This is the transcript of an interview with Steven and David, two Christian Iraqis currently living in Amman. SHADI is one of the translator/journalists here in Amman helping me make contacts and communicate with Iraqis.
SHADI: What is your name, where are you from?
Steven Jameel, Baghdad. Studying at AlíRafidain College, he got to his third year and didnít finish because he left Iraq with his family.
David Sami Daoud, Baghdad. Born in 1982, he was working in Baghdad, not in school.
AIB: When did you come from Baghdad?
Steven: In January 2005, He and his family.
David: In June 2004.
AIB: Why did you leave Baghdad?
S: To immigrate, but the main reason, the security, and after that they thought about emigrating elsewhere. If the situation was good, we donít want to emigrate. If the situation was good, security, working, society is good, then we wouldnít think to leave their country. In that country where I was born, where I live, I canít leave it.
D: Same reasons.
AIB: Can you tell us about the current situation?
S: We hear from the news and our friends and family who are in Baghdad about the situation. Some days its good, on other days it is bad, but its going to get worse and worse and worse. The situation in Baghdad depends on the people who want to rebuild the country, or destroy the country. God willing, we wish that the situation will be ok.
D: Same thing. From the news and friends and family, from Iraq.
SHADI: You have contacts with your friends and family today from Jordan by internet or by phone, about the situation.
AIB: What is an Average Day in Baghdad like?
S: To be honest with you, in Iraq the situation is there are bombs here and bombs there. And you hear about there is a bombing near where our parents live and the first thing we are thinking about is the security of our family. We call them, or by internet because you want to know the details about that. About their house, that there are no problems, about our family, whether anyone was wounded or killed. This is causing us to worry about them all day.
SHADI: What is the average percent of bombings daily?
S: Seventy percent of the day there is something happening. Not only Baghdad but that happens in all Iraq.
SHADI: And David, what have they told you when you have called them?
D: All my family is in Amman now, and out of Iraq, but I hear about my friends on the internet or if they call me or I call them, and from the news. But only in the news.
SHADI: Do you think you can return to Iraq?
S: That depends on the situation, but right now, no. We hope, wish to return back.
S: Yes we hope. And if the situation returns, like the past.
SHADI: Which past like before the invasion or after the invasion?
S: Before 1990s time.
SHADI: How is it different from the way it was 2.5 years ago, 12.5 years ago? What is the difference about the life in Iraq, before the invasion and after the invasion, or between this war and the first gulf war?
S: Before the life was stable, and the security is good, but about the work and the life, not good because there is no salary, but now, two things, the security and the work/life its not stable. And the people in Iraq, their mind is deteriorated. They are thinking all the time, how I will live and when I will die. They go to work in a bad situation and say god will bless us and keep us. And that means there are many differences between the first war and this war.
SHADI: So there was security before the war?
SHADI: What is the important thing to you, the financial situation or the security situation.
S: The first point, the important point, is the security.
D: You know before, and in the middle of the Sanctions by the US on Iraq, everything is cheap, we can buy anything.
SHADI: The prices before and after the war?
S: The same thing. And not that big of a difference.
AIB: Can you describe your last day in Baghdad?
S: The last day, it was a hard day. And you know, we learned from the experience that the moment of separation, itís a hard. And the moment of the separation thatís becoming a habit and fact because all day, every day we say goodbye to this family and some friends or some parent. Everyday we say goodbye to some person. By repeating this moment it is proven. When you get in the car you look to the house that you were born in that you grew up in, its too hard of a moment. And what I can talk about this moment, I canít describe it. The last time, we wished to return back and you know, when we get in the car, in our neighborhood, there is two houses being rebuilt because of American rockets. We hope at this moment that the reason of the rebuilding is not for the rocket but is for maintenance. I wish the rebuilding for when you have money and you want to maintain yourself, not for the rocket we rebuild the house.
D: Really. The moment of separation is too hard, you have a friend, you say goodbye to them. You wish to turn back, to see your friends.
SHADI: What you wish at this moment?
D: I wish to return back in a good situation. This is what I wish, any Iraqi wishes that. No one want to leave his country.
AIB: What is it that you remember most about the occupation?
S: The invasion is too hard, but we were not in Baghdad, we were in the north of Iraq. And we wanted to see on the television, on the news and we asked anyone who came from Baghdad about the situation, what happened in the last days. We saw the American tanks in the middle of Baghdad. And we saw on the television, some pictures from Baghdad, like Al Shaab Stadium and Al Faardous Square, that square with Saddamís statue in it. And we saw the American soldiers walking in the street and they didnít believe they are in Baghdad. Itís too hard for us, when you see a strange person in your house and in our country, they donít know anything about our language or our life. We saw that and itís very hard, even now.
D: We were in the north of Iraq also, Itís too hard when we see soldiers walking the street and its too hard when we see a tank walking in the street. You know, the first time, when they captured Baghdad, some people were happy, but it was a hard and difficult time for us. But at this moment we didnít expect what would happen in the future, like bombing and explosions. We didnít expect that. Because the American army were talking like it was their own country. We expect the situation will be better than before, but we shocked.
AIB: What did they expect to happen before the Americans came, and when you hear what Bush said on the television? What were your thoughts after that?
S: To be honest, I am not a political man. Weíve gotten used to war because of the war in the past like between Iraq and Iran, the war of 1990, and what happened with Clinton, in 1998, even now, in this war of Junior Bush we know this war will happen, an army will fight another army and this army wants to occupy and another army wants to win and war its like a habit for us. But we didnít expect it would be so hard. We hear about the political things but we donít care-we hear about some news, and forget it.
SHADI: What do you expect the result will be?
