A message from our Iraqi Director

A note we received from the director of Hometown Baghdad, Ziad Turkey:

We followed our characters in their homes. We heard their secrets and their terrible miseries that have resulted from the situation in Iraq. We, as a film crew, began to feel that we were all partners in our decisions, crises, fears, depressions, social pressures, security problems and our inclinations to pursue an unknown future. We did our best to observe and capture the events, and not be part of them. However, we felt for a moment that there was nothing separating us from our subjects, except for our technical duties. And we’ve ended up with the same destiny.

When I was shooting one of the subjects as he packed his bag, I could feel my heart shivering. I even began feeling nervous behind the camera. How emotional the thought of packing is! I curse packing and I curse wars! “Where are you going, my friends?” I used to ask them. “Shouldn’t you wait a little more?” But I say to myself and to my memory full of images of war and death, “that’s enough!” My hometown is not safe anymore. I must look for a place where I can prevent my head from rolling in my children’s sights.
-Ziad Turkey

Today is the four year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Originally, we had thought about releasing the videos starting today because of how Baghdad-specific our project was. We ended up going with March 19th but I wanted to post this note in recognition of what so many Iraqis are feeling now.

On an interesting side note, four years ago, a combination of Americans and Iraqis pulled down the iconic statue of Saddam in Fardus Square.

And members of our crew helped rebuild its replacement.

19 Responses to “A message from our Iraqi Director”

  1. Tracy Says:

    I did not even know a replacement was built. That is fantastic. May someday soon everything in Iraq be rebuilt so the Iraqis can go back to enjoying their beautiful country.

    Peace.

  2. Zaid Says:

    I have to say that evry one should not say ( Baghdad Fall ) …..
    because it was ( Saddam’s regime Fall ) , It was cracking seconds when I was watching it live on TV , Saddam’s Sculpture falling ( which was evrywhere in Baghdad’s streest )with the smell of fictitious freedom , asking my self : Is that true ??!!!! there is no Saddam , are we free now ??
    have we got the right way of life as all people have ????
    could we have a better life that might contain some more happiness ??!!!!!!
    The Tank has pulled the sculpture down with all those (happy, tense and somewhat angry people) , I DIDNT LIKE (HATE) WHAT HAS THAT US. SOLDIER DONE WHEN HE PUT THE USA FLAG ON SADDAM’S FACE…. & I HATE SADDAM AS WELL .
    Nobody has known the right answer , evry one said what he thought , BUT , No one thought about whats going on right now might be happened .
    At april the 8th , about 11 pm. I was talking on the land phone with Saif (the dentist) he told me : there is no Saddam any more ….he has gone for good damn him ….
    I said : Shut up god damn man , who are you ??!! I dont know you and never talk like that about the President and I did end the call , but after a while I called him back coz I know my friend Saif wouldn’t say such things only if he was so sure , BUT the fear regime has made that reflex in me and many other people, so Saif told me about the US army as something unreal coz ALL IRAQIS know that Saddam was evry where we go ( Streets , colleges , schools , radio , fuel stations , TV and sometimes in dreams ) Thank god I have never seen him in a soup nor a salad .
    Iraqi Soldier was fighting in compulsion , as most of them hate Saddam , I just want to ask him …why ? what have you got ? and what have we got ??? he didnt like peace at all , damn him .
    By the way ..in that Sq. there was my hospital that I was workong in , (dental centre) , Al Ilwyia Clup , as well as the Sheraton and the Meredian .
    God Bless IRAQ
    Zaid Al Bender

  3. Aaron Says:

    I am very much captivated by these web videos and messages. And I am very sorry that such violence and hardship has emerged in your country. May God bless you and protect you from evil, and may you, your friends, family, and all of Iraq find peace.

    Aaron

  4. Tracy Says:

    Zaid, what you wrote was really a perspective I hadn’t heard and was interested in. I wanted to ask this question but didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask.

    You’re right - Saddam’s regime fall is much better wording.

    I watched on CNN when the statue of Saddam was pulled down and I felt nauseous inside when the American soldier brought out the US flag. This was the wrong thing to do. Iraq is not the property of the United States and it never will be. Placing a US flag upon the statue sent the wrong message and I think even the soldier who did it regrets that choice. Obviously it was a very emotional moment and he was not thinking clearly.

    I liked the story about your reaction to Saif on the telephone. I imagine it was really a mix of emotions - fear, hope, excitement.

    So here is a question I have. A question that I think the majority of average Americans are asking amongst themselves and to no one in particular. Because really, we don’t know who to ask.

    What can we do now? Whether an American supported the war, was against the war, or was uncertain about the war - most (most but of course not all), Americans want to know, what now? If we stay, we are seen as occupiers. If we go, is that irresponsible? Have we left the Iraqi people in a position to have a better future, or a worse future?

