A Brutal Occupation in Iraq

jacdon at earthlink.net jacdon at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 6 04:39:38 MDT 2003

The following article will appear in the Aug. 8 email issue of the
Mid-Hudson (NY) Activist Newsletter, published by the National People's
Campaign/IAC in New Paltz, NY, and distributed by jacdon at earthlink.net.


Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch (HRW) are bitterly critical of  actions carried out by U.S.
soldiers against civilians in Iraq, mainly for indiscriminate shootings
of noncombatants and mass detentions under deplorable conditions.

Violence toward innocent civilians, according to a BBC report Aug. 5, 
has reached the point where the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA —
the military government) is offering "blood money" sums of between $500
and $1,500 to grieving relatives of the victims in an effort assuage
mounting anger against the occupation armed forces.

Such violence is taking place on a daily basis, and the CPA evidently
prefers to look the other way.  On July 27, for example, Baghdad
residents reported that at least 11 civilians were killed in the streets
by a barrage of gunfire from U.S. troops as they raided a home in search
of former President Saddam Hussein. According to an article by Robert
Fisk the next day in the UK daily Independent, "two children, their
mother and crippled father" were among the victims.

Agence France Press reported recently that many Iraqi civilians have
been beaten at military checkpoints.  The French news agency quoted an
American MP, who insisted on anonymity, as saying he witnessed more than
20 instances of  beating and robbing of civilians at the checkpoints. 
The mistreatment of civilians, he continued, has become "an
embarrassment for us.  A lot of this has to do with the war being over,
and there being not a lot for us to do, and soldiers getting killed, and
then their friends take it out on regular civilians."

At least four MPs are being held for beating civilians, but this is
clearly only a token compared to the number of Iraqis who have been
brutalized. The extent to which anti-Arab racism is a factor in these
attacks is not known, but it certainly cannot be ruled out.

Since President Bush declared the war over some three months ago, U.S.
troops have conducted hundreds of mass raids against civilians, often
using violent tactics to extract information, including not infrequent
reports of torture.   Several thousand civilians are still being held in
18 military jails. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reported from Baghdad July 29 that
"according to human rights groups, none of the detainees...has been
allowed to see a lawyer or meet with relatives, and none has yet been
charged with a crime or brought to trial.  They have essentially fallen
into a black hole."

Both Amnesty and HRW have been critical of what they term the "inhumane
conditions" in which the prisoners are being held.  They have also
deplored the military authority's interrogation techniques.  In addition
each has condemned the shootings of innocent civilians.

In a report issued by Amnesty in late July, the group detailed the death
of Mohammad al-Kabuki, a 12-year-old boy, at the hands of trigger-happy
GIs in Baghdad July 26.  "That evening, as usual," the account revealed,
"Mohammad was carrying the family bedding up to the roof when a soldier
shot at him from the opposite house.  Mohammad was still alive when
neighbors tried to rush him by car to the nearby hospital, but they were
stopped by soldiers in a tank on the way.  The soldiers forced the
neighbors to the ground, and after 15 minutes ordered them to return
home because the curfew had started. Mohammad was already dead."

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