March 20, 2003
IRAQ: War report from team in Baghdad
At 4:00 AM this morning (8:00 pm EST), as the deadline given by U.S.
President George Bush for Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq expired,
the Christian Peacemaker Team in Baghdad celebrated communion and prayed for
the security of all people.
About 5:30 am, those team members who did not sleep through it heard an
aircraft. Then everyone heard the sirens.
CPTer Lisa Martens writes, "Shortly after, there was an hour plus of
sporadic explosions, some 'BOOM' and some 'rat tat tat.' They were not very
close to us. One rattled the windows slightly.
A couple of us stood outside in the hotel entrance for a few minutes. Scott
Kerr reported seeing some anti-aircraft fire in the distance.
"The Iraqi staff at the small hotel here are very helpful and comforting.
Ammar, one of the staff went home last night to stay with his wife who will
have a baby any day now. He called this morning y to tell us not to worry.
"Now its 9:45 am and its been quiet for a while. Our Iraqi friends here say
things are 'normal.' A small delegation headed out to check on the
orphanage near by where Peggy Gish, Betty Scholten and an Iraq Peace Team
member Charlie Litchey (a Vietnam Vet who returned his Congressional medal
of Honour to Reagan) are regular visitors / helpers. The orphanage is run by
Sisters of Charity and is for disabled children. Gish just called to say
that a they walked to the orphanage, they saw kids playing soccer, and men
out on the street visiting, although there is 95% less activity on the
streets and sidewalks than three days ago. The men thanked the CPTers for
being in Iraq with the usual graciousness. Gish reported that some of the
kids at the orphanage had cried because of the bombing, but that they were
Cliff Kindy, Betty Scholten and Gish, along with other Iraq Peace Team
members will be setting up a tent at the Al Wathba Water Treatment Centre
which provides water to one sixth of the city as well as to the near-by Al
Monsour Hospital. Also nearby is an electrical plant which provides
electricity for the neighborhood and the water plant.
The team chose to have a presence in this location because of the
relationships they have built in the area and because water-borne diseases
caused by the destruction of water and electrical plants have killed
thousands of Iraqis over the last decade.
For tonight, Kerr, Martens, Stuart Vriesinga and Father Jerry Zawada of the
Iraq Peace Team will stay at the Al Daar Hotel along with the staff here. As
of yet, the team reports that phones, water and electricity are working.
Martens concluded her e-mail with,
CPTers working with the Iraq Peace Team in Baghdad are : Lisa Martens
(Manitoba) Cliff Kindy (Indiana), Scott Kerr (Illinois), Peggy Gish (Ohio),
Betty Scholten (Maryland), Shane Claiborne (Pennsylvania), Martin Edwards
(California), Charlie Litke (California)