    Americans like to think of themselves as good hearted saviors. Americans like to think we are the big brother to anyone in need - that we just go around the world fighting evil… The average American likes to think this, but most of us also know that our government’s intentions are not always that pure hearted.

    Speaking for myself, it makes me sad that our reputation has been tainted by bad decisions. Everyone wants to be liked - whether you’re a child on the playground, or a nation of people - everyone wants to be liked. It hurts my feelings that so many people dislike Americans. They think we’re stupid, arrogrant, ignorant and greedy.

    So many Americans want to change this perception but are unsure how. What do Iraqis want for us average American citizens to do? We feel helpless to change anything. Right now we’re just waiting for the presidential election. We’re waiting to vote for someone who will make decisions that reflect what the majority of Americans want. We will vote for someone who is better at international relations.

    I think that I’m uniquely suited to speak these things because they are said from the heart and with no political agenda. I am not a liberal democrat or a conservative republican. I’m a registered independent. I am not pro-Bush or anti-Bush. I vote for whoever I feel is a moral person who is going to make right decisions - nothing more and nothing less.

    So, my friend, what would you have us do?

    Take care.
    Tracy

  5. Nadia Says:

    Tracy, on my site I have given some suggestions to a solution for the conflict in Iraq. I’ll paste it here too:

    * The centre of it all resides in shifting from military solutions to political and humanitarian solutions.

    * U.S and its allies must admit that military attacks have only resulted in more violence, death, hate and destruction and not peace.

    * U.S gives Iraqis a timetable for leaving Iraq within 365 days. This is what the majority of Iraqis have been asking for years and nowadays it’s even what the majority of what people in the U.S. want too.

    * Until then any foreign troops are under the United Nations General Assembly rule, they represent the UN.

    *

    Accepting Indonesia’s offer of sending Indonesian, Malyaisan/Asian troops for peace operation mission in Iraq.

    * Start a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, get help from South Africa in this issue.

    * New democratic elections in 12 months.

    * Iraqis rule Iraq

    * Iraqis are offered the jobs in their country. Stop importing workforces from aboard when million of Iraqis are unemployed and all they want is to work. Start reconstruction!

    * Political militias are forbidden.

    * Foreign militias/mercenaries/private armies must leave Iraq immediately.

    * When the above is put in action then the real Iraqi resistance must stop its military attacks on occupation troops and its allies. They are now on their way out of Iraq.

    * Put together the original Iraqi army. It will work as a good control mechanism on the streets in Iraq. This army is the one that protected Iraq in the war against Iran. This will increase the chance to more people working together with them. This will increase the stability in the Iraq cities and clarify who still does not understand that violence against Iraqis is unacceptable.

    * Under UNs Compensation Commission the US and its allies become liable under international law to pay compensation for losses and damages resulting from U.S invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    * Foreign troops must be accountable under Iraqi law. The immunity that Bremer gave them is not active any longer.

    * Iraq becomes a member of the ICC. Until a system is set up in Iraq this is also where Iraqis who have commited crimes against thier own Iraqi people will be put on trial.

    * All contracts and laws that have come up since the invasion must be stopped; it will be the next government to in full transparency to review them.

    * All “foreign advisers” that have been appointed by the occupation are to leave Iraq immediately.

    * All U.S. and other foreign military bases that have been built shall all be closed in 365 days. Thereafter it shall be open for Iraqis to move into. Iraqis who lost their home in this war.

    * Parties must be based on political ideologies. Not race, not religion, not which foreign country that supports you.

    * The current parties that have had political or economical support from a foreign country are allowed to participate in the elections coming up in 8-12 years. This will allow “free parties” to develop and “non free parties” to come back clean!

    * Since the elections are in 12 months, then the first 6 months are for parties to formulate their political programs. Then we have 5 months for these political programs to be available to the Iraqi people and let the debate start! Month 12 there is election.

    * Independent election monitors from the UN or even better from Amnesty International.

    * Starting up peaceful dialogues with neighbouring countries to work on the longer perspective for peace in the area.

    * Opening Amnesty International offices in every city and village in Iraq. Opening offices for well established international peace organisations in every city in Iraq. Letting these hold seminars, training sessions, and workshops on topics of human rights, solving conflicts thru non violence and working on the empowerment of civil society groups that are found in Iraq and establish more.

    Also start a campaign of having these seminars and training sessions in all political parties, parliament, army units, new Iraqi police stations, Iraqi schools and work places too!

    *

    Starting an anti corruption campaign, here I believe Finland can lend a helping hand.

    * Starting democracy and human rights courses on TV, radio, newspapers and Internet. Here I suggest Switzerland to be the country to lend a hand!

    These are practical things that can be done if people really want to.

