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Saturday, September 29, 2007


The Blackwater massacre: the victim's story

Lots of coverage in the media about the most recent Blackwater massacre of 11 Iraqi civilians, the banning/un-banning of them, etc. Little to no coverage of the victims. McClatchy's Leila Fadel (discussed here a few days ago) went to meet with them, and writes about them on her blog (not yet published as far as I can tell):
It all starts to run together sometimes. But the things that will stay with me over my break are Afrah's tears. I sat in her home this past week to talk about her mother Ghania. Afrah was the woman's favorite among her eight children. Often her sisters would complain that she and Ghania were always together.

Afrah talked about her kindness, Ghania would hide away her favorite foods for her or pick up clothes or trinkets from the market that reminded her of her daughter.

Ghania is gone, killed at the back of a bus by what witnesses said were bullets from Blackwater security guards on Sept. 16 in Nisour square. While they protected Americans Iraqis died, witnesses said.

No one has come to this tiny home in Hurriyah to ask this family what happened. No investigators from the Ministry of Interior or the U.S. Embassy or the joint U.S. and Iraqi commission. No one has asked them about compensation or what this has done to their family.

Ghania died while she held her 27-year-old daughter in her arms in the back of a bus, protecting her from the bullets.

Her family lives in a tiny two-bedroom home where instead of doors, sheets of cloth conceal the rooms from each other and the home from the street. Her poor husband can't think about anything but his loving wife. They spent 40 years together and at night when everyone has gone home he sees her in front of him. No one else can put up with his stubborn personality, she love him, she alone.

He tries to stop his mind and goes to the street in the dead of night and chain-smokes. But his love and need for her has grown since her death. Nothing will be enough to compensate this 67-year-old for his loss.

For Afrah, the image of her mother's body in the back of a pick up truck with two other bodies is engrained in her mind. She wakes up and sleeps with it in her mind.

When her mother died she kissed her and turned to God, "We belong to God and we return to God," she prayed. But I see the pain in Afrah's tears.
Update: The author (Leila Fadel) notes in the comments that an article (this one) was published yesterday which discussed several of the victims at length, although how much publication the article got is in question; as I note in the comments, it did not appear in the paper I read in print, the San Jose Mercury News. The article was more extensive (quoting more victims), but less personal and moving than the Fadel's blog entry above.

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