A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Iraq war’

“Why I threw the shoe…”

Dear All – This article truly speaks for itself – in honor of all those who have suffered and died in the occupation of Iraq I offer the following….Peace Liz

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

Why I Threw the Shoe

by Muntazer al-Zaidi

The Guardian/UK

Friday, September 18, 2009

I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: what compelled me to act is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

Over recent years, more than a million martyrs have fallen by the bullets of the occupation and Iraq is now filled with more than five million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. Many millions are homeless inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

As soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies, while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the blood that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I apologise. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day. The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism needs to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.

I didn’t do this so my name would enter history or for material gains. All I wanted was to defend my country.

Muntazer al-Zaidi is an Iraqi reporter who was freed this week after serving nine months in prison for throwing his shoe at former US president George Bush at a press conference. This edited statement was translated by McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Sahar Issa www.mcclatchydc.com

“Blessed are the peacemakers…” President Obama’s address

Dear All – I want to take this week to reflect on President Obama’s address to the “Muslim world” delivered on June 4.

After eight years of a complete lack of diplomacy, international law and human rights, President Obama faced a steep challenge in addressing the primary victims of U.S. foreign policy.  I would like to honor the incredible gaps he tried to bridge from communities still shattered by 9/11 to communities currently shattered in the face of occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. As President Obama noted in his speech these are areas of historical as well as current anguish and require careful reflection and steady care.

I thank the President for what he said. I am relieved and heartened by the tone he struck and hopeful for the branch of collaboration he offered. If we turned a page eight years ago on 9/11 perhaps we have turned another page this past June 4th – a turn toward peace.

But for collaboration to flourish, for mistrust to ease, for anguish to end as the President hopes (and we all hope), we need to take a minute to examine what President Obama did not say.

He did not say that the war in Iraq was illegal and has killed over a million civilians and displaced more than 2 million more; he did not say that Palestinians have existed in one of the most brutal occupations of the past century-an occupation aided and abetted by U.S. military aid; and he did not say that the people of Afghanistan and now Pakistan have begged for the U.S. to leave – that its presence fuels the extremists, it does not defeat them.

In short he did not say what we have done, what we are responsible for, what we need to ask forgiveness for in the humblest of ways as a people – no strings attached – no hedging – just open hearts and hands.

I say this not as a critique of such an important and powerful speech, but as a gentle reminder to each of us: how do we create the peace and prosperity the President eloquently framed if we do not start with the truth? Simple, stark and uncomfortable, the United States has been a devastating force within her own borders and beyond for a long time – long before 9/11.

I think President Obama gave us a place to start – a place more hopeful than the one created by the Bush Presidency. But it is only a beginning and it will take each of us stretching and pushing the public discourse, policy and vision to really create what Obama laid out as a possibility in his speech.

So as the President said, “We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written:

 The Holy Koran  –  “O mankind ! We have created you male and female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another!”

The Talmud – “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called daughters and sons of God.”

We can do it – in love, in light, in community and a perfect opportunity to begin is the Peace Conference on August 1 in La Crosse – join peacemakers from the around world to learn how to open our hearts and hands toward a vision of  shalom.  In Peace, Liz

Peace Conference details http://www.franciscancommonventure.org/

Day of the Dead by Cindy Sheehan

Dear All – Just a short intro to the reflection written below by Cindy Sheehan for Memorial Day.

I am sure many of remember when Cindy camped outside of the ranch in Crawford, Texas, to try and get an answer from then President George Bush as to why her son was killed in Iraq. The reflection below shows her continued struggle to create a different reality that will no longer require the death of the many to ensure the power of a few…Much Peace Liz

Day of the Dead by Cindy Sheehan

I was on an airplane flying to Orange County from Sacramento to attend the al-Awda Conference, which is a Palestinian Right’s Conference (al-Awda translates to “The Returning”), when the pilot’s voice filled the cabin to make an announcement that I think went unnoticed by most of my fellow passengers, but I heard it.

    As the plane was on the approach to John Wayne airport, the Captain came on the intercom to remind us all to “remember our brave troops who have died for our freedom.” Even in this post 9-11 paranoid paradigm, if I wasn’t belted in for landing, I would have popped out of my seat at 13D and charged up to the cockpit to let the pilot know that my son was killed in Iraq and not one person anywhere in this world is one iota more free because he is dead.

