Abu Ghraib means ‘father of the raven’
This is a Photoshop I did on Abu Ghraib… or at least my impressions of it. The background is a Saddam era prison-pass to Abu Ghraib. The colorful people are sampled from the excellent work “Hurricane” by the Iraqi artist Sadiq Toma (purchase). The hand is a medical sample I found on Google Images. So, that’s my impression of Abu Ghraib. The awful bureaucracy that has the stamps and documents to make crushing life look legitimate. That’s the black hand of death, pulling the color of life into Abu Ghraib.
Perhaps its something about the prison itself, like in Zimbardo’s classic psychology experiments:
“In 1971 researchers at Stanford University created a simulated prison in the basement of the campus psychology building. They randomly assigned 24 students to be either prison guards or prisoners for two weeks.
Within days the “guards” had become swaggering and sadistic, to the point of placing bags over the prisoners’ heads, forcing them to strip naked and encouraging them to perform sexual acts.” (New York Times)
It’s shameful. Unlawful detentions cause so much suffering to the prisoners and the families left behind, all crushed under an unrelenting authority that knows no law and respects no rights. That’s why I wish Rumsfeld and Bush would follow the Geneva Conventions, in Iraq and Guantanamo. That’s what the Founding Fathers fought for. The Constitution. The Bill of Rights. That’s the America I know and love.
There has to be some love in what’s going on Iraq. Some good must come of this. There is, at least, Art. I’ve met a few brilliant people from Iraq and the culture – dating from 5,000 BC – is incredible. Gilgamesh, the Old Testament, and Abraham – father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Their modern art is amazing too, and architecture (re: Zaha Hadid). They’re beautiful people. I wish them well. I’ll close with a poem by Yahya Al-Samawi:
My Love Humiliated Me
My love humiliated me
So did my wound that extends from the palm tree’s braids
To the people’s bread
And when the Tartars one night besieged me
I crossed the wall of the massacred homeland
Anxiety was my provision
Terror was my water
I roamed the fires of the East
The gardens of the West
With no companions
Except residues of my home’s ashes
The clay of the Euphrates and Tigris
Splattered on my clothes
I searched for my childhood
In the memory of days
In the refuse of oppressive wars
Seeking my city
Looking for my beloved among this age’s captives
Uncovering my roots
A sweet enchanting Euphrates
Suddenly I saw a palm tree on a sidewalk
I shook it
Tears flowed down over my face
And when I shook the earth’s trunk
Iraq surges in my heart.
YAHYA AL-SAMAWI (born 1949) has been living as a political refugee in Australia. The author of more than eight collections, he has been largely concerned in his latest works with political themes, which address, among other issues, Iraq’s predicament in the years following the Gulf War and his opposition to the regime. Note his reference to the “massacred homeland” and the “Tartars” (a symbol used primarily for “external” invaders).
source: Iraqi Poets In Western Exile