The Acts of the Democracies
Year : 2004
18 Items Selected
The USA bars Russia, France and Germany from rebuilding contracts in Iraq. The UK supports this stand even though it was not made by the representatives of the Iraqi people.
Since the invasion of Iraq, over 355 people have been killed by terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey and Spain.
The USA announces a handover of power to Iraqis on 30 June. The handover will not be to an elected body but to the USA appointed Iraq Governing Council (known as "the Governed Council" by most Iraqis).
In March the Iraq Governing Council signs a new interim constitution which states that "The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority . . . shall remain in force".
These laws include the USA'a hated Order 39, which drastically changes Iraq's previous constitution to allow foreign companies to own 100% of Iraqi assets, and to take 100% of their profits out of the country. Other orders place USA auditors into Iraqi ministries to enforce and monitor Order 39, grant foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi laws, allow USA banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks, drop the corporation tax rate from 40% to 15% and caps income tax at 15%, suspend all tariffs for good coming into Iraq (this one has put financial pressures on Iraqi small businesses). These laws are a form of neo-colonialism and allow privatisation of most of the country's industries.
With this clause, it means that the occupation will not end on 30 June. As Iraq based journalist, Naomi Klein, puts it, the occupation "will simply be outsourced to a group of hand-picked Iraqi politicians with no democratic mandate or sovereign power. With its new Iraqi face, the government will be free from the ugly perception that Iraq's national assets are being auctioned off by foreigners, not to mention being unencumbered by input from Iraqi voters who might have ideas of their own."
The new constitution also contains the following provisions:
Interestingly, although the USA has changed the economic laws to benefit its companies, it has not altered anti-trade union laws imposed by the previous regime in 1987. In a related development, the USA selected one of the largest palaces in Baghdad as its future embassy. USA Senator, Joseph Biden, writing in the Washington Post described the policy thus:
"Our goal should be to take the 'American face' off the occupation so that we are not blamed for everything that doesn't go right in Iraq... Instead, the Bush administration's current plan is to have a new U.S. ambassador call all the shots, at the risk that Iraqis will think the occupation has not really ended on June 30. Indeed, we will be going from the CPA -- which at least has some international flavor -- to an exclusively American operation with a 'Super-Embassy.'"
USA writer, Jonathan Schell, put it more accurately:
"Instead of saying, 'On June 30, the Coalition will hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people,' we should say, 'On June 30, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush will hand over the appearance of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq to certain of its local appointees'."
Two Iraqi journalists are killed by USA troops.
In April, USA forces close a newspaper, Al-Hawzah, which opposes the occupation. The USA newspaper, New York Times, justified the closure by saying: "Although the paper did not print any calls for attacks, the American authorities said false reporting, including articles that ascribed suicide bombings to Americans, could touch off violence". The USA appointed Minister of Communication, Haider Al-Abadi, is not informed. He asks: "Is this how we are going to run the country in the future sending soldiers to shut down newspapers?"
The closure provokes demonstrations. Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by the USA, open fire on demonstrators in Baghdad. As the demonstrators return to their homes in the poor neighbourhood of Sadr City, USA troops with tanks, helicopters, and planes, fire at homes, shops, streets, and ambulances. According to local hospitals, 47 people are killed and many more injured. Rasool Gurawi, a spokesman at the al-Sadr office, asked, "This is democracy? Attacking peaceful demonstrations? Killing people and destroying buildings?"
The injured include Ali Hussein (16) shot in the spine from a helicopter; Gailan Ibrahim (29) shot in the back by a USA plane; Ali Faris (14) shot while inside his home.
In Najaf, 20 demonstrators are killed and more than 150 injured.
In the town of Fallujah, four USA citizens are lynched. They are described in the Western media as "security contractors", but actually part of an army of mercenaries, who are unaccountable and outside military discipline. Over 400 companies provide security in Iraq, all paid for by UK and USA tax payers with the profits going to the USA companies awarded the contracts. The mercenaries include people from Chile who had served under the dictatorship of Pinochet and from apartheid era South Africa. Casualty figures for mercenaries are not normally given by the USA and UK authorities.
In retaliation, Fallujah (population 300,000) is sealed off and bombed as the USA attempts to crush anti-occupation resistance. During the attack, ambulances are barred from entering. The power station is bombed. The attack was with artillery, snipers, Apache helicopters, 500-ton, laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs (which shred human flesh) and F-16 jets. Entire residential areas, including mosques and schools are destroyed. Arabic stations like Al-Jazeera show the carnage but CNN (USA) and the BBC (UK) ignore the footage.
Sixteen children and eight women are killed when a house is attacked by aircraft. Forty people are killed when an F-16 jet fires a laser-guided missile into a mosque. In a single week, over 600 people are killed (including 200 women and 100 children). Thousands of refugees, stretching for 10 km, are stopped from leaving by USA troops.
USA forces close the bridge over the River Euphrates which means the population is cut off from the main hospital. Doctors are forced to close the hospital and set up a number of small, less well-equipped clinics. According to the organization, Doctors Without Borders, USA marines occupy the hospitals, preventing hundreds of wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fire from the rooftops at anyone who tries to approach. These events are not reported or shown in the Western media.