    As a matter of fact, the people of Iraq, the foreign country thousands of miles away where my oldest child’s brains, blood and life seeped into the soil, are not freer, unless one counts being liberated from life, liberty and property being free. If you consider torture and indefinite detention freedom, then the pilot may have been right, but then again, even if you do consider those crimes freedom, it does not make it so.

    Here in America we are definitely not freer because my son died, as a matter of fact, our nation can spy on us and our communications without a warrant or just cause, and we can’t even bring a 3.6 ounce bottle of hand cream into an airport, or walk through a metal detector with our shoes on. Even if we do want to exercise our Bill of Rights, we are shoved into pre-designated “free speech” zones (NewSpeak for; STFU, unless you are well out of the way of what you want to protest and shoved into pens like cattle being led to slaughter), and oftentimes brutally treated if we decide we are entitled to “free speech” on every inch of American soil.

    If you watch any one of the cable news networks this weekend between doing holiday weekend things, you will be subjected to images of row upon row of white headstones of dead US military lined up in perfect formation in the afterlife as they were in life. Patriotic music will swell and we will be reminded in script font to “Remember our heroes,” or some such BS as that.

    Before Casey was killed, a message like that would barely register in my consciousness as I rushed around preparing for Casey’s birthday bar-be-que that became a family tradition since he was born on Memorial Day in 1979. If I had a vision of how Memorial Day and Casey’s birthday would change for my family, I would have fled these violent shores to protect what was mine, not this murderous country’s. Be my guest; look at those headstones with pride or indifference. I look at them now with horror, regret, pain and a longing for justice.

    I can guarantee what you won’t see this holiday weekend are images of the over one million Iraqi dead. Say we assign, in an arbitrary way for purely illustrative purposes, an average height of five feet for every person killed in Iraq and then line those people up from head to toe. That gruesome line would stretch from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon… 950 driving miles up Interstate 5. If we count the Iraqis who have been forced to flee, we would have to go back and forth between Los Angeles and Portland another four times.

    There are obscene amounts of people who have been slaughtered for the U.S. Profit Driven Military Empire who do not count here in America on any day. People in Vietnam are still dying from the toxins dumped on their country by the U.S., not to mention the millions who died during that war. Let the carnage escalate in Afghanistan while we protect our personal images by turning a blind eye to Obama’s war crimes. Are you going to feel a lump of pride in your bosom when the coffins start to be photographed at Dover for this imperial crime of aggression? Will you look at those flag-draped boxes of the lifeless body of some mother’s child and think: “Now, I am free.” Is it better to be dead when Obama is president?

    A tough, but real, aspect of this all to consider is, how many of the soldiers buried in coffins in military cemeteries killed or tortured innocent people as paid goons for the Empire? To me, it is deeply and profoundly sad on so many levels. If I have any consolation through all of this, I learned that my son bravely refused to go on the mission that killed him, but he was literally dragged into the vehicle and was dead minutes later – before he was forced to do something that was against his nature and nurture.

    Casey will always be my hero, but he was a victim of U.S. Imperialism and his death should bring shame, not pride, as it did not bring freedom to anyone. I will, of course, mourn his senseless death on Memorial Day as I do every day.

    However, we do not need another day here in America to glorify war that enables the Military Industrial Complex to commit its crimes under the black cloak of “Patriotism.”

    From Palestine to Africa to South America, our quest for global economic domination kills, sickens, maims or oppresses people on a daily basis, and about 25,000 children per day die of starvation. I am not okay with these facts and I am not proud of my country.

    I will spend my reflective time on Memorial Day to mourn not only the deaths of so many people all over the world due to war, but mourn the fact that they are the unseen and uncared for victims of U.S. Empire.

“Arise, then, women of this day…” Julia Ward Howe

“Arise, then, women of this day…”

Dear All – It is a little early for Mother’s Day but I wanted to share an excerpt from a reflection written for Mother’s Day in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe. Ms. Howe was a poet, pacifist, suffragist and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Her reflection came across my desk right after I read of even more deaths in Iraq. The snyergy of her words with the story from Iraq struck me and I wanted to share her piece.

“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water of fears!

Arise and say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender to those from another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have forsaken the plow and anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Cesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interest of peace.”

May it be so…Much Peace Liz

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