Hostages & Threats

Jo Wilding, with the circus troupe in Iraq, on the hostage situation and threats against foreigners.

    I expect everyone knows by now about the kidnapping of three Japanese civilians and the threat to burn them alive unless the Japanese government withdraws its troops from Iraq. Anxious, everyone huddled round the satellite TV in one of the apartments. The tape from the kidnappers showed them crouched, blindfolded, knives to their throats.

    “It’s them!”

    Nayoko [Nahoko Takato] 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. … read more