Iraq: a 12-year old’s powerful statement

2003-02-25

Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors

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Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 08:40:03 +0000
From: Paul Swann <•••@••.•••>
---
From: Marty Greenhut <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 14:59:38 -0500
Subject:   A 12-year old's powerful statement about
           the possibility of war in Iraq

Greetings...<snip>...I felt that all of you
might benefit from reading the perspective below and I
encourage you to circulate it as you see fit.

Charlotte has been a busy girl since September 11.  A
search of her name will bring up other speeches and
papers she has written for class.

Tanya Barber
International Outreach Coordinator
Global Village School
http://www.globalvillageschool.org


  12 Year Old speaker
  Presque Isle, Maine Peace Rally Speech
  Before 150 Aroostook county residents from around the County
  February 15, 2003 - St. Mary's Church

  by Charlotte Aldebron

  When people think about bombing Iraq, they see a
  picture in their heads of Saddam Hussein in a military
  uniform, or maybe soldiers with big black mustaches
  carrying guns, or the mosaic of George Bush Sr. on the
  lobby floor of the Al-Rashid Hotel with the word
  criminal. But guess what? More than half of Iraq's 24
  million people are children under the age of 15. That's
  12 million kids. Kids like me. Well, I'm almost 13, so
  some are a little older, and some a lot younger, some
  boys instead of girls, some with brown hair, not red.
  But kids who are pretty much like me just the same. So
  take a look at me, a good long look. Because I am what
  you should see in your head when you think about
  bombing Iraq. I am what you are going to destroy.
  
  If I am lucky, I will be killed instantly, like the
  three hundred children murdered by your smart bombs in
  a Baghdad bomb shelter on February 16, 1991. The blast
  caused a fire so intense that it flash-burned outlines
  of those children and their mothers on the walls; you
  can still peel strips of blackened skin souvenirs of
  your victory from the stones.
  
  But maybe I won't be lucky and I'll die slowly, like
  14-year-old Ali Faisal, who right now is on the death
  ward of the Baghdad children's hospital. He has
  malignant lymphoma cancer caused by the depleted
  uranium in your Gulf War missiles. Or maybe I will die
  painfully and needlessly like 18-month-old Mustafa,
  whose vital organs are being devoured by sand fly
  parasites. I know it's hard to believe, but Mustafa
  could be totally cured with just $25 worth of medicine,
  but there is none of this medicine because of your
  sanctions.
  
  Or maybe I won't die at all but will live for years
  with the psychological damage that you can't see from
  the outside, like Salman Mohammed, who even now can't
  forget the terror he lived through with his little
  sisters when you bombed Iraq in 1991. Salman's father
  made the whole family sleep in the same room so that
  they would all survive together, or die together. He
  still has nightmares about the air raid sirens.
  
  Or maybe I will be orphaned like Ali, who was three
  when you killed his father in the Gulf War. Ali scraped
  at the dirt covering his fathers grave every day for
  three years calling out to him, It's all right Daddy,
  you can come out now, the men who put you here have
  gone away. Well, Ali, you're wrong. It looks like those
  men are coming back.
  
  Or I maybe I will make it in one piece, like Luay
  Majed, who remembers that the Gulf War meant he didn't
  have to go to school and could stay up as late as he
  wanted. But today, with no education, he tries to live
  by selling newspapers on the street.
  
  Imagine that these are your children or nieces or
  nephews or neighbors. Imagine your son screaming from
  the agony of a severed limb, but you can't do anything
  to ease the pain or comfort him. Imagine your daughter
  crying out from under the rubble of a collapsed
  building, but you can't get to her. Imagine your
  children wandering the streets, hungry and alone, after
  having watched you die before their eyes.
  
  This is not an adventure movie or a fantasy or a video
  game. This is reality for children in Iraq. Recently,
  an international group of researchers went to Iraq to
  find out how children there are being affected by the
  possibility of war. Half the children they talked to
  said they saw no point in living any more. Even really
  young kids knew about war and worried about it. One
  5-year-old, Assem, described it as guns and bombs and
  the air will be cold and hot and we will burn very
  much. Ten-year-old Aesar had a message for President
  Bush: he wanted him to know that a lot of Iraqi
  children will die. You will see it on TV and then you
  will regret.
  
  Back in elementary school I was taught to solve
  problems with other kids not by hitting or
  name-calling, but by talking and using I messages. The
  idea of an I message was to make the other person
  understand how bad his or her actions made you feel, so
  that the person would sympathize with you and stop it.
  Now I am going to give you an "I message." Only it's
  going to be a We message. We as in all the children in
  Iraq who are waiting helplessly for something bad to
  happen. We as in the children of the world who don't
  make any of the decisions but have to suffer all the
  consequences. We as in those whose voices are too small
  and too far away to be heard.
  
  We feel scared when we don't know if we'll live another
  day. We feel angry when people want to kill us or
  injure us or steal our future. We feel sad because all
  we want is a mom and a dad who we know will be there
  the next day. And, finally, we feel confused  because
  we don't even know what we did wrong.
  
  Charlotte Aldebron, 12, attends Cunningham Middle
  School in Presque Isle, Maine. Comments may be sent to
  her mom, Jillian Aldebron: •••@••.•••

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