Message from Fallujah
Mark Manning, Anti-Imperialist League
[ What follows is an e-mail I've received from a friend who recently
was in Fallujah.
Right now, `Operation River Blitz' in the al-Anbar province goes on,
and I've noticed that it's pretty hard to find information that
wasn't distributed by the occupying forces themselves. I'm afraid
that, again, the people's voices from cities such as Ramadi,
Hadithah, Hit or Habbaniya will only begin seeping through after the
damage is done
The only news I've found from the Iraqi resistance side was
published by The Free Arab Voice. There you can also find reports
about American soldiers who were killed in combat. The American
authorities don't want this information being revealed to the
American public, because it would make the support for this war
March 4, 2005
I have been out of touch. I have been in Iraq and would like to
share a little of my story with you today.
I got back from Iraq a few weeks ago where I stayed inside the city
of Falluja and lived with the refugees of that city for over two
weeks. I decided to go there because it seems to be the heart of the
trouble in Iraq and the place to see if any sense or peace can be
found. I had also heard that the city had 250,000 citizens in it who
were told to leave when my government attacked, yet there had been
no stories of their situation in our media. As an American, I felt
responsible for this and decided to take a look myself.On February
10th 2005 I flew into Iraq and drove to the city of Falluja. For
over two weeks I was a resident and a refugee of Falluja and I am
honored and privileged for that experience. They hosted me in their
homes, and cared for me because they believed that I was there to
listen to them and to honestly bring home their stories to the
American people. I came to Falluja without military escort or armed
protection in any way. I think because of this they thought I was
crazy, but they honored what they thought was courage and they
trusted me. Trust means everything there and they look deep into
your eyes as they decide who you are. I lived with them and listened
to their stories. They told me they do not trust American
journalists to accurately tell the story of Iraq. They believe that
the American public does not know what is really happening there,
and that if they did they would feel differently about the war. They
feel that the American people are their brothers and sisters and
they are asking them for help. They wanted me to tell you their
The horrors of war have been brought to the people of Falluja. The
people there say the city had 500,000 people in it, not the 250,000
quoted by our media. The refugees told me that they were given one
week notice to leave the city. After three days, they were told they
could no longer drive out, they had to walk. No camps were
established for them and no refugee location was given. There was no
planning by the American government for the people, no food, no
shelter and no water. They were just told to leave or be killed.
Anyone who stayed in the city after one week would be considered a
terrorist and would be killed.
For five months these people have been living in any location they
could find, nothing was established for them in the surrounding
areas of the Falluja countryside. They are living in tents in the
mud, schools, abandoned chicken coups, burned out buildings, cars
and other buildings that people were not using or where others have
made room for them. The weather is bad, with much rain and it is
very cold. When they were told to leave the city, it was summer and
they were not dressed for this cold and many could not carry out
their clothes. Some lucky children are going to school in tents and
all the classes have been shortened to 2 hours per day. Food is
short and they are eating what the farmers grow and the surrounding
community can spare. Again, even after five months they have
received no outside aid from either the American government or the
new Iraqi government.
The city itself has been devastated. Most houses have been seriously
damaged, with about 65% of them totally destroyed. Evidence of
depleted uranium (DU) shells is everywhere. This leaves radioactive
contamination behind which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
(See note 1). Unexploded ordinance is a common sight. Many residents
who were there speak of chemical weapons, napalm, cluster bombs and
phosphorous used by the Americans. These are all illegal weapons and
considered war crimes by the international community. Many of the
houses were fired, meaning that the troops burned them down after
searching them. Many houses with white flags and markings
stating "Family Here" were destroyed.Some families who had nowhere
to go stayed in the city during the fighting and have paid dearly. I
interviewed many people who were there and their stories will live
forever in my mind. Here are some samples:
* · A mother whose son was killed by DU shells. He was in his bed
sleeping when the shells came through the walls.· A father who at 65
years of age was shot during a raid of his house, whose son was
arrested during that raid and has not been seen since (he states
that his son was not a fighter.)
* · A 17 year old girl who hid under her bed with her 13 year old
brother during a raid of her house and witnessed her father, her
cousin, and her two sisters 18 and 19 years old, all shot to death.
She hid for three more days with the dead bodies of her family and
then they returned and shot her and her brother after finding them
under the bed. Her brother died. She survived and told me her story.
* · A Family of ten who lived through all the fighting. The kids
were 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. They were a mess. These kids will
never be ok. Their faces were marked with open and oozing sores and
they were exhibiting serious signs of emotional damage.
