News and opinions on situation in Iraq
04/05/04 Dahr's latest weblog post… “Tortured Souls”
  The story referred to in Dahr Jamail's latest weblog dispatch (below) will appear on The NewStandard website on May 5. It is quite special. So special, in fact, that it will be the first hard news article we send out over this dispatch list, typically reserved for Dahr's journal entries. We will also be encouraging our readers, for the first time, to do more than just read the story. We were compelled to set aside everything for days to bring it to you as fully and accurately as possible, so we intend to challenge you to do something about it.
-Brian Dominick
TNS Middle East Editor

Dahr's latest weblog post…
“Tortured Souls”
blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000314.html

I haven't written anything to my blog for several days now. Stories in Iraq have a tendency towards determining themselves, and the one I've been working on has taken on new meaning this second time around.

It was last January when I came upon the horrendous story of Sadiq Zoman. In short, he was detained by U.S. soldiers last July from his home in Kirkuk. While in U.S. military custody, he was beaten, tortured with electric shock, whipped, one of his hands was broken, his head was bludgeoned, and he was dropped off comatose to the General Hospital in Tikrit a month later.

I wrote a very rough version of the story in my diary which was posted on electronicIraq.net electroniciraq.net

My hopes in doing so, aside from attempting to bring attention to what most Iraqis already know about the atrocities committed against detainees in Abu Ghraib Prison and many of the other U.S. detention facilities in occupied Iraq, was to bring some attention to his family in the form of compensation.

This time around, rewriting the story now that more media have finally chosen to show these International Crimes, my hope is the same.

So I poured much of myself into more deeply researching the story. Collecting documents, calling people, and most importantly, getting to know his wife and 9 daughters while doing so. Because behind every torture victim there are loved ones. Behind every hooded Iraqi you see in those horrific images there are wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.

Behind those pictures you see of Sadiq Zoman's bludgeoned head and comatose eyes is a wife who is weeping every day as she fans him to keep him cool when there is no electricity for 18 out of every 24 hours in their bare home. It is bare because nearly all of their possessions have been sold to purchase his medicines.

Behind the photos of electrical burns on the bottoms of his feet are 9 daughters who work to care for their father. Mr. Zoman, who was once a large, strong man, lies in his meager bed, his wife and daughters taking turns manually pumping mucus from his stomach, or blending his food to feed him when the electricity is on.

Most of the rooms in their home in Al-Dora, Baghdad are literally completely bare. There is no car, there is no phone. There is simply no money. If nothing changes for them, they could be on the street soon.

Yesterday evening in their home, one of his daughters said, “Even if millions of people read this story, what will they do? It can't bring my father back. They will be sad and upset to read it, but what will it change?”

Another of his daughters who is in the college of medicine in Baghdad, continuing her studies until her paid tuition expires, told me, “You see our life here. How can we keep living like this? Where is the hope?”

I'm not under the illusion that writing this story can change anything. But I'm an idealist, and I want to bring…what? Justice? Hope? Help for them? Accountability? An end, or at least an ease to this suffering?

All of these. But hope is in short supply in occupied Iraq. And bringing that word up to people in such a horrendous situation is a dangerous prospect.

I don't know what else to do beyond writing this story that you will soon read. But what I am doing is helping them to go through the process of filing compensation request forms through the CPA…in hopes that the U.S. military will provide some financial compensation for this family who so desperately needs it. The odds are very much against them that they will receive one Iraqi Dinar for this hell they've been living through for nearly a year now.

So I put it out to whoever might read this, and the story. Will you be outraged? Upset? Angry? Saddened?

Probably.

My next question then, is this:

What are you going to do about it?

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Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches .

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