Monday, May 08, 2006

Remember, We Put These People In Charge

A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat from the middle, slicing from side to side.

Her cries Ah, ah, ah can be heard above the 'Allahu akbar' (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone.

Even then, there is no quick release for Bahjat. Her executioner suddenly stands up, his job only half done. A second man in a dark T-shirt and camouflage trousers places his right khaki boot on her abdomen and pushes down hard eight times, forcing a rush of blood from her wounds as she moves her head from right to left.

Only now does the executioner return to finish the task. He hacks off her head and drops it to the ground, then picks it up again and perches it on her bare chest so that it faces the film-maker in a grotesque parody of one of her pieces to camera.

The London Times has a report of the murder of Atwar Bahjat, at, it appears, the hands of a Iraqi Death Squad. Or, she could have been killed by insurgents trying to make it look like a government death squad.

In the end who did it matters little. Did she care if it was agents of the government, or those fighting the government? She suffered greatly, and is now dead.

There is a lesson that we have to remember from this. We are the nation responsible for creating the environment where this could happen, for that we bear some responsibility.

The fact that the current Iraqi government is running torture centers, using death squads and extrajudicial executions is not being disputed. So, Atwar Bahjat's murder is at least symbolic of one of the results of our decision to invade Iraq.

A murder that was created by our actions. A vivid example of what is happening every day, ten, twenty, or more times a day, to people we will never hear about.

All because a few men in DC wanted this war.


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