Even in war, there is a code of ethics that should be followed. Whether this war exists between American soldiers and the insurgency, criminals and their Iraqi/non-Iraqi hostages, or some unknown force and the thousands of gunned down Iraqi civilians, this code of ethics in nonexistant in Iraq.
On the one hand, we have the case of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who get caught in the middle, sometimes deliberately and sometimes by mistake. The case of Haditha, all over the American media now, is sadly not news in Baghdad, except that such a situation is finally getting covered by the American media with such frenzy. If you take a look at most Iraqi bloggers and their sites, they make no mention of the Haditha affair. Why? Because thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens have been killed by American soldiers since the start of the war, and thousands of homes have been damaged and thousands of innocents have been jailed. Every day you hear of men, women and children killed and/or shot while driving somewhere, or while sitting in their homes. As my husband's cousin was saying around the dinner table this past Friday, 'What's the big deal with Haditha? Why is this massacre getting such coverage and attention?'
Undoubtedly, there are some differences between this massacre and others, running from the deliberate shooting of unarmed women and children, to catching this evidence on tape. But here in Baghdad, this massacre in not top news.
What is top news here is a growing trend to gun down unarmed women in public. Some new force out there in the streets of crazy Amiriya has decided that it is NOT okay for women to drive, use cell phones or walk uncovered in public, but it IS okay to assassinate these women in broad daylight, in front of anyone unlucky enough to be around at the time.
About two weeks ago, Iraqi bloggers started reporting news that leaflets were being left in certain neighborhoods in the Amiriya district with 'guidelines' for staying alive, including no cell phone use in public for women and no goatee wearing for men.
Today, I got a call from our Amiriya relatives. Cousin 'I', whose Shiite father went into hiding about a month ago (see May 7th post), was telling me why she hadn't been able to go out yesterday to buy some earrings for her new baby. While her mother (my husband's aunt) and I's husband were at her medical clinic yesterday afternoon, they heard a loud commotion in the street. I's husband, M, ran outside to lend a possible hand.
He found one woman in a 'Khaleeji' style abaya dead with a bullet hole to her head, and heard that another woman walking with her had run away from the assassins. Unfortunately, they caught up with her and she was also killed. No one knew why these women were targeted, nor by whom. Their bodies were left for American soldiers to pick up in a bodybag and send to the city morgue.
Again, it has sadly become normal to hear of such killings in broad daylight with no guilty party captured or questioned. But that the targeted ones have become women is a new and horrific situation. In all cultures, through out time, in war and peace, there has remained a code of honor that the killing of women is to be avoided at all costs. We hear of soldiers who find that they are fighting a woman in disguise, and refuse to kill her, though she fights them. In Islamic history, we know that the Prophet (saaws) warned his men not to kill any civilians, no women, children or monks in their monastaries.
And yet, here, we have a growing situation where women do not feel safe anymore; and I'm not talking about on the battlefield, but in their own homes and cities.
It continually pains me to see the utter chaos that has engulfed Iraq, where a man or woman walking in the street is killed in front of others, and his killers get away, with no worry of being captured or questioned. It pains me to see that this merciless killing has gotten even more merciless, if that is possible, targeting women, for God knows what reason. It pains me that bystanders watch these crimes happen, and are powerless to do anything about it. And it pains me that human life has lost its meaning, its honor and its dignity.