As protests against a rotten system continue, the families of 128 drowned civilians await justice. By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Early in the morning on 21 March, in Mosul’s flat and dusty al-Baker neighbourhood, a school principal named Ustad Ahmad went to see his mother. It was the start of the new year holiday of Nowruz, and she asked if they could go to the cemetery to visit his father’s grave. Ahmad had other ideas. He was planning to take his wife and children to an amusement park, as a reward for the boys’ full marks in their recent exams. Besides, he told his mother, he didn’t want to be reminded of death on such a beautiful spring day.
Back home, after breakfast with the boys, Ahmad sat on a wooden chair in the bathroom for his weekly shave. Then, preparing to go out, he put on his new summer blazer, a pair of jeans and the wraparound sunglasses his wife had recently bought for him. Tall and burly, Ahmad was a very proud man – proud of his status among his colleagues, the comfort and neatness of his house, his smart and witty boys, his beautiful baby daughter and above all, his clever, outgoing wife, who loved to travel. At around 1pm, the family caught a taxi to the amusement park, and Ahmad gave the boys enough money to go on every ride. He even joined them for a round on the bumper cars.