Saturday, April 10, 2004

more reportage
I remember "community circuses" from the eighties. They represented an interesting paradox of the times - fundamentally humourless people on a mission to bring wholesome fun to the masses. Roomfuls of solemn people in tie-dyed playworker pants and shoes like cornish pasties solemnly learning to juggle. A sight I thought I'd forgotten - or that I believed I could forget if I tried very, very hard.

But not only did they persist, some of them actually had the bottle to go to Iraq. Jo Wilding runs a circus in Iraq. Maybe that should be "another circus". Here's her account of the three Japanese kidnap victims.

Nayoko used to bring food for the street kids and wash their clothes for them, the boys who later stayed in the shelter in Bab a Sherji and now live in the Kurdish House. She wasn’t with an NGO at all, just an individual who raised some money to come over and help the kids and did it, learnt some Arabic, quietly got on with it. As a result no one, no embassy, no organisation, knows anything about her. The Japanese embassy thought all three of them had just arrived.

And it makes no difference, of course it makes no difference, that I know them; it makes no difference to the terror on her face, the young woman who used to help the street kids on Abu Nawas, the man who was investigating depleted uranium contamination. It makes no difference that their faces are familiar, that I used to see them at the internet on Karrada Dakhil and wander down the street with them. But it feels horrible.

Because you know that the Japanese government won’t accede to the demand and you know that the kidnappers won’t go back on their ultimatum and you know there’s not much chance of them escaping and it’s no different from all the other violent deaths that people have suffered out here, a lot of them pre-planned in one way or another, contemplated by the pilot who fired the missile into the civilian area or the commander who sent the pilot, but to see them alive and to know what is coming is almost unbearable.