Friday, June 03, 2005

Forgotten Headlines Are Open Wounds In Fallujah

We can expect to see more pictures and even video of the abuses and torture at Abu Graib now that the ACLU has won it's latest FOIA lawsuit with the Army. The court gave the Army 3 months to produce the evidence.

It seems a bit oxy-moronic, though, for the government attorny to claim that producing the evidence would violate the Geneva Conventions. Letting America know the truth about what our people have done is not violating the Geneva Conventions, exposing the truth is being transparent. The violations of the Geneva Conventions happened when those in charge of this war-for-choice put out policies that allowed Americans to mistreat other human beings, then tried to cover it up and then refused to acknowledge it was policy, prosecuting only those at the bottom of the totem pole. It will see more headlines considering there are so many pictures and enough videotape to show it is a systematic occurance and not just a few rogue soldiers.

Fallujah - The fat Lady hasn't Even Cleared Her Throat Yet...

Here's another topic that has faded from the headlines. I would bet that most Americans have no idea that there is still fighting going on in this once thriving city. Dahr Jamail writes his Iraqi Dispatches as an unembedded reporter from inside Iraq and is an American reporter, born and raised in the USA. If you want a true visual of what is going on, this would be a good place to start. His latest story is dated June 03, 2005 and gives a much different picture of Fallujah than what we have been told...

"There are daily war crimes being committed in Fallujah, even now," said Mohammed Abdulla, the executive director of the Study Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Fallujah (SCHRDF). His organization works within the destruction of Fallujah, trying to monitor the plight of residents, bring them reconstruction aid, and document the war crimes and illegal weapons that were used during the November siege.

"Now we have none of the rebuilding which was promised, which people need so desperately in order to get their lives back in order," said Abdulla during a recent interview with Asia Times Online in Amman.

Doctors working inside the city continue to complain of US and Iraqi security forces impeding their medical care. Along with the continuance of strict US military checkpoints, residents in the city say the treatment they receive from both the US military and Iraqi security forces operating inside Fallujah is both degrading and humiliating. This treatment is also being perceived by most as intentional.

"The checkpoints are too obstructive," said Dr Amer Ani, who volunteers at Fallujah General Hospital. "Fighting has resumed inside the city, because in the last two weeks there have been man-to-man clashes in different districts of the city. This has caused ambulances to have difficulty entering and exiting the city, especially the main hospital.

"I work in the refugee camp on the border, and because of the checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, no patients from that camp can enter the city," said Ani. "Thus, they are forced to go to another clinic 14 kilometers from them, whereas the closest treatment in the city is less than one kilometer from them."

Ani went on to add that the main hospital and several primary health clinics in the city need rebuilding, but the building materials are being prevented from entering by US forces.

Dr Riyad al-Obeidy, who works in Ramadi, is also currently volunteering inside Fallujah. "Previously, the Ministry of Health was delivering aid into the city, but now this is prohibited, for unknown reasons," he said. "Thus, now there are shortages of external fixators, surgical sets for operations, and trauma equipment. There is really a humanitarian health problem. People are living as refugees inside their city, living in tents - so we have lack of clean water and hygiene, so there is rampant spreading of typhoid. With summer coming, this will all get worse."

It is estimated that roughly 80% of Fallujah's residents have returned, 60% of the houses and buildings inside the city sustained enough damage to make them inhabitable, so they either live in tents or amid the rubble of what once was their homes. 2/3 of the city has no power, medical aid is being hampered and reconstruction is not happening unless the residents do it themselves. There is an estimated $6 million worth of damage and the US Army seems to think that offering someone $500 should be sufficient to rebuild their lives...some "adventure".

The Army has taken over seven of the primary schools so children get their schooling in tents if they get it at all.

"There are plenty of women in Fallujah who have testified they were raped by American soldiers," said Abdulla. "They are nearby the secondary school for girls inside Fallujah. When people came back to Fallujah the first time they found so many girls who were totally naked and they had been killed."

Would you be angry if a foriegn government and soldiers did this to your people?

Dr Fawzi, who is also reporting to the SCHRDF, expressed concern about the number of people missing from Fallujah. "For deaths, we counted over 750 at first," he commented. "There are so many missing people and it is so difficult to have the figures of dead and detained, even though we know so many more were killed. People are afraid to admit their son might be detained because the Americans might arrest or retaliate against the rest of the family."

Thus, the suffering of the residents of Fallujah continues as fighting simmers once again within the devastated city and the drastic heat of summer approaches.

"The Americans have committed a very big massacre to the people of Fallujah. The crime of Fallujah is the greatest crime ever," Abdulla said sternly. "This will remain as a black spot in American history forever. Whatever the American people will do, even if they get rid of those liars who are in their government, they will need a long time for people to forget what they have done in Iraq and in Fallujah in order for us to deal with them as a civilized people who have humanity."

Abdulla, like residents of the city, wondered why the US military will not let unembedded media into Fallujah. "Why have they not let the media inside Fallujah," he asked. "If America says she is right, then why did she stop two UN investigators from getting inside Fallujah?"

With the initial justification for the siege of Fallujah being that the military operation was conducted in order to bring security and stability for the elections of January 30, it is clear that this goal was not obtained. Scores of Iraqis died on that day alone, and the situation throughout Iraq has only continued to deteriorate since.

Now they have the new offensive being put in place throughout Baghdad and the residents are on edge about it. We have distroyed most of what we have touched in Iraq.

The actions of the US in Fallujah have caused great resentment, anger and frustration that has spread thoughout Iraq. It is not going to get can only get worse.


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