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Archive | February, 2009

Iraqi Doctors in Hiding Treat as They Can

Dr. Thana Hekmaytar. Photo: Dahr Jamail

Dr. Thana Hekmaytar. Photo: Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD — Seventy percent of Iraq’s doctors are reported to have fled the war-torn country in the face of death threats and kidnappings. Those who remain live in fear, often in conditions close to house arrest.

“I was threatened I would be killed because I was working for the Iraqi government at the Medical City,” Dr. Thana Hekmaytar told IPS. Baghdad Medical City is the largest medical complex in the country.

Dr. Hekmaytar, a head and neck surgeon, has now been practising at the Saint Raphael Hospital in Baghdad for the last five years.

It is difficult now both as woman and as doctor, she says. Most women are now living in repressive conditions because the government is less secular. And that is besides the chaotic conditions around Iraq.

“It is particularly difficult for female doctors,” Dr. Hekmaytar says. “Large groups in Iraq only want us to stay at home, and certainly not be professionals.”

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Still Homeless in Baghdad

Nasir Fadlawi, 48, the unofficial overseer of the compound, explains the plight of those who live there. Photo: Dahr Jamail

Nasir Fadlawi, 48, the unofficial overseer of the compound, explains the plight of those who live there. Photo: Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD — “We only want a normal life,” says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years.

Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad.

Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls.

“Me and my girls have to be extra careful living this way,” Um Qasim told IPS. “We are tired of always being afraid, because any day, any time, strange men walk through our area, and there is no protection for us. Each day brings a new threat to us, and all the women here.”

She rarely leaves her area, she says. Nor do her girls, for fear of being kidnapped or raped.

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Boys With Toys

A US soldier inspects the scene of a roadside bomb attack. (Photo: Hadi Mizban)

A US soldier inspects the scene of a roadside bomb attack. (Photo: Hadi Mizban)

“Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”
-John F. Kennedy

It is not the threat of violence that weighs on the people of Iraq. It is the omnipresent occurrence of violence that has resulted in the desperate nation wide chant, “We are tired. All we want is for normal life to return.”

Recently, an eight-year-old Iraqi girl was shot by US soldiers when their convoy ran into a crowd of Shiite pilgrims traveling to the holy city of Karbala in southern Iraq.

Sunday, a week ago, three explosions echoed across Baghdad, leaving one person dead and wounding another 20.

The very next day, a suicide car bomber struck a US patrol in the northern city of Mosul, killing four American soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter. It was the single deadliest attack on US forces in nine months. Two days later, an off-duty security guard of Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi was wounded along with a pedestrian when a bomb attached to his car detonated. On the same day, back in Mosul, a car bomb targeting a police patrol wounded three Iraqi policemen.

Wednesday, at least 12 people were killed and 40 wounded in bombings across Baghdad targeting Shia pilgrims. The next day, in an attack also targeting pilgrims, eight people were killed and another 56 wounded. Friday, a female suicide bomber killed 40 and wounded 84 others in yet another attack on Shia pilgrims south of Baghdad, who were flocking to a religious festival.

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