Inside Iraq – report from Donna Mulhearn

Dear friends

In the last few weeks I have been posting pictures and stories on my Facebook page and on Twitter about what I am witnessing and experiencing in Iraq.

I’m aware that not all those on this email list use those mediums, so now I’m going to share those comments and pictures in this email so all can follow along and have a ‘snapshot’ of my experience of Baghdad. The beauty of it is the posts and short and concise and will be quick to read. Let me apologise for not having done this sooner!

I’ll start from the first days of my arrival in Baghdad until I leave for Fallujah, and will send the Fallujah posts separately… [See previous appeal at http://bushtelegraph.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/donnas-fallujah-appeal.pdf]

Welcome to Baghdad where it’s 47 degrees! As an Aussie I have a little experience of life in the low 40s anyway, but this is a new experience for my body….

Very happy to be back in Baghdad after all these years, even if it does feel like a furnace…

Took a long drive around Baghdad last night, checking out places I used to live and work, and getting a feel for the place. My Karrada neighbourhood looks pretty much the same, except for heavy security, roadblocks and checkpoints around the church and other streets…

Going to meet an Iraqi Member of Parliament today in Baghdad, look forward to hearing his views on the situation and passing them on… (Some of his comments are here in this article link http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/07/25/life-in-iraq-government-foreigners-blamed-in-bombings-aftermath/#comment-211905)

Iraq last year: more 4000 civilian deaths and thousands wounded in an average of 260 attacks per month, more than any other conflict but this rarely makes the news anymore. 2012 so far has been much worse – about 450 civilians were killed in June alone.

Baghdad’s Green Zone is still the same despite no US military presence: a concrete and razor-wire fortress protecting a Govt despised by the people, undemocratic & corrupt… so not much changed….!

Iraqi Human Rights groups slam draft law reducing internet freedoms. The crimes are vague, penalties harsh, including years in jail. New regime but same old. Same old.

Good morning Australia – it was 48 degrees here in Iraq today, 44 degrees at 7.30pm tonight, and 42 at 8.30pm – The political temperature is even higher! What’s your temperature, political or otherwise?

It’s amazing (and sad) that I hear far better news and analysis of world events here in Iraq, than I do in Australia…thanks to BBC World, Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya, Press TV etc

Ramadan starts on Friday for most of Middle East, but Iraq’s religious leaders have announced it will start here on Saturday, my friends say it’s all political – whatever the reason it gives me another day of eating and drinking! Amen…

I was starting to get used to 47 degree heat, no worries… then today was 49 degrees, and forecast is: Friday 50, Saturday 50, Sunday 50… um, wish me luck….

Imagine, Iraqi refugees who sought asylum in Syria having to go back to violence and dysfunction in Iraq – when do they get a break?

Okay, 50 degree heat outside – I ain’t afraid, I’m comin to face you….ok, maybe a little afraid…especially dressed in long black nylon abaya-dress and headscarf…

If anyone out there cares about Iraq anymore (and other than you all, I fear there are very few) 20 people were killed and 80 wounded in car bombings in 3 cities last night. I’m ok. God help this place; hasn’t known a week of peace for years. The people are tired. They wished that someone cared.

Despite the sadness & chaos here, had a delicious Iftar dinner (breaking the fast) with a lovely Iraqi family. Beware of Iraqi mothers – they want to feed you till you burst or they are disappointed!

The Iraqi mother who didn’t want me to stop eating..! (Picture attached)

More than 100 Iraqis dead in worst violence since troop withdrawal…people here sad and bewildered. I’m OK, kind of…

Baghdad choked by checkpoints today after the bombs. Traffic barely moving. Everyone nervous. 50 degree heat and Ramadan hunger doesn’t help… (picture attached)

Iraq never had a car bomb or suicide bomb before 2003, only since the U.S ‘war on terror’ came here. More than 100 dead here today…

Iraqis here in Baghdad often say to me: before 2003 we had only one source of violence, one terrorist, and we could cope, now we have hundreds and cannot survive…

Sirens and police loudspeakers going off outside, God I hope it’s not another bomb…

115 Iraqi dead in 27 attacks – Funerals now beginning to be held across Iraq when families should be celebrating Iftar / Ramadan – TRAGIC

Sometimes I can’t believe how genuinely nice, helpful, generous, hospitable and good-humoured Iraqi people are: helpful beyond measure… they deserve better than this

Your pilgrim

Donna

PS: “You’re not afraid to come out after the bombings?” I asked Othman. “What can we do? We can’t be locked inside all our lives. We want to live the same as everyone else.”

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