When Children are Sold in the Iraqi Markets

Several popular Swedish newspapers published about two weeks ago what they called an investigative report by Tracey Christensen and her colleague Thor Bjorn Andersen.

The report, clearly highly credible as it was reported from the center of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, caused a stir probably unprecedented in Iraq. According to the media, the investigation has been translated into more than 12 languages.

An article on the Arab News website on Oct. 24 about the report aired on Swedish television said that the journalist and her colleague hid inside an old car recording sounds and images from what they described as a large market where Iraqi children and adolescents are sold.

Journalist Andersen noted during the report that an an Iraqi girl no older than four was for sale for not more than $ 400, an amount that did not equal the value of the flowers on the desk of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

This is not the first report which specifically addresses the sale of children in Iraq. This phenomenon never existed in Iraq before the occupation. Several reports addressed this subject years ago and concerns were voiced about the phenomenon worsening, especially in the bad political, economic and social conditions following the U.S. occupation.

Anybody who has benefited and still benefits from the U.S. occupation in Iraq has tried to discredit the reports as lacking documentation, as in the case of the Christensen-Andersen report, or because they relied debatable numbers, according to those who deny the existence of such a phenomenon.

The occupation of Iraq not only resulted in Iraqi children for sale. About two years ago, there was another scandal in which Iraqi children with heart diseases were being sent to Israel for treatment, as if the hospitals of the racist state were the only ones in the world that could cure them. Many have denied these stories and called them rumors. They have repeated the same excuses throughout the U.S. occupation to evade their responsibilities and deflect the load of all that has happened and is still happening in Iraq onto the previous regime.

I had the opportunity over two years ago to see a report on an orphanage said to be in Baghdad on an Iraqi television channel, in which we could see the links these children had with their families, and how their health was pitiful to the extent that they resembled skeletons. The images were the same as those of starving children in Africa’s poor countries. The report noted that those responsible for the orphanage were stealing food and meals that should have been given to these children. They also denied them heating and washing, and everything else that would have made their lives easier.

The focus on children here does not mean that other age groups in Iraq are better off. Much evidence points to Iraq on many levels heading a list of countries in bad shape, with growing vice, prostitution, poverty and malnutrition. Begging, rape, robbery and all forms of crime are on the rise, as is the presence of drugs, something that never existed before the invasion.

The ill-effects of the occupation do not end here. All studies and reports indicate that Iraq has become one the most corrupt countries in the world, in addition to other phenomena previously unknown to the people of Iraq, such as the spread of illiteracy.

We have to understand opposition to a regime, but in the Iraqi case those groups pretending to be against to the regime of Saddam Hussein, after obtaining power with foreign assistance, did not provide anything for this country other than destruction and devastation. They brought death to the Iraqi people, claiming that they came to save Iraqis from the clutches of “the dictator and the overthrown regime” and help them recover from disasters and injustices.

What did this class actually achieve when it was able to govern the country, apart from commit all kinds of sins in a worse and bloodier manner than any previous regime in Iraq? They are pursuing the opposition in a manner unlike that of any previous regime, and since they have controlled the Green Zone, they have killed or assisted in killing and displacing millions of Iraqis. The number of Iraqis killed during the seven years of occupation is twice that of those killed over the 35 years of Baathist rule.

As for the degrading and inhuman sale of children in Iraq under the eyes of those responsible in the Green Zone -Americans and others who raise the slogans of freedom, democracy and human rights, it is a natural consequence of the absence of the rule of law and the predominance of gangs who claim to be political parties. The trade would not have spread if it had not been facilitated by influential leaders benefiting from it, because it would not be possible to sell children publicly without influential parties helping or even encouraging it.

In light of this growing phenomenon, all organizations concerned with human rights and children (in particular UNICEF who does not deny the existence of such an issue), people of conscience and all others who can help must demand that those involved be held accountable in order to put an end to this tragedy. Sweden opened its doors to the children of Iraq after the report’s publication, a humiliation for Arab people for, why could Arab countries not provide a safe haven for them?SOURCE