Makki al-Nazzal, manages a small clinic. The clinic is busy as USA snipers shoot at people entering and leaving the main hospitals. Al-Nazzal also describes ambulances, women and children being shot by USA snipers. He says, "I have been a fool for 47 years. I used to believe in European and American civilization".
Jouralist Rahul Mahajan looked for verification and found "An ambulance with two neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers."
Mahajan describes the scene at the clinic "we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been from a cluster bomb; there was no way to verify in the madhouse scene of wailing relatives, shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great), and anger at the Americans."
Another journalist, Dahr Jamail, also visited the clinic: "One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning. The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life. After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive. Two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs -- they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded. One of the bodies they brought to the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside."
One of the fighters in Fallujah (who calls himself Abu Freedom) is asked by UPI reporter, Mitchell Prothero, why he fights. His answer: "I don't want to see Americans in charge of my country". The USA calls these people, "rebels" and "haters of freedom".
Of the 1,800 people injured, over 200 are children. No names are given in the Western media and no interviews are conducted with any families. As part of its conditions for a cease fire, the USA insists that the Al-Jazeera news crew be handed over to them.
290 people are killed in other cities, over 30 of them children.
According to Robin Cook, former UK foreign secretary, the tactics used by the USA are similar to Israeli tactics in Palestine: "It is a vicious irony that having promised that victory in Iraq would bring a road map to peace in the Middle East, the Bush Administration has in practice brought to Baghdad, Sharon's military tactics against the Palestinians with precisely the same result in consolidating local opposition."
These images were not shown on Western media but were widely shown around the Arab world.
The uprising spreads so that the USA-led occupation simultaneously loses control in Basra, Najaf, Kerbala, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Kut, Diwaniyah, and in several Baghdad suburbs (Thawra, Shuala, and Kadhimiyah).
In Najaf, Spanish troops close a teaching hospital giving its 200 doctors two hours to leave. USA troops close another hospital in Qaim.
Shaykh Sadun al-Shemary, a former member of the Iraqi army told reporter Rahul Mahajan: "Things are exactly the same as in Saddam's time -- maybe worse."
The USA transfer the deposed leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to their military base in Qatar without informing the country's rulers.
USA engineers begin the construction of 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq. These will be capable of housing thousands of USA troops. The bases are planned for Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk and in areas near Nasiriyah, near Tikrit, near Fallujah and between Irbil and Kirkuk. Airfields in Baghdad and Mosul are to be renovated and enhanced, and 100km of road will be upgraded.
No elected Iraqi has been consulted over these plans.
The USA-appointed Iraq Governing Council create a new flag for Iraq. All members of the resistance immediately take up the pre-invasion flag as their banner.
Photographs taken by soldiers and showing USA and UK soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners are published in newspapers. The story, which had been supressed by the USA military for several months, is headlined around the world (except in the USA where it initially appears on page 24 of the Washington Post). The prison is Abu-Ghraib in Baghdad, once used by former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Some pictures showed USA troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another. The fact that female soldiers were involved causes shock and outrage in the Muslim world. The most iconic image shows a hooded prisoner standing on a small box with wires attached to his stretched-out arms.
Seymour Hersh, a USA journalist, asserts that most of the Iraqi prisoners were civilians picked up at checkpoints. He was writing for USA magazine, New Yorker and quoting from a secret military report written by Major-General Antonio Taguba in January 2004. He describes many tortures used on Iraqi prisoners: "Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee".
Taguba's report states that the abuse is systematic and also included punching, slapping and kicking detainees, forcing male detainees to wear women's underwear, forcing male detainees to masturbate while being photographed, pulling detainees by dog chains placed around their necks, and a case of a male guard having sex with a female detainee.
Terry Charman, museum historian at London's Imperial War Museum, describes the images: "This is on par with the images of the Holocaust and of the Nazis taunting their prisoners, shaving the heads of orthodox Jews, which they did a lot of when they took over Poland. It has a similar resonance. Now these images show that members of the Coalition are treating these people in exactly the same way he treated his people. The sort of thing is very counterproductive." His advice is that "You should never denigrate or underestimate your enemy in wartime. The humiliation you are heaping on them may be felt or revisited upon the troops who are on the ground."
The USA and UK governments describe the incidents as isolated. The UK government attacks the newspaper that published the photographs. However, Amnesty International reports that the torture of Iraqi prisoners by USA and UK soldiers is "not an isolated incident". During the year of occupation Amnesty International reports "frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by coalition forces during the past year" which included sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged hooding and restraint in painful positions, and exposure to bright lights and loud music. The International Red Cross also says that these abuses have been occurring for a year. Their reports had been ignored.
Confirmation comes from USA soldiers. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederik says he was told to use these techniques on prisoners to "soften them up" for interrogation. Staff Sergent Camilo Mejia says that Military Intelligence instructed him to deprive detainees of sleep and stage mock executions.
The USA newspaper, Washington Post publishes accounts by ex-detainees: Hasham Mohsen Lazim, a used tyre dealer spent four months in USA custody. He was one of the hooded men in the photographs.He was hooded and stripped. His body was covered with writing with a felt tip pen. He heard the laughter of females.
For three hours he and other men were made to masturbate against a wall, crawl on top of one another to form a pyramid and ride each other as if they were riding a donkey. He was left naked for two days.
