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Margarate Hassan - hostage in Iraq

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 12:07 am
Edit Moderator: Moved from Australia to International News.

CARE head pleads for her life
October 23, 2004 - 3:03PM

Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Iraq, appears in this image aired by the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera.
Photo: AP

- AFP http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2004/10/23/hassan_wideweb__430x320.jpg

Kidnapped British aid worker Margaret Hassan pleaded for Tony Blair to save her life by scrapping a plan to redeploy British troops in Iraq and by pulling them out, as more than a dozen people died in clashes around the country.

''Please help me, please help me, these might be my last hours,'' a haggard and terrified Hassan said on a tape broadcast Friday by Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera.

''I will die like Mr (Kenneth) Bigley,'' the British hostage beheaded in Iraq earlier this month, she said.

''Ask Mr Blair to pull the (British) forces out of Iraq and not to bring them to Baghdad,'' she said, referring to Prime Minister Tony Blair who has agreed to Washington's request to redeploy troops from the south to US-controlled areas.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said he would not meet kidnappers' demands for Hassan's release.

''Nobody is going to go for their demands ... and give in to their demands,'' he told Fox News.

''We have to remain very strong and adamant that we should bring the terrorists to justice,'' he said in an interview to be aired Saturday.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: ''The video of Margaret Hassan which has been released by her kidnappers is extremely distressing.''

Hassan, 59, was taken hostage on Tuesday as she drove to her office in western Baghdad.

She has spent nearly half her life in Iraq and is married to an Iraqi. She was a vocal opponent of the US-British invasion in March 2003.

The director of Iraq operations for CARE International has lived in Iraq for 30 years and is a naturalised Iraqi citizen.

The identity of her kidnappers is not known, although Dubai-based al-Arabiya television broadcast a video of her, apparently supplied by her captors.

''We hope she will be released,'' said Allawi. ''We are doing our best, we are praying for her and we are definitely doing our best to release her.

''She is a very fine lady, she is a very dignified lady and she has helped Iraq a lot and it is a very shameful thing that this happens in Iraq.''

Britain said on Thursday an 850-strong battle group would be posted outside Baghdad as part of the redeployment that will free up US troops for an expected assault on insurgents in the violence-plagued western city of Fallujah.

The international relief agency CARE, of which Hassan is local director, announced it was suspending operations in Iraq after her abduction.

On the ground, meanwhile, US and Iraqi forces clashed with insurgents yesterday Buhruz, a town north-east of Baghdad near Baquba, after rebels attacked a US patrol with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, said a military spokesman.

He said nine insurgents were killed and three wounded in the fighting which lasted several hours.

A hospital in Baquba said it received three dead and eight wounded from the fighting.

Violence also flared in the northern city of Mosul when US and Iraqi forces tried to arrest what the military said were suspected insurgents forted up in the Thul-Nurain mosque.

Clashes wounded two US soldiers and one Iraqi. Another five soldiers were wounded when their convoy hit a roadside bomb as it was leaving the area.

Shortly after another car bomb went off nearby killing one Iraqi and wounding another.

In the rebel stronghold of Fallujah, US Marines fired heavy artillery on insurgents who attacked them from inside the Sunni Muslim city west of the capital, the military said.

An AFP correspondent said he heard loud explosions and saw smoke and fire rising from the city's Al-Shuhada neighbourhood, where US warplanes bombed a suspected weapons depot late on Thursday.

Hospitals said seven people were killed during the assault.

Determined to regain control of the no-go zone before the January polls, more than 1,000 joint forces have encircled the city for the past week.

Elsewhere, preliminary court martial proceedings began for a US prison guard accused of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees in the Abu Ghraib jail scandal, while the murder trial of a second US soldier began yesterday.

Specialist Charles Graner had posed in a notorious photograph with naked Iraqi detainees stacked in a pyramid last autumn.

The preliminary hearing saw the judge, Colonel James Pohl, reject two requests from the defence and schedule the next court date for December 3 and the actual trial for January 7.

Pohl struck down a request to grant immunity to witnesses.

The hearing followed Thursday's sentencing of the most senior soldier charged so far in the case, Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, to eight years in prison. Graner's lawyer painted a portrait of a low-ranking soldier simply following orders from top brass.



http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/10/23/1098474910480.html


Why my friend Margaret Hassan must be freed
October 23, 2004/the AGE

I had the good fortune to work with Margaret Hassan when I was non-government organisation liaison officer for the UN humanitarian co-ordinator, until the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. Margaret is intelligent, professional and empathetic, and understands the innumerable tragedies the peoples of the Middle East have suffered. Her capture is a serious blow to all of us who have dedicated our lives to working with Arabs and Muslims to confront ongoing atrocities and injustices and secure human rights and responsibilities in the region.

