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Hope of Healing for Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi Mother

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh with her 4 children.

A message from CODEPINK: When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother of five, lost her home and her property, and was forced to flee to Jordan.

A decade later, Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against six key members of the Bush administration. They’re arguing that, since the war was not conducted in self-defense, and did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, it constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law.

On August 20th the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in the case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law. 

We can’t accept this. We demand that these war criminals come forward and hold themselves accountable for the tragic consequences that the war had for Saleh’s family and countless other Iraqi civilians.

The organization, Iraq Witness, has filed suit against the Bush Administration on behalf of an Iraqi single mother, Sundus Shaker Saleh. Saleh alleges that the Iraq War was a premeditated war against the Iraqi people — and now she is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against six key members of the Bush administration. 

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Hope of Healing  for Sundus Shaker Saleh, Iraqi Mother, with my love.
©2013 by Alice Walker

In our despair that justice is slow

we sit with heads bowed




even whether

we will ever be healed.


Perhaps it is a question

only the ravaged

the violated

seriously ask.

And is that not now

almost all of us?


But hope is on the way.


As usual Hope is a woman

herding her children

around her

all she retains of who

she was; as usual

except for her kids


she has lost almost everything.


Hope is a woman who has lost her fear.


Along with her home, her employment, her parents, her olive trees, her grapes. The peace of independence; the reassuring noises of ordinary



Hope rises, She always does,

did we fail to notice this in all the stories

they’ve tried to suppress?


Hope rises,

and she puts on her same

unfashionable threadbare coat

and, penniless, she flings herself

against the cold, polished, protective chain mail

of the very powerful

the very rich – chain mail that mimics

suspiciously silver coins

and lizard skin -

and all she has to fight with is the reality of what was done to her;

to her country; her people; her children;

her home.

All she has as armor is what she has learned

must never be done.

Not in the name of War

and especially never in the

name of Peace.


Hope is always the teacher

with the toughest homework.


Our assignment: to grasp

what has never been breathed in our stolen


on the hill:


Without justice, we will never

be healed.

# # #

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Alice Walker

Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated author, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She’s best known for The Color Purple, the 1983 novel for which she won the Pulitzer Prize—the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction—and the National Book Award. Visit her website here.

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