He was handcuffed to a bed for several days. He had to sleep and urinate where he was. Haidar Saber Abed said: "They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees". According to Ameen Saeed Al-Sheikh, "They forced me to eat pork and put liquor in my mouth". Liquor (alcohol) and pork are both forbidden to Muslims. Mohanded Juma says that the prison guards "...used to throw the food into the toilet and said 'go take it and eat it'".
No criminal charges can be brought against a USA soldier in Iraq because the USA-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has given the American military a blanket amnesty from prosecution. Secondly, with the coerced backing of many countries, no USA soldier or citizen can be prosecuted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Thirdly, many of the interrogators are non-military "security personnel" (mercenaries) who are not subject to USA military discipline.
Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, summed up the views of many around the world: "This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America. The liberators are worse than the dictators. They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries".
According to Mahmoud Walid, a 28-year-old writer from Egypt, "These soldiers are being touted as the saviours of the Iraqi people and America claims to be the moral leader of the world, but they have been caught with their pants down, they have been exposed, the whole world sees them as they really are". Khadija Mousa, an ordinary woman from Syria put the view of many Arabs: "They keep asking why we hate them? Why we detest them? Maybe they should look well in the mirror and then they will hate themselves . . . What I saw is very, very humiliating. The Americans are showing their true image".
Nelson Madela, the ex-President of South Africa, makes a speech to the parliament in Cape Town as he retires from politics. In part of the speech, he criticises USA and UK actions in Iraq:
"We watch as two of the leading democracies ... get involved in a war that the UN did not sanction: we look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in the in own country". The speech is not broadcast on UK television which instead shows a prime time television program ("Beneith the Halo", Channel 4) attacking Mandela and his legacy.
According to Amnesty International, over 13,000 people are held at Abu-Ghraib prison, without trial, their families not allowed to meet them. In thousands of cases people are not even aware that their family members are there. During one news item by the UK television station, BBC, one woman told the cameras that she was a mother of five children before the interviewers were told not to film.
In all, over 18,000 prisoners are being held in Iraqi prisons by the USA. Including prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Diego Garcia, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the USA is holding over 25,000 detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
USA Private Lynndie England pointing to the genitals of hooded Iraqi male prisoners.
Charles Grainer, a USA marine pictured with naked male Iraqis who were forced to simulate sexual acts on each other.
Terrified naked prisoner threatened with guard dogs. The next photograph in the sequence shows this man after having been bitten by one of the dogs.
Naked detainee covered in excrement being made to walk along a coridor.
Naked Iraqis forced to simulate sexual acts.
Three television stations (Canal Plus from France, ABC from USA, and CBC from Canada) broadcast a video taken from a USA Apache helicopter.
The video shows a 30mm gun fired at a clearly wounded man, crawling on the road in December 2003. In the soundtrack, the pilot says "Someone wounded". The reply is "Hit him, hit the truck and him". Deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
No other Western television station shows the film.
Amnesty International criticises the USA record in Iraq saying that its forces have "shot Iraqis dead during demonstrations, tortured and ill-treated prisoners, arrested people arbitrarily and held them indefinitely, demolished houses in acts of revenge and collective punishment".
There is also criticism of the USA and UK for not keeping records of the number of Iraqis killed during the invasion and under the occupation. The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, describes this failure as "odd".
In the eyes of people in the Middle East, the USA's actions resemble those of Israel in Palestine.
UK soldiers force four youths into a canal in Basra. One of the boys, 16 year old, Ahmad Jabbar Kareem, drowns. This is one of a number of cases of deaths in UK custody investigated by the Ministry of Defence. Other victims include Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist, kicked and beaten to death, and Abd al-Jubba Mousa, 53, a headmaster who was hit with rifle butts as he was taken away by troops.
USA forces attack the main mosque area in Kerbala killing over 25.
In the holy city of Najaf, over 110 people are killed. USA tanks conduct operations in the cemetery. This cemetery is full of ornately carved tombs; it the largest in the world and one of the holiest sites for Shia Muslims. The attack also damages the Shrine of Imam Ali, holiest of Shia buildings.
One resident, Ali Wasi, says "I feel humiliated, our sanctity has been violated". Demonstartions break out in Iran, not normally on friendly terms with Iraq.
In London (UK), an organisation called Child Victims of War (CVW) describes how children in Iraq are suffering because of the legacy of Depleted Uranium. This is a radioactive metal used in artillery because of its hardness. It was used by the USA and UK to destroy tanks in Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. Radiation levels from destroyed Iraqi tanks has been measured to be 2,500 times higher than normal and 20 times higher than normal in the surrounding area.
Depleted Uranium produces dust that is rapidly absorbed by the body. The effects include children born with severe deformities (including shortened limbs and eye defects), several leukaemia cases per week (before 1991 this condition was almost unknown). The number of deformed babies has increased from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. The number of Down's Syndrome children has increased by five times since 1991. It is estimated that around 300 tonnes of the metal was used in 1991 and 1,500 tonnes in 2003.
CVW also stated that child malnutrition, the supply of drinkable water and the amount of hospital medical supplies have all worsened since the 2003 invasion. According to CVW, every child in Iraq has "had a degree of psychological trauma". Many children ("hundreds" according to Human Rights Watch) are still being killed by unexploded cluster bombs.