If the capture is an attempt to make a scapegoat of neo-colonial, Christian-Zionist, and/or Western imperialist agendas personified, the resistance has the wrong person. Margaret's vocal opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq revealed a heart and mind that knew the chaos and devastation such belligerence would generate. She consistently criticised the humanitarian and reconstruction ineptitude of the US and British occupying powers and called on them to uphold their responsibilities in accordance with international humanitarian law. And when we all left, Margaret remained with her husband to bravely pick up the pieces.

Every day Iraq becomes more dangerous. The disbanding of the Iraqi army and other such blunders by the "coalition of the willing" has unleashed a post-Soviet-style disintegration of law and order. Every day, tens of Iraqis are kidnapped for ransom. Margaret might still be held by those at the bottom of the hostage-taking food chain - common criminals attempting to sell on their catch to the politically savvy cohorts of al-Zarqawi, bin Laden and the like. If so, let us hope the ransom is paid and Margaret is freed.

If Margaret has been sold on, let us hope the Islamists have the political savoir-faire to appreciate that doing anything but releasing her is unstrategic. Indeed, when a Jihadi resorts to such desperate measures as abducting an advocate of Arab and Muslim self-determination he greatly diminishes the cause among even his most ardent supporters.

It is time for all mujahideen to ask: What is our endgame? If it is independence from the yoke of US foreign policy and the freedom to enjoy human rights and responsibilities, then capturing Margaret is not part of the design. Margaret is not the enemy.


Kirsten Zaat, Richmond, Victoria, Australia.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 12:50 am
This is tragic. A woman who has spent a huge part of her adult life helping the Iraqis & living there, yet being treated like the enemy. It makes me wonder what this hostage-taking business is really all about. Margaret Hassan is obviously not an evil person, by anyone's definition. Nor can she be seen to be "anti-Iraqi/ pro-western". I feel so sorry for her, her family, her co-workers, the Iraqis whose she's made connections with through her committed work ... This just doesn't make sense at all.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 03:59 am
There was a march by Iraqis in support of her.

This hostage business is awful.

I don't think any of the others has been evil, either....
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 01:30 pm
I hate this stuff.
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panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 02:35 pm
So ladies...what is to be done? Capitulate to save her life? Or stand strong, while a friend of Iraq is sacrificed? What is one to do?
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 02:45 pm
I think the Iraqui militants (I hesitate at the word 'terrorists') have made a grave mistake. It isn't the first mistake they've made but this one is serious. They stand to lose whatever grudging support they may have from mainstream Iraquis who want to see the Western presence in their country ended. The kidnapping of the two Italian women was a serious error, belatedly rectified by their release. But this one is even worse.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 02:48 pm
The point of these kidnappings is to drive out westerners and western trained elites and professionals (Doctors etc). The people behind this are looking towards creating a religiously monolithic, uneducated and isolated population that can be easily manipulated by a small radically orthodox muslim sect. There are many western trained Iraqi's who have either been kidnapped or terrorized until they leave the country. We just do not hear about them.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 04:32 pm
Capitulation is impossible. Whatever fate awaits her is unfortunately in the hands of the assassins.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 05:18 pm
panzade wrote:
So ladies...what is to be done? Capitulate to save her life? Or stand strong, while a friend of Iraq is sacrificed? What is one to do?


Huh? Who has spoken of capitulation?

I doubt that the British troop movement the bastards are bargaining about with her life is expected by anyone - including them - to be stopped.

They haven't - as far as we know - killed a woman yet, though.

Bound to be a first time though.

Dying is something we all do - what is so horrible is thinking of the terror these poor people are living through for so long.

I am working with a little girl who was held hostage (with her father lying shot in the head in the same room) for several hours right now. Such unspeakable terror...

What people are capable of doing to each other......on ALL damned sides.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 04:50 am
Al Jazeera reports on a sad day in Iraq - but mentions something a little hopeful for Margaret at the end:


Several blasts hit Iraq, at least 22 killed
10/23/2004 11:30:00 PM GMT

A car bomb exploded Saturday at a police station near a U.S.-Iraqi base in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, killing 16 Iraqi policemen and injuring 48 others, officials said.

The blast hit outside the gates of Marine Camp Al Asad in Baghdadi, 142 miles west of Baghdad.

The U.S. army confirmed that it was a car bomb blast and said that there were no Americans among the fatalities.

Marine Lieutenant Lyle Gilbert said that ten Iraqi police were killed in the attack, adding that it occurred at about 7 a.m.

A hospital official in nearby Haditha confirmed that at least eight were killed and 48 injured.

