Aid to Fallujah delivered, with love
The day our delegation left for the Middle East to take humanitarian aid to the refugees of the devastating US military attack on Fallujah --December 26--was the same day the tsunami devastated Southeast Asia. While our delegates had little news of the terrifying wrath with which Mother Nature swallowed over 100,000 victims, we did learn horrifying details of a man-made disaster of similar proportions: the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
During our week-long exchange with Iraqis, we heard allegations of US atrocities that made Abu Graib seem like childish pranks: a woman raped in full view of other prisoners, who is now seeking permission from religious leaders to kill herself; a seven-year-old girl, left momentarily in the car while her father stopped at the market, screaming and clawing at the window while a US tank crushed the vehicle; a mother watching in horror as the troops raided her home in the middle of the night, shot her son in the chest and then stomped on him as he bled to death.
In Fallujah alone, thousands of civilians were killed in one brutal week. We wept together as we saw gruesome pictures of bodies burned beyond recognition, possibly from the use of napalm, and limbs eaten by dogs because anyone trying to retrieve the dead would be shot. A young Iraqi woman who risked her life taking our humanitarian aid to those too old and infirm to flee was still traumatized by the devastation she witnessed.
At our press conference in Amman, Jordan, we explained the historic nature of our delegation: US parents of fallen soldiers and 9/11 victims bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of aid for the innocent Iraqis suffering from this war. While the US press largely ignored this unprecedented gesture of compassion on the part of grieving parents, the Arab press--including Al Jazeera, Al Arabia, Dubai and Iranian TV--followed us assiduously from the moment we arrived in Amman. They were astounded to meet a group of Americans so deeply affected by the war who care so deeply about the Iraqi people. And they were heartened to learn that the donations we brought came from you--thousands of Americans appalled by our government's policy and determined to work for peace.
Adele Welty, whose firefighter son died on 9/11, wrote this in her diary. "At dinner one evening, one of the Iraqi doctors asked if Americans know how privileged we are. I answered yes, but I wondered if most Americans do know they are privileged or if they believe we deserve to be by virtue of an accident of birth. Dr. Jeff Ritterman, a member of our delegation, responded that privilege incurs responsibility, and that is key. We have a responsibility to keep ourselves informed and to participate in the development of government policies. We also have a responsibility to help those who are not so privileged, those who are not only victims of natural disasters, but man-made tsunamis as well."
We came home from our delegation with fire in our bellies, knowing we MUST continue to call for an end to the occupation and the killing now. We thank you for making this delegation possible, and we will continue to send the money you raise for humanitarian aid www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?list=type&type=20. Below are some other ways you can help:
1. Invite a member of our delegation to speak to your community group, school or church, and to show the video we are producing from the trip. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Contact your local radio station or newspaper columnist and ask them to interview one of the delegates about their experiences.
3. Join us on January 20 in Washington DC to protest Bush's inauguration, or join/organize a "sister" protest in your community. www.codepinkalert.org, www.unitedforpeace.org.
4. Prepare for massive peace rallies on March 19, the second anniversary of the US invasion.
Thank you for allowing us to show the Iraqis, and the people of the Middle East in general, the compassionate face of the American people.
Medea, Jodie and Gael
Janury 10, 2004, www.codepinkalert.org