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Gallery ~ Iraq Project ~ Letter of Apology

The Letter of Apology

In September of 2003, US troops bulldozed orange, lemon and date groves in Dhuluaya, Iraq, a town 50 miles northwest of Baghdad. The farmers who owned these groves lost their livelihoods as "punishment" for not identifying resistance fighters the military believed were hiding in the groves. Several weeks after the destruction, local women were seen bundling together the branches of the uprooted trees and carrying them back to their homes for firewood. Many of the trees were 70 years old or older.

Patrick Cockburn, a reporter for The Independent UK who first reported this story on October 12, 2003 wrote, “Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a distraught voice: ‘It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands were worth.’"

Because of their connections to local agriculture, Gibson and a writer friend Mary McClintock, were deeply upset by this destruction. They wrote a letter of apology to the farmers in Dhuluaya, which 150 farmers and citizens of western Massachusetts signed. The next April, Mary Trotochaud and Rick McDowell, working in Iraq for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), carried the translated letter to Baghdad and began to make arrangements for it to be taken to the farmers in Dhuluaya. Rick and Mary were working with a young Iraqi, Salam Al Jaboury, who agreed to take the letter to Dhuluaya, despite the deteriorating conditions. In August 2004, he traveled at great risk along the heavily blockaded roads and delivered the letter to the farmers.

When Salam gave the letter to the farmers, their response was, "Tell them [Trotochaud and McDowell] welcome. We would like them to come up. If they do, we will have a meal for them and all the farmers will come. Then, you can meet with them and see if there is a project you can do together."


Bodhisattva Gallery
Story of the Altars
Text of Invocations

Food Altar Gallery
Story of the Altars

The Iraq Project
Dhuluaya Gallery
Apology Letter
Harvest Aid Fund

Past Work Gallery
Story of Past Work

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Ann Taylor Gibson    Conway, MA 01341
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