April 17, 2007

A tube story...

Two scenes from the tube did a job on me tonight.

The first one was from a documentary called "Iraq's missing millions".
Yes you guessed right. It referred to the 20 Billion Dollars of Iraqi money that simply evaporated during Bremer's "governance" of the "new" Iraq.
The 20 Billion dollars of Iraqi money that were meant to "reconstruct" Iraq.

The program filmed a hospital in Diwaniya, the Southern part.
This was no hospital, this looked like a run down insalubrious toilet. No hospital sheets, no curtains, no medication, no oxygen masks, no surgical gloves, no intravenous serums...

In something that looked like an ancient non-functional incubator, laid Zahra, an infant girl and not too far, Abbas, her twin infant brother.

Zahra looked blue black, the colors of asphyxiation. She lacked Vitamin K and some other drug. She was terribly malnourished. She lacked air, she lacked life.

The doctor had no oxygen mask. He pressed a long thick tube, the only one available, against her tiny nostrils, trying to insert bits of it, hoping to give her some oxygen, hoping to revive her ever slowing heart beat.

Zahra's father was absent. He went searching for the drug and the vitamin K on the black market. Zahra's father had to pay for them from his own pocket.
By the time he made it back to the hospital and despite the doctor's best efforts, Zahra was gone.

The doctor told Zahra's grandmother: "This infant is finished".
The following day, Abbas, her twin brother was finished too.

Zahra's father rushes in with two ampoules of Vitamin K. It was too late.
Someone hands him a cardboard box. Zahra's face is covered with a tiny piece of cloth and placed in the box. Just like that.

A cardboard box. You know the one you store your shoes in, or your old newspapers, or any junk you want to eventually get rid of. In the "new" Iraq, infants are placed in those boxes.

The second scene was from Guantanamo. You know Gitmo Bay, your seaside resort.
380 "prisoners" are still with no trial. Many of them are on hunger strike.
One of them is Sami al-Hajj, a sudanese cameraman working for Al Jazeera. Married, father of small boy.

Sami Al-Hajj amongst others, has been in Gitmo for over three years now and still no charges and no trial.
Sami has been on a hunger strike for 100 days already.

One of the lawyers in charge of Sami's "case" gave a demonstration of how Sami and others are force fed by the democratic american authorities there.

They take the "detainee", strap him with leather belts to a sturdy wooden chair. Tie his arms, feet and head, paralyzing any movement.

A 1 meter long tube is then thrust into the "detainee's" nostrils, with no anesthesia of course, past his larynx, through his oesophagus right into his stomach and the food is thus forcefully ingested.

This "procedure" is repeated twice a day.
Sami Al-Hajj has been undergoing this tubal "nourishment" twice a day for 100 days.

Zahra and Sami have much in common. They are Arab "speaking", muslims, brown skinned and share the same "tube" destiny.

In fact they were both caught in the american dark, tight, tunnel of torture with no end in sight...as if trying to live through an interminable tube...

Yes that's it, "Life" in a tube.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Hamid Al-Attar.