How The U.S. Murdered a City
An activity for students and a useful reading for teachers and adults in general
Witchy says: "The problem with information nowadays is that there are too much. When too many people are talking it’s just like when nobody is talking. Or it may mean something worse. After all silence has often has a meaning, in music and at the theatre, at least. But the today's *tsunami of information* is the death of knowledge. Can we read all the articles and books that have been written on Iraq war? Certainly not, and even if we could, how do we know where the truth lies?
I leave you with these doubts because they are my same doubts. But only by trying the key of doubting we can hope to unlock the door of understanding, whatever there may be behind that door".
Fallujah: The Truth at Last
Doctor Salam Ismael took aid to Fallujah last month. This is a report of his visit
02/17/05 - "SW" - IT WAS the smell that first hit me, a smell that is difficult to describe, and one that will never leave me. It was the smell of death. Hundreds of corpses were decomposing in the houses, gardens and streets of Fallujah. Bodies were rotting where they had fallen-bodies of men, women and children, many half-eaten by wild dogs.
A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town, destroying houses and mosques, schools and clinics. This was the terrible and frightening power of the US military assault.
The accounts I heard over the next few days will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Fallujah. But the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined.
In Saqlawiya, one of the makeshift refugee camps that surround Fallujah, we found a 17 year old woman. "I am Hudda Fawzi Salam Issawi from the Jolan district of Fallujah," she told me. "Five of us, including a 55 year old neighbour, were trapped together in our house in Fallujah when the siege began.
"On 9 November American marines came to our house. My father and the neighbour went to the door to meet them. We were not fighters. We thought we had nothing to fear. I ran into the kitchen to put on my veil, since men were going to enter our house and it would be wrong for them to see me with my hair uncovered. "This saved my life. As my father and neighbour approached the door, the Americans opened fire on them. They died instantly.
|Preparation: The teacher prints and photocopies the drawing and the text. Each student shall have a a copy.|
"Me and my 13 year old brother hid in the kitchen behind the fridge. The soldiers came into the house and caught my older sister. They beat her. Then they shot her. But they did not see me. Soon they left, but not before they had destroyed our furniture and stolen the money from my father's pocket."
Hudda told me how she comforted her dying sister by reading verses from
the Koran. After four hours her sister died. For three days Hudda and
her brother stayed with their murdered relatives. But they were thirsty
and had only a few dates to eat. They feared the troops would return
and decided to try to flee the city. But they were spotted by a US sniper.
I also found survivors of another family from the Jolan district. They told me that at the end of the second week of the siege the US troops swept through the Jolan. The Iraqi National Guard used loudspeakers to call on people to get out of the houses carrying white flags, bringing all their belongings with them. They were ordered to gather outside near the Jamah al-Furkan mosque in the centre of town.
On 12 November Eyad Naji Latif and eight members of his family-one of them a six month old child-gathered their belongings and walked in single file, as instructed, to the mosque.
When they reached the main road outside the mosque they heard a shout, but they could not understand what was being shouted. Eyad told me it could have been "now" in English. Then the firing began. US soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire. Eyad's father was shot in the heart and his mother in the chest.
They died instantly. Two of Eyad's brothers were also hit, one in the chest and one in the neck. Two of the women were hit, one in the hand and one in the leg. Then the snipers killed the wife of one of Eyad's brothers. When she fell her five year old son ran to her and stood over her body. They shot him dead too. Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing.
But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand.
The five survivors, including the six month old child, lay in the street
for seven hours. Then four of them crawled to the nearest home to find
shelter. The next morning the brother who was shot in the neck also managed
to crawl to safety. They all stayed in the house for eight days, surviving
on roots and one cup of water, which they saved for the baby. On the
eighth day they were discovered by some members of the Iraqi National
Guard and taken to hospital in Fallujah. They heard the Americans were
arresting any young men, so the family fled the hospital and finally
obtained treatment in a nearby town.
Our small convoy of trucks and vans brought 15 tons of flour, eight tons of rice, medical aid and 900 pieces of clothing for the orphans. We knew that thousands of refugees were camped in terrible conditions in four camps on the outskirts of town.
There we heard the accounts of families killed in their houses, of wounded people dragged into the streets and run over by tanks, of a container with the bodies of 481 civilians inside, of premeditated murder, looting and acts of savagery and cruelty that beggar belief.
Through the ruins That is why we decided to go into Fallujah and investigate. When we entered the town I almost did not recognise the place where I had worked as a doctor in April 2004, during the first siege.
We found people wandering like ghosts through the ruins. Some were looking for the bodies of relatives. Others were trying to recover some of their possessions from destroyed homes.
Here and there, small knots of people were queuing for fuel or food. In one queue some of the survivors were fighting over a blanket.
I remember being approached by an elderly woman, her eyes raw with tears. She grabbed my arm and told me how her house had been hit by a US bomb during an air raid. The ceiling collapsed on her 19 year old son, cutting off both his legs.
She could not get help. She could not go into the streets because the Americans had posted snipers on the roofs and were killing anyone who ventured out, even at night.
She tried her best to stop the bleeding, but it was to no avail. She stayed with him, her only son, until he died. He took four hours to die.
Fallujah's main hospital was seized by the US troops in the first days of the siege. The only other clinic, the Hey Nazzal, was hit twice by US missiles. Its medicines and medical equipment were all destroyed. There were no ambulances-the two ambulances that came to help the wounded were shot up and destroyed by US troops.
We visited houses in the Jolan district, a poor working class area in the north western part of the city that had been the centre of resistance during the April siege.
This quarter seemed to have been singled out for punishment during the second siege. We moved from house to house, discovering families dead in their beds, or cut down in living rooms or in the kitchen. House after house had furniture smashed and possessions scattered.
In some places we found bodies of fighters, dressed in black and with ammunition belts.
But in most of the houses, the bodies were of civilians. Many were dressed in housecoats, many of the women were not veiled-meaning there were no men other than family members in the house. There were no weapons, no spent cartridges.
It became clear to us that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.
Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing
the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime. What happened in Fallujah
was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.
Dr Salam Ismael, now 28 years old, was head of junior doctors in Baghdad before the invasion of Iraq. He was in Fallujah in April 2004 where he treated casualties of the assault on the city.
At the end of 2004 he came to Britain to collect funds for an aid convoy to Fallujah. Now the British government does not want Dr Salam Ismael’s testimony to be heard.
He was due to come here last week to speak at trade union and anti-war meetings. But he was refused entry. The reason given was that he received expenses, covering the basic costs of his trip, when he came to Britain last year and this constitutes “illegal working”.
Dr Salam Ismael merely wishes to speak the truth. Yet it seems the freedom that Bush and Blair claim to champion in Iraq does not extend to allowing its citizens to travel freely.
Legal challenges, supported by the Stop the War Coalition, were launched this week in an effort to allow Dr Salam Ismael to come to Britain.
This article was first published by http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/
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