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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

Remembering the fallen

by Lily Hamourtziadou

9 Nov 2008

It was time for the red poppies again. Millions of people around Britain proudly wore them on their lapels, stuck them on their cars, sold them at supermarket exits and street corners. Children made paper poppies at school. A two-minute silence was observed at 11:00am on Sunday 9 November, the day of Remembrance. The day Britain remembered those soldiers who fell for our freedom, who laid down their lives for their country.

‘Around the country yesterday, soldiers from across the generations gathered for Remembrance Day, bound by the grief that some have carried for decades.’ (Independent 10 November). ‘It just means so much to remember the boys that didn’t come home,’ said L/cpl James Hawley. ‘A tragic loss,’ Major Will Davies called it.

A tragic loss indeed.

I used to buy the red poppy myself. Every year I lived in England, despite not being British, I bought the poppy and pinned it on my shirt. I too felt the loss and the sacrifice all those soldiers had made for the freedom we enjoy today. I wore it for those lives lost, the British and those of my countrymen, who also fought the Germans, the Italians and a number of others in the past 100 years.

But lately I have been less keen on the red poppy. I have not worn it for the past few years. I have not felt proud of the army and its aggressive wars. I have not supported the killing of innocents, people not lucky enough to be British and therefore worthy of our care, deserving of our protection. People we willingly sacrificed.

Remembering our heroes is important. As a nation, any nation, we need to honour our dead and pay our respects to them. We all have ancestors who fought for our rights, our independence and our liberty. They truly are our heroes.

But we must not only remember our heroes; we must also remember our victims. As nations, it is right that we should honour ‘our’ people. As humans, however, we owe it to those our armies have killed to also note their sacrifice, feel sad and angry at their tragic loss.

This week 121 civilians were killed in Iraq. 6 of them were children. Who remembers them? Who will remember the deaths of thousands of innocents our armies have caused? Buildings pockmarked with bullet holes, burnt-out cars, streets covered in blood… they are better and sadder reminders of the fallen than red poppies. They are reminders of the daily killings, of their tragic losses. To the Iraqis they are reminders of the deaths of their beloved, their countrymen and women, their children.

How many of us, here in Britain, remember those innocent people? How many of us, as we don the red poppy, filled with pride and gratitude, stop and think of our victims? Of those unlucky enough to be born Iraqi?

As another week comes to a close, as another month ends with hundreds of dead and maimed civilians, as the toll of this war is nearing 100,000 documented civilian deaths, in all our patriotic sentiment, let us spare a thought for those whose lives we have destroyed. Let us be silent for a minute and contemplate their sad lives and their untimely deaths.