Friday, February 28, 2003

Long Live the Truth, Long Live the Box of Sweets

On Wednesday night when I saw President Bush on TV sending this message to Saddam Hussein that 'the Game is over', and illustrated the military attack on Iraq on a military map, I felt terrified. I felt terrified because it is now twenty four years that I have been waiting for the day to see the Iraqi dictator wretched and desperate. I felt terrified because I have been hoping to see his fall, while now I am forced to align with him and say no to war. I am not an enemy of America, I am an enemy of Saddam and other dictators like him; why shouldn't I be happy that America is going to overthrow some bloodsucking regime? But I am scared, for I am living in a world that can play with me like a toy. I am scared that in this world or ours, despite the presence of freedom of speech and democracy, despite the communication revolution that has made it possible for everyone to have access to all the news, it is still possible to lie. I am afraid for I know America and Britain are not going there to disarm Saddam, they can conceal the truth.

September 22 is the last day of summer in Iran. On that day of 1981 in Tehran, while getting ready to send our kids to school, as the next day was the beginning of the school year in Iran, we suddenly heard a tremendous noise that made us jump up from our seats; very terrifying noises and a few minutes later the sound of siren from the radio was heard. Saddam had attacked Tehran and other cities of Iran, bombing the country with tens of his Russian and French fighters and we rushed to shelters. Holding their new school bags in their hands, the kids looked terrified. And this was the outbreak of an eight-year war that started by the will of Saddam who wanted to be called the sword of Islam and eat his breakfast in Baghdad and his lunch in Tehran - the capital of Majusan (literally Zoroastrians, but in general pagans). Eight years of war and demolition that Saddam and thoughtless leaders of Iran created left hundred thousands dead and brought about the destruction of eighteen districts of a large city that sometimes was bombarded several times a day. There were days in Tehran when weeping mothers and children received the dead bodies of hundreds brought back from the Fronts. It took us Iranians sometimes to believe that America was helping Saddam Hussein. We had to wait for years to hear the foreign minister of America saying empathetically, 'Saddam is dangerous for his neighbors.' We had to wait for years to see CIA report of this year finally mentioning that in the course of the war, Saddam's army bombarded Iranian border regions and Iraqi people sixteen times with chemical bombs. In those days when Iranians said the same, the American representative in UN did not approve it. America vetoed seven times the proclamation condemning the invasion of Iran by Iraq. Iraq chemical raids were never approved at that time. While even today there are still people in Iran dying after twenty years of pain and suffering due to the chemical bombs that Saddam dropped on the city of Halabcheh; and the news of their death does appear in the media.

Even before attacking Iran on that last day of summer, I hated Saddam. I had seen him thirty years ago in Baghdad when I had gone there for an interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Naef, an educated and civilized man, removed from his position a few months later and killed a year later by Saddam's agents. On that day in the prime minister's office of Iraq, an officer in khaki colored military uniform, slightly tall and very harsh entered the room and without paying any attention to the Prime Minister took our camera and opened it violently. His coarse hands were not familiar with small fine instruments such as cameras and in order to bring out the film, he broke the lid. He pulled out the film, tore it and threw the camera on the chair. There was a threatening rifle around his waist; he seemed much younger than the image broadcast these days from TV. On that day, the Iraqi driver who was taking me to Al-tahrir Square said, this butcher will kill everyone and will become king. You could see horror in his eyes, the same horror that has been overwhelming Iraqi people throughout the past thirty years. Even when they pour out into the streets for Saddam's birthday celebrations, dancing, I remember that driver and I know that while jubilating for him and hanging his huge pictures from the walls, they feel terrified. Why shouldn't I be delightful of his fall today?

I am not anti-American. My two children are Americans now and last year I was arrested for four months because of writing an article in which I supported the resumption of relations between Iran and America. I like Americans, but I am scared of lies and I am scared of living in a world where it is so easy to lie to people.

Americans attack Iraq to derive the price of their mistakes from Iraqi people. The great sin of Iraqi people whom Saddam wants to build a human wall of them against the attack of American forces is that they failed to fight Saddam all these years. This is the sin of many people of the world. But with all the armaments that Saddam Hussein bought from Russia, France and America with the oil's money, he was in deed powerful and terrifying. President Bush should prepare himself to respond to Iraqi people who are bound to ask him the same question. President Bush will not tell them that 'all these years we were waiting for September 11 when an Islamic fundamentalist like Bin Laden would attempt such a crazy venture.' Even if he says so, nobody will be satisfied with this answer. For among Islamic countries, many are closer to Bin Laden than Iraq. To verify their closeness it is not necessary for Collin Powel to forge evidences proving the brotherhood of the wolf and the fox.

I could be delightful to see Saddam Hussein broken down and old and desperate. I could not be terrified when I saw the US president,s man standing in front of cameras saying 'for the purpose of globalization, improvement of our economy, showing off our power to European Union, domination over the energy market in future, we were waiting for a miracle that happened on September 11 and now we have this responsibility weighing on our shoulders to send our military forces to the oil region of Persian Gulf. Accidentally, we have bought a box of sweets for Iraqi people and their neighbors on our way to there.'

If that happened, I couldn't then have any excuse to be scared, rather I would rejoice to see one less dictator in this world, and in the memory of all those days and nights that I spent in horror under Saddam's missiles in Tehran, I would shout, "Long live Bush, Long Live the Truth, Long Live the Box of Sweets."