With the aim of creating a compliant population, the occupation attempted to erase cultural heritage and memory, torching libraries, pillaging museums and ancient sites, targeting academics and scientists. 60% of Iraqi writers and artists had to flee the country since 2003.
For those who continue to live in Iraq, art and creativity have become either a survival kit or an act of resistance; the latter is the defence of conscience against the enemies of life. They have realised that barbaric invaders/occupiers fear culture; the essence of identity and belonging, of creativity and dreams that deeply rooted into what it means to be human and can be the best weapon of all - a confirmation of life to overcome threats posed by occupation forces, brutal militia groups, corrupt regime and terrorist' acts.
In continuing to write, paint, and sculpt , they try to defy forces of death and segregation while holding on to their Iraqi culture which survived a long list of invaders over thousands of years.
Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi writer and activist, living in London.