A USA helicopter fires on a wedding party in Makradheep, a desert village in western Iraq close to the Syrian border. According to Sheikh Nasrallah Mikfil, the head of the local tribe, 41 people, including 10 women and 15 children, are killed. The USA calls the victims "foreign fighters", even though they themselves are the foreign occupiers. Major General James Mattis refuses to accept blame, declaring: "I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men". Among the dead was Hussein Ali, a well-known wedding singer, who was killed along with his brother Mohammed. Both had been performing at the wedding. According to eye witnesses, 40 missiles were used during a one and a half hour attack on a village of 25 houses.
The Western media show very little of the filmed burials whereas the Arab world sees the bodies of brightly dressed women and decapitated children. No names of the victims are given unlike the detailed coverage when Europeans or Americans are killed. The UK BBC television news calls the massacre a "public relations disaster for the Americans" and "more bad news for George Bush" rather than a tragedy for the Iraqi families slaughtered.
On the same day, the Arab world watches images of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators killed and maimed by Israeli tank shells and helicopter missiles in Gaza.
The USA also attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan in 2002, killing 50 people.
The USA and UK attempt to draft a United Nations resolution that will give immunity to their troops for all acts committed in Iraq.
The USA backed Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, had arrived in Iraq with the USA invasion force and had been groomed to become the new leader of Iraq. After criticising the occupation, his house is searched and his property destroyed by Iraqi police with USA operatives present. Between 1992 and 2004, Chalabi's political party, Iraqi National Congress, had been given $ 100 million by the USA government.
The United Nations is sidestepped when, after a meeting with the USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, the IGC nominate the Prime Minister of the new government. He is one of their own members, Iyad Allawi who is a UK educated Shia Muslim with links to the USA's CIA and the UK's MI6. He has been responsible for passing some of the faulty intelligence to the West that was used to justify the invasion.
The nomination is quickly accepted by the USA, as a spokesperson says he "had emerged as a popular candidate". The UK newspaper, Financial Times, writes that Alawi "is the least popular of 17 prominent Iraqi political personalities monitored by the Iraqi Centre for Research and Studies".
Many consider that the "handover of power" is a cosmetic change and the nomination of Allawi a USA-backed coup. Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA case officer who served in the Middle East had this to say of Iyad Allawi: "Two facts stand out about Allawi. One, he likes to think of himself as a man of ideas; and, two, his strongest virtue is that he's a thug."
Lakhdar Brahimi tells UK newspaper, The Guardian, who was in control of the selection process: "I'm sure he doesn't mind me saying that Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country". The members of the IGC itself are considered by most Iraqis to be collaborators. Several have been the targets of assassinations, some of which have been successful.
In addition, Paul Bremer threatens to veto the choice of president if it not the USA's preferred candidate.
The post of Defence Minister goes to Hazem Sha'alan, a former property developer from the UK; the Interior Minister is Falah al-Naqib, another former exile.
Once the new government is in place the Western media begin to refer to them as "the new Iraqi government" even though Iraqis themselves have had nothing to do with their selection. Allawi calls on the occupying powers to continue their occupation: "Iraq will need multinational forces to defeat its enemies - I call on the United States and Europe to protect Iraq".
The United Nations passes a resolution (number 1546) in which "the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq and therefore reaffirms the authorisation for the multinational force under unified command". In other words, the newly USA-selected government, requests the USA occupation forces to stay. The term "unified command" is a euphemism for "USA control".
The Interim Iraqi Government will have no control over the USA or UK military. According to articles in two USA newspapers, Wall Street Journal (issue 13 May) and New York Times (issue 2 June), the USA has been "quietly building institutions that will give the US powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make. In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, [the US] created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. 110 to 160 American advisers will be layered through Iraq's ministries, in some cases on contracts signed by the occupation, extending into the period after June 30. In many cases, these US and Iraqi proxies will serve multiyear terms and have significant authority to run criminal investigations, award contracts, direct troops and subpoena citizens".
As officials put it "the new Iraqi government will be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit US approval".
The USA passes a law barring what it calls "illegal militias" from standing in elections for three years. This will cover most people fighting against the occupation. Just before the "handover", the USA ensures that contracts are handed to its favoured companies who are mainly from the USA and who charge up to ten times what local companies would. The contracts are framed in a way that will make it ruinous for a future Iraq government to cancel them.
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for Democracy? Anyone for a UN sell out? Anyone for economic imperialism?
Over 40 people are killed (including women and children) in USA airstrikes in Fallujah. The new puppet government in waiting supports the attack. The government then requests help from NATO (a local European-North American military alliance dominated by the USA and not a world body) to train its army.
Three soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Abu-Ghraib prison go on trial. Their defence is that they were following orders. One of the lawyers, Paul Bergrin, admits (on the UK Channel 4 News, 21 June) that the interrogation procedures used were approved from higher up:
"They used the humility method that has been known based upon the Israeli government's intelligence and expertise on Arab prisoners of parading them naked in front of other people. And what that did emotionally and psychologically is that caused the Arab prisoner to not want that photograph displayed because of cultural issues so it made them talk."
