Iraqi journalist working for U.S. speaks at Kiva

Katy Brown

Hamza discussed his arrests, kidnappings and family separation

Haider Hamza spoke in the Kiva last night about his work experiences at various newspapers. He also presented his photographs taken during the Iraq War. Glennis Siegfried | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

If there is one thing Haider Hamza has learned as a journalist, it is that “life is the most valuable thing.”

Tuesday evening at the KIVA, Hamza spoke to students about his experiences as a warzone journalist, ranging from the horror to the curiosity of the war, but focusing on his experience as an Iraqi journalist for the American media force.

Hamza was arrested, kidnapped and separated from others during his time in Iraq.

He was arrested 68 times while on assignment for arriving on a site of an attack before the military. Hamza said he and fellow journalists simply followed the smoke. They learned quickly that where there’s smoke, there’s a story.

As an Iraqi citizen himself, Hamza was viewed as a traitor of his own country and was kidnapped twice.

He was also separated from his family, and while Hamza is here, his family remains in the Middle East.

After coming to the United States, Hamza traveled the country and talked to Americans about the war. He set up a booth – much like Lucy’s from the “Peanuts” comic, he said – with a sign reading “Talk to an Iraqi.”

“I wanted to speak to people and try to put a human face with the war,” Hamza said. “A lot of people have not met someone from Iraq before.”

While Hamza remains in the United States and continues to talk to Americans, his family now lives in refugee camps.

Hamza’s family members live there for protection against those threatening their lives.

“I have not seen my mother for four years,” Hamza said.

Hamza said he knew his work in the warzone would entail sacrifices and consequences. But he never planned to go this long without seeing his family.

Tuesday he spoke with Kent State students. Today he travels to Indiana, and this weekend he will take a break from speaking. Hamza is going back home to Iraq, not to cover the war, but to mend what the war did to his family.

Contact news correspondent Katy Brown at [email protected].