Routines are boooooooring.

Yesterday I decided that I’d go to the Red Security Museum, Amna Suraka. I found another teacher who wanted to go with me (!!) and so today after class ended we headed out to visit it. But we ran into two other school employees who have a car, told them where we were going, and they wanted to join. So the four of us drove out of the compound –

Until we realized we had no idea where we were going.

I called Jin, a teacher in the school who’d told me about Amna Suraka, and she said she knew exactly where it was, if we’d only wait 10 minutes she’d go along with us.

So we hung a u-ie, drove back and got Jin, and went on our merry way!

We arrived at the museum, only to find that it closed at 4:30. It was 4:45 already. Jin talked with one of the guards for a while, trying to get us inside. The green-beret-wearing, rifle-toting peshmerga wasn’t about to let us inside, until I saw him point to us and ask “lekuye” something or other. Jin responded, “Amerika.” He clucked, shook his head, went to talk with one of the other guards, and ushered us in.

Outside of an Amna Suraka building. Each window marks a cell.

Oh, and all of this was happening during the first sandstorm I’ve ever seen. We all huddled in the archway as leaves and raindrops and sand were blowing violently down the road, cupping our hands over our eyes to keep debris out.

The weather’s changed today. The clouds came out last night, and it sprinkled. When I took my kids out for recess, I instantly smelled petrichor. It smelled like Electricity, dust, and concrete. Ymmmmm.

Perfect timing for a little historical jaunt – both exciting and tragic.

Amna Suraka buildings

The actual museum of Amna Suraka was closed, so we wandered around the other pock-marked buildings where prisoners were held, packed in tight. The bottom floor was awash in red light, and dedicated to the victims of Halabja. Large pictures of the victims were posted on the walls.

A Halabja victim – one of the most famous and disturbing pictures of the gas attack.

We then walked outside to the side yard where old military vehicles were kept. Jin promised the guard we wouldn’t touch anything. Yeah right. We clambered all over the tanks and military trucks. Hey, it’s something in the air.

Paul in front of a decommissioned tank
This statue is placed among the tanks and weapons.
Bullet-holes, proof of the uprisings which took place here, mark the walls of the buildings.

The guard to whom Jin spoke told us that the museum will be open this Saturday form 8-4. Even though we called two weeks ago and they said they weren’t open on the weekends. Well, that’s Kurdistan for you. You’ve got to directly talk to people to get things done. Governmental structure is a very malleable thing.

Look soon for part 2: inside the actual Amna Suraka museum!

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