In an attempt to show that the USA wanted to treat Iraqi prisoners humanely and did not condone torture, the USA government releases internal documents that set out what its soldiers are allowed to do to prisoners during interrogations. The documents included a memo by USA president, George W Bush, stating that the Geneva Convention would not apply. The USA is a signatory to the Convention. The list of approved interrogation techniques dates from December 2002 and applies to the concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay (in USA-leased land in Cuba) as well as to Iraq. The list included:
Sherman Carroll of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture affirmed that "the documents from the White House authorised specific interrogation techniques by US forces abroad that amount to torture".
In late June, the USA, pro-consul, Paul Bremer, passes Order 17. This makes USA and UK military personnel, security personnel ("mercenaries") and ordinary civilian contractors immune from all civil and criminal law in Iraq. Westerners will have exception from paying tax and will not even need to have driving licenses. Contractors will have immunity from anything done under a contract, including defaulting on payments or injuring people.
A few days later, Western governments and their media begin a massive propaganda campaign to convince the USA electorate that there has been a "transfer of power" to the Iraqis in Iraq. A low key ceremony is conducted in the USA compound in Baghdad (called the Green Zone). No foreign dignitaries are present. The first announcement is made in Istanbul during a NATO summit in Turkey.
The 160,000 USA occupation force is restyled "the multinational forces" which have been invited to stay in Iraq by the "new Iraqi government" (headed by the CIA-linked Iyad Allawi). The Coalition Provisional Authority is renamed "The American Embassy" with a staff of over 3000 (making it the largest in the world). All Iraqi ministries have USA "advisors" attached to them. The USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, leaves to be replaced by the new USA "ambassador", John Negraponte, who arrives unannounced and without ceremony.
Negraponte was ambassador to Honduras between 1981 to 1985 while the country was being used by the USA-armed Contras to destabilise the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. The USA newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, probed this period using released government papers and concluded that the ambassador knew of and supported the activities of Battalion 3-16, a Honduran death squad . According to a former Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, this was because "they needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed".
In July, the USA announces that Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq has been "handed back to the Iraqis" but he will remain in USA custody in Qatar. A pre-trial appearance before an Iraqi judge is made. This is made inside the USA controlled Green Zone (also known as "the American Embassy").
The USA selects the media to be allowed to cover the appearance (none of whom are Iraqi) and confiscates some of the footage, destroying the opening testimony of some of the defendants. The footage broadcast around the world is censored and contains the text "cleared by US military".
A USA television worker confirms that the USA was "... running the show. The Americans decided what the world could and could not see of the trial - and it was meant to be an Iraqi trial. There was a British official in the courtroom whom we were not allowed to take pictures of. The other men were US troops who had been ordered to wear ordinary clothes so that they were 'civilians' in the court".
Professor Michael Scharf, who is training the USA military to be judges in Guantanamo Bay, was more descriptive of the USA role: "The United States will be involved in the trial but from behind the scenes, more like a puppet master".
After "handing control to the Iraqis", the USA bombs a residential area in Fallujah killing more than 12 people.
After a week, USA-approved Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, introduces legislation allowing the imposition of martial law, curfews, a ban on demonstrations, restrictions of movement, phone-tapping, the opening of post and the freezing of bank accounts. This is less than two years after the USA and UK invaded the country "to bring democracy". In the same week, a USA senate committee reports that the intelligence for going to war in Iraq was flawed.
USA forces vacate a building that contains the names of 600,000 of Iraq's war dead from the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s. The soldiers had daubed the walls with company insignias and other graffiti.
In the north of Iraq, Kurds force Arabs from their homes in Kirkuk, creating over 100,000 refugees living in camps in northern Iraq. This and the fact that the Kurds supported the USA invasion, engenders widespread anti-Kurdish feeling among the rest of the population in the country.
The Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, orders the Arab television station, Al-Jazeera, to leave the country while police close their Baghdad offices. This is the station watched by the majority of Arabs in the Middle East which has been criticised and had its offices bombed by the USA.
In Najaf, USA forces surround the city. Armed Iraqi police order all foreign journalists out of the city. The police chief announces that they had two hours to leave. He said that the order had been issued by the Ministry of the Interior of Iyad Allawi's (USA appointed) government.
A little later the journalists are told: "You have been warned. You have two hours. If you don't leave you will be shot". This story failed to appear on UK television news.
The next day, armed police return to the Sea of Najaf Hotel where all the journalists are staying. They attempt to arrest a journalist from al-Arabiya television, Ahmed al-Saleh. As journalists and hotel staff protest, a police lieutenant tells them "We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves." The police eventually left and fired shots into the hotel.
The response of the UK government to their journalists being shot at and threatened was to issue a statement via a spokesperson: "I think we should not be too hasty to turn this into a debate about free speech. There is quite a lively media in Iraq for the first time in years".
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for free speech?
According to the UK newspaper, The Independent, two USA companies were awarded huge reconstruction contracts without having to tender. Halliburton has received contracts worth $ 4,700 million while Bechtel was awarded $ 2,800 million. Both companies have close ties with the USA administration.
Abd Al-Jabbar al-Kubaisi, a politician who opposed Saddam Hussein but also opposed the USA invasion, is arrested by the occupying forces with the collusion of the USA appointed Iraqi government, and taken to an undisclosed location. According to the Arab National Forum, this is one of many such cases of the arrest of dissidents. This story is unreported in the Western media.
