Thursday, June 10, 2004


Please note this early effort of the new Iraqi Health Ministry. Then recall who made this new Iraqi Health Ministry possible.
Realising that they should have removed his right ear not the left, the doctors promptly turned Dawoud over and had the surgeon slice off the other ear, too.

"I was taken to the hospital in the morning, and in the afternoon I woke up to find that I had had both ears cut off," said the 29-year-old, as if not quite believing his own hideous misfortune.

"After that, I just wanted to die. I was depressed, I didn't care about life. I wanted them to kill me, but they wouldn't."...

In all, an estimated 3,500 Iraqi soldiers had the whole or part of their ears cut off following Saddam's 1994 edict, an effort at using fear to clamp down on increasing army desertion.

The first 500 or so deserters caught had the whole of their ear removed, but the measure drew so much wrath, inside and outside the country, with many surgeons refusing to perform the operation, that it was soon reduced to a part of the ear. Later it was rescinded altogether and lashes administered instead.

Ten years on, and in the wake of Saddam's fall, the victims of mutilation are gradually emerging from their pariah existence, looking for jobs and a normal life, while holding out the hope that their deformity might one day be corrected.

Six weeks ago, that hope became a reality.

A group of Iraqi surgeons, backed by the Health Ministry, announced that they would perform free reconstructive surgery on victims of Saddam's 1994 mutilation spree, as well as operations they're already performing on bomb and bullet victims...

As Dawoud waited in al-Wasati's sweltering corridor earlier this month ahead of his first operation, he professed to no nerves. No matter what came out of the operation he said he'd be happy -- it couldn't be worse than having no ears at all.

"I'm still not married because of what happened to me, but after the operation I will propose."

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