In other developments Saturday:

? Rebels fired two mortar bombs in central Baghdad, killing two Iraqi civilians and injuring one, witnesses said, adding that another mortar bomb landed in the fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government headquarters and U.S. and British embassies.

? A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint in the village of Ishaqi, south of Samarra, killing four Iraqi soldiers and wounding six, police said.

? Rebels fired at a convoy of Turkish trucks in Mosul, killing two Turkish drivers and injuring two others, hospital and police officials said. The attack occurred about noon in the center of the city.

? A roadside bomb went off near a U.S. military patrol along the highway leading to the Baghdad airport, injuring six soldiers, the U.S. military said, adding that none of the wounds were life-threatening.

CARE International appeals for Hassan's release

On Friday, head of CARE international, Margaret Hassan, who was kidnapped in Iraq on Tuesday, appeared in a video tape begging for her life and urging British Prime Minister Tony Blair to pull out British troops from Iraq.

Hassan?s appeal adds to the political pressure on Blair's government shortly after it agreed to a U.S. request to move 850 UK troops from southern Iraq to the Baghdad area.

On Saturday, CARE International secretary-general Denis Caillaux made another appeal to Hassan's captors to free her on Al Jazeera channel.

"She is a naturalized Iraqi citizen and always holds the people of Iraq in her heart. CARE joins with many of the people whose lives Mrs. Hassan has touched over her decades of service in Iraq in reaching out to her captors to appeal to their humanity," he said.


Rebels in Iraq have seized at least seven other foreign women over the past six months, and all were freed. In September, Italian aid workers Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, both 29, were abducted from their Baghdad offices; they were released three weeks later.

Something to be said for Islamic sexism at last?
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:34 am
Something to be said for Islamic sexism at last?

Well, Deb, if that's the only thing that will save her, I'll accept the result!

She is so obviously NOT the enemy of Iraq that it makes me wonder just why she was kidnapped. Maybe this has nothing to do with politics but is actually about ransom money?
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Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:41 am
Quote:
She is so obviously NOT the enemy of Iraq that it makes me wonder just why she was kidnapped. Maybe this has nothing to do with politics but is actually about ransom money?


No, it is about the madness of fanaticism.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:45 am
I've just realized that I've inadvertently placed this thread in the "Australia" category ... If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it if it could be placed in "General News".


Thank you.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:46 am
I think some of the kidnappings are, indeed, quite frankly for ransom. Sort of an ongoinf business - as it is in parts of South America.

Private companies whose folk are being kidnapped, quietly hire people to deal with the kidnappers - sometimes through a maze of different groups - I was listening to a radio report about it the other day.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:46 am
Joe Nation wrote:
Quote:
She is so obviously NOT the enemy of Iraq that it makes me wonder just why she was kidnapped. Maybe this has nothing to do with politics but is actually about ransom money?


No, it is about the madness of fanaticism.


Any "westerner" will do, you reckon, Joe?
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:47 am
msolga wrote:
She is so obviously NOT the enemy of Iraq that it makes me wonder just why she was kidnapped. Maybe this has nothing to do with politics but is actually about ransom money?


Of course it has to do with politics. What the fanatics are attempting to to is to gain their ends through extortion. That is why it is so important the we do not give in to them.

I feel very sorry for the woman. But she had a choice. If you are in a war zone, there is always a possibility that you will be a casualty of that war.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:48 am
msolga wrote:
Something to be said for Islamic sexism at last?

Well, Deb, if that's the only thing that will save her, I'll accept the result!

She is so obviously NOT the enemy of Iraq that it makes me wonder just why she was kidnapped. Maybe this has nothing to do with politics but is actually about ransom money?


Yeah - I hope she is all right - as all right as you can be after going through crap like that.

I think it unfair that they treat women differently, though, sort of - unfair to the fellas - not that her being let go would make anyone else more likely to be killed - so I don't quite know what I think.

Whole dammn thing sucks!
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:50 am
But, Phoenix, she is an Iraqi citizen. She has lived there for something like 30 years & is married to an Iraqi. She is, apparently, a highly respected member of her Iraqi community.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:51 am
Quote:
Whole dammn thing sucks!


Sure it does. But the fanatics are attempting to gain their ends through attrition. They probably figure that if they make things obnoxious enough, the outsiders will leave, and they will take over the country.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 05:54 am
msolga wrote:
But, Phoenix, she is an Iraqi citizen. She has lived there for something like 30 years & is married to an Iraqi. She is, apparently, a highly respected member of her Iraqi community.


I think that you are trying to figure this whole thing out with logic and reason. Problem is, there is nothing logical or reasonable about fanaticism.
If we understand that these people will pull the most heinous acts to attempt to get their way, we will begin to understand what is happening there.
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