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Watching anti-war protests with pain

by Bigfoot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 3:24 AM

By Adil Awadh. Adil Awadh, an Iraqi doctor, worked in a military hospital in Iraq from 1994 to 1996. He is an independent member of the Iraqi National Congress and lives in the Washington area. Published March 9, 2003.



As an Iraqi refugee who has experienced firsthand the horrors of Saddam Hussein's despotic reign in Iraq, it's difficult for me to watch hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets of America and Europe voicing their disapproval of the war plans to liberate my besieged homeland.

As I watch these images roll across my TV screen, I wonder how these protests appear to various audiences in Iraq. I wonder how much pain these rallies cause those Iraqis whose tongues were mercilessly cut off by Hussein because they chose to exercise that same right of free speech in Baghdad.

I wondered how these defiant protest chants sound to the hundreds of victims of Hussein's barbaric ear-cutting policies, for they too were opposed to the concept of war, especially those involving Hussein. I have treated many Iraqi soldiers and brave anti-war activists suffering from severe ear infections with life-threatening consequences, after being subjected to this perverse form of mutilation at the Al-Amarah military hospital. I was a medical intern at the hospital, located in the southern part of Iraq from 1994 until 1996, and was a sad witness to this atrocity. I find it unfortunate and ironic that a Western anti-war activist would march in support of Hussein and his war-inflicting regime while their brave anti-war Iraqi counterparts languish tortured and mutilated in the dark jails of Saddam Hussein.

I wondered how the protest banners carried by the marchers appear to Iraqis who have long been subjected to leafleting by Iraq's "Great Uncle." In 1991, my family was the terrified recipient of one such chilling message when Hussein's military helicopters dropped leaflets informing the residents of my town that the Iraqi military was about to strike us with chemical weapons. We were told the action was necessary in an effort to quell the popular and widespread anti-Hussein uprising. One of these leaflets fell in my family's garden. I can only imagine the horror my family and the residents of my town must have felt when they read the signs of the anti-war protesters asking their leaders to extend the reign of the Butcher of Baghdad.

As I reflect on how these images will play back home, I recall several other aspects of life in Hussein's besieged Iraq. Those who have lived in this prison of a country, this sorry excuse of a defiant Arab state, have too many stories and scars to recall. I remembered the bizarre episode of witnessing medical students being asked to volunteer for suicide kamakazi-style missions in a futile response to the crippling allied air assault of the Gulf War. I remember the students not only refusing to volunteer, but joking about the irony of the fact that they were studying medicine to relieve pain and suffering and were now being asked to volunteer to inflict pain and suffering. For the past 30 years the world has kept silent regarding the atrocities endured by the besieged people of Iraq at the hands of Hussein. For too long, the Iraqi people have cried for help but the world has played deaf. It is a sad reflection on the state of appreciation for universal human rights when, finally, the Bush and the British administrations seem to have heard these cries, yet hundreds of thousands of people worldwide marched in the streets to block any attempt to save the Iraqi people from a ruthless dictator.

For me the best response to those protesters is for the free world, led by the U.S, to liberate Iraq.

The people of Iraq will certainly welcome any international power that will join the battle with them against Hussein's warmongering regime. I know, I witnessed it firsthand. During the widespread Iraqi uprising of March 1991, Iraqis welcomed the victorious allied forces and took up arms against the totalitarian regime of Hussein. In a matter of a few days, 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces were under the complete control of the free people of Iraq. Sadly, the world community shunned the people of Iraq in 1991 in much the same manner as that of today's anti-war protesters.

One thing that I can surely predict is that if this historic opportunity of removing the regime in Baghdad is lost, the Iraqi people will be in more pain. The barbaric atrocities will prevail and more ears, tongues and heads will be cut. Instead of just dropping leaflets warning of a chemical strike, an emboldened Saddam Hussein will use real chemical weapons, as he has done before. For this time, Hussein will know the world lacks the resolve and the humanitarian spirit required to take the steps necessary to remove him from his self-anointed and blood-stained throne.

But, despite all, I remain an optimist. I believe that when the Iraqis get their freedom, they will march on Iraqi streets lifting the placards that say "Thank you America and United Kingdom." And I can certainly foretell another placard that will boldly declare "French and Germans, you can't inspect evil." However, the marchers in Iraq will never be able to exercise this very basic human right of demonstration, should the regime of Saddam Hussein remain in power. Sadly, the anti-war demonstrators desire exactly that end.



http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/oped/chi-0303090269mar09,1,5796954.story?coll=chi%2Dnewsopinioncommentary%2Dhed

