[Hpn] FW: a 12-yr old's anti-war speech

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Tue, 25 Feb 2003 01:39:54 -0800

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Date:        2/24/03 10:32 AM
From:        Jennifer Bennett, jennifer_bennett_fox@yahoo.com
To:          colours-l@lists.tao.ca

colours of resistance network
I hope you're sitting down -- Jennifer

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 Iraqís 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 wonít die at all but will live for years with the
psychological damage that you canít 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.
Salmanís 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
father's 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
canít 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

*	We feel scared when we donít 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 donít 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: aldebron@ainop.com

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