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David S Taub

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Ali Abbas – Iraq's Kim Phuc
by David S Taub   

Last edited: Monday, May 05, 2003
Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2003

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The first time I saw his photo, it instantly reminded me of the world-famous photo by Nick Ut, and the story of Kim Phuc, the 9 year old Vietnamese war victim fleeing naked, having been napalmed.

Ali Abbas – Iraq's Kim Phuc
(Kim Phuc, Vietnam's napalmed 'poster child', betrayed.)

Today I was deeply disturbed to see on AOL's opening page, the photo and accompanying Associated Press article concerning the severe injuries of the 12 year old Iraqi boy, Ali Ismaeel Abbas. He has lost both arms, suffered extensive burns, and lost 16 members of his family.

The first time I saw his photo, it instantly reminded me of the world-famous photo by Nick Ut, and the story of Kim Phuc, the 9 year old Vietnamese war victim fleeing naked, having been napalmed. That photo was taken on June 8, 1972 and quickly made front page news world-wide, with LIFE magazine giving it full cover page exposure.

Twenty-four years later, in 1996, Kim Phuc spoke at the Veteran’s Day ceremonies in front of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

She said:

"As you know, I am the little girl who was running to escape from the napalm fire. I do not want to talk about the war because I cannot change history. I only want you to remember a tragedy of war in order to do things to stop fighting and killing around the world."

Kim Phuc's hopes (not surprisingly) remain unfulfilled, as Ali and the thousands of Iraqi war victims bear testimony to this.

But what has horrified me most about the presentation of this, is the 'sanitised' head-shot photo of Ali, and the fact that the mainstream media has managed to keep this out of the limelight - until now.
What is not mentioned is that Ali has been lying in (in his own words) "Pain for 24 hours a day, which a mountain could not bear…." And this has been for some three weeks. However, his story and uncensored photos have been widely known of, as is proven by the fact that I saw them first, almost two weeks ago, on a website called March for Justice,
Specifically, one can find the first one (of several over a number of days) under their link 'April 3.'
And I would urge readers to see the uncropped photos revealing the full extent of his injuries. After all, we were not simply 'treated' to a nicely cropped head-shot photo of Kim Phuc in her full agony and horror!

I had also seen uncensored news footage on a foreign (Arabic) TV news report by satellite TV (Channel LINK TV) where Ali spoke, asking "What sort of liberation is this?"

I wait with bated breath for the first appearances of Ali on Western TV, no doubt appearing in a tidy sanitised Kuwait hospital where he has finally been taken to, courtesy of the US military.

The Associated Press reporter concludes his article (as appeared on AOL) with a Kuwaiti hospital doctor stating that, "…four other Iraqi children are being treated at the hospital with war-related injuries such as a lost eye and a gunshot wound in the lung."

My question is, and what of the hundreds and hundreds of other children (and all other civilians), again many disclosed in uncensored photos on March for Justice's website? When will they be taken from a situation where there is no painkillers, no anesthaesia, no medicine, no water?

My other question is, when (if at all) will Ali receive the same unsanitised exposure world-wide, as was the case for Kim Phuc?

[Update on Sunday April 20: One of Britain's Major newspapers, The Mirror, has started a major campaign attempting to raise money to help the Iraqi children, and gives full coverage (including uncensored photos) of Ali Abbas.]

Copyright 2003, David Taub

David Taub is a member of :
The British organisation ''National Union of Journalists'' (NUJ);
Columnist for the UK magazine ''Poetry Now'';
Freelance writer for various UK and USA magazines;
Co-author of Language of Souls (listed on - Florida Writers Association''s Royal Palm Best Book of the year, 2002 award.

Web Site: David Taub's official website

Reader Reviews for "Ali Abbas – Iraq's Kim Phuc"

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Reviewed by g 8/13/2003
very true , l think the american and british govs should be made pay for the rebuilding of hospitals, schools and homes and people like ali should be given the best treatment that money can buy for the rest of their lives.
Reviewed by Lady Peg 4/22/2003
This was so important to write ,
Peggy bertrand
Reviewed by Alexander Shaumyan (Reader) 4/18/2003
Excellent points, David. I doubt if the story Ali Ismaeel Abbas will ever get the exposure and attention in the United States. Yet, stories like the "spectacular rescue" of 19-year old Pfc. Jessica Lynch (who was receiving best available medical aid in Iraqi hospital) make the front-cover material American magazines and become stories for Hollywood films. As George Orwell said: "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
Reviewed by Theresa Koch 4/17/2003
David this is a much needed well written piece God Bless...Teri
Reviewed by Anita Knight 4/17/2003
The comparison between the horror of the Viet Nam War victim Kim Phuc and Ali Ismaeel Abbas is stark and should awaken our consciences, dulled as they are by selective scenes.
Mahatma Ghandi made a perfect statement that fits to a 'T' this Pyrrhic Victory:
"The Lords of Wrath have perish'd by the blow
Themselves had aim'd at others long ago.
Draw not in haste the sword, which Fate may be,
Will sheathe, hereafter to be drawn on Thee."
Reviewed by Shirley Harshenin 4/17/2003
Very well-written. Thank you for speaking out - the truth needs to be heard. Real people are suffering, needlessly.
Reviewed by John Hutchinson 4/17/2003
Only a moron would believe you can bomb people into freedom and democracy!!!
Reviewed by Qamar Abbasi 4/17/2003
Very well written.
I wish the American public could understand the way their government is making them unpopular and responsible for all these killings, massacre, bloodshed, etc in the eyes of the world. The American public believes eveything what they see on their television sets broadcasted by their media channels; i.e., NBC NEWS, CNN, FOX NEWS etc. These news channels along with other many local channels dont show reality about the brutality and cruelty of the American forces sent into the Gulf area. The American media will hype up a show about their forces if one of them dies and will show intrviews of their parents, neighbors, friends, spouses, kids etc. But if these forces kill innocent people, cripple those people for life, demolish their houses and businesses, no one notices. I hope everyone can see it coming now. The world is going to be becoming a much much smaller place for all Americans. If the American government continues to become a dictator and tyrant government, the American public will suffer and will see more attacks on their soil. I hope the American public gets more sensible and looks into the world history as what went wrong in Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and many more muslim contries which gave America an option to make it worse in these places by playing games with the lives of the local people in these areas. Dont you wonder as why America is helping out Israel at the cost of the entire middle east. Israel is killing inoccent Palestanians and calling them terrrorists, even though Israel is a terrorist state itself. Israel is a country that possesses nuclear, and other weapons of mass destructions. Yet America is going after other smaller countries that cant even defend themselves. Shame on you America, England and Israel. Invading other countries to profit your own businesses, e.g. oil from the middle east will not make it beneficial for you. As long as Israel, America, Europe and other european countries think they can do anything they want, justice will never prevail. Instead more innocents will die and in the end these countries will suffer the most.
I hope that God saves us all from every bad moment. Ameen.
Reviewed by Mayakis 4/16/2003
Sadly true.
The American public is protected from the harm the US Government does.
Then Americans ask; "why do they hate us?"
Reviewed by Claywoman 4/16/2003
This is an important article David, one that cries for readership by both doves and hawks. If they could see the results of bombings on real people instead of thinking of just targets and video type games which is what this war has become!
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