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 102 posted about this article.
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Saddam has no supporters, anywhere. Pissed Off and Disgusted in Ohio Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 3:55 AM
Iraqis don't want you speaking on their behalf Bigfoot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 4:37 AM
Bush= Rabid dog Sheepdog Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 4:50 AM
I could give a fuck about Bush Able to Draw Distinctions Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 4:52 AM
Alarming Bigfoot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 5:18 AM
wee! Able to Draw Distinctions Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 5:29 AM
Wee? Bigfoot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 5:44 AM
sure Able to Draw Distinctions Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 5:48 AM
INC? Bigfoot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:04 AM
Don't read the posts? lancer Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:08 AM
PR, PR, PR Diogenes Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:19 AM
it's frustrating.... khf Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:27 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:39 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:43 AM
Miss DeMeanor Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 1:00 PM
Prelude to War Atlas Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 1:43 PM
Got bombs? Ruth Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 2:40 PM
"Wait for the bombs" Shannon Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 5:52 PM
I'm chuckles alright Ha ha Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 7:45 PM
Hey Chuckles... dittohead Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:10 PM
Ha ha That's Mr. Chuckles to you. Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:19 PM
Well, er...umm..gee Mr. Chuckles, sir... the door-man Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:40 PM
once again, Ms. Chuckles makes little sense... nor do most liberals Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:46 PM
Come and git me, I'm armed. Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:49 PM
Oh gee, Chuckles the antiwar protester is armed imagine that Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:53 PM
Chuckles wants to fight for his country? Shannon Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 8:56 PM
Oh my, more than one gun. Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 9:02 PM
Sweet Shannon Mr. Chuckels Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 9:09 PM
america hating appeaser true patriot Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 9:37 PM
No lie. Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 9:48 PM
Banter, banter, banter, banter Shannon Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 10:50 PM
to squirts Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 10:58 PM
Oh damn. Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:02 PM
Speaking of isolating the leader plan master Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:11 PM
comment some guy Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:13 PM
Gee Mr. Chuckles is that how you treat a lady? Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:14 PM
Not a racist (maybe not) Mr, Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:23 PM
To Shannon oddworld Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:25 PM
Lady? Ha! Mr. Chuckles Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:32 PM
attack of the neo-cons not Friday, Mar. 14, 2003 at 11:35 PM
"We live here" Shannon Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 1:38 PM
Liberals=Nazis itstrue Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 2:28 PM
shannon=rightwing thug oddworld Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 3:24 PM
Good Little German AH Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 3:35 PM
Response Pissed Off in Ohio Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 3:44 PM
AH you shrivled up poor excuse for a penis Pissed Off in Ohio Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 3:56 PM
Ugh AH you make me want to fucking puke man POIO Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 4:06 PM
Clinton smelling like roses?? Shannon Saturday, Mar. 15, 2003 at 5:05 PM
El bumpo fill out correctly Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 2:43 PM
We used to stand up for what is good. The no longer silent MAJORITY Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 3:52 PM
Here oddworld. Just for you. Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 4:08 PM
Where's the Beef Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 4:27 PM
Here's the beef... Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 5:23 PM
It is your side that... Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 5:29 PM
My side?? Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 5:42 PM
Much noise, little original input Sheepdog Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 5:49 PM
I agree with sheepdog... louie lefty Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 5:52 PM
I am waiting for a rational rebuttal - do you have one? Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 6:11 PM
Dr. Awadh maybe you'll read this man might be broken Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 7:14 PM
anti-American? Ca Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 7:21 PM
My soul? I haven't got one Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 7:24 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 7:28 PM
You still offer nothing of substance... Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 7:40 PM
neither do you Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 8:02 PM
Substance? You want substance? Shannon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 8:14 PM
Good article. Love my quote Ali Hassan al-Majid Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 8:23 PM
Gee Diogenes an observer Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 8:33 PM
DA! kim Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 8:54 PM
"Already occupied" Jim Allens Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 9:11 PM
chickenhawk Spada Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 9:23 PM
Simple Simple Simon Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 9:25 PM
Two can play at this game. Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 9:27 PM
chickenhawk Spada Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 9:37 PM
Spada, were going to war, HAHA Spada, were going to war, HAHA! Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 10:52 PM
You are an Imbecile Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:26 PM
Jim Kim Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:29 PM
Diogaynes, i never said 9-11 was supported Diogaynes, i never said 9-11 was supported Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:47 PM
Fascist pinhead, learn the difference between a title and a name POIO Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:50 PM
PIOI, your name is gay PIOI, your name is gay Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:51 PM
And furthermore... Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:52 PM
Yeah keep talking shit asshole i will fucking end you Pissed Off in Ohio Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2003 at 11:53 PM
I got yer back american Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:01 AM
yeah Jay Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:05 AM
Diogaynes, what your a consverative?! Diogaynes, what your a consverative?! Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:10 AM
rightwing thugs must die american Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:21 AM
I did not say I was a Conservative... Diogenes Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:25 AM
Good job, you guys made an atempt Good job, you guys made an atempt Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:43 AM
Bad job american Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 12:50 AM
User American, no wonder you have a male part User American, no wonder you have a male part Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:01 AM
Yeah morons Shannon Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:08 AM
dumb fuck stop fucking up the wrap POIO Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:09 AM
Most of america, represent! Most of america, represent! Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:10 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:15 AM
America's Most Wanted Eric Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:17 AM
KPC, peace out dude KPC, peace out dude Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:19 AM
OneEyedMan KPC Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 1:22 AM
CIA? Me Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2003 at 6:12 PM

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