In early September, the USA bombs two houses in Fallujah killing 17 people, including children who are blown to pieces. The story fails to make the Western media a day after prominent television and newspaper headlines describing the deaths of 16 Israelis killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. A previous strike on Fallujah a few days earlier had killed 5 people and wounded 42. More people are killed in Fallujah over several days but the media fail to mention the region until 7 USA soldiers are killed.
35 people are killed in Baghdad by USA forces.
Fallujah is bombed for three successive days killing over 40 people, including three women, a 65 year old man and five children. The USA describes the attacks as a "precision strike" but photos of injured children are published by the Arab television station al-Jazeera. 15 homes are destroyed by tank fire. In Tal Afar, 27 are killed and 70 are injured.
a week-long invasion by USA forces.
In mid-September, air strikes on Fallujah by the USA leave 18 people dead, including women and children. Seven people, including the driver of an ambulance, are killed when USA aircraft fire a missile at the vehicle while it was transporting casualties near the northern gate of the city. A paramedic and five patients are also killed. According to Dr Rafia al-Isawi, director of Fallujah hospital: "Every time we send out an ambulance, it gets targeted". Attacking medical facilities is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Three homes are destroyed in al-Shurta neighbourhood.
USA snipers kill at least 11 people in the city of Ramadi. Dr Khamis al-Saad, general director of Ramadi hospital reports that the dead included a woman and children while another 18 were wounded by USA fire. Ambulances and medical teams are targeted by USA snipers in different areas of Ramadi including close to hospitals for women and children.
Two ambulance drivers and members of medical teams in the vehicles are also killed. Medical staff and patients inside the hospitals are targeted and several are shot in the head. 29 others were injured. Images of one of the targeted ambulances are shown on Arabic television at the same time as the USA is describing the attacks as a "precision raid".
Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations tells the UK radio station BBC World Service that the invasion of Iraq was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or the UN Charter. This is a polite way of saying that the invasion was not legal. On the same day (and mostly unreported in the West) the USA announces that $ 3,400 million originally allocated to providing water and power to Iraqis is to be redirected to boosting security and oil output.
Seven rockets are fired by two USA helicopters into a crowd in Baghdad killing 13 people and wounding 41. Film of the incident by al-Arabiya contradicts the USA account of the massacre in which Mazen-al-Tomeizi, a Palestinian television producer, is among the dead.
Another air attack on Falluja kills over 56 people and wounds 40. Several strikes on the village of Zoba, 7 km south of Falluja, demolish 13 houses. Dr Ahmad Khalil of Falluja general hospital reported: "The bodies of 30 people killed in Zoba were brought to Falluja general hospital as well as 40 wounded." He added that many of the victims were women and children.
The USA military described the attack as a "precision strike" which "destroyed a terrorist compound". However, Iraqi medical sources and independent journalists in Falluja say that most of those brought into the hospitals are civilians, and included many women and children.
After over a week of violence, the story appears on BBC television news in the UK but the number of victims is described as "several". After a further week of similar attacks, the USA appointed Iraqi government bans the Ministry of Health from revealing civilian casualty figures.
In October, USA forces attack the city of Sammara.
The USA uses helicopter gunships, jets and snipers; over 125 people are killed. According to an ambulance driver: "Dead bodies and injured people are lying everywhere in the city. The Americans fired at us when we tried to evacuate them. Later on they told us that we can evacuate only injured women and children, but we cannot pick up injured men".
The denial of medical treatment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Local people complain that they are unable to take their injured to hospital as USA forces are arresting all males over the age of 15. All power and water has been cut off and snipers are firing at people. According to Iraqi journalist Ziyad al-Samarai: "The situation in Sammara city is very tense and unstable. US forces have taken up rooftop positions on the city's buildings and schools, completely closing the city and preventing people from moving around".
According to schoolteacher, Rahim Abdul-Karim, "There has been a lot of deaths, and they have been ordinary people. They are killing us to save us". Another man describes seeing stray dogs picking at corpses in the street.
The USA continues to describe their actions as "precision strikes". In the main hospital, doctors say that of the first 47 bodies brought in, 11 were women, 5 were children and 7 were elderly men. Even the BBC television news in the UK begins to talk about "US claims" while showing children being pulled out of the rubble of destroyed homes.
Fallujah was also attacked by USA warplanes during the hours of darkness. Two houses were reported to have been flattened in al-Shurta district. Dr Ahmad Tahir at Falluja's general hospital said seven dead, including children and women, and 13 wounded were received at the hospital. All the victims were civilians. A photographer from Associated Press describes seeing the bodies of women and children being removed from the rubble of the homes.
In the Sadr City suburb in Baghdad USA forces fire missiles into packed tenement buildings.
The USA appointed Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, makes a speech in the USA Congress. This is later shown to have been written by the USA president's re-election team.
An Iraqi organisation, Struggle Against Hegemony, states that over 37,000 civilians were killed between the start of the invasion in March 2003 and October 2003. This figure does not include deaths of Iraqi military and paramilitary forces. According to Muhammad al-Ubaidi:
"For the collation of our statistics we visited the most remote villages, spoke and coordinated with grave-diggers across Iraq, obtained information from hospitals, and spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw incidents in which Iraqi civilians were killed by US fire."
