Taken prisoner due to mix-up


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 03 May 2003

Shahanaaz Habib reports from Baghdad

BASRA: Restaurant owner Ala’ Hasun Abud was unfortunate. From his restaurant near Watan Street here, he saw many Iraqis killed during the US-led attack.  

He and his cousin closed their shop and went to help carry the injured and bury the dead.  

As they were doing that, the tanks rolled in, caught Ala’ Hasun and took him prisoner.  

Just then, his wife Maisun Majid came rushing over.  

Explosions nearby had rocked their house, causing a kerosene lamp to topple over. Fire engulfed their home.  

Two of Maisun's family members were burnt to death.  

As no government, fire department or other civil services like the police existed, she did not know where to get help.  

So she ran to the restaurant to get her husband. That was when she heard he and his cousin had been taken prisoners just minutes earlier.  

As Ala’ Hasun had a kidney problem, he was taken to a hospital near the airport for treatment.  

“That was when a mix-up occurred. My husband was tagged as a military prisoner while his cousin remained a civilian.  

“There is no problem with the cousin as he will be released. But for my husband, there is no hope because he was mistakenly tagged as military,” she said.  

Maisun said she managed to see her husband about three weeks ago and he told her to go to the International Committee of the Red Cross to get help and explain the situation.  

“I have been running around everywhere but I still don’t know how to get him released,” she said. 

 

·MUSTAFA JABAR, 32, is a fisherman in Basra. 

With Saddam Hussein's fall, he can now fish in the waters near the presidential palace which used to be forbidden.  

Despite losing his right leg in 1995 in the waters of Shatt Al Arab from a mine left from the 1990 Gulf War, he still goes fishing almost every day.  

“I know the waters have been planted with explosives again, so I am frightened to go too far out. But we have to work. Fishing is our job.  

“When I walk on the ground, I am afraid because there may be unexploded mines or bombs left behind,” he said.  

Mahdi Abdul Wahab, who has been fishing for over 40 years, however, said he believed there were explosives planted in the water only very close to the Kuwaiti border.  

“Our nets have been digging the mud right at the bottom, and we have not seen mines so we think it is okay,” he said.  

During the war, to prevent Iraqi navy boats from entering Kuwait and attacking the US-led forces, some parts of the waters had been planted with mines and explosives.  

Some weeks ago, an Iraqi fisherman had his face and eyes blown up when he tried to free his fishing net which was entangled with a mine. – JMTM 

More articles by Shahanaaz Habib

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