jeudi 11 octobre 2007

Daughters'anguish at funeral of mother killed by foreign mercenaries in Baghdad

Karen, left, Alis, second from left, and Nora, third from left, the daughters of Marou Awanis

The Times
October 11, 2007
Sarmad al-Waali and Deborah Haynes in Baghdad

Three Christian sisters, beating their mother’s coffin in grief, wailed and hugged each other at her funeral in Baghdad yesterday as their rapidly shrinking religious community vented anger at the foreign security guards who killed her.

Marou Awanis, a part-time taxi driver, and one of her women passengers became the latest victims to die at the hands of a foreign private security team in Iraq after they were shot dead in the centre of the capital on Tuesday.
Both women were Armenian Christians. Their deaths stunned their minority religious sect, which has seen its numbers in Iraq fall by more than a half, to 10,000, since the invasion of March 2003.

The killings also heightened a sense of outrage towards private security companies, in particular Blackwater, which many people regard as a private army that acts with impunity.

Unity Resources Group, an Australian security outfit based in Dubai, confirmed last night that its guards were responsible for Tuesday’s shooting in Baghdad.
Scores of relatives and friends gathered at the main Armenian Church in Baghdad to grieve the death of Mrs Awanis, aged 48. The body of the second woman, identified as Geneva Jalal, was also there but no one from her family showed up.
Everyone was shocked that Mrs Awanis, a widow and former agricultural engineer who was forced to drive a taxi to make ends meet, had been killed. “I don’t know what to say. This is the worst crime I have ever seen,” said Abu Mareeam, the dead woman's nephew.
The three daughters, Aless, 12, Karown, 20, and Noraa, 21, were doubled up in tears as they crowded around their mother’s simple wooden coffin, which was decorated with a small golden cross.

“These criminals killed a mother and left three orphaned girls. Who will take care of them now?” asked one relative, who gave her name as Umm Masees.
Watching the proceedings with sadness, the Rev Nareek Ashkanean, 50, said: “This is another crime against the citizens in Iraq. Every day civilians are being killed and no one is trying to stop it from happening.” He blamed foreign private security companies for a lot of the suffering.

I ask the Government to stop these companies and to bring those who kill without reason to justice regardless of his nationality or his country,” Mr Ashkanean said. “I want the Government to force these companies out.”

The women are due to be buried at a cemetery near Baqouba, 35 miles (55km) northeast of Baghdad, today.

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