Al-Ubaidi, a physiology professor based in the UK, provided a detailed breakdown of the 37,000 civilian deaths for each region in Iraq.
|Karbala and Najaf||2263|
The counting stopped in October 2003 after researchers were arrested by USA forces and have not been seen since.
In October 2004, a scientific study published in the UK medical magazine, The Lancet, suggests that at least 100,000 people have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. More than half of the victims have been women and children killed by "the effect of areal weaponry", in other words, air strikes. The survey was undertaken by public health experts from Iraq and the USA (Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland). The figures are much higher than earlier estimates based on media sources. Some studies suggest that even these figures are an under-estimate. The occupying forces are also criticised by the report for failing to keep figures of Iraqi casualties.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that 350 tons of high explosive went missing from from storage at Al-Qaqa'a during the USA invasion in March 2003. Iraqi witness maintain that USA troops were told of the presence of the material at the site but failed to guard it. The site was one listed by the UK as producing illegal weapons.
In November, the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, warns the USA and UK not to attack the city of Fallujah as that would make the situation in Iraq more difficult. His plea is ignored. The USA heavily bombs the city from the air for several days and orders civilians to leave.
Ralph Peters, a former military officer told USA newspaper, New York Post: "We must not be afraid to make an example of Fallujah. We need to demonstrate that the United States military cannot be deterred or defeated. If that means widespread destruction, we must accept the price Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it''.
A month after stating that most of Iraq is "completely safe'', the USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, declares martial law throughout all of Iraq except the Kurdish north. The new powers allow public gatherings to be broken up, private houses to be entered without warrants, and people to be detained without trial. These are similar powers held by the previous regime that the USA had thought was so totalitarian that it had to be removed.
The USA invades the city of Fallujah (population normally 300,000) with over 10,000 troops for the second time in 2004, taking the Fallujah General Hospital, the city's main health care facility. Patients in the hospital are handcuffed and dragged out of their rooms for examination by troops. Most are later released. Mehdi Abdulla, a 33 year old ambulance driver describes USA actions: "Doctors in Fallujah are reporting to me that there are patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the Americans. Some doctors there told me they had a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors away and left the patient to die". Nazzal Emergency Hospital, a recently constructed trauma clinic, is bombed and destroyed killing 20 doctors and a dozen patients; a nearby warehouse for medical supplies is also destroyed.
Half of the city's 120 mosques are destroyed by air strikes. The effect on the Arab and Muslim world of images of mosques being attacked with tanks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan can only be imagined. Many people are killed and bodies have to be buried in gardens due to the curfew. The wounded cannot get medical attention. There are reports of bodies lying in the streets.
According to Colonel Mike Ramos, anyone violating the curfew is part of a "free fire zone" - in other words, any thing that moves will be shot at. Colonel Gary Brandl, a USA marine, tells the UK television station, the BBC: "The enemy has a face. It is Satan's. He is in Fallujah, and we are going to destroy him."
Muhammad Abbud has to watch his 9 year old son, Ghaith, bleed to death after being hit by shrapnel: "We just bandaged his stomach and gave him water, but he was losing a lot of blood. He died this afternoon". This story is extensively covered by Middle Eastern media but ignored by Western television news. Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at Fallujah Hospital said: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes who we can't move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands". The USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, responds by accusing Iraqi doctors of exaggerating civilian casualties.
A resident of the city, Fadri al-Badrani, tells the Reuters news agency: "Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding. The north of the city is in flames. Fallujah has become like hell". Another resident, Farhan Saleh added: "My kids are hysterical with fear. They are traumatised by the sound but there is nowhere to take them".
A fleeing woman.
The magazine, Christian Science Monitor, quotes a retired general with connections to the USA military as noting, This is being done for not only its effect on Fallujah, but for its demonstration effects...on other places resembling Fallujah�. In other words, if you resist us, this is what will happen to you. The use of violence for the purpose of intimidation and spreading terror is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
Television reports mention "phosphorous rounds" without elaborating. This is a substance that sticks to skin and burns. A hospital doctor, Kamal Hadeethi, is quoted in the USA newspaper, Washington Post as saying "The corpses of the mujaheddin which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted". People reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous or napalm burns.
None of this is mentioned in the Western media.
Their destination and status remains unknown.
As the slaughter continues some members of the the USA-appointed government, decide to speak out and pull out of the government. Mohsen Abdel Hamid, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party explains his reasons: "The American attack on our people in Fallujah has led and will lead to more killings and genocide without mercy from the Americans". The Association of Muslim Scholars calls for a boycott of planned elections as they will be held "over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah and the blood of the wounded". Up to 500 Iraqi troops that had been trained by the USA to "put an Iraqi face" on the invasion refuse to fight and desert.
Throughout the attack on Fallujah, most Western television reports state that "there are no reliable reports of civilian casualties". Prior to the attack, the Arabic television station, Al-Jazeera was excluded from Iraq. Al-Arabiya had an unembedded ("independent") reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on 11 November USA forces arrested him and held him away from the city. This detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists: "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job".