There is presently very little medical aid available to the
residents and refugees, and again, no aid has been provided to the
refugees in the surrounding area. The medical centers in the city
have been destroyed and have not been rebuilt. The main hospital has
been reopened, but to get there you have to walk, as the ambulances
are still being shot by the Americans and the Iraqi National Guard.
The doctors have been beaten and their lives have been threatened by
the Iraqi National Guard. These are the security forces that the
Americans are training. The new government has warned them not to
talk to any journalists about the conditions in Falluja. They
understand this threat to be very real and a direct threat on their
lives and the lives of their families. To walk to the hospital you
must go through checkpoints, sometimes through fighting, and only at
certain daylight hours. The checkpoints are manned by the Iraqi
National Guards and they are very hostile to the residents of
Falluja. When we were at the hospital, an old man died of a heart
attack because he was not allowed through the checkpoint. A woman
gave birth in the ambulance because they would not let the ambulance
back to the hospital after 5 pm and instead turned it away with her
in labor.We delivered by hand the medical aid provided by some of
you to the hospital in Falluja. Me and one Iraqi woman, WE were the
international medical aid to Falluja. We carried these boxes one at
a time through the checkpoints, across the bridge and into the
hospital. They would not let us drive in, we had to walk these boxes
in. We did it every day for a week, one box at a time.All of the
people I talked to had messages to the American people. They
said: "We did not attack you! We have done nothing to the Americans.
Why have you done this to us?"
These are the people who hosted me, fed me, and worried about my
safety. They took care of me and I will never forget their
generosity, compassion and grace. They want peace with America and
they want the fighting to stop. They feel they are the ones being
attacked and that the Americans are the terrorists. They see
absolutely no justification for this war and were constantly asking
me to explain how the American people can support these acts against
a civilian population. For the first time in my life, I was ashamed
to be an American.There are so many more stories to tell you and I
will be making a film about it all. But for now, what I want you to
know is that I spent two weeks in the heart of the beast. The place
where our government and media said is the heart of the resistance,
terrorists and Saddam Loyalists, and guess what; the place is full
of people. People like you and me. Kids are everywhere. The average
Fallujan family has 10 people in it. That means about 8 kids.
500,000 people in the city, you do the math. That is a lot of
kids.There are fighters in Falluja. That is a fact. But they are
surrounded by some 490,000 innocent people. As a country, we have
decided the damage to the innocents is worth the end result,
whatever that may be. These people are being shattered by this very
serious situation that they have no control over. They are the
innocent victims of this war.I cannot tell you what to do. This is a
story of just one area in Iraq. These stories are all over the area
we call the Sunni Triangle. But I was there and lived with these
people and they taught me about love, forgiveness, truth and
compassion. They, after all that has happened to them, still have
the ability to differentiate between the acts of an enemy and the
people of a nation. They cry out to us to save them from the
ignorance that has brought this destruction on them. They have
suffered 33 times 9/11. Over 100, 000 Iraqis have died at the hands
of the American invasion (note 2) and still they say that they have
nothing against the American people. This is grace. I learned from
these people how to find peace. By deeply listening to my "enemy" I
have found that the real enemy is ignorance and fear and acting from
that place of weakness.
I will never forget the people of Falluja.Thank you for listening to
AMERICAN JAILS IN IRAQ ARE BURSTING WITH DETAINEES
Edward Wong, New York Times, 3/4/05
U.S. detention centers in Iraq filling to capacity
Pre-election arrests and new offensives swell the prisoner ranks
EDWARD WONG, New York Times
March 4, 2005, 12:51AM
ABU GHRAIB, IRAQ - The American military's major detention centers
in Iraq have swelled to capacity and are holding more people than
ever, senior military officials say.
The growing detainee population reflects recent changes in how the
military has been waging the war and in its policies toward
detainees, the officials say.
The military swept up many Iraqis before the Jan. 30 elections in an
attempt to curb violence and halted all releases before the vote.
Other detainees have been captured in ambitious recent offensives
across the Sunni Triangle, from Samarrato to Fallujah to the
Euphrates River Valley south of Baghdad.
The Abu Ghraib abuse scandal also forced changes in the system, with
the military working quickly last summer to try to weed out
detainees who obviously did not belong in prison. Many of the ones
remaining are more likely to be denied release by review boards,
military officials say.
As of this week, the military is holding at least 8,900 detainees in
the three major prisons, 1,000 more than in late January. Here in
Abu Ghraib, where eight U.S. soldiers were charged last year with
abusing detainees, 3,160 people are being kept, well above the 2,500
level considered ideal, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for
the detainee system. The largest center, Camp Bucca in the south,
has at least 5,640 detainees.
