Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Monday, December 06, 2004

#6: Violence is Passe

(Received from Cliff Kindy, Christian Peacemaker Team member in Iraq, on Monday, Dec. 6, 2004. The letter ends abruptly without a signature; I don't know why. )

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

This has been a week with varied activities. Though I have been spending much more time at the apartment than I usually do, I have not been bored. I have been doing lots of reading - a confession.

Our meeting with the Communist Party was interesting. They had been banned by the right-wing nationalist Ba'ath regime; so many had spent years in exile, if they survived the purge. The CIA had passed on to the security apparatus a list of names that fueled the killing of many party members. Shakir al-Dujaily was clear that the political process is always a better way to bring change than the ways of violence being used by many actors here in Iraq. He is an optimist, feeling that the political process and election that the US occupation started will be quickly out of their hands and Iraq will soon be genuinely autonomous and the occupation forces will be asked to leave.

Kidnappings were a theme this week. The husband of family friends of our landlord was kidnapped and released only after the family paid a $20,000 ransom. They left for Jordan. A news article carried the details of seven kidnappings daily here in the capitol. Then, coming home from church tonight, Maxine and Sheila heard of a neighbor man who had been kidnapped up north in Kirkuk, while working.

The London Times did an article on CPT this week. The reporter, Stephen, focused on our being one of the few, or last, NGO's in Baghdad. He had experienced a kidnapping in the spring, taken first by robbers and then transferred to a political group that supported the previous regime. The kidnappers released him and a colleague after 10 hours.

Thursday was a day full of explosions. At 10:20 there were four mortar strikes in the Green Zone. At 10:45 there were four explosions close to us, about a block away. One was a Kashuka rocket that hit a car and injured two people. We had planned a meeting with a local Muslim cleric to talk about justice and peace in the Koran, but he was unable to come. Sheila and I visited an art gallery where a friend had displayed her paintings. We had a movie night and watched The Cradle Will Rock, about the National Theater Program, a public works effort during the Depression. Tom's daughter, Kassie, recommended it.

The next day there were two major attacks, one on police station on Airport Road when 10 police died and another at a Shi'a mosque in North Baghdad where 30 died. Two days earlier Maxine and Tom had visited the largest Shi'a shrine in Baghdad, where a cleric friend is responsible. US convoys regularly travel the road to the airport because of the bases and prison camps at the airport. Yet, the 100 insurgents mortared the station, released the prisoners, looted the arsenal, and then killed the ten police. There are not very many locations that the resistance cannot take over as they wish.

An Australian friend visited to share about the transformed situation of the street boys she and others had been working with last year. They are in school, work, and sports. Hugs, cuddles, and love did miracles. There are three major fun parks here in Baghdad, but they are now US military bases. A local Iraqi group wants her to raise money to build another place where children can play.

Saturday, a huge car bomb hit the police station across the road from the Green Zone, killing seven people. Our rooftop is the place from which we usually can monitor nearby explosions and attacks. US jets and helicopters are daily features in the Baghdad sky, reminding me that I only saw three flights of Iraqi jets in the skies during the five months I was here before "Shock and Awe" hit Baghdad.

Hussein was to be with us this weekend so we could make plans for an exploratory visit to Kerbala to test the viability of a Muslim/Iraqi Peacemaker Team. He didn't come. Phones are down to Kerbala, so we don't know what happened. NGO security says that the roads between us are not safe because of the US military house-to-house sweep in the region south of Baghdad controlled by Wahabi militants. It has parallels to the assault on Fallujah, but I doubt you have heard much about it.

That meeting in Kerbala to encourage the developing movement of nonviolence feels very important to us as we work with Iraqis to take the initiative away from the actors of violence. It is clear that violence will not bring democracy or justice. It is a tool that does not work, a tool that destroys people and societies. Nonviolence must replace violence as the way for people to relate with each other in settings of conflict.


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