  6. Fady Says:

    Thanks, Mike, for posting this. I and some of the crew members were a part of an artistic group that decided to take a stance and make a statement right after the fall of Saddam’s regime through artworks. We called ourselves Najeen Group (Survivors). This group consisted of young Iraqi underground artistic and intellectuals who finally had their opportunity to make their artworks with no censorship or punishment. We worked on many projects, like first postwar theatrical show, “They Passed by Here”, first postwar sculptor in a public place, “Al-Najeen Statue”, first postwar feature-length cinema film, “Underexposure”, started a campaign for donating books for the burnt-out library of College of Arts in University of Baghdad, and other events, like film screenings, poetry sessions, etc. As for this statue, we started working on it right after performing on the burnt-out Al-Rasheed theater in May 2003. We stayed the night at that square to work on it and it took us a few weeks to finish it. It was a direct sculpture designed by my friend, the Iraqi sculptor, Basem Hamad.

  7. Tracy Says:

    Nadia - I admire the effort it took to put together this plan. I think these are excellent ideas. Really though my question is what can your average, ordinary American citizen do? Do Iraqis expect us to do something? If so, what?

    Like I said, I feel our only power is in our vote at the next election. No amount of protests and pressure we put on the current government will force them to change their stance.

  8. Nadia Says:

    “Like I said, I feel our only power is in our vote at the next election.”

    Dear Tracy that will be to long for Iraqis who are suffering each day.

    “No amount of protests and pressure we put on the current government will force them to change their stance.”

    I am not sure what to say here, its sad that democracy has become so alike dictatorship these days.

    But yet I still think that its your and all other US people responsiblity to work on getting your troops out of Iraq.

    When people say to you it will get worse tell them about the offer from Indonesia and other asian countries to take over and then give them the list I submitted here.

    We have 4 years of proof that military attacks only makes things worse. Violence only brings more violence, hate and revenge. So we can not continue this path.

    Remember what Bremer, Bush etc said?

    ————
    AMBASSADOR L. PAUL BREMER: I think for the American people to understand •• well, probably several hundred, probably several hundred. And I think most Americans understand that it’s better for us to fight and win this war here than to have to fight it on the streets of the United States.
    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you’ve said that before. And I want to now play something that you’ve said, and also President Bush and General Sanchez, along those same lines and get you to respond. Let me put it up right now.
    PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH (From video): There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on. We’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.
    GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID (From video): This is what I would call a terrorist magnet where American being present here in Iraq creates a target of opportunity, if you will, but this is exactly where we want to fight them. We want to fight them here, we’re prepared for them, and this will prevent the American people from having to go through other attacks back in the United States.
    AMBASSADOR L. PAUL BREMER: It’s the kind of thing that we’ve seen before in so many places, and it’s something that we have to beat, and I must say, I think we must now defeat it here in Iraq, better to fight it here than to fight it somewhere else like the United States.
    http://www.cpa-iraq.org/transcripts/bremer82403_abc.html
    ————–

    This is the gravest crime ever committed against a nation’s people; the US government gives it totally freedom to take its own war to another country in order to save US people from a war at home. Iraqis never ever gave the US this right and Iraqis are now being killed left and right. The solution must be political; military attacks only make thing worse.

    Dearest Tracy you have more power when you join the groups that want political solutions and the troops home!

    Best Regards
    Nadia

  9. Tracy Says:

    Nadia,

    I understand the passion behind your words. Believe me, if I had the power I would follow your instructions step by step.

    My only thought right now is that I can write to my congressman, and I will.

    Take care.
    Tracy

  10. Ausama Says:

    Dear Tracy ,Nadia

    first I totally agree with Nadia’s Suggestions , however I know they’re not easy things to do from your position , those suggestions should be taken care by someone who’s in the government , what would be great from you to do and from all the american people , to take those suggestions to the congress , to the sentates , to the white house and make them realize that this is the only solution for Iraq and for them !

    Regarding what Zaid have said ,
    I read about hatred and dictatorship and etc … said about saddam hussein , I’m not sure if we should mention that now.
    He’s gone , He’s dead now , talking about him and what he was will help us in nothing now!

    But to tell you how I felt that morning when we were watching the news and saw the statue dragged down , I felt horrible … I forgot all about the ” dictatorship” that we used to live in (although the situations we used to live in is much much better than those we’re living now ! ), I forgot about everything bad might have happened in saddam hussen time , I just felt that my beloved city has been Defeated and it certainly was the worst feeling i have ever felt !

  11. Tracy Says:

    Dear Ausama,

    Thank you for adding another perspective here. I have been thinking a lot of what Nadia said. At first I felt overwhelmed, sad, and helpless. It’s not as if I can go knock on the door of the White House and sit down to tea with President Bush so I can give him some ideas.

