Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

5/06/2003

Forever a Prisoner 'Once you become an enemy of Uday, you are nothing.'
Toture stories of Saddam's evil son Uday coming out now... And how he ruined one womans life


Naadi's trouble began when he barred one of Uday's girlfriends from entering the Babylon Hotel, where he worked, because she was drunk. Soon after, he was accused of stealing videotapes out of Uday's house. Nouman persuaded Naadi to let her represent him. The charges were so obviously false that the court threw them out without much argument. But the clock had begun to run down on Nouman's liberty. "My friends told me I had cut my own neck," she says. "But I thought Uday wouldn't dare to touch a lawyer, a respected member of society."

How wrong she was. Barely a month after the Naadi verdict, in a casual conversation with law colleagues, Nouman said the fateful words, "There's no justice in this country." Someone informed the police, and within hours she was arrested for contempt of court. Taken to al-Zafaraniya police station, she was, she says, brutally beaten for several days in a row, raped and had a hot candle forced into her rectum. "I kept telling the police, 'You can't do this to me. I'm a lawyer,'" she says, smiling sadly at her own naivete. "They said, 'Once you become an enemy of Uday, you are nothing.'"

After a week of near constant torture, Nouman recounts, she was taken to al-Rashad hospital on the outskirts of the city. There she had the first of countless sessions of shock treatment. When she was released a month later, Nouman recalls, she felt "like a nightmare was over." It was just beginning. She had been out only a few months when the police picked her up again, this time for allegedly saying (she denies it) "I hate Saddam." She was taken, she says, to the Khadamiya Prison for women, for a six-month spell with long stretches in solitary confinement. She was tortured and beaten by other prisoners.

"The wardens told the other women that since I was an enemy of Uday, they had permission to do whatever they wanted to me," Nouman says. "The women wanted to please the wardens, so they were constantly slamming me against the walls." Again she was sent back to al-Rashad.

Nouman's life settled into a pattern. She would be arrested, thrown into prison for a few months of torture, then forced to spend a month in the mental hospital. She would be released for a few months, and then the cycle would begin again. Looking back, she has difficulty remembering the chronology and duration of her incarcerations. "There were too many," she says, "and after all those years of taking drugs at the hospital of madness, my memory is mixed up." But if the repeated punishment was meant to silence Nouman, it had the opposite effect. "When I realized that they could arrest me whether or not I did anything wrong, I thought, Why not speak my mind?" She recounts how she tore up Saddam posters in the street, chanted anti-Uday slogans and, on one occasion, refused to take a 100-dinar note in change from a shopkeeper, declaring, "I don't want another picture of Saddam Hussein."

Her most famous act of defiance came in 1988, after Uday personally murdered Kamel Hanna Jajjo, Saddam's majordomo, for acting as a go-between for Saddam and one of his mistresses. Word of the scandal spread through Baghdad?even to Nouman, in prison. At her next court hearing, she stood up and delivered an impromptu speech. Uday had killed a man, she said, and he should be brought to trial and imprisoned. "I said what every Iraqi was thinking," she says. "I just had nothing to lose. What could they do to me that they were not already doing?"

In Baghdad's working-class districts, Nouman gained a certain amount of fame as the crazy woman lawyer who dared to stand up to Uday. Even some of the staff at the mental hospital came to admire her tenacity. "She never stopped speaking against Uday, not even when she was getting shock treatment," says Jabar Rubbaiyeh Lefteh, an ambulance driver at the mental hospital. "She was braver than any man I know."

She has one other ambition. In all the years she suffered his vengeance, Nouman never met Uday. Before the war, she says, she didn't want to. Now she would love to confront her tormentor. "I want to see him, and I want him to see me," she says, thumping her chest. "I want to tell him, 'Look, I am still here, still saying what I want to say. You tried to stop me and couldn't. What can you do now?'"


Fuck you Uday. I hope you have to face this woman one day...

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