Forgotten Malalas: Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

File:Abeer Qassim Hamsa.jpgAbeer Qassim Hamza at age 7

Abeer was a fourteen year old girl from the village of Mahmoudiyah, southeast of Baghdad. Her family, and father especially, wanted her to get an education: but security concerns prevented her. When she did leave the house, she wore a black covering from head to toe. She spent most of her time doing chores and attending to the garden in the yard. There’s only three pictures of her I can find on the internet: one at age 2, one  at age 7, and one on her passport. At fourteen, she was raped, then killed. Her family, forced to hear in the next room, was shot dead after. To finish it off, the savages burned her house down.

I asked a friend to fill in the lines on what he thought about the first paragraph. He decided she was killed by Iraqis, probably because she wanted an education. She may have also dishonored the extended family, or left the house not wearing what she was made to wear. It’s a fair guess, considering Iraq hasn’t been doing well since the House of Wisdom. “Not this time”, I told him. Abeer Hamza was raped, shot, killed, and burned by a US soldier. Four other US soldiers were responsible for shooting, killing, and burning some of her family- including a 6 year old brother. The murders and the rape were premeditated, coordinated, and the result of failed attempts by the US government to give a damn about her soldiers.

The United States didn’t take this lightly, and the five soldiers have since been dishonorably discharged and each one is in prison – for at least 80 years, and parole only for a few of them. The attention, though, was all about the soldiers. See the Huffington Post: they only have one article that is even remotely about Abeer herself. The other several articles are about the savages: this time, Americans.

Her father, like Malala’s, like Nabila’s, was passionate for education and bettering her daughter’s life. Some soldiers used to flirt with Abeer, and she worried with her father that she may be attacked someday. Her father would insist, though, that “the Americans would not do such a thing.” After all, she was just a small child. He wanted to give her an education, as her male siblings were getting, but he was afraid, although he didn’t let her daughter know. At the checkpoints the girl had to pass through daily to get to town, she would have to get clearance from US soldiers. “Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances towards her,” a neighbor reported. Her mother was just as scared as the rest of the family: “Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home.”

She had two other siblings that weren’t harmed since they were at school at the time. But her parents, her, and a six year old brother were brutally murdered. We should learn a less from Abeer, of the spirit and the vigor she had while she lived. We should remember her father, who wanted her child to get an education, but couldn’t have it because of the risks. We should also think about the US soldiers who lived in constant psychological terror, from wars and actions unimaginable among those who live in safety, prompting them to heinous ways.

Lastly, we should realize why no one knows her. Compared to Malala, bless her heart, Abeer was attacked by US soldiers, who aren’t the ‘real’ enemies. Although she grew up in a rural Muslim area, although she was female, although her parents wanted her to get an education, although she was brutally killed by savages, she received little attention at all. Her only fault “was that she was a helpless little girl ,who was constantly stalked before her brutal rape and murder.”


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