LONDON, DEC. 14 -- Nigel Baker was awakened one morning by the sound of gunshots. He warily stepped out onto the balcony of his apartment in Kuwait City to see the dead bodies of three young Kuwaiti boys being lifted into ambulances below and a crowd of hysterical people.
The boys had been taken a week earlier by Iraqi police, who suspected them of resistance activities, Baker found out later. They had been brought back to their homes, where police ordered their families out to the street to witness their executions. The Iraqis then demanded that the families pay them for the bullets.
Baker, a 34-year-old British citizen who worked for the Kuwaiti government, escaped confinement in occupied Kuwait earlier this week aboard an Iraqi jumbo jet. He and 10 other Britons gathered today under the auspices of the Free Kuwait Campaign here to describe for reporters the nightmare they had lived and watched for four months and to plead that the world not forget the country they left behind.
In a joint statement, the men said they felt guilt at leaving the Kuwaitis who helped them survive. "We have been the witnesses to the crime," they said. "We have been removed but the crime continues unabated."
The men recited a terrifying litany of murder, torture, looting and abuse by Iraqi occupation forces, aided and abetted at times, they said, by Palestinians. But they also told tales of generosity and bravery by ordinary Kuwaitis who took great risks to help feed and maintain them during their time in hiding.
The penalty for aiding foreigners was death. Andrew Maynard, who worked for a Kuwaiti bank, recalled that two months ago an Iraqi patrol had found two American passports in the home of a Kuwaiti family near his hiding place. The father, grandfather and three children were all shot on the spot, he said, leaving only the mother and grandmother unharmed.
Chris Bell recalled watching from his eighth-floor apartment on an afternoon in late September as an Iraqi police car cornered a white Chevrolet Caprice and forced out the Kuwaiti driver. After a search of the vehicle, a man in uniform put a gun to the back of the Kuwaiti's head and pulled the trigger.
"It was the most traumatic thing I've ever seen in my life," said Bell. "It was just so cold, so brutal to see a life snuffed out. They picked up the body and stuffed it into the (trunk) of their car and drove off. A little while later, some Palestinians came out and looted the car.
"To be raped is to be violated, and that's what's happening to Kuwait. It's been raped."
The men said looting was systematic, relentless and total, some of it done by uniformed soldiers, some of it by local Palestinians.