Scores of civilians slaughtered in Iraq
Compiled by Eamon Martin
Apr. 3 (AGR) Just two weeks into the war on Iraq and top US military
planners went on the defensive against widespread criticism that the
invasion wasnt going according to plan. Eight thousand bombs had
already been dropped since Mar. 20 and Pentagon officials announced
that 120,000 reinforcements were being summoned to assist the 90,000
US-led troops now inside the country.
On the ground, military commanders were forced to concede that they
had grossly underestimated Iraqi resentment and resistance to their
presence. US president George W. Bushs insistence that the war
is for Iraqi liberation is now at odds with what is quickly
transforming into a patriotic Iraqi uprising against a widely perceived
act of colonialism. This week, the escalated, round-the-clock
bombing of several Iraqi cities, and reports of mounting civilian slaughter
seemed to only exacerbate this view.
US aircraft hit a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, the citys
trade fair, and other civilian buildings on Tuesday, Apr. 2, killing
several people and wounding at least 25, hospital sources and a Reuters
The attacks caught motorists by surprise as they ventured out during
a lull in the bombing. At least five cars were crushed and their drivers
burned to death inside.
Patients and at least three doctors and nurses working at the hospital
were among those wounded.
At the same time, forty-eight more civilians, including children, were
killed and 310 wounded in US-British bombings around the southern province
of Babylon near Hilla. The deaths brought to 73 the number of Iraqi
civilians who have died under allied bombings just within two days.
Terrifying film of women and children later emerged after Reuters and
the Associated Press were permitted by Iraqi authorities to take their
cameras into the town. Their pictures the first by Western news
agencies from the Iraqi side of the battlefront showed babies
cut in half and children with amputation wounds, apparently caused by
American shellfire and cluster bombs.
At Basras largest hospital, a little girl of perhaps four is seen
being brought into the operating room on a trolley, staring at a heap
of her own intestines spilling out of her stomach. Other harrowing scenes
show the partially decapitated body of a little girl. Another small
girl was lying on a stretcher with her brain and left ear missing. Much
of the videotape was too terrible to show on television and the agencies
Baghdad editors felt able to send only a few minutes of a 21-minute
tape that included a father holding out pieces of his baby and screaming
cowards, cowards into the camera. Two lorryloads of
bodies, including women in flowered dresses, could be seen outside the
One woman, Alia Mukhtaff, is seen lying wounded on a bed; she lost six
of her children and her husband in the attacks. Another man is seen
with an arm missing, and a second man, Majeed Djelil, whose wife and
two of his children were killed, can be seen sitting next to his third
and surviving child, whose foot is missing. The mortuary of the hospital,
a butchers shop of chopped up corpses, is seen briefly in the
On Monday, edgy US troops fired on a van which failed to stop at a desert
checkpoint near Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, only to find it was
full of women and children. US Central Command in Qatar said seven of
the 13 women and children in the van were killed and two wounded. A
Washington Post correspondent near the scene said 10 people were killed.
In the village of Janabiyah, bloodied school books and childrens
shoes lie amidst animal carcasses on the road leading to a farm where
two missiles fired by coalition warplanes on Saturday night caught five
sleeping families. The raid left 20 people dead - eleven of them children,
seven women and two men. Five children were turned into human
torches in this house because of the gas cylinders inside, one
of two survivors said. A neighbor, with missile debris in his hands,
said: That is Bushs democracy. They want us to welcome them
with flowers. Look what theyve done to our families.
In one raid, US bombers destroyed a childrens hospital in Rutbah,
according to the Associated Press.
A Central Command official said the military was ready for heavy casualties
to oust Saddam Hussein. Were prepared to pay a very high
price, the official said. If that means there will be a
lot of casualties, then there will be a lot of casualties.
Referring to nights in World War II when wed lose 1,000
people, he added: There will come a time maybe when things
are going to be much more shocking.
At the base camp of the Fifth Marine Regiment in Diwaniya, Sgt. Eric
Schrumpf, 28,reflected on a recent mission: We had a great day.
We killed a lot of people.
We dropped a few civilians, Schrumpf said, but what
do you do? To illustrate his point, Schrumpf described one instance
in which he shot a female civilian because, the chick was in the
Fifty-three Americans have been reported killed, and 17 reported missing
in the Iraq war so far. Britain has reported 26 deaths.
Opposition turns on US,
Only a couple of weeks ago, Saddam Husseins appearance on television
triggered jeers and boos from opposition Iraqis. Not any more.
Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro, Syrias top Muslim religious leader,
called last Thursday for suicide bombings against US and British invaders
Resistance to the belligerent invaders is an obligation for all
Muslims, starting with Iraq, the mufti said in a statement.
This is the first time a senior Syrian religious leader has called for
suicide attacks against US and British troops in Iraq.
Ali Jafar, editor of the Iraqi opposition newspaper The Other
Direction published in Damascus says that the story now is changed.
Any harm to Iraq will bring the people together, Jafar said
this week. Now all Iraqis are fighting against new colonialism.
The US and British troops are regarded as occupiers.
A US marine had briefly raised an American flag over the fallen southern
town of Umm Qasr, but long enough for it to be filmed and shown repeatedly
on Iraqi television and other Arab channels. It is not a sight that
Iraqis can forget, whether Shia or Sunni.
About 65 percent of Iraqis are Shias, but they have long been oppressed
by the more powerful Sunni Muslims who dominate Iraqi politics. A Shia
uprising in the south was brutally crushed by Saddam Hussein after the
Gulf War in 1991.
But a café in Sayeda Zeinab on the outskirts of Damascus was
the scene of unusual prayers Sunday. A group of Iraqi Shias sat praying
for Saddam Hussein, and for the US to be taught a lesson.
Bush and his aides clearly believed their soldiers would be welcomed
by most Iraqis, particularly Shias, that the Iraqi Army would self-destruct,
and that it would be a matter of days before they got Saddam
Hussein. British and American intelligence reports had suggested that
the south, dominated by Muslim Shiites, would fall into their hands.
Instead, British forces have stopped outside Basra, Iraqs second-largest
city, engaging Iraqi forces when they attack but avoiding entering the
city of more than 1 million for fear of becoming trapped in urban warfare.
A suicide bomb attack - the hallmark of Islamic extremism - killed four
US soldiers near the holy Muslim Shia town of Najaf south of Baghdad.
The suicide bomber was a Shia.
A new solidarity is fast emerging between Syrian and Iraqi people, across
any religious or national divide. About 250 volunteers from Baalbeck,
near the Syrian border, left Monday to fight in Iraq against coalition
forces, said Lebanese security sources in the area.
A resident of nearby Nahleh, who declined to give his name or his age,
said, I am on the list to go, I know I might die, I dont
want to kill people, but I will if I have to, to protect people like
those children with their heads missing.
The Iranian Badr Brigade with a reported strength of about 4,000 is
also reportedly preparing for a proxy war against the US-British forces
in northern Iraq. The brigade comprising mostly Shia dissidents was
trained to wage guerrilla warfare against Iraqi forces during Irans
war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.
In a complete turnaround from the war with Iraq in the eighties, the
Iranian government is fully backing the Hussein government against the
US and British forces. The Iranian state-run media calls this a war
of hegemony and a war for oil.
Last week, American tanks and other heavy armor surrounded Najaf, home
to the shrine of Ali, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and spiritual leader
of the Shiite branch of Islam. A total of about 1,000 Iraqis were killed
in a series of engagements during which lightly armed Iraqis in pickup
trucks attacked American tanks. Some of them were simply crushed under
the tracks of the M1A1 Abrams tanks.
The Americans and even the British did not read their history,
Sabah Jawad, an Iraqi dissident who had to leave the country for opposing
Saddam Hussein said. It was a long struggle to get the British
colonialists out of Iraq in 1958. Why did they think that anyone in
Iraq would now want them back?
No Iraqi can forget the consequences of the sanctions over the last
12 years for which they blame the US, he said.