S: Depending on the people and the news-
D: What happened, we expected. Before this war the shops closed and they took all their funds from the shop, because we hear some looting will happen.
SHADI: Why do you expect that will happen?
D: We heard about that, and we expect Baghdad will fall. And we expected that looting would happen, and it happened.
SHADI: How you can know what will happen? Like rumors?
D: You know, I think the government, he know what will happen, he expected that, so the people gossiped about it and everyone made his shop empty.
S: And the preparation of Iraqis, before the war, you can see the soldiers everywhere, near your house, in the streets, and everywhere, not like the war in 1990. The policeman donít care about the security at this time because of the difficult preparations for the war.
SHADI: Whats your opinion about who is going to loot and steal from the ministries and companies people from outside Iraq, or Iraqis?
S: All of them did that. The hungry Iraqis and the people who were hurt from the ex-government.
D: But he who did that, meant it.
S: They planning to do that.
AIB: What is the real reason for the war? WMDs?
S: But you know, we are not political.
SHADI: You are an Iraqi citizen, you hear on the TV about what Bush said about the WMDs, did you believe what Bush said? That Saddam Hussein had WMDs?
S: No we didnít agree with that, we didnít believe that.
SHADI: What did you think at this time was the real reason of the war.
S: The political is like an ocean.
SHADI: Everyone has his opinion, his view about things that he hears from the news.
S: Because of the resources in Iraq and to loot and steal the Iraqi resources. Iraq have many resources and when they put their hand on the resources, they will become a great country. Iraq has good resources. Any resource you can think about, it is in Iraq. And America will have a good benefit.
AIB: Is there anything else I should have asked you?
S: We wish the situation will be good everywhere, in any country, and anyone who is born in any country he can stay there in a good situation.
AIB: What do you think about the freedom in Iraq?
D: We didnít try it.
S: You canít apply the freedom from outside by any person or country. And god created humans free. Why someone came to apply on me the freedom, god created me free. The meaning of the freedom you can do anything without hurting anyone, but now, what’s happened, many people thinking about not a good meaning of the freedom. Because the freedom now is applied on the people, and before Saddam, there is no freedom. You canít do anything you want to do.
SHADI: Until now you think there is Freedom?
D: At this time, in Iraq, there is no freedom. Okay, well there is freedom, but it’s not good freedom-
S: You canít understand it.
SHADI: You mean, the meaning of the real freedom?
S: Part of the freedom, and not everyone have a good understanding of the freedom. And its not the freedom when some people understand the freedom when he go to loot.
SHADI: You mean, the people didnít understand the freedom and they took the bad meaning of the freedom?
S: Because those people didnít live it or try it.
AIB: What do they know about corruption in the parties?
S: well yes sure you can say that, and you know there is no government that is clean from the corruption. We saw on the news some of the policeman helping the terrorists, and doing some terrorist things. But the policeman should protect the people.
SHADI: Let us talk about the money of the country. And the contracts, and the projects.
D: We hear about that.
S: We hear and we saw in the news someone stole from the country, like some Minister stole. We donít see anything but we hear about it.
SHADI: Did you hear from your friends about when the policeman raid the houses maybe they stole something from the house. Or they detained someone and they killed him after that.
S: No, we donít hear about that.
SHADI: Have you known anyone arrested or detained at Abu Ghraib? Or someone who has been tortured by the policeman.
S: Well we hear about that in the neighborhood, they detained a person doing some bad things. We heard about it. They detained him.
SHADI: Who? From who, the police or Iraqi military, or the American military?
S: Both. They detained the people.
AIB: Ask them what their opinion of the resistance.
SHADI: You see the pictures from Abu Ghraib and whats your opinion, as Iraqis?
S: It seems they stole his rights and who give them the ability to steal the rights of the people?
SHADI: Whatís your feeling when you saw these pictures?
D: It was too hard. But itís the press, and maybe they pay for those journalists to take a photo for propaganda.
SHADI: What’s your opinions about the resistance? Is there a real resistance and also terrorists? Terrorists, who kill people, donít care about Iraq, etc.
S: To resist is legal right when someone occupies my house, it is my right to resist him, to get back my house. Its my right, to resist the American military is legal rights. But some people call themselves the resistance but they are not, they attack people.
SHADI: You agree with the resistance only to attack the Americans and the British to occupy Iraq?
S: Yes. But not now, you should be change the people and change their mind for 2 or 3 years after you change the government, and if nothing will happen, you can resist the occupation.
SHADI: But you mean the resistance is your legal right?
D: Yes, yes, but not now!
SHADI: What do you expect will happen in Iraq after the constitution, and after 2 years, will a civil war happen?
S: No. We donít expect any civil war will happen, because you know at the birth of Iraq we are living together many years ago, Christians, Sunnis, Shiía, Kurdish and Arabs without any problems. But, we wish from the government putting the rules to the peopleís benefit, also the president and the minister, working for the benefit of the people, that we wish. And it is my wishing, if God wills it will be done.
SHADI: And you David what you think?
D: God willing, we wish.
SHADI: And do you think about the judgement of Saddam Hussein? And would you agree with it if they execute him?
D/S: We arenít lawyers and we arenít judges.
SHADI: I want your opinion, I know you arenít judge but I want your opinion
S: To be honest any person, president or citizen, doing bad things, I think he should be judged.
D: I donít know what I would say. But someone said he should be punished.
S: He did some bad things and I think he should be punished.
AIB: Do you want to send a message to the American people, or the Western people?
S: Thereís not a specific message but let people in other countries live like them.
D: Thereís no message.
Look for this interview to be posted soon in video format, along with several other interviews.
Brian & Raífat