Ireland / Iraq
17 November, 2004. (CARE / UK)
Through her courage, tenacity and commitment, Mrs. Hassan assisted more than seventeen million Iraqis living in the most difficult of circumstances. Everyone who met her was touched by her personality and compassion.
It is with profound sadness that we have learnt of the existence of a video in which it appears that our colleague Margaret Hassan has been killed. We are shocked and appalled that this has been the apparent outcome of her abduction. We want to express our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Hassan's husband Tahseen, and to her family. Mrs. Hassan was an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to the poor and disadvantaged in Iraq , particularly the children. The whole of CARE is in mourning.
CARE staff and volunteers will continue working around the world fighting poverty, responding to humanitarian emergencies and helping to rebuild communities. CARE sincerely thanks the Iraqi people for everything they did to try to secure the safe return of Margaret Hassan and for the many expressions of support. Our priority now is to support Mrs. Hassan's husband, Tahseen, and those most deeply affected by this tragedy.
17 November 2004 (UN News)
Voicing shock and sadness, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today denounced the brutal execution of Margaret Hassan, head of the CARE International office in Iraq who was taken hostage last month. Mr. Annan "condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeting of humanitarian aid workers and organizations and reiterates that such acts are indefensible," said a statement issued by his spokesman.
Ms. Hassan, an aid worker in Iraq for more than 25 years before her abduction on 19 October, devoted her life to helping the Iraqi people, the statement said. Under the direction of Ms. Hassan, who had acquired Iraqi citizenship, CARE International had become a close partner of the United Nations, particularly the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in alleviating the needs of the Iraqi people.
"The work of Ms. Hassan in Iraq will be remembered by all in Iraq and beyond as an example of human solidarity," the statement said. "The Secretary-General expresses his deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and loved ones of Ms. Hassan. He shares their grief and sorrow."
November 17, 2004
'Our hearts are broken... her suffering has ended'. Statement released by Michael, Deirdre, Geraldine and Kathryn Fitzsimons, brothers and sisters of Margaret Hassan, last night. "Our hearts are broken. We have kept hoping for as long as we could, but we now have to accept that Margaret has probably gone and at last her suffering has ended.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with our dear brother-in-law Tahseen. Margaret was a friend of the Arab world, to people of all religions. Her love of the Arab people started in the 1960s when she worked in Palestinian camps, living with the poorest of the poor and supporting the refugees.
"For the past 30 years, Margaret worked tirelessly for the Iraqi people. "Margaret had only goodwill towards everyone. She had no prejudice against any creed. She dedicated her whole life to working for the poor and vulnerable, helping those who had no one else. "Those who are guilty of this atrocious act, and those who support them, have no excuses. "Nobody can justify this. Margaret was against sanctions and the war. "To commit such a crime against anyone is unforgivable. "But we cannot believe how anybody could do this to our kind, compassionate sister. "The gap she leaves will never be filled."
"Margaret Hassan's suspected execution will be seen as 'Proof' of Evil", by Robert Frisk. (The Star, South Africa)
After the grief, the astonishment, heartbreak, anger and fury over the apparent murder of such a good and saintly woman, that is the question her friends - and, quite possibly, the Iraqi insurgents - will be asking. This Anglo-Irish woman held an Iraqi passport. She had lived in Iraq for 30 years, she had dedicated her life to the welfare of Iraqis in need. She hated the United Nations sanctions and opposed the Anglo-American invasion..
I remember Margaret arguing with doctors and truck drivers over a lorry-load of medicines for Iraq's children's cancer wards in 1998. She smiled, cajoled and pleaded to get these leukaemia drugs to Basra and Mosul. She would not have wished to be called an angel - Margaret didn't like clichés. Even now I want to write "doesn't like clichés". Are we really permitted to say that she is dead?
For the bureaucrats and the Western leaders who today will express their outrage and sorrow at her reported death, she had nothing but scorn. Yes, she knew the risks. Margaret Hassan was well aware that many Iraqi women had been kidnapped, raped, ransomed or murdered by the Baghdad mafia. Because she is a Western woman - the first to be abducted and apparently murdered - we forget how many Iraqi women have already suffered this terrible fate; largely unreported in a world which counts dead American soldiers but ignores the fatalities among those with darker skins and browner eyes and a different religion, whom we claimed to have liberated.
© 2004 The Star & Independent Online
26 October 2004
"Hundreds demonstrate for release of 'Mama Margaret' Hassan", by Kim Sengupta in Baghdad. (The Independent)
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Baghdad yesterday to show their support for kidnapped aid worker Margaret Hassan - the first time there has been such a public protest against an abduction since the wave of hostage-taking began.
Many of those taking part were disabled people who had benefited from the work carried out by Mrs Hassan, the country director for the charity Care International. Among them were 30 pupils from a school for deaf children carrying her photographs asking for the release of "Mama Margaret".
The demonstration for Mrs Hassan, who is married to an Iraqi and has lived in the country for 30 years, took place outside the offices of Care in Baghdad. The organisation has suspended operations in Iraq since she was kidnapped last week.
Ahmed Jabir, a boy in a wheelchair, said: " If it wasn't for her, we would probably have died. She built us a hospital and took care of us. She made us feel happy again. I can truly say that we love her, and we are very upset by what has happened."
Nasrat al-Asdi, who had brought the children from the deaf school, said: "She has been invaluable for them. Not only did she give us money for hearing aids but she reconstructed the institute. We could not believe they would do this to someone like her."
by CARE International