IRAQ UPDATE: July 29-August 1, 2004
August 10, 2004
IRAQ UPDATE: July 29-August 1, 2004
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Maxine Nash and Doug Pritchard traveled to Kerbala where they gave a
presentation about the work of CPT to an Iraqi organization called Iraqi
Human Rights Watch.
Peggy Gish and Greg Rollins accompanied an Iraqi man to a police station in
the Al Dora district of Baghdad. Multinational Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) had
released the man's uncle from the Baghdad airport prison (BIA) in April
because they did not find enough evidence to prove he helped make bombs used
to attack U.S. troops. However, the U.S. army unit that arrested the man had
him transferred from BIAto an Iraqi police station in Al Dora, because the
unit still believed he was guilty. When the CPTers visited the police
station, an Iraqi official said he had no idea why the Iraqi prisoner was
there, and that they could finde the answer only at the U.S. army base,
At Scania, the CPTers and the nephew met with a representative from the
unit that had arrested the Iraqi prisoner. The representative stated the
U.S. army had strong evidence that the Iraqi prisoner was guilty, even
though BIA did not agree, and that the unit was waiting for an Iraqi court
date to try the man. In the mean time, Scania did not have the proper
holding facilities for such a prisoner. The representative said the case
against the Iraqi prisoner would be resolved by August 14 at which time he
would either be released or moved to a different prison. The representative
then invited CPT and the prisoner's nephew to return to Scania if the
matter had not been resolved by the 14th.
Friday, July 30, 2004
At 11:55 pm, the team heard two loud explosions.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Sheila Provencher, Gish, and Rollins, met with an Iraqi organization called
Human Rights Organization of Iraq to discuss the work of CPT and how Muslims
could create their own peacemaking team.
Sunday, August 1, 2004
Gish and Pritchard visited the Al Wathba water treatment plant where CPTers
camped out during the Coalition Forces bombing campaign of March and April
2003. The plant also has a plaque for CPTer George Weber, who died in car
crash in Iraq in January 2003. The CPTers toured the plant and learned that
it is getting the right chemicals to treat water properly, but that they
cannot supply the entire city with water, and that many of the pipes are old
At 6:25 pm, the team heard a loud explosion. From the apartment rooftop they
could see a pillar of black smoke several blocks away. Rollins and Nash set
out to learn what the target of the bombing had been. Its location appeared
to be close to St. Yousif's Chaldean church where Gish and Pritchard had
gone to pray.
At 6:50 pm, shortly after Rollins and Nash passed by a Syrian church, a car
bomb went off outside the church. The CPTers took refuge in an Iraqi
apartment building for a while before going to the Syrian church to
investigate. At the church a large crowd had gathered. Iraqi police kept
firing into the air and trying to push the crowd back. The CPTers saw that
the blast had destroyed several cars in the street next to the church and
blown down a large part of the wall around the churchyard.
One Iraqi bystander became hostile toward Rollins and Nash. He pushed Nash
and angrily yelled at them, "Go home!"
With the help of another Iraqi man, Rollins and Nash then found the sight of
the first bombing, an Armenian church. The damage there was similar to that
of the Syrian Church. Unable to locate the Chaldean Church--or Gish and
Pritchard--Rollins and Nash returned to the CPT apartment.
Gish and Pritchard heard both explosions from St. Yousif's Church. When the
service ended at 7:00 pm, they asked an Iraqi family on the street what had
happened. The family pulled the CPTers into their home and told them about
the attacks on the two churches. The family, an Iraqi Christian family, then
told their own story. They said Islamic militants had killed the father of
the family two weeks ago because he sold liquor. "Saddam was a killer, but
now we have many Saddam's," one of the daughters in the family said. The
family had been afraid to go to church that night. They were now more afraid
because of the two bombings.
When Gish and Pritchard left the Iraqi family's house, they went to the
Armenian Church, then to the Syrian Church before going home.