Published on Friday, December 5, 2003 by Reuters
Mom Vainly Tries to See U.S. Iraq Soldier Daughter
by Michael Georgy
TIKRIT, Iraq - A peace activist accused the U.S. military on Friday of depriving her of the chance to visit her soldier daughter, telling her that the truck driver was on a mission.
Anabel Valencia said she had informed U.S. military officials that she would be at the gates of the base at noon to see 24-year-old Giselle. She arrived only to discover that her daughter had been sent on a mission to Baghdad.
"I have not seen her in three years, I don't know why they are doing this," said Valencia, standing outside a sprawling U.S. military base in Saddam Husseins hometown.
"The last time we spoke she said 'I miss you and my father and sister. I want to come home for Christmas but I have to finish my mission'."
"I feel so bad. I am sad," said Valencia, who was accompanied by Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, an anti-war human rights group.
Several parents of Americans serving in Iraq have come to the country to visit their children, including ones that were killed in the war that toppled Saddam.
Their presence just outside the military complex clearly made U.S. troops nervous. One arrived with a sniffer dog and firmly told Valencia to keep a distance from the main checkpoint.
"Can I talk to her?" Valencia asked before being told that Giselle had been sent on a mission to Baghdad, where her brother is also serving in the U.S. Army.
"This mission has been scheduled for quite a while and you know she is a soldier. She is out performing her duty," he said.
One soldier stood by and reminded everyone that "this is a war and soldiers are sent on missions."
Giselle had spoken to her mother highly of her tour of duty in Iraq.
When a group of U.S.-trained Iraqi policemen showed up, American soldiers loaded their weapons.
"The Americans asked us to come here to stop the demonstration," said Iraqi policeman Mohanan Taha.
Asked if protests were illegal in the new Iraq, he told reporters: "There are no human rights under the Americans. Nothing. It is all empty talk."
"We miss the days of Saddam," said Iraqi policeman Mohammed Shawki.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd