo ~ Saxon .
33 posted on 04/01/2003 9:01:23 PM PST by Ben Bolt
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To: Valin
I have always been against war. When the talk started awhile back about going to war in Iraq, I was really upset. I felt really bad for the people and didn't want them to have to go through another war. But for some reason I decided to start learning about Iraq and Saddam. I have completly changed my mind. I totally support this war. I realize that people will die because of the war. But, people are being killed already. I believe that God is the ultimate authority and it is He who gave Bush the courage to go against what most of the world felt. Willing to face the consequences for going against the grain. Not only to protect us, but to finally allow the Iraqi people to live.
34 posted on 04/01/2003 9:05:26 PM PST by crobnson
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To: crobnson
This is the article that brought me onboard.

Toronto Globe and Mail

Saddam's chambers of horrors
By MARGARET WENTE
Saturday, November 23, 2002


Abu Ghraib, 30 kilometres west of Baghdad, is Iraq's biggest prison. Until recently, it held perhaps 50,000 people, perhaps more. No one knows for sure. No one knows how many people were taken there through the years and never came out.
For a generation, Abu Ghraib was the centrepiece of Saddam Hussein's reign of torture and death. Yahya al-Jaiyashy is one of the survivors.

Mr. Jaiyashy is an animated, bearded man of 49 whose words can scarcely keep up with the torrent of his memories. Today he lives in Toronto with his second wife, Sahar. This week, he sat down with me to relate his story. With him were his wife, a lovely Iraqi woman in her mid-30s, and a friend, Haithem al-Hassan, who helped me with Mr. Jaiyashy's mixture of Arabic and rapid English.
"Nineteen seventy-seven was the first time I went to jail," he says. "I was not tortured that much."
He was in his mid-20s then, from an intellectual family that lived in a town south of Baghdad. He had been a student of Islamic history, language and religion in the holy city of Najaf, but was forced to quit his studies after he refused to join the ruling Ba'ath party. His ambition was to write books that would show how Islam could open itself up to modernism.

In Saddam's Iraq, this was a dangerous occupation, especially for a Shiite. Shia Muslims are the majority in Iraq, but Saddam and his inner circle are Sunni. Many Shiites were under suspicion as enemies of the state.
"My father was scared for me," says Mr. Jaiyashy. " 'You know how dangerous this regime is,' he told me. 'You know how many people they kill.' "

Mr. Jaiyashy continued his studies on his own. But, eventually, he was picked up, along with a dozen acquaintances who had been involved in political activity against the regime. They were sent to Abu Ghraib. The others did not get off as lightly as he did. One was killed by immersion into a vat of acid. Ten others, he recalls, were put into a room and torn apart by wild dogs. Several prominent religious leaders were also executed. One was a university dean, someone Mr. Jaiyashy remembers as "a great man." They drove a nail through his skull.

For three decades, the most vicious war Saddam has waged has been the one against his own people. Iraq's most devastating weapon of mass destruction is Saddam himself. And the most powerful case for regime change is their suffering.
Sometimes, it is almost impossible to believe the accounts of people who survived Saddam's chamber of horrors. They seem like twisted nightmares, or perhaps crude propaganda. But there are too many survivors who have escaped Iraq, too many credible witnesses. And Mr. Jaiyashy's story, horrible as it is, is not unusual.

Saddam personally enjoyed inflicting torture in the early years of his career, and he has modelled his police state after that of his hero, Stalin. According to Kenneth Pollack, a leading U.S. expert on Iraq, the regime employs as many as half a million people in its various intelligence, security and police organizations. Hundreds of thousands of others serve as informants. Neighbour is encouraged to inform on neighbour, children on their parents. Saddam has made Iraq into a self-policing totalitarian state, where everyone is afraid of everybody else.
"Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else's migraine," says veteran BBC correspondent John Sweeney. "The fear is so omnipresent, you could almost eat it."
To Stalin's methods of arbitrary arrests and forced confessions, Saddam has added an element of sadism: the torture of children to extract information from their parents.

In northern Iraq -- the only place in the country where people can speak relatively freely -- Mr. Sweeney interviewed several people who had direct experience of child torture. He also met one of the victims -- a four-year-old girl, the daughter of a man who had worked for Saddam's psychopathic son Uday. When the man fell under suspicion, he fled to the Kurdish safe haven in the north. The police came for his wife and tortured her to reveal his whereabouts; when she didn't break, they took his daughter and crushed her feet. She was 2 then. Today, she wears metal braces on her legs, and can only hobble.