One hundred so-called high-value detainees, including Saddam Hussein
and his closest aides, are being held at Camp Cropper, near the
The surging numbers of prisoners pose important challenges for the
military. The Abu Ghraib scandal revealed that the military was
using poorly trained interrogators even as more detainees were swept
into prison in the fall of 2003.
The military must hire enough effective interrogators and military
intelligence officers to process detainees quickly, said Bruce
Hoffman, an analyst at the RAND Corp. who has worked in Iraq with
American policymakers. Otherwise, innocent people languishing in the
prisons, a fertile recruiting ground for the insurgents, could be
encouraged to take up arms when they are freed.
The U.S. military has struggled to construct a detainee system that
can handle a widespread and sophisticated insurgency, but never
before has the system had to grapple with so many detainees.
A senior American commander said there was little danger of "serious
overcrowding" in the system. At Abu Ghraib, 15 miles west of
Baghdad, the military has erected additional quarters for detainees
and has increased troop levels.
Since last May, when news reports first emerged of the grim
conditions at Abu Ghraib, formerly Saddam's main torture center, the
military has opened new compounds at the prison that "are much
better situated for both the detainees and for custody and control,"
The military is considering moving the detainees from Abu Ghraib to
a more secure location around Baghdad International Airport, the
same area where Camp Cropper is situated.
In the south, the Americans are working to expand Camp Bucca to
accommodate a total of 6,000 detainees by the end of March,
Turkey deploys 1,357 troops in Northern Iraq
XinhuanetTurkey has deployed 1,357 military personnel in northern
Iraq to fight against members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party
(PKK), said Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul on
Thursday. Gonul was quoted by semi-official Anatolia News Agency as
saying, "Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have deployed 1,357 personnel in
northern Iraq to fight against the PKK, gather information regarding
the developments in the region and work as liaison officers under US
f! orces in Kirkuk, Mosul and Tal Afar"...
Read the full article / Leggi l'articolo completo: www.uruknet.info/?
U.S. military damages ancient city of Babylon
Deirdre Sinnott, Socialist Worker
Mar 2, 2005
Like the Hittites, Alexander the Great, and the Greeks before them,
the U.S. military has chosen to occupy the ancient city of Babylon.
Established almost 4,000 years ago and at 3.4 square miles the big
gest ancient settlement in Meso potamia, Babylon has been the site
of decades of archaeological study.
In a recent report by Dr. John Curtis of the British Museum on the
impact of the military occupation of Babylon, archaeologists from
Iraq, Poland and Britain documented widespread and in some cases
irreparable damage caused by the U.S. military base.
The base was established in April 2003 just after the fall of
Baghdad and the looting of the National Museum of Iraq. It covers 16
percent of ancient Babylon, including areas inside the city's inner
Land mines have prevented an appraisal of the full impact of the
U.S. military's actions, but evidence of widespread damage is
visible throughout the culturally sensitive area.
Huge trenches totaling over 1,378 feet--some three to six feet deep
and 13 feet wide--were dug through areas that contain artifacts.
Tons of material has been scooped out of its historical context and
used to fill sandbags.
Some of the artifacts including pottery, bones and bricks bearing
inscriptions from Nebuchadnezzar (1125-1104 BCE) can be seen in
sandbags and other mesh containers.
According to Curtis' report, huge areas of the site have been
leveled and "covered with gravel, sometimes compacted and chemi
cally treated, to be used as a helicopter pad and to create spaces
for vehicle parks."
Gravel now covers about 359,000 square yards. "All the gravel had
been brought in from elsewhere and will, of course, work its way
into the archaeological deposits."
"Previously undisturbed" deposits "will now be contaminated."
Brick paving stones along the Proces sional Way constructed in Sixth
century BCE have been crushed by transports of heavy equipment.
Molded brick dragon figures in the Ishtar Gate were seriously
damaged by a person trying to remove pieces of the relief.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown and Root was responsible for
infrastructure at the base. It may, along with the U.S. military, be
responsible for much of the damage.
Some of the information in the Curtis report is not new. Newsweek
reported that Columbia University Professor Zainab Bahrani visited
Babylon in the spring of 2004 and was stunned to see the U.S.
military base there. Huge areas had been bulldozed. Blast walls were
constructed of relic rich earth. Vibrations from helicopters were
damaging ancient walls. (Aug. 30, 2004)
Other important archaeological sites around Iraq have suffered from
the war and occupation as well. According to a Jan. 24 Reuters
report, U.S. military forces have been using the ancient minaret in
Samarra as a sniper's nest. Built over 1,100 years ago, the minaret
was extremely well preserved. Now the site "may lose its protected
status" if deemed necessary to oppose the Iraqi insurgency,
according to U.S. military spokesperson Maj. Richard Goldenberg.
