REMEMBER…NEVER FORGET… – “Saving Ali-Where US snipers fire at ambulances “(Lee Gordon, THE GUARDIAN)

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[EN]

“”” It was when I saw little Ali’s ruined body that I stopped being just a reporter and became a true embed. The scene was a makeshift field hospital in Falluja. A missile fired at the hospital has left the walls of the room Ali lies in pockmarked with shrapnel.

Glass crunches underfoot. Four-year-old Ali is lying in a cot, the mattress matted with dried blood. He is bleeding from a horrific groin wound and his left leg has been amputated above the knee. His left arm is bandaged and bleeding, his face badly cut. His father brushes away the flies buzzing around Ali’s wounds. It is a scene of almost utter hopelessness.

Ali is one of the only survivors of an extended family, bombed the day before by a jet, probably an F-16. He might live, but only if he is evacuated to a Baghdad hospital within hours. Ambulances have tried to evacuate him and other seriously wounded casualties. They were turned back at US checkpoints by troops carrying out orders: no one in and no one out. There is one last hope: I got past the checkpoints with my press ID and my passport, and I could go back with Ali. It was a white-knuckle ride back to Baghdad with my guide, but 90 minutes later Ali was being treated by doctors at an Italian coalition hospital, who were shocked to see their first Falluja evacuee. The surgery saved Ali’s life, but not his arm.

Over the next few days I got to know the back roads from Falluja to Baghdad almost as well as the field hospital’s filthy corridors as I evacuated the injured. I am left with vivid memories: the stench of a burned man’s flesh; the dead eyes of two children, a boy and girl under 11 who were shot in the head by snipers.

I volunteered to ride in ambulances evacuating the wounded. Surely they don’t shoot ambulances? In fact, US snipers were targeting ambulances. I learned to pick out the beams of sniper rifles.

I remember the medics’ anger when the hospital’s last working ambulance carrying British and American volunteers returned shot to pieces, how stunned they were when American, British and Australian volunteers came under fire after declaring their nationalities to US troops.

Some days before I met Ali, my guide and I had been seized at gunpoint after we’d run into a mojahedin ambush of US scouts. Over tea, we had agreed to continue our work as reporters embedded with them. The mojahedin threw open their doors and their lives to us, escorting us past firezones to safety.

Embedding has come at a price: eating, sleeping and being bombed with the mojahedin means sharing more than chicken and rice. It means listening out for helicopters and feeling helpless about injured families trapped behind “enemy” lines. It means sharing the same revulsion as maimed bodies are tipped into hospital beds. But what’s the point of trying to report a war from an embedded position in the fortified Hotel Palestine, miles from the frontline? “”” [Lee Gordon , THE GUARDIAN ]

~~~~~

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[RO – traducere adaptata ]

“”” Atunci cand l-am vazut pe micul Ali macelarit, am incetat sa mai fiu un reporter si am devenit cu adevarat „unul de-al lor”. Scena se desfasoara la un spital de campanie din Falluja. Un proiectil tras asupra spitalului a imbracat peretii camerei unde Ali zacea in schije.
Sticla scrasneste sub picioare. Ali, un baietel de patru ani, zace pe o saltea imbibata cu sange uscat. Sangereaza dintr-o rana oribila in vintre, iar piciorul stang i-a fost amputat deasupra genunchiului. Bratul stang este bandajat si sangereaza, fata este taiata rau. Tatal lui indeparteaza mustele care bazaie in preajma ranilor. Este scena unei deznadejdi aproape totale.

Ali e unul din putinii supravietuitori ai numeroasei sale familii, lovite cu o zi inainte de un proiectil lansat de un avion F-16. Ar putea trai, dar numai daca va fi evacuat la un spital din Bagdad, cat mai repede. Dar cum? A fost intors din drum la unul din punctele de control de catre soldatii americani. Ordinele sunt clare: nimeni nu intra, nimeni nu iese. A mai ramas o singura speranta. Eu am trecut de control cu legitimatia mea de presa; as putea sa ma intorc ducandu-l cu mine pe Ali.

Dupa o cursa nebuneasca, nouazeci de minute mai tarziu Ali se afla la Bagdad, in mainile unui medic italian dintr-un spital al coalitiei. Medicul s-a ingrozit vazandu-l pe primul evacuat din Falluja. Operatia a salvat viata lui Ali. Nu i-a salvat insa si bratul.

In zilele urmatoare am ajuns sa cunosc drumul dintre Falluja si Baghdad aproape la fel de bine ca pe mizerabilele coridoare ale spitalului de campanie. Am evacuat raniti, ramanand cu amintiri de nesters: duhoarea de carne arsa, ochii fara viata ai unor copii sub 10 ani, impuscati in cap de lunetisti.

M-am oferit sa insotesc ambulantele care evacuau ranitii. Sigur nu trag in ambulante? De fapt, ba da, lunetistii americani trag si in ambulante. Am fost invatat sa detectez lucirea pustii cu luneta in bataia soarelui.

Imi amintesc furia medicilor, cand ultima ambulanta functionala a spitalului s-a intors, carand bucati din trupurile unor voluntari americani, britanici si australieni; imi amintesc cat de uimiti au fost cand au aflat ca acei oameni au fost impuscati de militari ai coalitiei, dupa ce isi declinasera identitatea…

Cu doar cateva zile inainte sa-l intalnesc pe Ali, ghidul meu si cu mine fusesem prinsi intr-un schimb de focuri, intr-o ambuscada intinsa de mujahedini. Apoi, la o ceasca de ceai, am hotarat amandoi sa ne continuam munca de reporteri, impreuna, amestecati printre ei. Mujahedinii ne-au primit si ne-au escortat pana in spatele zonelor de conflict.

„A te integra”, a deveni „unul de-al lor”, avea si un pret. Sa mananci, sa dormi si sa suporti bombardamente impreuna cu mujahedinii inseamna mai mult decat sa iti imparti mancarea cu ei. Inseamna sa auzi sunetul elicopterelor „noastre” si sa te simti la fel de nefolositor pentru familiile prinse dincolo de „liniile inamice”. Inseamna sa impartasesti aceeasi revolta cand trupuri mutilate sunt aruncate in paturi de spital.

Dar ce sens ar putea avea sa relatezi despre razboi din fortificatul „Hotel Palestina”, la multe mile departe de linia frontului? “””

*** Lee Gordon este jurnalist independent britanic. Acest articol a fost scris pentru cotidianul britanic THE GUARDIAN .

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