Bringing Democracy to the Middle East

IRAQ: Lina Massufi, Iraq “I cannot stand the constant military raids in my home”
© Afif Sarhan/IRIN

Lina Massufi is fed up because her house in Baghdad has been raided by US and Iraqi soldiers more than 12 times in the past three months.

BAGHDAD, 22 Jan 2007 (IRIN) – “My name is Lina Massufi. I’m a 32-year-old laboratory assistant who works 10 hours a day just to make enough money to raise my children.

“My life has been like hell over the past three months. US and Iraqi soldiers have raided my house more than 12 times.

“My husband, Khalil, was killed during the US invasion in 2003 when he drove through a closed road and soldiers shot him dead.

“I live in Haifa Street, one of the most dangerous places to live in Baghdad today. The area is infamous for its huge number of insurgents. This is why Iraqi and US soldiers have increased their activity in the area, constantly raiding homes and arresting men for interrogation.

“Last month, they arrested my 23-year-old brother Fae’ek, who lives with me. He is a pharmacy student but nonetheless they took him and kept him in prison for more than a week – even after knowing he was innocent. He returned with signs of torture on his body and was crying like a baby because of the pain.

“I cannot stand the constant military raids in my home. Every time they [the soldiers] raid my house, they break the door. They don’t know how to knock at a door. One day, when I asked them why they were entering like that instead of ringing the bell, they laughed at me and called me an idiot.

“My furniture is all broken into pieces because of the way they conduct their searches. I no longer have dishes or glasses to speak of because they destroyed most of them during the raids.

“I have two children and for most of the time, they are scared. Muhammad, a four-year-old, cannot sleep well at night. He has nightmares every day and when he wakes up he cries, asking me not to let the soldiers take him as they took his uncle.

“Fadia, my daughter, who is only eight years old, doesn’t want to go to school because she says that if they raid our home and I’m not around, they would do something bad to her brother. But with her at home, she can help him not be afraid.

“Our neighbourhood is in the middle of a constant war. It is not safe for us to leave or enter our houses. Most of the shops around here are closed. We have to walk about 5km to buy food like vegetables and rice.

“Sometimes, when I return by taxi from my job, which is about 45 minutes from my home, I find the street closed and bullets flying around everywhere.

“I start to cry as I become afraid that something might have happened to my children even though I know that my brother is there. I know that when I get home, I will find Muhammad crying and Fadia scared but I cannot stay all day at home because if I leave my job, there will be no one to feed them.

“It is common to see at least three corpses on Haifa Street each day and sometimes up to eight, as happened last week. They are fighters, innocent civilians or soldiers. No one takes care of them [the bodies] because if you tried to get closer, you could become the next victim.

“I have nowhere to run to. I have to withstand this desperate situation hoping that one day we will live in peace again, even if it seems that it might take dozens of years for that to happen.”


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