July 14, 2003
Baghdad, US Occupied Iraq
I had arrived to Baghdad, for the past five days I am safe and everything is fine, currently I am living with film producers from US and France at a private apartment, we rent a car everyday to go around the city and for interviews and filming.
In Iraq, everywhere you can see the destruction from the US-UK invasions, Baghdad is highly polluted city, hot air mixed with dusts from the burning houses make everyone very comfortable. With half of the city utility destroyed by the war and sanctions, poor people without running water or electricity to run air conditioning in this summer do feels living in a hell.
It doesn't mean Baghdad don't have foods and drinks. If you're rich, you can get everything, with less then $2-$3 you can eat like a king, many rich people has satellite phones and American-made GMC SUVs are everywhere, yet most poor Iraqis their life had ruined by the war, they don't have money, no water and no help.
In some ways, the streets of Baghdad reminds me lots like the life in the hoods of Los Angeles.
You almost don't see any US troops loitering at the street or outside the capital. But you will see them plenty at around Baghdad, either cursing with tanks at the streets, or barricade themselves behind the tanks or machine guns at the check points. I talked to many of them; they are from Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas, some of them are nice people, some of them could be nasty. Once in the while, you'll see a group of curious but na´ve Iraqi children will surrounding GIs, yelling: "hey, Mister! Mister!" and go to touch their guns, a happy moments with them but ironically with destroyed houses behind their scene.
Yet, majority of the Iraqis I had met, it doesn't matter their social, political, religious or age backgrounds, told me that they don't like US troops. Despite all visible Saddam's pictures and statues had been destroyed by US troops after the invasion, many still supports Saddam, also many happy that he's gone-but they all told me that they want US troops to leave their country, many even says they will [pick up the arms to rise up against US occupiers.
The reality of brutality is clear: at recent human right organization report, US invasion had results in over 7000 civilian deaths, 3 months after the invasion there's still almost no US public assistance to help the suffering Iraqis, no rebuilding efforts by the US administrators or military in Iraq, the only "rebuilding" was to replace the trooped Saddam structure to a new "Freedom" structure at the Firdos Square next to Palestine Hotel.
Not once Iraqis on the streets told me that US troops had killed their family, loot their house, steal their money, and arrests many people they know. They never had freedoms under Saddam's Iraq, but they are now under the watchful eyes of US troops-similar to the life under cops in the inner-city Los Angeles. US troops and US corporations who come to "rebuild Iraq" can stay behind the air-conditioned room at most beautiful once Saddam palace, while desperate and angry Iraqis at outside the fence facing 120 degrees everyday.
US bombings and invasion had destroyed every government minister buildings, Baath party offices, police stations, TV stations many stores private houses, and many public utility system and telecommunication systems (destroyed and ruined at the first Gulf war, and never able to repair). Yet, US military intentionally spare Minister of Petroleum building, they are back to business and US wants Iraq to ship oil soon. Every Iraqi no doubt believes the US invasions is about oil, not about liberations, many Iraqi believes Saddam is a "Ali Baba"-the thief", but US is a even bigger "Ali Baba"
Yesterday under heavy US military escorts, they had a celebration events of the formations of 25-members Interim Iraqi Administrative Council, most of them are exiled Iraqis never been in Iraq for long time and airlifted by US to Baghdad, they promised will form a new permanent government, draft a new constitution and a free-election soon-yet, the US administrator--the highest authority at the occupied Iraq, will have final power to approve or veto council's decisions, "this is a US puppet regime" many Iraqis told me. Just few hours after the ceremony, a Iraqi ambush against US military results in one US solider death and six wounded.
Despite the grim reality, many people from around the World are coming to Iraq to support the peace and justice movements in Iraq. Such as Global Exchange, Voice in the Wilderness, Amnesty International, Code Pink, and many other peace activists from Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, France to come to Iraq to solidarity with the people of Iraq.
I challenge every conscious people and peace activists, stand up, come up, linking you local struggles to the struggles in Baghdad. Understand their struggles can help us understand our struggles, PEOPLEM UNITED, WE CAN WIN OUR PEACE AND JUSTICE STRUGGLES ACROSS THE WORLD!
Lee Siu Hin
Contact this site
Contact this site