Preserving honour


Tal Afar, Iraq, 18 January, 2005: Samar Hassan, 5, screams after her parents were killed by US soldiers. Photograph: Chris Hondros / Getty Images

My mother was sick and my father was taking her to the hospital.  It was sunset and it was raining.  We were seven in the car: my mother, my father, three sisters and my brother.

On the way back the Americans opened fire.  There wasn’t any incident on the road that the Americans needed to shoot at.  Our car was the only one in the road.  My mother and father were hit, as well as my brother.  Then the Americans opened the door of the car, pointed their guns at us, they put all us in their vehicle and took us to the hospital.  I started to shout: “where is my mother?”  He told me: “You mother is dead.  Keep quiet.”

I was taken to the doctor because I couldn’t stop crying.  The clinic didn’t help me with anything.  They just gave me tablets and they said I could go home.  They took my brother back to the hospital.  Our relatives came and they took us back home.

I slept and after two, three hours I woke up and remembered my mother, and began to cry again.  My little sister began to cry too.

I didn’t like the Americans because they killed my father, my mother.  They didn’t provide us with first aid; they just dropped us at the hospital.  That’s all.  No one helped us after the death of my father and mother.  No one had any mercy on us or gave us a penny.  We now wear very worn out clothes and I’ve quit school.  My financial prospects are bleak and my spirits too are dull.

I work in the house and I sleep.  I sleep alone and cry because I can’t forget the picture of my father and mother.  I didn’t have any life without my parents.  I feel that my life has turned to be very dark.

Samar Hassan, 2013 (aged 13?)


Interviewed over days, for several hours at a time, he tells the makers of the documentary The World According to Dick Cheney that, after the 9/11 attacks, “it was more important to be successful than it was to be loved”.

He adds: “Those who spent all their time trying to be loved by everybody probably aren’t doing much. If you’re not prepared to have critics and be subject to criticism, then you are in the wrong place of work. If you want to be loved, go and be a movie star.”

On the use of water-boarding, Mr Cheney gives a description of the method used to simulate drowning and denies it amounts to torture. He snaps at his interviewer: “Tell me what terrorist attacks it is you would have let go forward because you didn’t want to be a mean and nasty fella. Are you gonna trade the lives of people because you want to preserve your honour, or are you gonna do your job, do what’s required first and foremost, your responsibility to safeguard the United States of America and the lives of its citizens?”

The Australian

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

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