Iraq’s lost generation
In the final instalment of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s series of films to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, he travels to an orphanage in Sadr city, where children speak of their hatred of America. A generation of Iraqi children have been radicalised and anti-westernised by the war.
A short film courtesy of Guardian Films
Courtesy: The Guardian
GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Can we film you?
CHILD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Yes!
ABDUL-AHAD: Do you have any nuts for me?
ABDUL-AHAD: If you give us some nuts we will film you.
ABDUL-AHAD (VOICEOVER): Everywhere you go in Baghdad these days, you see children begging, children working, children who should be in school.
MUQTADA, 10 YEARS OLD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I start work at 5 a.m. I go home at 4 p.m. I do get scared coming here: a bomb exploded here last week.
OFF CAMERA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): A bomb exploded?
MUQTADA: Yes – it was in the morning; it’s like that here. Bombs explode everyday.
OFF CAMERA: Do you live with your parents?
MUQTADA: I live with my mother and I’m the breadwinner.
ABDUL-AHAD (VOICEOVER): There are thousands of kids like Muqtada in Baghdad, children who have become adults before their time. Before the war, Iraq had an educational system and social services to protect the vulnerable. Now there is almost nothing provided by the state. As a result, the children I met live on their wits, who rely on charity, the charity of the militias. I went to a children’s home in Sadr City, the [inaudible] funded by Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia. They look after 700 orphans here. Most of them were orphaned by the war. It’s a good orphanage. The children are clean, well fed, and well indoctrinated by the mullah’s propaganda. It was here that I met ["ho-SAY"]. He is now eight years old. He has been in the school for two years. His dad was a policeman killed by a car bomb. I asked him about the day his father died.
CHILD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I know my Dad had to die one day, but it was just too soon.
OFF CAMERA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): When you see Americans, how do you feel?
CHILD: I don’t want them here. God willing, they will leave; we don’t want them here. See what they have done to us? We can’t go out. Many people are dead because of them.
ABDUL-AHAD (VOICEOVER): I also met [inaudible], a seven year old boy who witnessed the death of both his parents.
CHILD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): They took Dad to tho Al Kindi Hospital. My mum died first and then Dad died the next morning.
OFF CAMERA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): And the Americans are responsible?
CHILD: Yes. The Americans? When I see them I run inside.
OFF CAMERA: Americans scare you?
CHILD: Yes. I feel scared.
OFF CAMERA: Scared of what?
CHILD: They might kill me.
ABDUL-AHAD (VOICEOVER): These little boys both believe that the Americans were responsible for killing their mother and father. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not—the hatred is enshrined in their hearts. The real disaster of Iraq will come when this generation, which only knows fear and sectarianism and whose heroes are extremists, grows up.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.