Thank you for inviting me to speak in this day in your college. Thanks to every one seeks peace and a better future in this world.
A special thanks to Alexandra Saieh for her work in setting all this up and thanks to the undergraduate Government of Boston College who are fighting for telling the truth.
I read a sign after the first moments of my arrival to your country that said, “We will never forget.” Yes your loss was large. I can feel your pain and your loss. And yes it is not easy to forget what happened that day. I was there in Baghdad watching TV. Peacefully at home I watched the attack tens of times. People were waving for help from windows and some of them jumped from the building. I was speechless wondering what was going on and why? Who was responsible for that? And what was the message? Was it an action or a reaction? What about the victims and their families?
Meanwhile I want you to remember that our loss is ten times greater than yours. And allow me to remind you that Iraqi children have nothing to do with 9/11. The Iraqi women have nothing to do with 9/11. We live in constant fear in our own homes and we have nothing to do with 9/11.
Allow me to remind you of your promises and commitments to the Iraqi people of more stability and freedom. We have nothing now but bloodshed, bombed houses, no electricity and no water and no fuel, burning, looted buildings. Violence is escalated day after day leaving dead bodies for the dogs in the streets. Instead of going to school, many children are begging in the streets. More than eight hundred thousand children may now be out of school according to the recent estimate by Save the Children of the UK.
Before the Gulf War about ninety percent of Iraqis could read and write. Today only about fifty percent are literate. Hundreds of families are homeless and begging for some help. More than four million Iraqis are refugees in different countries. The millions who are in Syria and Jordan are not allowed to travel to other countries. Many are living in refugee camps waiting for the borders to be opened.
Iraqi women and widows are the silent tragedy. More than a million and half of the Iraqi men are dead or detained or disabled. These men’s wives or mothers or daughters now carry the burden of running their families while facing the worst living circumstances.
With each new car bombing, grenade explosion, or mortar attack the list of Iraqi widows grows longer.
We miss our safe and secure life. We miss the mutual understanding, trust, and help we gave each other before your occupation.
Iraq has become a small prison to us. We are obsessed by detention and death ideas. I want you to be totally aware of what is going on in Iraq because it is your occupation. You can’t close your eyes. You have to listen to the Iraqis call for help…people are dying and suffering each minute…
4 years I think, are enough to recognize that your occupation depends on a lie, and you yourselves admitted that the occupation was a mistake…
Who is responsible? Who will be able to fix this ugly brutal mistake?
I am an Iraqi person and I witnessed your occupation and still…
Every day is worse than the day before.
I have to see your daily troops’ humiliation of the Iraqis.
I have to see dead bodies when I go to school.
I have to lose my students, either by killing or kidnapping or traveling away from the violence.
I have to stop visiting two of my sisters because it is too dangerous to travel to their neighborhoods.
I have to collect some extra water in case there is no water.
I have to live in permanent worry….
and I don’t know why.
When I go to school I say goodbye as if for good. I pray that my family will be safe.
Waiting for the school bus is an ordeal because I don’t know when the shooting will start. The moments of waiting for the school bus are years to me, taking my whole energy. I recite Quran in fear.
Once I was waiting for the bus in the morning with others from my neighborhood. I was going to work. I heard a shot. People around ran quickly but I was stuck in my place from fear. I looked around and saw the man next to me was on the ground. He was bleeding. The blood pumped from his head like a small red fountain. I did not know what do. I could see he was alive because his fingers were twitching. I wanted to help him but I could not. It is too dangerous to help him. The man who shot him will wait and see who comes to help. Then he will kill the helper. I just went back home crying; leaving the man in the street with no help.
Sometimes when I reach the school I find 5 to 10 students instead of 35 and sometimes none of them because of the violence that breaks out in the neighborhood. Instead of studying we share some realistic, sad stories that happened to some of the students in the recent days. Sometimes we cry together and sometimes we are afraid of each other. It is so hard to trust anyone these days.
In school we were visited by the American soldiers many times. Seeing them in the school is enough to heighten fear in the students and teachers as well. This is the fear we feel all the time, but sometimes more than other times.
Going back home is another ordeal because you have to be in the street again where the American troops patrol. They are a target so if you are near them you are a target too. Because of checkpoints and bodies and shooting we change our direction many times and reach our homes late. Meanwhile our cell phones never stop ringing because our families are so worried. If you get home safely you have to finish your work before sunset because there is no electricity.
You know it is very hot in Baghdad. 130 degrees is hot. I remember a night when my nephew, 4 years old, woke up after midnight sweating and crying. He was unable to sleep. I heard him crying and asking his father to switch on the generator for the air conditioner. I went with my brother to the generator in the garden and he tried hard but there was no fuel. There was a curfew in the neighborhood and the fuel seller could not come and we could not go out to buy fuel somewhere else. My brother took his son in his lap and stayed up all night fanning. I saw the tears in my brother’s eyes that night. He couldn’t afford his son the simple thing of fresh, cold air.
You know what?
I never stop comparing between your life and ours in Baghdad. You show no sign of war and my people are dying because of your mistake. My people have no cold clean water to drink. You light candles in addition to the electricity to add a romantic touch to your evenings and my people are living in the dark because of a mistake?
Our children are turned into orphans because of a mistake?
Our women turned into widows, taking men’s job to run their families life because of a mistake!
We have to live in a permanent fear because of a mistake?
My people are killed and my country is falling a part because of a mistake?
You are a powerful people but this doesn’t mean deprive others life, you are not the only people on earth…there are others who are in urgent need for your help…
It is time to admit your responsibility to my country.
It is time to fix your mistake for the hell you made there…