"This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents," writes Mr. Pollack in his new book, The Threatening Storm. "This is a regime that will hold a nursing baby at arm's length from its mother and allow the child to starve to death to force the mother to confess. This is a regime that will burn a person's limbs off to force him to confess or comply. This is a regime that will slowly lower its victims into huge vats of acid. . . .
"This is a regime that practises systematic rape against the female victims. This is a regime that will drag in a man's wife, daughter or other female relative and repeatedly rape her in front of him." And if he has fled the country, it will send him the video.

After nearly two years in prison, Mr. Jaiyashy was released and sent to do military service in the north. Then the security police decided to round up the followers of one of the executed clerics. In 1980, Mr. Jaiyashy was arrested again, along with 20 friends, and taken to a military prison. He was interrogated about criticisms he was supposed to have made of the regime, and urged to sign a confession. During one session, his wrists were tied to a ceiling fan. Then they turned on the fan. Then they added weights onto his body and did it again. Then somebody climbed on him to add more weight. "It was 20 minutes, but it seemed like 20 years," he recalls.
He was beaten with a water hose filled with stones. When he passed out, he was shocked back into consciousness with an electric cable. They hung him by his legs, pulled out a fingernail with pliers, and drove an electric drill through his foot.

Mr. Jaiyashy took off his right shoe and sock to show me his foot. It is grotesquely mutilated, with a huge swelling over the arch. There is an Amnesty International report on human-rights abuses in Iraq with a photo of a mutilated foot that looks identical to his. The baby finger on his left hand is also mutilated.
He didn't sign the confession. He knew that, if he did, they would eventually kill him.
They put him in solitary confinement, in a cell measuring two metres by two and a half, without windows or light. Every few weeks, they would bring him the confession again, but he refused to sign. He stayed there for a year.

In 1981, he was sent to trial, where he persuaded a sympathetic judge not to impose the death sentence. He got 10 years instead, and was sent back to Abu Ghraib. "They put me in a cell with 50 people. It was three and a half by three and a half metres. Some stood, some sat. They took turns."
There was a small window in the cell, with a view of a tree. It was the only living thing the prisoners could see. The tree was cut down. There were informants in the cells and, every morning, guards would come and take someone and beat him till he died. "This is your breakfast!" they would say.
Mr. Jaiyashy spent the next six years in that cell. His parents were told he was dead.

Abu Ghraib contained many intellectuals and professional people. Among them was the scientist Hussein Shahristani, a University of Toronto alumnus who became a leading nuclear scientist in Iraq. He was imprisoned after he refused to work on Saddam's nuclear program. He spent 10 years in Abu Ghraib, most of them in solitary confinement, until he escaped in 1991.

Saddam has reduced his people to abject poverty. He wiped out families, villages, cities and cultures, and drove four million people into exile. He killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Kurds. He killed as many as 300,000 Shiites in the uprising after the Persian Gulf war. He killed or displaced 200,000 of the 250,000 marsh Arabs who had created a unique, centuries-old culture in the south. He drained the marshes, an environmental treasure, and turned them into a desert.

In a recent Frontline documentary, a woman who fled Iraq recounted how she and others had been forced to witness the public beheadings of 15 women who had been rounded up for prostitution and other crimes against the state. One of the women was a doctor who had been misreported as speaking against the regime. "They put her head in a trash can," she said.

In 1987, Mr. Jaiyashy and a thousand other inmates were transferred to an outdoor prison camp. There, they were allowed a visit with their relatives, so long as they said nothing of their lives in prison. Mr. Jaiyashy's parents came, hoping he might still be alive. He remembers the day all the families came. "There was so much crying. We called it the crying day."

In 1989, he was finally released from prison. Then came the gulf war and, after that, the uprising, which he joined. It was quickly crushed. He fled with 150,000 refugees toward the Saudi border. But the Saudis didn't want them. "They are Wahhabis," he says. "They consider the Shia as infidels." The United Nations set up a refugee camp, where Mr. Jaiyashy spent the next six years. He began to paint and write again.
Finally, he was accepted as an immigrant to Canada. He arrived in Toronto in 1996, and is now a Canadian citizen.