    I thought now for a few days about what exactly I can do. My plan had been to just wait for the next Presidential election and vote for whoever plans to bring our troops home from Iraq (which would be the Democrats). I still plan to use my vote as my voice but I don’t want to sit just twiddling my thumbs until then.

    I searched around the Internet and found a United for Peace and Justice. (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/index.php). I joined this group, signed a petition, and have sent E-mails to friends and family urging them to do the same.

    Then I decided to give HometownBaghdad.com a little publicity so I made some graphics which I made available free on my blog. (http://spiltmilkblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/no-longer-waiting.html)

    Lastly, I plan to write to congress and The President with some of Nadia’s ideas and let them know how important this is to me. I asked everyone who reads my blog to also write.

    We are such small voices. Even the large protests in Washington DC do nothing to influence this government. It’s frustrating but I hope everyone in Iraq knows that most of us Americans are trying.

    E’tanee benafsek! (I’ve been trying to learn a little :) )

    Tracy

  12. Iza Says:

    4 days ago marked the 4 year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad? I am sad to say that this wasn’t covered as widely as it should have on the US news. Perhaps it is because after 4 years, your country is still in turmoil over the decision of our President. Thank you though, for allowing us to not forget. And most importantly, for showing the side that we don’t ever see, the opposite side of the actual warfare…your side, your life.

  13. Zaid Says:

    Dear Nadia , Ausama …
    What youve said nadia is something somewhat IDEAL , thats why it would never be on the ground this time , whats going on right now is a deathly fight between many many poles whom just want to get their aims whatever the price is , there is no one (right now) who can control the whole Iraq that makes things out of control and gives any one the opportunity to do what he likes, (( Just like a human body with HIV , a simple bacteria would do the worse effect )) .
    Its a huge complex hard thing t be solved in a small paper , Iraq now is a land of a battle between not only groups , but between countries , and from many views that would be impossible to be recognized , I dont want to go deeper but Its not easy or lets say ts so hard to be solved , some neighboring countries are somewhat bad for IRAQ …any way am sure it will end , time revolves evrything . God Bless Iraq
    Dear Ausama ,
    When we get a worse thing in life from another , it doesn’t mean that the first thing was good .
    Evry thing in the world has advantages and disadvantages , what am trying to say is :
    We have been suffering (Iraqi People) in Saddam’s years and keeping on suffering right now (but from another angle) …its the word (( suffer )) …..I know before was better in many thing than now but IT WAS NOT GOOD …IT WAS BAD AND WE HAVE NOT LIVED LIKE ANY OTHER NATION ,
    For information in IRAQ there (( WAS and IS )) no human right , and I think human rights are about 47 .
    Saddam is one of the causes of what we have got here in Iraq , EVEN THOUGH …. We should never look back , he has gone and we should look , think and work for our future and the next generations .

    Regards,

    Zaid Al_Bender

  14. Zaid Says:

    Tracy , Sorry for about wat happened in Verginia

  15. Iraqi Expat Says:

    I wish you didn’t put these on YouTube. A lot of US offices block YouTube and so we cannot watch these great videos at work.

  16. Alan UK Says:

    So sad ,
    so very , very sad !
    Should a young man have to worry about the safty of his generations past ?
    It’s all about the $ & £ , walk you fat lazy CUNTS
    what makes me sad the most , is , the older i get (41) .
    the less i seem to know , ? ,

  17. Terabanitoss Says:

    Hi
    You are The Best!!!
    Bye

  18. Hometown Baghdad » Blog Archive » Episode 26 - “Beggar at the Gate” Says:

    [...] one of the participants pack his bags and the extreme emotional agony he felt at that moment. Go back and see how he felt as he shot some of this material. Posted by mikeTell a [...]

  19. siri Says:

    Mr. Zaid Al_Bender, God be with you. Many of us in America are fighting the current American regime in every way we can in an effort to end the occupation and violence in your country. There is more to do than wait for next elections. I sign petitions, write, call and email legislators, pass info, post signs, and try to at least one thing each and every day to move SOMEone in government toward getting us out of Iraq. Many of us never wanted this war to begin with, and many of us didn’t believe US government lies that were told to us and to our Congress to put us there in the beginning. And we are so very very sad and sorry for what our government has done to you and your beautiful land in our name. America now is not the America I was born and raised into. It’s a different country because of the Bush regime, and I am homesick. Please know that these words are true and from the heart of one American woman who is speaking for many millions of us. Our government has been hijacked and your lives have been disrupted and/or destroyed by these same hijackers. I will continue to do SOMETHING each and every day and not stop until your country AND YOUR OIL are handed over to you, the Iraqi people. Please remember this and know that it is all true.
    siri
    Sovereign Citizen of the FORMER United States of America
    5/13/07

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