The Guardian November 24, 2004


Iraq every day it gets worse

Susan Webb

In the wake of the US assault on Fallujah, the United Nations 
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, called for 
investigation of possible violations of international laws on 
treatment of civilians and war prisoners in Iraq.

News reports and photos show women, old people and children among 
the killed and injured. Some bodies lying in the streets have 
been eaten by stray dogs and cats, witnesses said. A father of 
seven told Reuters his children were sick with diarrhoea and 
hadn't eaten for days.

Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who lives in 
Fallujah, reported on the aftermath of the US assault, 
"Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the 
streets, the wounded were bleeding and there was no one to come 
and help them."

When US soldiers started firing on houses in his neighbourhood, 
he panicked and headed to the river to swim across to safer 
ground. "But I changed my mind", he later told reporters, "after 
seeing US helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to 
cross the river." A family of five was shot dead as they tried to 
cross, he said.

Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions spokesperson Abdullah Muhsin 
said the IFTU opposes the use of military force against civilian 
areas like Fallujah, and called for "a far greater effort" to 
negotiate a peaceful end to "lawlessness, violence and imposition 
of extreme fundamentalist rule" by armed groups.

"We opposed the war, invasion and occupation of our country 
because we knew the deadly consequences. Those who suffer are the 
unarmed civilian population", Muhsin told a meeting of Britain's 
biggest union, UNISON, November 12.

Condemning efforts to "divide working people on the basis of 
their religion or nationality", he said, "the majority of Iraqis 
are determined to keep Iraq together free from fanatics, 
fundamentalists, Saddam loyalists and foreign troops".

The US was on the defensive over a filmed report showing a marine 
shooting to death an unarmed wounded Iraqi prisoner in Fallujah. 
"All violations of international humanitarian law and human 
rights law must be investigated", the UN official said, and those 
responsible "must be brought to justice, be they members of the 
Multinational Force or insurgents". US military officials say 
they are investigating.

Barry Romo, a national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against 
the War, commented on the incredible pressure faced by soldiers 
who "are being put back in combat the day after they're wounded, 
while generals are living in air-conditioned houses in the 'Green 
Zone'". Romo said that pressure is taking a toll on troops.

In a letter to President Bush before the US assault on Fallujah, 
the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, 
Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee (both Democrats), 
said, "There is no question our troops have the ability to take 
the city, but at what cost and to what end? A year from now will 
Fallujah be just another graveyard in a country teeming with 
anti-American sentiment?"

They urged Bush to "rethink the overall strategy in Iraq" and 
move toward "Iraqi self-determination with the help and 
participation of the United Nations".

In a statement last month, Kucinich condemned the 
administration's request for an additional $70 billion for the 
Iraq occupation, which will hit Congress when it re-convenes in 
January.

"The continued US presence in Iraq is counterproductive", 
Kucinich charged. "Every day that we are inside Iraq the 
situation gets progressively worse." The additional $70 billion 
"to continue a failed policy" pushes the total taxpayer cost to 
$225 billion, the congressman said. "That is $225 billion that 
has not gone to our economy, schools, or health care system."

Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, said he would 
like to see an alternative, a "real 'Support Our Troops' Act." 
Such a measure, he told the People's Weekly World, would 
include funds to bring our troops home safely, funds for Iraq's 
reconstruction, "controlled by the Iraqi people, not by the US", 
and "funds for here at home" that could pay for veterans' care 
and other health and social needs.

Violence escalated this week in Mosul, Iraq's third largest city 
with a population of 1.5 million, and other cities in the 
county's north and centre.

A leading member of the Iraqi Communist Party, who was also a 
member of the interim National Assembly, was ambushed and killed 
along with two comrades near the northern city of Kirkuk, on 
November 13.

Wadhah Hassan Abdul Amir, also known as Saadoun, had joined the 
party in early youth, and served in the party's underground 
partisan movement in Kurdistan, waging armed struggle against the 
Saddam Hussein dictatorship, the ICP said in a statement. His 
leadership in these struggles "won him the admiration and 
affection of the people of Kurdistan". (ICP statement published 
in Guardian, 17-11-04 page 12.)

A senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the 
Kurdish region's two main parties, claimed that the Ba'ath Party 
has reconstituted itself in Mosul and is coordinating attacks 
against Iraqi police, government, and the city's Kurdish and 
Christian minorities. "The Ba'ath Party is working to create an 
ethnic civil war", the Kurdish official said.

Also last week, news media reported that kidnapped aid worker 
Margaret Hassan had been killed, shot in the head. Hassan, an 
Irish-born Iraqi citizen, had lived in Iraq for 35 years. She had 
opposed the US occupation.

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