Mr. Jaiyashy has a deep sense of gratitude toward his adoptive country. Canada, he says, has given him back his freedom and his dignity. He paints prolifically, and has taken courses at the art college, and is the author of three plays about the Saddam regime. He makes his living stocking shelves in a fabric store. "I'm a porter," he says. "No problem. I'm happy."

But Saddam's spies are everywhere. After one of his plays was produced here, his father was imprisoned. His first wife and three children are still in Iraq. He hasn't seen them since his youngest, now 12, was a baby. He talks with them on the phone from time to time, but it is very dangerous. One of his brothers is in Jordan, another still in Iraq.
Sahar, his second wife, is soft-spoken. She covers her head and dresses modestly, without makeup. Her face is unlined. She arrived in Canada with her two daughters the same year as Mr. Jaiyashy; they were introduced by friends.

She, too, has a story. I learned only the smallest part of it. "I was a widow," she told me. "My husband was a doctor in Iraq. He wanted to continue his education and have a specialty. But they didn't allow him. He deserted the military service to continue his education on his own. They beat him till he died."
Today, her daughters are in high school and she teaches at a daycare centre. Her new husband pushed her to study hard here. "ESL, ESL," she says affectionately.
Like many Iraqis, they are conflicted about the prospect of war. They want Saddam gone. But they do not want more harm inflicted on their country. "I want Saddam gone -- only him," says Mr. Jaiyashy.

A few weeks ago, Saddam threw open the doors of Abu Ghraib and freed the prisoners there. Many families rejoiced, and many others, who did not find their loved ones, mounted a brief, unheard-of protest against the regime. The prison is a ghost camp now. Nothing is left but piles of human excrement that cake the razor wire.

Saddam's Iraq is a rebuke to anyone who may doubt that absolute evil dwells among us. No one has put it better than Mr. Sweeney, the BBC reporter. "When I hear the word Iraq, I hear a tortured child screaming."
35 posted on 04/01/2003 9:54:51 PM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
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To: Valin
How so many can protest against the purpose of this war. There are so many of us, who would not normally back war that can back this one with all of our heart. Even though there will be pain and suffering caused by it, knowing that any pain and suffering caused by a war will be short lived and in the end worth it. The people of Iraq are starting to realize that even in war, our people are compassionate and caring. Not willing to do them any harm. May Saddam die a slow painful death!
36 posted on 04/02/2003 4:45:57 AM PST by crobnson
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To: crobnson
My take, freely given (and worth just about that much).

In respect of the leadership many of these folks are holdovers from the anti-war movement in the 60s-70s. Or are wedded to the hardcore socialist/progressive left, and as such are anti-American, anti-Judeo-christian (actually many are anti-religion of any kind), anti-capitalist, anti-western civilization. You'll find the same people in the "enviromental movement", animal rights groups, anit-globalism movement, pro-abortion groups. If you look at the leadership of A.N.S.W.E.R you'll see it was started by the World Workers Party, who are they you ask? Back when there was such a thing call the USSR they were a wholly owned subsidiary of the KGB.

As to the rank and file.
Many of them were brought up with Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, Sesame St., Capt Planet..etc., very little history (world or American) and what little they did get put an emphasis on the negative aspectives of western/American history. They have been told day in day out that war is bad, war is bad, peace is good, peace is good. they get positive renforcement of these ideas from their teachers and the media, and others in power. I don't question their sincerity or comittment I do question their intelligence (Lenin called them "useful fool") I call them moral midgets they are people who's moral development stopped at about the 2nd grade.
Then there are those who like your humble servant 30-35 years ago look at these protests as a great place to pick up chicks.


37 posted on 04/02/2003 5:57:21 AM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
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To: Valin
Yes, I grew up during the 60's and 70's. As far as I knew, war served no useful purpose, all it did was kill people. I think alot of people get to an age when they finally wake up and realize that there just might be more to the story. I have said in other posts, I am not a Bush supporter, am not particularly patriotic and have become disenchanted with the US government. I realize that those things would create a couple of scraps on this forum. What I do believe is that there are times when help is absolutely necessary. That absolute evil must be dealt with. I also have come to realize that war, when used in the most dire of circumstances can accomplish this. Nobody is for "war", but the people who are so opposed need to start looking at all of the factors involved, including the cost to the country that has chosen to go to this extreme. Alot of us out here who "thought" we were against this action have discovered after taking a closer look, that it is necessary.
38 posted on 04/02/2003 1:45:06 PM PST by crobnson
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