| Hello from Baghdad, Everyone,
We still have running water though Baghdad is without electricity/refrigeration/pumped
water in some areas. Bombing is loud and shattering with explosions
closer and almost continuous. Jets fly low and create deliberate
frightening, deafening roars which must create horrible nightmares
in little children. Many can't sleep though, if you know me you
know, that is one skill that I brought with me. The air is dusty
and smoky because Iraq has petrol fires burning black smoke around
the city's perimeter to cloud the sky and, if you know nervous foreigners
you know this, everyone smokes! Telephone communication, even for
"911" calls, are impossible. Bush sure is "tightening the noose"
as they say in the old Westerns. How appropriate!
All the terrible atrocities that we anticipated are occurring here
in Baghdad. Cowboy pilots are toying with lives and livelihoods,
bombing buses and farmer families. Last night, in pursuit of the
CEO here, they dropped several bunker busters into a neighborhood
where their intelligence believed a power meeting was taking place.
I'm told the crater is 50 meters in diameter. There must be hundreds
of killed and maimed children - they know that this city is teaming
with kids! You know that the Russian ambassador's convoy was attacked
and 7-8 were injured. We at- tempted delivery of our document on
suspected war crimes by the US led coalition but arrived at the
Russian Embassy less than one hour after he had left for the border.
Maybe he will take our material out to Putin.
There is a front not far from here, perhaps a half mile, and the
US is blaming an errant missile responsible for taking out a Reuters
office near the top of our neighbor hotel, the Palestine. At least
one journalist was killed and six or seven wounded there. The main
hospitals have been converted to accommodate wounded soldiers and
they are swamped. Witnesses for civilian casualties are not as welcome
as before due to security at the hospitals. We are unable to stray
far from this hotel and we don't have casualty figures now but the
carnage is overwhelming, as anticipated. There are probably sufficient
doctors since Baghdad has many residents and physician specialty
hospitals; many Arabic speaking and overseas Iraqi MD's have arrived
to help. I know that medicines and supplies were short to begin
with when Baghdad was just dealing with civilian targets of bombings.
Now they must be desperately trying to operate without sufficient
narcotics, anesthetics or antibiotics. I can't imagine what that
kind of hopelessness, helplessness must be like in the face of so
Doctors without Borders were excused by the authorities and two
are missing after their office was cleaned out of supplies along
with the Islamic Relief Fund and I'm wondering about possible CIA
meddling. Journalists have been disappeared also; four NGO workers
are missing. People need to be very careful to not arouse suspicion
here and I'm sure that some foreigners that I meet may be intelligence
plants. There are many foreigners including Human Shields that the
Government needs to worry about for good reason since intelligence
plants are likely. The Government has shown interest in ensuring
foreigners' safety and the "minder" assigned to Voices has been
very generous and outspoken in his advocacy for our independence
and peace activism. Human shields have been withdrawn to safety
when the fighting gets close. Please try to learn of the Newsday
journalist who was imprisoned for a week here in Baghdad for his
story. He did arrive in Amman safely and said that he was interrogated
but not mistreated. Is that true?
Mostly we get our information from TV's working off the part-time
generator for the hotel, BBC reports over the battery powered shortwave
radios that some of us have, and journalists and camerapersons with
whom we dine. What a lot of rubbish coming out of Washington! We
watch the lies increase depending on pending votes about defense
spending or need to drum up support in the face of military disappointments.
The Iraqis are quite a spirit to challenge and I'm so sorry that
we couldn't prevent this. Our soldiers are so naive and insensitive;
they know nothing of the specialness of this society that they are
decimating. We got word that they dump pornography in their wake
and we see the result of their play with sophisticated, violent
toys. I know that they see nothing little of what they've done.
America will need to cope with their regrets and guilt later.
We will try to leave shortly by car soon; we're waiting for a window
of opportunity and relative safety in numbers, hopefully. VITW core
members don't plan to stay through an occupation when the US installs
it's puppet regime since efforts will be more effective in our home
countries. I would choose to stay if I had more experience with
the various political complexities, Mid East travel, currency and
Arabic language. What a wonderful culture and people, I'm continually
impressed. When there is a brief lull in the bombing, shaking windows
and quaking buildings, I forget and wish you were all here to see
I know you must all be going crazy with these events and I know
how hard you have all been working for peace. I'm so sorry with
you and I wish that I could send good news. Someone said (Bernard
Lown?) that we are hearing the requiem of international law. I still
trust the common soul of the world community. The global spirit
will rise up.
I will try to stay safe as possible and see you soon, I hope.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Love and peace through war,
April Hurley, MD Iraq Peace Team