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An Iraqi Woman's Cry for Help
by J. Grant Swank, Pastor
13 March 2003

Dr. Katrin Michael, a Chaldean peace activist and Christian from Northern Iraq, discusses life under Saddam Hussein, and calls for Americans to remove him.


"I have experienced first hand the ravages Saddam Hussein's wars against the Iraqi people. He is one of the world's most brutal and violent tyrants in power. He does not hesitate to have young girls arrested, as I was at the age of fourteen merely because I joined the Iraqi Women's League.

"Throughout the 1980s and as recently as 1998, Saddam experimented with chemical and biological weapons in massive bombing campaigns against civilian populations in Northern and Southern Iraq. I was caught in one of these bombing campaigns, and watched people die around me. I continue to suffer to this day from lung, nerve and eye damage caused by these weapons."

The speaker is Dr. Katrin Michael, a Chaldean Christian from Northern Iraq. She became part of the Kurdish-based Iraqi resistance movement in 1982 to battle Saddam Hussein’s rule. She became a victim of Hussein’s force’s chemical bombings. With that, she fled for her life in 1988. She now lives in the United States, enjoying its freedoms in comparison to the prison she once existed in in Iraq. Today she is a leading voice for Iraqis presently persecuted by Hussein.

"As a woman who wages peace, and who has lived through war, I appeal to all people, but especially women and peace activists, to support American actions to remove Saddam Hussein. After twenty-six years of resistance activities against Saddam, I have come to the conclusion that only support from outside Iraq can bring an end to the nightmare of his rule."

Dr. Michael knows first-hand the bloody hand of Hussein and his family. She says, "No one in Iraq is immune from Saddam's brutality - not even the closest members of his family, as we saw when Saddam executed his own son-in-law in 1996. But women's groups in the West should know that Saddam specifically targets women as part of his broader policies of intimidation.

"A commonly used form of torture is to bring in detainee's female relative, preferably his wife, daughter or mother, and gang rape her in front him. How many men can bear to subject their female relatives to such brutality? Iraqis in exile receive videotapes of their female relatives in Iraq being raped. Is it any surprise that Iraqi scientists refuse to speak to weapons inspectors?

"Women who criticize or merely offend Saddam are accused of being prostitutes and regularly beheaded in public. Saddam's son Uday often leads these beheadings; they occur in Baghdad as well as in smaller villages throughout Iraq. The heads of the executed women are hung on the doors of their houses for all to see."

The outside world may not realize how strenuously the Iraqis have tried to overthrow Hussein. But Dr. Michael knows. She relates: "Faced with such ruthlessness, we cannot overthrow Saddam without outside help. We have tried ever since Saddam came into power in 1970. My father founded an Iraqi peace movement, for which he was murdered. I followed in my father's footsteps and joined the Kurdish armed resistance.

"I traveled in disguise to Baghdad to organize against Saddam. But when Saddam responded with chemical bombings against hundreds of Kurdish villages in 1987 and 1988, I was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Southern Turkey where I stayed for several months until I recovered.

"Faced with a bleak, hopeless future as a refugee, I escaped by foot to Syria. My odyssey took me through Algeria, where as a Christian I was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, Greece, and finally the United States, where I have lived since 1997. Meanwhile, millions of Iraqis displaced by war and ethnic cleansing campaigns continue to languish in refugee camps in Turkey, Iran and Syria, or live in hiding inside Iraq.

"Every day that Saddam is allowed to continue to grow his arsenal of poisons increases the likelihood that he will use them again against Iraqis, but also against anyone he identifies as his enemy. Saddam will never leave power willingly. And he will never give up his weapons; they are the key to his ability to maintain power in Iraq. He must be stopped."


Above data is from WOMEN FOR A FREE IRAQ website.

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Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor, New Hope Church, Windham ME

Graduate of accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.

Married for 41 years with 3 adult children.

Author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic
magazines, journals and newspapers. Writer of weekly religion column for
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.

Hobbies: Traveling to South America, Europe, Middle East, Canada; writing;
watercolor painting; meeting new friends.

Current occupations: Pastor; Teacher at Alternative Learning School for
at-risk youths.

Pastorates: Calgary, Alberta; Indianapolis IN; Akron OH; Fishkill NY;
Manchester CT; Walpole MA; Windham ME.

Winner of First Prize Writing Contest which yielded a three-week guided tour
of the Middle East.

Columnist for websites: MensNewsDaily.com, IntellectualConservative.com, MichNews.com, Chalcedon.com, rePUNK.com, ConservativeTruth.com, FreeRepublic.com (USO Canteen Chapel link), WoundedShepherds.com (Insights link).