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14. Oktober 2005

Iraq - Women in a Hospital © Manal Omar

Women in a hospital in Hillah waiting for medical treatment.
© Manal Omar

Iraq Lunch Party © Manal Omar

Daily life in Iraq - this picture shows a small lunch party thrown for women in a social and economicall marginalized area in Baghdad.
© Manal Omar

Iraq Ranas Story

I know that I am one of many widows in Iraq who live between the worlds of pain and fear.

A few weeks ago we received tragic news from our team in Baghdad: the husband of Rana Alkinani was murdered brutally in the streets of Baghdad. Rana is coordinating our research project "Youth in the midst of Horror and Hope" in Iraq. She tells her story in a very personal letter, and we are passing her message onwards here.
Rana Alkinani and her husband Hussein studied physics together in Baghdad. He worked in the company of his father. They have three children aged 10 and 7 years and 6 months.

My name is Rana, and I want to share my story, but I am not even sure where to start. Perhaps because I still am trying to convince myself that he is traveling on a long journey that he is coming back to me. At the same time, unlike others who loved Hussein, I knew I could not come to rest without knowing exactly what happened. Whereas his parents wanted to mourn, I wanted to understand. The details were important, because it was something I felt would help me come to terms, and also something I want to share with my children when they are older. They deserve to know how their father died. More importantly, they deserve to know how their father chose to live. Their father was a man of dedication, principles, warmth, and endless amount of love; a man who lived to please his parents, love his wife, and provide for his children. For many, he may be the typical Iraqi man living in Baghdad – but for me he was my life.

The tragedy happened in the middle of what was to be one of the happiest moments for the family. My younger brother was to be married in Jordan, and for months we were planning the celebration. Hussein and I would dream about the day we would marry our three children, and would sit and plan for hours what the future before us held. But as excited I was, my heart constantly warned me. With all that we have been through in Iraq, even the sense of happiness was suffocating. Indeed, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate. In one moment, all sense of happiness was evaporated. The dream of the future died with the harsh reality of the here and now.

The last I heard from my husband was in an SMS that he sent me at noon saying he missed me. Later I was to find out, that an hour after he sent me the SMS he went to an area on the outskirts of Baghdad named Tarmiah, well known for the sectarian violence, particularly targeted at the shiaas. Hussein was going to the bank to withdraw money, and for some reason he was not afraid because he had been working in this area and with the bank for over a decade. The day before he had gone to withdraw money from the bank, the teller told him to come back the next day at the same time because there was not enough money in the safe. This was the first betrayal. Hussein came the next day at the same time and withdrew a significant amount of money. Ten minutes after he left he was surrounded by three cars filled with armed robbers. A struggle ensued, and Hussein and his three loyal employees fought for their lives. My husband is a strong and determined man. During the struggle, three of the robbers were killed, and by what can be described as nothing less than a miracle managed to escape to the local police station

He began to call his relatives, telling them that he had been shot but was safe in the police station. His cousins responded instantly, and tried to reach the police station to take him to safety. However, the road was blocked, and the US troops would not let them through. This was the second betrayal, for whereas Hussein has always been there for others, at his time of need he found himself alone and with no reinforcements. The US troops would not permit them to go through. The police station convinced him that they would take him to the checkpoint and to safety. Hussein agreed – and entered into the third betrayal. Although the police promised him protection, they offered him none and delivered him and his friends straight into the hands of the gang. They opened fire on his car, and killed all inside. Hussein was found with more than ten gunshots in his body. After he was killed, they tied his body to their car and dragged it through the street.

The details were so important to me. To lose a husband is always difficult. But to lose a husband so young was even more difficult. He died twelve days after his 32nd birthday. It was the only birthday in are 10 years of marriage that I didn’t celebrate with him. In addition, to lose him to murder and betrayal is more than anyone can bear. And yet for me my three kids are my force to move forward. The youngest is four months, and will never know firsthand the amazing character of his father. It is amazing to me that all three of them are the spitting image of their father. As if God wanted to preserve my dear husband’s memory through his children.

Our tragedy and fear is still not over. The robbers were people we knew, people who had once sat around Hussein’s farm and had breakfast with him. They are a well known tribe in the area, and the audacity didn’t end with the killing of my husband. Now they are asking for the lives of 30 of Hussein’s tribe – 10 for each of the robbers that were killed in the struggle. In addition with trying to come to terms with the loss, I fear for the lives of my children. I know that I am one of many widows in Iraq who live between the worlds of pain and fear.

Some of the comfort that has come during the time of mourning has been the calls from support. He was known for his giving without question, and the fact that he died such a brutal and tragic death makes him a martyr. I know he is in heaven, and still feel his warmth within me. Even in his death, the proof of how much he was loved was shown. When the murders surrounded the car and opened fire, his faithful employee of two years threw himself on him to protect from the gunshots. At least his final moment was in the embrace of someone who loved him to the extent he was willing to give his life.

I don’t believe anybody can ever understand what I am feeling. Besides the overwhelming sorrow is an anger directed at everyone. I am angry with Hussein for being so naïve and ideal that he did not see the signs. I am angry at the Iraqis for allowing themselves to be enveloped by this senseless violence. I am angry at myself for not being with him the final days of his life. I walk around as a numb person; the only thing in my mind at this point is my children. How can I find the strength to become the mother and father to them that they will need? How can I protect from this cruel and heartless world? How can I fulfill Hussein’s last wishes of a better future for them? If there is anything I have learned is that I need to depend on myself. The only thing I can count in is his endless love that still reaches me from his grave that will give me the inner strength and push to continue.

Rana and her children are faced with ruin; their future is uncertain. Please help to ensure Ranas children a qualified education.

Please send your donations to the following bank account:
Frauen ohne Grenzen, IBAN: AT92 1200 0520 8537 1105, BIC: BKAUATWW, BA-CA, purpose: Rana.


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