Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Falluja report

Presented to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights For the period of 1ST January to 25th March 2005

Studies Center of Human Rights and Democracy - Bussells Tribunal

The city of Fallujah was subjected to a genocide war by the American forces. The military machinery destroyed almost 70 per cent of the city, from civilian houses to medical center and general services facilities especially water, electricity. This war resulted in killing thousands of innocent civilians and sending almost a half million refugee.

It is well known that the American forces and their puppet government prevented any medical or humanitarian relief agency to enter the city throughout its siege to the city.


In order to give the international community a clear image of what is happening, we present this short report:


  Information Clearinghouse

And from a reporter who was there...
deep sea diver turned documentary filmmaker Mark Manning asked if I had six minutes to spare — a strange request, considering we’d already spent two hours talking about Manning’s recent trip to Falluja, the heart of Iraq’s bloody Sunni triangle. Six minutes more was nothing, so Manning queued up a short video of footage he’s shot in Iraq and hit play.


“There were 500,000 people living in Falluja at the time, not the 250,000 that the media reports. They were given one week to leave home,” Manning said. “After three days, they were told they had to walk out. Then after a week, the U.S. forces sacked the city and killed anyone that was left.” Manning expressed outrage that no provision was made for the mass exodus of refugees. “There were no refugee camps. Families were living in chicken coops, tents, and cars. In Iraq, the winters are very cold and very wet. And these are people who left with pretty much just the clothes on their back.”


“The whole town is radiated,” said Manning. “We are poisoning the whole country.”


Even though his taped interviews were stolen, Manning said he managed to download many video images of Falluja onto his computer, as well as many still photos. With these, he hopes to make first a 10-minute DVD, and then later a full-length documentary.


This 4-year-old spent his time either staring blankly ahead
or jumping at any provocation and shaking.
He was one of seven kids whose family Manning visited almost daily.

  Independent.com article
That is a very interesting article. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

News about Falluja for Americans

Knight Ridder headline:

Fallujah: From insurgent stronghold to 'safest city in Iraq'

Here are the opening paragraphs (which is all most Americans read, if they bother to go beyond the headlines - which are apparently written for George Bush to scan - and Knight Ridder knows it)...

Piles of rubble still line the streets here, but a few shops have opened on the main drag, schools are finally in session and a compensation program to help families rebuild made some token initial payments this month.

Four months after the assault on Fallujah, in the center of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, American forces working to rebuild the city say they're seeing some progress, albeit limited, in a city that's still blockaded and under a curfew.

Even a little progress is an important development in a city that's been a major test for the American presence in Iraq.

See? It was a difficult and terrible situation, but through hard work and consideration of the people's sovereign needs, we are rebuilding Falluja.

And if you have any real interest in Falluja, you might actually make it all the way to the bottom of the article where you'll find these paragraphs...

And while Marine units adopt and help rebuild schools such as the Palestine School for Boys and Girls, some students aren't able to get through the checkpoints to make it into the city for class, said gym teacher Sulaiman A. Ali Al-Mohamadi.

The southern half of the city is still without electricity. Water service, though now extended to almost all areas, is limited because residents can't power the pumps that bring the water into their homes, said Navy Lt. Chris Lankford. Only 1,000 of the 13,000 telephone subscribers before the war have had their service restored.

For businesses, the security checkpoints on the perimeter of the city are a particular hardship. Fallujah used to be less than an hour's drive from Baghdad. Now, people wait for hours in line, submitting to searches and fingerprinting. Only Fallujah residents and contractors working on reconstruction projects can enter the city.

"Baghdad is the source of the goods we need," said spice dealer Haji Abbas. "I was going and coming from Baghdad almost daily. Now I can't. The checkpoints and the long lines make transportation costs extremely high and this makes my spice prices relatively high ... and Fallujah residents need money to fix their homes. The last thing they need is a shortage of goods and high prices."


So far, only 40 families have received compensation payments, out of an estimated 25,000 who suffered damages. American officials say the program is being run by the local government, which is still in disarray.

The article doesn't even mention how many Fallujans still reside in tents outside the city because the "damages" were total destruction of their homes. But that 40 out of 25,000 families receiving compensation, and 1,000 of 13,000 who have telephone service, the lack of water and electricity should give you some idea. Here are a great number of links to stories that provide information.

And how about Knight Ridder's summation starter....

Some are happy for a break in the violence, even at the price of their freedom.
How very American of them!
"We can't do business here," said Ali Muhammed Hussein, as he waited with his elderly father to receive a compensation check. "It's the safest city in Iraq because it's a prison."
Now for the Falluja section of 7th Fire's Iraqi Resistance Report from Arab sources:
Three US troops reported killed by Resistance roadside bomb in al-Fallujah Sunday afternoon.

An Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded by a US column in the ash-Shuhada neighborhood of al-Fallujah at 5:30pm Sunday afternoon local time. The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the bomb virtually totally destroyed a Humvee killed three US troops and wounded two more. An official statement by the police said that a roadside bomb on the street leading to the al-Anbiya’ Mosque was responsible for the blast that left five SU troops “killed or wounded.”

Resistance car bomb in al-Fallujah Sunday evening.

An Iraqi Resistance car bomb exploded in the ash-Shukr area of northern al-Fallujah at about 6pm Sunday evening. The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the extent of casualties as a result of the blast was unclear.

Resistance activity in al-Fallujah on Sunday.

Six 120mm mortar rounds into the as-Su’dad school in the al-Jurayfi neighborhood of al-Fallujah but the extent of losses was unclear.

An Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded near the al-Firdaws Mosque, killing three Iraqi puppet troops, Mafkarat al-Islam reported.

An Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded in the al-‘Askari neighborhood of the city by a patrol of the puppet so-called Iraqi national guard. Witnesses told Mafkarat al-Islam that a number of guardsmen were killed or wounded.

Iraqi Resistance forces battled Iraqi puppet “national guard” troops near the as-Siddiqiyah Bridge in the al-Khalidiyah district on Sunday afternoon. The Resistance forces fired BKC rockets killing two puppet guards and wounding three more, Mafkarat al-Islam reported.
If Falluja is the safest city, you might not want to know what's happening elsewhere. But go ahead and have a scroll through the report.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Reports from Falluja

All is quiet in Falluja, or at least that is how it seems, given that the mainstream media has largely forgotten about the Iraqi city. But independent journalists are risking life and limb to bring out a very different story.

The picture they are painting is of US soldiers killing whole families, including children, attacks on hospitals and doctors, the use of napalm-like weapons and sections of the city destroyed.

One of the few reporters who has reached Falluja is American Dahr Jamail of the Inter Press Service.


Another report comes from an aid convoy headed up by Dr Salem Ismael. He was in Falluja last month. As well as delivering aid he photographed the dead, including children, and interviewed remaining residents.


"The accounts I heard ... will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Falluja, but the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined"


Journalist and writer Naomi Klein has also come under attack for insisting that US forces are eliminating those who dare to count casualties.

No less than the US ambassador to the UK David Johnson wrote a letter to British newspaper The Guardian that published Klein's work, demanding evidence, which she then provided.

The first piece of evidence Klein sent to Johnson was that the hospital in Falluja was raided to stop any reporting of casualties, a tactic that was later repeated in Mosul.


But as Richard Perle, a senior adviser to US President George Bush said at the start of the Iraq war: "The greatest triumph of the Iraq war is the destruction of the evil of international law."
  Common Dreams article

Dahr Jamail's website.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"I am sorry to say that there is no Fallujah to update."

Do you note how if a party has 51% in this parliamentary system, it automatically gets to form a government?

So why is the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shiite parties that can count on about 53% of the members of the Iraqi parliament to vote for it in the wake of the Jan. 30 elections, not able to form a government? If it were the Labor Party in the UK, which is the parliament described above, Ibrahim Jaafari would already be Prime Minister.

The US spiked the Iraqi parliamentary process by putting in a provision that a government has to be formed with a 2/3s majority. This provision is a neo-colonial imposition on Iraq. The Iraqi public was never asked about it. And, it is predictably producing gridlock, as the UIA is forced to try to accommodate a party that should be in the opposition in the British system, the Kurdistan Alliance.

Likewise, in France, a simple majority of the National Assembly can dismiss the cabinet. Likewise in India. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the 2/3s super-majority is characteristic of only one nation on earth, i.e. American Iraq. I fear it is functioning in an anti-democratic manner to thwart the will of the majority of Iraqis, who braved great danger to come out and vote.


I think there is also a real chance that Iraqis will turn against the idea of democracy if it only produces insecurity, violence, and gridlock.
  Juan Cole post

The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned the US for raiding the home of its secretary-general, Hareth Suleiman al-Dhari, for a second time in a week on Sunday.

A reader points out that the interim Constitution requires a warrant for a house search, and wonders if the US military applied to an Iraqi judge for such a warrant in the case of al-Dhari.

A sense of being under siege is palpable in the Iraqi Islamic Party of Muhsin Abdul Hamid.
  Juan Cole post
Patrick Quinn of AP tells the truth about Baghdad, perhaps the world's most dangerous city.
' By day or night, Baghdad has become a cacophony of automatic weapons fire, explosions and sudden death, its citizens living in constant fear of being shot by insurgents or the security forces meant to protect them. Streets are crammed with passenger cars fighting for space with armored vehicles and pickups loaded with hooded and heavily armed Iraqi soldiers. Hundreds of bombs in recent months have made mosques, public squares, sidewalks and even some central streets extremely dangerous places in Baghdad. On Haifa Street, rocket-propelled grenades sometimes fly through traffic. Rashid Street is a favorite for roadside bombers near the Tigris River. '
When Farnaz Fassihi of the Wall Street Journal admitted as much in a private email last October, she was forbidden to report from Iraq for two weeks. I guess Paul Gigot can't dictate the news to the Associated Press. I'd wager most Americans have no idea how bad it is in Baghdad.
  Juan Cole post
Readers often write in for an update on Fallujah. I am sorry to say that there is no Fallujah to update. The city appears to be in ruins and perhaps uninhabitable in the near future. Of 300,000 residents, only about 9,000 seem to have returned, and apparently some of those are living in tents above the ruins of their homes. The rest of the Fallujans are scattered in refugee camps of hastily erected tents at several sites, including one near Habbaniyyah, or are staying with relatives in other cities, including Baghdad.

The scale of this human tragedy-- the dispossession and displacement of 300,000 persons-- is hard to imagine. Unlike the victims of the tsunami who were left homeless, moreover, the Fallujans have witnessed no outpouring of world sympathy. While there were undeniably bad characters in the city, most residents had done nothing wrong and did not deserve to be made object lessons--which was the point Rumsfeld was making with this assault. He hoped to convince Ramadi and Mosul to fall quiet lest the same thing happen to them. He failed, since the second Fallujah campaign threw the Sunni Arab heartland into much more chaos than ever before. People forget how quiet Mosul had been. And, the campaign was the death knell for proper Sunni participation in the Jan. 30 elections [...]
  Juan Cole post