IRAQ: Abundant life


IRAQ UPDATE: April 9-16, 2004


Friday, April 9
Good Friday and Anniversary of the fall of Baghdad

The streets in the neighborhood around the team apartment were completely
quiet.  Several explosions could be heard overnight.  Several Iraqi friends
advised the team to "lay low" for the day.

Several friends called, saying they had heard rumors of five British
citizens being kidnapped from the Karrada neighborhood, and were checking to
see that the team was still alright.

At the advice of Iraqi colleagues at Occupation Watch, the team decided to
cancel a detainee vigil scheduled for the following day at the U.S. military
operated children's prison in Baghdad, due to the deteriorating situation.

The team discussed options for being a violence reducing presence during the
current crisis, and decided to seek invitations from contacts in Fallujah
and Najaf.  The team also decided to make emergency preparations such as
stocking food and water in case the situation got worse and they might not
be able to leave the apartment.

A meeting with a tribal sheikh who is the father of a young man in CPT's
detainee campaign was canceled by the sheikh.  He later called to explain he
was in a meeting of sheikhs to determine responses to the crisis, and felt
confident that things would be better soon.

Wright, Vriesinga, and delegate Greg Rollins met with Canadian Brigadier
General Walt Natynczyk, who is a military strategy advisor to the Coalition
Forces.  On their walk along Abu Nawwas St. to the meeting
inside Coalition headquarters, they observed several black-clad men
handcuffed and sitting under the trees, guarded by U.S. soldiers.

Natynczyk seemed friendly and said that the Coalition wanted to cease
aggressive action in Fallujah and work towards negotiated solutions
in both Fallujah and Najaf.  He commented that Iraq was a "failed state,"
and civil institutions needed to be developed by the Coalition.

IRAQ UPDATE: April 1-8, 2004


Thursday, April 1
At the vigil, a man read the team's information flier and shouted at Le Anne
Clausen, "You are just like Saddam!" and stormed away.  Clausen called him
back and asked what he meant.  The man was angry because U.S. forces had
taken two of his brothers, and he felt that the U.S. administration was just
as bad as the previous regime.

Clausen explained that the vigil was to support the rights of Iraqi
detainees, and invited him to return with photos of his brothers and
participate in the vigil.  The man also said his other two brothers
are living in Sweden now and he is mostly angry because, "Now I am all

Also at the vigil, Jane MacKay Wright and a translator spoke at length with
the mother of a high school student who is part of CPT's detainee
letter-writing campaign.  She burst into tears when she saw the poster-sized
photograph of her son.  "My son, my son!  I haven't seen him for one full
year!" she cried.  Several passersby stopped to listen