Looting has continued to be a major problem in Iraq. Millions of
dollars go to unscrupulous dealers who trade in the international
antiquities market. Diggers at sites throughout Iraq sell items for
a tiny fraction of their true value.
Roger Atwood, the author of "Stealing History: Tomb Raiders,
Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World," reported that he
was offered a cylinder seal for $200 that could fetch $30,000
Sales of looted items are hard to track. Items from Iraq appear for
sale everywhere from eBay to well-known auction houses.
Surveys of antiquities sales at Sotheby's and Christie's from 1958
through 1998 show that 90 percent of the items never appeared in any
journal or study, only becoming known when they appeared in the
sales catalogue. Once a stolen item is bought from Sotheby's or
Christie's, it gains legitimacy and can be sold at an even higher
price down the line.
According to the 1954 Hague Con vention for the Protection of
Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, "preservation of
the cultural heritage is of great importance for all peoples of the
world and it is important that this heritage should receive
international protection." This Convention, which the United States
signed but never ratified, places the responsibility on the
occupying power to stop any criminal activity with regard to such
artifacts and buildings.
State Dept. Report Ignores U.S. Crimes, Tisk-tisks Iraqi Authorities
Chris Shumway, The NewStandardA new assessment of human rights
conditions around the world issued by the US State Department
acknowledges that the US-installed Iraqi government has committed
numerous abuses including politically motivated killings, torture,
rape and illegal detentions but stops short of criticizing the US
military or former occupation authorities for similar misdeeds...
Read the full article / Leggi l'articolo completo: www.uruknet.info/?
Marines Employ Iraqi Mercenary Force to Crush Rebellion
Citing failure utilizing the traditional US military
counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, one Marine unit has set up a
special Iraqi commando outfit reminiscent of notorious Latin
American paramilitaries forces.
Mar 4 - After experiencing little success recruiting and retaining
soldiers in Iraq's formal military units and security forces, the US
military has resorted to hiring a private, homegrown armed force to
track and capture members of the Iraqi resistance, reports Reuters.
In a program that resembles rumored plans to implement what has been
dubbed "the Salvador option" in Iraq, the establishment of a
hardline indigenous paramilitary force may indicate the first step
toward a more aggressive counterinsurgency campaign modeled in part
after the notorious "death squad" campaign used to suppress a
popular revolution in El Salvador during the 1980s.
In January, US Marines established the Iraqi Freedom Guard, a unit
of 61 men, each paid $400 monthly to fight, capture and interrogate
suspected rebels in Iraq's sprawling Al-Anbar province, which
includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
Private militias operating outside the authority of the Iraqi
Ministry of Defense are illegal under Iraq's US-imposed interim
constitution. Article 27(b) of Iraq's Temporary Administrative Law
reads, "Armed forces and militias not under the command structure of
the Iraqi Transitional Government are prohibited, except as provided
by federal law."
But Marine commanders deny that the Freedom Guard constitutes such
an entity. Colonel Craig Tucker, regimental commander of the 7th
Marines, told Reuters the Iraqi force is comparable to the numerous
American security contractors, such as Blackwell Corporation,
working in Iraq for the military and US government officials.
Concerns that the US might establish an Iraqi paramilitary force to
more effectively pursue terrorists and resistance fighters first
emerged early this year when Newsweek reported that a "senior
military officer" said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other
Pentagon officials were seriously considering implementation of a
strategy like the one credited with the crushing of El Salvador's
FMLN guerilla movement.
Called "the Salvador option," little is known of what US military
planners had in mind for an Iraqi version of the notorious, US-
backed Central American death squads. In El Salvador, Guatemala,
Haiti and Nicaragua, as well as other countries across Latin
America, noncombatants and nonviolent activists were often killed
or "disappeared" by CIA-supported paramilitary forces operating
among the civilian population.
The Iraqi Freedom Guard's commanding officer, Monir Captain, is
reportedly a 20-year-old Iraqi with no previous military training
who speaks good English. During a mission last week, Captain said he
is fighting to protect his fellow Iraqis. "Life is starting to get
better in Baghdad, and I feel that it's because of me and my guys,
fighting here in the desert, so they can live in peace," he told
Brian Dominick contributed to this piece.
© 2005 The NewStandard.
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