Hani Lazim, another expatriate Iraqi, who has spent much of his life
opposing Saddam Hussein, says, The Americans and the British underestimated
the effect that sanctions have had on the people of Iraq. When people
see children die for lack of medicines, and school teachers who have
to sell cigarettes on the streets, they are not going to welcome the
people who brought this situation upon them.
When the Americans come rolling into Baghdad, Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar will
kill as many as he can.
The more of those American bastards I get, the happier I will
be, says the father-of-three.
Ghazwan, 59, is no friend of the Iraqi regime.
I loved both Britain and America, but you idiots have turned me
against you, he says. You impose punitive sanctions on this
country which bring us to our knees. And now you want us to roll out
the red carpet for you - you must be joking. Saddam Hussein is no friend
of mine. But when your troops come down my street Ill be shooting
at your boys all the way. But it wont be for the president. It
will be for Iraq. Now you say you are bombing us into democracy. Yet
since youve unloaded thousands of missiles on us, I dont
feel more democratic. So you should unleash another thousand - or double
that, triple that or more. Maybe then I will feel more democratic.
In Nasiriya, US Marine Corporal Ryan Dupre explained his understanding
of Iraqi liberation: The Iraqis are sick people and we are the
chemotherapy. I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold
of a friggin Iraqi. No, I wont get hold of one. Ill
just kill him.
Sources: Agence France-Presse, Associated
Press, Guardian (UK), Independent (UK), Inter Press Service, Daily Mirror
(UK), New York Times, Qatar News Agency, Reuters, South African Press
Agency, Sydney Morning Herald, Washington Post
back to top
Women In Black arrested in
Vance monument shutdown
By Seán Marquis
Apr. 1 (AGR) Ten women with Asheville Women In Black (WIB), a
nonviolent peace group, were arrested on Friday, Mar. 28 for violating
the city-ordered closure of Vance Monument.
They [the city] cited public safety [for the park closure],
said Jodi Rhoden, 26, who was one of the women arrested. But the
real reason is to quash dissent.
Rhoden said she chose to take part in the action and risk arrest to
challenge the illegal closure of a public park as well as to demonstrate
my grief ... for the current war and all the wars ... under the American
Since George W. Bush launched his war of aggression against Iraq, Vance
Monument a public park had been a gathering place for
peace and anti-war activists as well as a handful of pro-war stalwarts.
On Mar. 26 the city ordered the park closed claiming reasons of public
safety and traffic congestion. But with spring weather
and tourists coming back to town the city may be barring free speech
at the monument for more economic reasons.
According to a Mar. 27 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, The
war demonstrations at the Vance Monument may not have had an impact
on the war effort, but they were having some effect on the businesses
around Pack Square.
The Citizen-Times then quoted a restaurant manager and the owner of
another restaurant both on Pack Square as saying that
protests at the monument were a problem for their businesses.
I have empathy with local business owners
and their ability
to conduct their business, said Anne Craig, 52, another of Fridays
However, she added, the actions of this administration
[of president George W. Bush] are so horrendous, that people of conscience
are going to congregate where and when they will to bring attention
to these actions. Thats part of living in a democracy.
WIB had been meeting every Friday from 5-6pm at the monument for the
last 16 months and when they found out about the parks closure
they decided to hold their weekly vigil regardless of police barricades
and No Trespassing signs.
A crowd of between 150-200 gathered in support of nine women as they
crossed the barricades, mounted the wall, and unfurled their banner.
A tenth woman joined the group on the wall after being swept up in the
power and solemnity of the moment.
For some of the other women present, it was their first time as well.
Denise McClellan, 55, said, It was the first time I ever stood
with the Women In Black, and she chose to do so because of the
closing of the monument.
She added that because of all the support of passersby and motorists
saying thank you, she felt like she was representing
people during the vigil.
The vigil itself consisted of the ten women dressed in black standing
in respectful silence.
Of the power of the moment, McClellan said, sometimes silence
makes a lot of noise.
Rhoden also spoke specifically of the choice of silence for the WIB.
Words are so abused in this historical period that were
in, she said. Politicians lie, [the] military lies, were
surrounded by lies and were surrounded by words being misused.
