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Iraq: US soldiers bulldoze fruit trees

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  • ummyakoub
    US soldiers bulldoze farmers crops Americans accused of brutal punishment tactics against villagers, while British are condemned as too soft By Patrick
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 17, 2003
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      US soldiers bulldoze farmers' crops

      Americans accused of brutal 'punishment' tactics against villagers,
      while British are condemned as too soft
      By Patrick Cockburn in Dhuluaya

      12 October 2003


      US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers,
      have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and
      lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective
      punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas
      attacking US troops.

      The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown
      earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small
      town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily
      bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees
      and carrying then back to their homes for firewood.

      Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees
      destroyed, said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in
      our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They
      didn't find any weapons."

      Other farmers said that US troops had told them, over a loudspeaker
      in Arabic, that the fruit groves were being bulldozed to punish the
      farmers for not informing on the resistance which is very active in
      this Sunni Muslim district.

      "They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they
      were cutting down the trees," said one man. Ambushes of US troops
      have taken place around Dhuluaya. But Sheikh Hussein Ali Saleh al-
      Jabouri, a member of a delegation that went to the nearby US base to
      ask for compensation for the loss of the fruit trees, said American
      officers described what had happened as "a punishment of local people
      because 'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us'." What
      the Israelis had done by way of collective punishment of Palestinians
      was now happening in Iraq, Sheikh Hussein added.

      The destruction of the fruit trees took place in the second half of
      last month but, like much which happens in rural Iraq, word of what
      occurred has only slowly filtered out. The destruction of crops took
      place along a kilometre-long stretch of road just after it passes
      over a bridge.

      Farmers say that 50 families lost their livelihoods, but a petition
      addressed to the coalition forces in Dhuluaya pleading in erratic
      English for compensation, lists only 32 people. The petition
      says: "Tens of poor families depend completely on earning their life
      on these orchards and now they became very poor and have nothing and
      waiting for hunger and death."

      The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in
      front of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses
      who did not want to give their names. They said that one American
      soldier broke down and cried during the operation. When a reporter
      from the newspaper Iraq Today attempted to take a photograph of the
      bulldozers at work a soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash
      it. The same paper quotes Lt Col Springman, a US commander in the
      region, as saying: "We asked the farmers several times to stop the
      attacks, or to tell us who was responsible, but the farmers didn't
      tell us."

      Informing US troops about the identity of their attackers would be
      extremely dangerous in Iraqi villages, where most people are related
      and everyone knows each other. The farmers who lost their fruit trees
      all belong to the Khazraji tribe and are unlikely to give information
      about fellow tribesmen if they are, in fact, attacking US troops.

      Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a
      distraught voice: "It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked
      me how much my hands were worth."

      Website: http://www.cdlr.net

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      US troops kill infiltrators
      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      BAGHDAD, Oct 15: Several people were killed by US troops after
      infiltrating Iraq from Syria and shooting at a US helicopter,
      forcing it to land but causing no casualties, US officials said on
      Wednesday.

      "Soldiers engaged a small number of people who infiltrated from
      the border," a coalition spokesman said. "Some were killed, others
      detained," he said, adding that small arms and rocket-propelled
      grenades were seized.....(AFP)

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top12.htm&date=20031016

      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      Iraq council clashes with OIC states over future
      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      PUTRAJAYA, Oct 15: The Iraqi Governing Council clashed on
      Wednesday with representatives from Muslim states meeting here,
      threatening to veto a resolution over plans for the transition
      from US occupation to sovereignty.

      The heart of the dispute appears to be a demand by the
      Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for a defined
      timetable for the withdrawal of US troops, with the United Nations
      taking a central role in the transition - issues which have also
      dogged the US attempt to get a new Security Council
      resolution.....(AFP)

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top13.htm&date=20031016

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