Former Saddam-Era Official Now Begs in Streets
BAGHDAD, 25 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - "I'm a 57-year-old former Ba'athist official at the Ministry of Finance where I was earning a very good salary. I originally came from al-Qaim city in Anbar province. I graduated in economics.
"I had a wife and two lovely children – a son and a daughter. Our home was an extravagant villa and we used to eat the best food you could find in Baghdad.
"I used to buy new jewellery for my wife and daughter practically every month and I used to get my wife and all my children the best clothes and shoes.
"Whenever my son got good marks in college I would reward him with a holiday to neighbouring countries. And when he graduated from Medical College in 1999, I gave him plenty of money and arranged for him to tour Europe.
"That was my life before the US-led invasion, a life of luxury. But when the regime fell, I lost everything I had.
"My wife, Nawal, who was 46, my daughter Sundus, who was 24, and my mother were all killed in an air-strike on my father's house in Mansour, one of Baghdad's most respectable districts.
"My son Abbas, who was 26, was killed three weeks later with his wife and their two children when they drove into a closed street. The Americans killed everyone in the car because they thought they were terrorists.
"I do not even have a place to live having lost my house in Arassat, a wealthy part of Baghdad, during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Our house was totally looted by thieves and even the flowers and trees in our magnificent garden were pulled out or destroyed by vandals. Then the transitional government confiscated the house because of my Ba'athist past.
"Since then, I have been without a family, a home, money or work. When I was looking for a job in the government, they realised that I was a former Ba'athist and laughed at me. They told me to run before they called the Americans to arrest me.
"I started to live in the streets and to beg for food and water after it dawned on me that I had no one who could help me. Even my friends had turned their backs on me and other friends fled Iraq before and after the war.
"It is an embarrassing situation. I don't have a change of clothes and, sometimes, I have to go one or two weeks without a shower.
"It is hard for a man like me to have to beg in the streets and to scavenge in rubbish bins for discarded food, drinking dirty water and sleeping on street corners without a blanket or a jacket.
"I never imagined that one day I was going to be a street beggar after all that I had until four years ago.
"Maybe I'm paying for being one of Saddam's followers but during his time there was no option and if you didn't support him, you could end up dead.
"I miss my family and my old life. These days I'm alone and I live like an animal. Sometimes I pray to God to make someone blow himself up near me so that I may die, because it must be better in hell than my present life."