So it seems like the most appropriate response sometimes is to say nothing
in rejection of the violence those lies represent.
After about fifteen minutes police officers very slowly and carefully
arrested each of the women. The only noise coming from the crowd for
the duration of the action and arrests was a round of applause for the
women after the last one was loaded onto the paddy wagon.
Craig, who has been taking part in the WIB vigil at the Vance Monument
since the beginning, said, I felt that the people gathered [in
support] entered into the spirit of the Women In Black
an amazing experience.
All ten were later released after being charged with second degree trespass.
McClellan felt that more people needed to get out of the comfort of
their lives and address their concerns.
This is the time for everybody to get rid of their apathy,
Women In Black is an international peace network which started in Israel
in 1988 by women protesting against Israels Occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza.
They wear black as a symbol of sorrow for all victims of war, for the
destruction of people, nature, and the fabric of life.
back to top
Hunger alive in a wealthy nation
By Haider Rizvi
New York, New York, Mar. 26 (IPS) While the US government spends
billions of dollars to wage war against Iraq, some 30 million people
in the United States go hungry, 12 million of whom are children, says
Anuradha Mittal, co-director of the California-based Institute for Food
and Development Policy (IFDP).
An estimated 33 million US residents live below the poverty line, according
to the most recent Census Bureau figures, which identify children, single
mothers, and the elderly as most likely to face hunger.
The US poverty rate was 11.7 percent in 2001, up from 11.3 percent in
the year before, with rates nearly double that among Latinos and blacks,
the two ethnic minorities suffering most from hunger and poverty, given
their share in the US population.
The administration of George W. Bush aims to spend up to $400 billion
this year on defense, while allocating only $16 billion to welfare,
says Mittal, who has spent years researching global food distribution
This is not just a war on Iraq. This is a war on the poor people
in America, according to the expert for the IFDP, an independent
think-tank that advocates environmentally sustainable and socially just
food systems in the world.
They want to fund this war from cuts in domestic funding on health
and childrens education, added Mittal. The United
States has fallen short of commitments under the Universal Declaration
of Human rights, she said. The right to food, clothing,
shelter, education, health, and employment are fundamental to survival.
Poverty, sickness, and illiteracy undermine human dignity as effectively
as military dictatorships.
The activist points out that the US Senate has not yet ratified the
International Pact on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights approved
by the United Nations in 1966 and signed by the government of Jimmy
The Latino and black populations in the United States, the largest minorities
with 37 and 36 million people, respectively, continue to suffer from
economic hardships as a result of the education factor, say authors
of a recent study, Falling Behind or Moving Up, sponsored
by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Slow economic progress by Mexican Americans is a serious public
policy concern, said Jeffrey Grogger, co-author of the study,
who teaches public policy at the University of California. Finding
a way to eliminate this disadvantage would go a long way toward bringing
Mexican-Americans into the economic mainstream.
According to the Census Bureau, 37 percent of households led by Latino
women mostly Mexican remain below the poverty line.
Between 1991 and 1998, more than seven million immigrants entered the
United States. Of those, about three million came from Latin America.
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), Mexico
is the single largest sender of immigrants to the United States.
I have been cleaning houses for the past 15 years, said
Isabel, a mother of two in her late 50s. I want to go back to
the Dominican Republic, but I cant. I need more money. The money
Isabel and her children have no health care insurance, just like about
40 million other people in the United States, most of whom are minorities
and find themselves working for minimum wage.
In a city like New York, where the immigrant population is enormous,
Isabel is not alone in suffering economic hardship. There are perhaps
tens of thousands of unemployed people, some of whom are living on the
streets and are not even counted by the Census Bureau.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican and a billionaire,
wants the city to do more with less and reduced the number
of summer jobs for working class youth from 36,000 last year to 5,600
Hunger leads to lost knowledge, brainpower, and productivity for
our nation today and in the future, said the Institute for Food
Policy in a recent statement. Hunger affects not only the poor
children and their families, it threatens the future of the US.
back to top