For Immediate Release
March 24, 2003
The voices of freedom, heard now inside Iraq and around the world.
News accounts today paint a vivid picture of joy and relief inside Iraq. American and coalition troops are being welcomed by smiling Iraqis. Their voices have been silenced for too long, but now they are heard inside Iraq and around the world.
VOICES OF FREEDOM
We've been waiting for you for 10 years. What took you so long? said
an Iraqi man who, along with more than 500 others, surrendered near the Rumaila
oil fields. Many had written such phrases as U.S.A. O.K. on their
arms or hands. Some even tried to kiss the hands of the nervous young Marines
As Iraqi Americans reach out to their relatives in Baghdad and Basra,
in Kirkuk and Irbil, some are hearing words they never thought possible: Iraqis
are speaking ill of Saddam Hussein. They're criticizing him out loud, on the
telephone, seemingly undeterred by fear of the Iraqi intelligence service and
its tactics of torture for those disloyal to the Baath Party regime. I
was shocked, said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American
Islamic Congress, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass., that promotes interfaith
and interethnic understanding. It's very dangerous. All the phones are
tapped. But they are so excited.
Los Angeles Times, 3-24-03
Me and my husband, an old man, have to stay at home because we
are afraid. We want the American government to remove Saddam Hussein from power
and kick these soldiers out of these hills.
Fatma Omar, San Francisco Chronicle, 3-24-03
We're very happy. Saddam Hussein is no good. Saddam Hussein a
Abdullah (only identification available), as he welcomed U.S. troops in Iraq
Associated Press, 3-21-03
I have been waiting for this for 13 years. I hate him more than American
government because I told you the Iraq government killed many people from Iraq.
They just put (my brother) in jail for a year. After this, they killed him because
he don't want to go to the army because his brother is American citizen, and
his brother lives in United State.
Ayid Alsultani, WFIE-14 television station in Evansville, Indiana, 3-24-03
(The trip) had shocked me back to reality. (Some Iraqis)
told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were
willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody
tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the
world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists.
Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a
huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams
as bodies got chewed up from foot to head.
Kenneth Joseph, anti-war demonstrator who traveled to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers, UPI, 3-21-03
I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver
taking me back to my hotel late at night. Don't you listen to Powell on Voice
of America radio? he said. Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians.
They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam.
The driver's most emphatic statement was: All Iraqi people want this war.
Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought
Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained
that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later
he asked me: Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come? Daniel Pepper in
an article I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam,
Sunday Telegraph, 3-23-2003
As US forces push deep into Iraq, farmers and remote villagers are greeting them with white flags and waves. But the ground forces, backed by massive artillery and air support, are encountering pockets of resistance from Iraq's military. One man, about 30, yesterday ran from a field towards a US convoy shouting insults about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Other men and boys stood in fields waving white flags. In keeping with the local Muslim custom, no girls or women appeared from their houses.
Lindsay Murdoch in southern Iraq, The Sun-Herald, 3-23-2003
.The return of the Americans to Safwan was also an occasion for hope, even if mixed with wariness. Saddam finished! shouted another young [Iraqi] man, who gave his name as Fares. Americans are here now. His friend, Shebah, added, in broken English, Saddam killed people.
Washington Post, 3-23-03
Coming into Basra as part of a massive military convoy, I encountered a stream of young men, dressed in what appeared to be Iraqi army uniforms, applauding the US marines as they swept past in tanks.
BBC reporter, 3-22-03
"Ajami Saadoun Khlis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of the Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming. 'You just arrived,' he said. 'You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave.'"
The Guadian, 3-22-03
As hundreds of coalition troops swept in just after dawn, the heartache of a town that felt the hardest edges of Saddam Hussein's rule seemed to burst forth, with villagers running into the streets to celebrate in a kind of grim ecstasy, laughing and weeping in long guttural cries.
Oooooo, peace be upon you, peace be upon you, peace you, oooooo, Zahra Khafi, a 68-year-old mother of five, cried to a group of American and British visitors who came to the town shortly after Mr. Hussein's army appeared to melt away. I'm not afraid of Saddam anymore.
New York Times, 3-22-03
"We've been driving since dawn today in southern Iraq, and so far we've come across scores of Bedouin herdsmen. We've been greeted by friendly greetings of inshallah and salaam aleikum
we've seen both women and men waving greetings and shouting greeting to the U.S. troops.
Radio Free Europe correspondent Ron Synovitz, 3-21-03
"They told me that Saddam Hussein is not allowing anyone to leave Baghdad. I don't fear the Americans. I was in Baghdad in the war in 1991 and I saw how surgical an operation it was. Saddam Hussein has persecuted everyone except his own family. Kurds, Arab Shiites, Turkoman - everybody has suffered. But our country was a rich country and we can be rich again.'
Financial Times Information, 3-21-03
"These are US Marines being greeted if not with garlands, with hand shakes by residents of the town in the deep-south corner of Iraq.
CBS News, 3-21-03
"One little boy, who had chocolate melted all over his face after a
soldier gave him some treats from his ration kit, kept pointing at the
sky, saying 'Ameriki, Ameriki.'"
Associated Press, 3-21-03
"Milling crowds of men and boys watched as the Marines attached ropes on the front of their Jeeps to one portrait and then backed up, peeling the Iraqi leader's black-and-white metal image off a frame. Some locals briefly joined Maj. David 'Bull' Gurfein in a new cheer. 'Iraqis! Iraqis! Iraqis!' Gurfein yelled, pumping his fist in the air...
"....A few men and boys ventured out, putting makeshift white flags on their pickup trucks or waving white T-shirts out truck windows....'Americans very good,' Ali Khemy said. 'Iraq wants to be free. Some chanted, 'Ameriki! Ameriki!'
"Gurfein playfully traded pats with a disabled man and turned down a dinner invitation from townspeople. 'Friend, friend,' he told them in Arabic learned in the first Gulf War.
"'No Saddam Hussein!' one young man in headscarf told Gurfein. 'Bush!'"
Associated Press, 3-21-03
"Iraqi citizens were shown 'tearing down a poster of Saddam Hussein'
and Dexter Filkins of The New York Times was interviewed, saying that
Iraqis he had seen were 'hugging and kissing every American they could
NBC Nightly News, 3-21-03
"Here was a chance to stop and I clambered down, eager to get a first
word from an Iraqi of what he thought of this whole affair. 'As salaam
alekum,' I said in the traditional greeting, then ran out of Arabic and
quickly added, 'Do you speak English?' No go. But with a fumbled
exchange of gestures we slowly managed to communicate. Thumbs up for
the American tanks, thumbs down for Saddam Hussein. Then he pointed
north into the distance and said 'Baghdad.'"
"A line of dancing Kurdish men, staring directly into the mouth of the Iraqi guns less than a mile away, defiantly burned tires, sang traditional new years songs and chanted, 'Topple Saddam.'
"March 21 is the Kurdish New Year....And bonfires have long been a symbol of liberation in this part of the world. 'We're celebrating [Nawroz] a national holiday,' said Samad Abdulla Rahim, 22. 'But today we also celebrate the attack on Saddam.'
"Many expressed hope that deadly fire would light the night sky over
Baghdad in the days ahead, bringing an end to the Kurd's epic 30-year
struggle against Hussein and his Baath Party. 'I can't wait for the
U.S. planes to come and liberate Kirkuk,' said Shahab Ahmed Sherif, a
33-year-old Kurd who had fled the oil-rich city four days earlier."
Copley News Service, 3-21-03
Unidentified Iraqi man: "Help us live better than this life. Let us
ABC World News Tonight, 3-21-03