Live from Iraq

  • From the CPTnet:

      March 25, 2003

      IRAQ: Letter from Peggy Gish Monday, March 24, 2003

      [Note: This letter has been edited for length.]

      Right now as I write this there have been two bombs exploding in the background. . .In most directions we see plumes of black smoke coming up from buildings burning.Yesterday there was a lot of black smoke from burning oil that was hard on me physically. . .

      Some cars are still on the streets and we have been able to get around in taxis. Yesterday many of us went to a hospital where wounded people are being taken and were able to go into the wards and see and talk with the patients and their families: one 5 year old girl who had major spinal chord injuries from shelling, a 12 year old boy who had a large cut in his abdomen from shrapnel, and his intestines were coming out. He and 11 other members of his family were injured by shrapnel while in their home two days ago and were hospitalized. Many others were awaiting or just coming out of surgery for removing shrapnel. . .

      For the last three nights I have slept out in one of two tents out at the Al Wathba water treatmentplant which is next to a large hospital complex. We could not get approval to put the tents on hospital grounds. Most of the bombing has been more distant from our camp, but a couple have sounded about one fourth or one half mile from us. There is a shelter building near our tents that we could go into if we felt we were in danger. . . .

      I have been experiencing a mixture of fear, anger, but mostly grief about what is happening. There is no good reason for this assault on this society and these innocent people. I am impressed by their strength and courage and their continued openness and graciousness to us who are from countries who are bombing them.

      . . .

      We don’t know from day to day what we will be able to do. Our “minders” have just started wanting to know where everyone is during the day, and not having us go out on the streets around the hotels unaccompanied, but we have been able to go to most of the places we have wanted to go. So far we haven’t had to go [anywhere] or do anything we have not chosen and which we feel is not meaningful or useful. But our situations could change anytime. We are discussing how we would deal with these possibilities. . .

      We pray that the countries of the world are still able to stop what is happening here. We continue to need your prayers for us in all this. I feel that we have been carried by God’s love and strength, and your love, prayers, and support. We are very much encouraged when we hear about massive protests and arrests for [civil disobedience] all around. Much strength to all of you in the good work you are doing. Thank you so much.

      I love you all very much.


      Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction

      efforts around the world. Contact CPT, POB 6508, Chicago, IL 60680; Telephone: 773-277-0253, Fax: 773-277-0291, tp://

    • Salam Pax of dear_raed is back online and appears to still be safe. Here is one post that I found to be compelling:

        4:30pm (day3)

        half an hour ago the oil filled trenches were put on fire. First watching Al-jazeera they said that these were the places that got hit by bombs from an air raid a few miniutes earlier bit when I went up to the roof to take a look I saw that there were too many of them, we heard only three explosions. I took pictures of the nearest. My cousine came and told me he saw police cars standing by one and setting it on fire. Now you can see the columns of smoke all over the city.

        Todat the third in the war, we had quite a number of attacks during daytime. Some without air-raid sirens. They probably just gave up on being able to be on time to sound the sirens. Last night, after waves after waves of attacks, they would sound the all-clear siren only to start another raid siren 30 minutes later. The images we saw on TV last night (not Iraqi, jazeera-BBC-Arabiya) were terrible. The whole city looked as if it were on fire. The only thing I could think of was “why does this have to happen to Baghdad”. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears.

        today my father and brother went out to see what happening in the city, they say that it does look that the hits were very precise but when the missiles and bombs explode they wreck havoc in the neighborhood where they fall. Houses near al-salam palace(where the minister Sahaf took journalist) have had all their windows broke, doors blown in and in one case a roof has caved in. I guess that is what is called “collateral damage” and that makes it OK? We worry about daytime bombing and the next round of attacks tonight with the added extra of the smoke screen in our skies.

      This might sound silly, but I think they should give Salam and Raed a Pullitzer prize for journalism if they live through this war. This is the best reporting I’ve heard from the ground is a whole lot better than those silly imbedded reporters who only give one side of the story.