by April Hurley, M.D
Hello from Baghdad,
Yesterday, after severe, dust-saturated winds, there was an eerie yellow pall over the city of Baghdad with white lights shining as blue through the amber air filter. In some directions the sky appeared blood red. Traveling around the city was otherworldly, with explosions of bombing interrupting your thoughts and conversation, reminding you that you are in an alien world, a world where planned urban targets will predictable cause human suffering, civilian casualties that the world is tolerating right now. You feel the void of NGO’s here in Baghdad, the desertion of all of the United Nations staff at this critical time.
But the Shelsh farm was 35 Kilometers south of Baghdad, thought to be a safe distance from bombing, a group of homes among fields with livestock, no military targets or strategic areas nearby. On March 25, at 6 PM, a cylinder dropped into farm property from planes flying overhead. Cattle sauntered over to the odd salt lick and children approached, curious. Suddenly, there was a tremendous explosion that smashed through everything, destroying 6 homes and leaving many dead, more than twenty injured. The Shelsh Family buried two of their children yesterday, Ahmed Esan and Daha Esan Shelsh, seven and ten years old. Mustafah Esan Shelsh, age 14, is recovering from brain surgery yesterday to remove shrapnel after he was stabilized.
Other families at the hospital describe cylinders falling inside or outside their home with delayed explosions, four small children younger than 5 years named in one household alone; parents don’t know how nearby families fared, what hospitals those injured were taken to. Neighbors are always involved in extracting residents from rubble, finding cars to get people to medical care. Exact figures on casualties are becoming more difficult to come by due to the increasing numbers of victims, the bombing occurring more frequently in dense communities or distant farms, and various hospitals treating the same family or victims from the same site. Muslims bury their dead the following day and no records have been sought officially.
Last evening, we finally found equipment to register radioactivity at the bombing sites and on missile fragments retrieved from the ruins. Medical authorities are attempting to get word out warning residents about depleted uranium in metallic weapon debris and the horrible innocent initial appearance of cluster bomb cylinders, so enticing to children continually wondering about all the mysteries surrounding this war.
President Bush requested another massive “down payment” from Congress to fund his plan for perpetual war. Apparently, the U.S. and friends call the shots on their own now, deciding which regimes are undesirable, in what sequence we will bomb them into change, who we will put in charge after civilian carnage and infrastructure destruction.
Many Americans are consulting web sites explaining options for tax resistance to this war. How do you feel about your financial support of this foreign policy? How can your conscience allow you to pay your taxes this year? Can you make some financial statement against this relentless crime against humanity?
Bombing and explosions continue to rock buildings today. I’m leaving again for Al Kindi and Al Yermouk Hospitals.
Love and Peace during war,
April Hurley, MD
April Hurley is a physician from Santa Rosa, California. She is currently living in Baghdad with the Voices in the Wilderness' Iraq Peace Team, a group of international peaceworkers remaining in Iraq through the war, in order to be a voice for the Iraqi people in the West. The Iraq Peace Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org