Monday, March 07, 2005


I have translated the interview of Giuliana Sgrena I mentioned in the previous post.

“My kidnappers? Never did I consider them enemies”
Marco Imarisio
Corriere della Sera. March 7, 2005.

While she speaks her gaze is turned towards the television, where the lasting images flow. She, who in the morning unsteadily got off the ladder of the airplane, President Ciampi who in the middle of the night caresses the coffin of Nicola Calipari (tr. note: the Italian secret service agent who was killed while accompanying Sgrena to Baghdad airport). Giuliana Sgrena has not understood yet. She has not comprehended that each of her words, now, will be analyzed under a microscope and read in all their possible interpretations.
Seeing her on the hospital bed, listening to the speed with which she expresses her thoughts, one notices that she herself needs to speak. To exorcise, to attempt a personal accounting.

Q: You have said that you were treated well by the kidnappers.
A: That is correct. Why?

Q: In your first video you seemed desperate.
A: I was. I had not managed to spill a single tear up to that moment and I cry often. When I spoke of Pier (tr. note: her boyfriend), I started crying.

Q: What had the kidnappers told you?
A: They had asked me to dramatize. It was a difficult moment, because I was in an phase in which I was angry. I was upset and litigious. I did not understand their motives.

Q: What were your feelings towards them?
A: I never felt I was an enemy of theirs. It was not easy; I was in a submissive position. But I tried to understand them through the sentences we exchanged.

Q: And what did you understand?
A: They said they were fighting for the liberation of Iraq, they claimed they were at war and therefore forced to use all means available. They defined themselves Iraqi resistance. But they were not throat-cutters like Al Zarqawi or those of the car bombs.

Q: Is there a difference?
A: Sure. They would indicate throat cutting with their fingers and say: “We are not like them.”

Q: Not that kidnapping someone is a praiseworthy enterprise.
A: I have always supported the Iraqi civilian resistance. But in war, I can understand that one can reach certain excesses.

Q: Are you referring to kidnappings?
A: Sure. To clarify: Al Zarqawi is not resistance. It is terrorism. The car bombs are terrorism. There is an armed resistance that uses unacceptable methods.

Q: You consider this kidnapping a sort of defeat.
A: I lost and it is the reason for which I will not be going back to Iraq. Not now, at least. I wanted to tell of the devastating effects of this occupation. But to them now there is no distinction between soldiers and civilians, Italians or French.

Q: According to Pier, your boyfriend, you had information that could have annoyed the Americans.
A: I think he was misunderstood. I have no reserved information, though I wish I did. But it infuriates me to hear talk of a “tragic accident.”

Q: You have spoken of a “rain of bullets.” But Calipari was killed by a single bullet.
A: I remember that on the seat next to me there was a pile (tr. note: literally, “mountain”) of bullets. I couldn’t say how many. But I can say that in one moment all the car windows were shattered.

Q: What is your opinion?
A: I don’t know the whole truth. I think, but this is only a hypothesis, that the success of the deal could have annoyed someone. The Americans are against this type of operation. For them war is war and human life counts for little.

Q: There are those that accuse you of being anti-American.
A: It’s not a crime. The debate on these themes is conducted by people who have never set foot in Baghdad. I challenge anyone to actually go and see what happens in Iraq and not to be anti-American.

Q: Has this incident changed you?
A: It has not changed my personal beliefs on (the) war and on what is happening in Iraq.

Q: Are you not worried of being seen as ungrateful, as happened to the two Simonas (tr. note: two Italian hostages who were freed a few months ago and who subsequently praised their captors)?
A: It would hurt but I cannot rule out that it will happen. It would be a little hypocritical. It’s true, I do have my opinions. But even before I was freed they were well known.

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