The USA-appointed Iraqi government orders journalists working in Iraq to tow the government line or face legal action. Media were ordered to "set aside space in your news coverage to make the position of the Iraqi government, which expresses the aspirations of most Iraqis, clear". It continued, "We hope you comply ... otherwise we regret we will be forced to take all the legal measures to guarantee higher national interests". Ann Cooper, director of the USA-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at this development: "It damages the government's credibility in establishing a free and democratic society". The clampdown continues with the arrest of Mustafa al-Dulaimi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, who had earlier spoken out against the invasion of Fallujah.
The USA television station, Fox News, reported that "US troops also raided a Sunni mosque in Qaim, near the Syrian border". The report described the arrests as "retaliation for opposing the Falluja offensive". Two Shia clerics associated with Moqtada al-Sadr have also been arrested in recent weeks; according to the news agency, Associated Press, "both had spoken out against the Falluja attack".
Fallujah resident, Luai Mansur Abd al-Karim, described conditions in the battered city: "The majority ... have stayed in the streets, in the open air. They have no food, no shelter. Life necessities are very little. Humanitarian organisations cannot reach these families as all roads leading to the city and its suburbs are closed. Anyone who walks in the streets exposes his life to danger and his vehicle to being bombed. US forces have cordoned off the city and all its suburbs. They are conducting group killings and eliminations in Falluja and its suburbs. These families cannot go anywhere."
Another resident, Rasul Ibrahim, told the Qatar based TV station, Al-Jazeera: "There's no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there's no proper food".
An Iraqi journalist tells Associated Press: "The Americans are shooting anything that moves". To dislodge just one Iraqi sniper, an embedded journalist with the newspaper, New York Times, reports that a three storey complex was hit with two 500-pound bombs, 35 155mm artillery shells, 10 120mm shells from tanks and about 30,000 rounds from machine guns and small arms. The building is left a "smoking ruin". From the television footage coming out of the city, USA troops "search" buildings by using grenades and machine gun fire on houses before entering. Every male found alive is being dragged away, bound and hooded, to detention centres.
Whole districts were leveled with many buildings destroyed. There is no electricity or water. Residents talk of the odour of death in the streets. Abd al-Hamid Salim, a volunteer with the relief organisation, Red Crescent observes that "anyone who gets injured is likely to die because there's no medicine and they can't get to doctors. There are snipers everywhere. Go outside and you're going to get shot."
Abbas Ali, a doctor reported: "I'm one of the few medical cadres that survived last Monday from the massacre. We are in a very tragic situation. Hundreds of dead bodies are spread in the streets. Even the injured are still there. We cannot transfer them. We cannot do anything to save them."
The USA President, George W Bush and UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, continue to say that the military operations in Fallujah are to "help Iraqis achieve their liberty and to defend the security of the world". Fallujah's resisters are described as "Saddamists" even though the city had a history of defying the former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
As Fallujah is battered into submission, uprisings occur in several places around the country, including Mosul, Baiji and Ramadi.
After a week, the USA declares that Fallujah is under USA control. Aid convoys are prevented by USA forces from entering the city, originally because of "security concerns" then because the USA is providing all assistance required. According to USA marine, Colonel Mike Shupp, "there is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people". The USA appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, states that there are "no civilian casualties" in Fallujah. Refugees, doctors and other witnesses from the city talk of outbreaks of typhoid, rotting corpses, thousands of people trapped, the wounded unable to get medical aid. These claims are mainly ignored by the Western media. No footage of bodies is shown. In contrast, bodies are shown in the Dafur region of Sudan during the same week.
USA troops searching houses while frightened Iraqis look on.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the invasion of their city.
A video by USA television station, NBC, shows a USA soldier killing a wounded Iraqi inside a mosque. The soldier is heard saying that the man was breathing and faking being dead. After a single shot is fired at the man's head the soldier says "He's dead now".
This is one of several pieces of footage showing USA soldiers killing wounded Iraqis in violation of the Geneva Convention as well as attacks on civilians by aircraft and helicopters. The NBC footage is shown in the USA and UK with a story of how the solder concerned had been previously shot and is broadcast in the middle of other news items; the UK television station BBC covers the story in less than 10 seconds during one broadcast. The actual shooting is never shown.
In the Middle East the footage is shown uncensored. According to Kevin Sites, the NBC reporter present at the time, "the prisoner did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way". Kathy Kelly of the peace group, Voices in the Wilderness, spoke about the images: "I don't think the US is paying much attention to the Geneva Conventions any more - that is the problem".
According to reports from newsmen embedded with the USA troops during the assault launched on 8 November, the shooting may not have been an isolated incident. Instead, it may have simply been the only one caught on camera, an illustration of the looser rules of engagement authorised for the Fallujah offensive. The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon.
Residents of Saqlawiya, a village neighbouring Falluja, tell the TV station, Al-Jazeera, that they helped bury the bodies of 73 women and children who were burnt to death by a USA bombing attack: "We buried them here, but we could not identify them because they were charred by the use of napalm bombs used by the Americans," said one resident of Saqlawiya in footage broadcast on Al-Jazeera.
According to Abu Hammad, 35 year old trader, the USA "used everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground." Kassem Mohammed Ahmed a refugee from Fallujah tells the news agency, IPS, that he witnessed many atrocities committed by USA soldiers in the city: "I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks. This happened so many times". Abdul Razaq Ismail another Fallujah refugee told of soldiers using tanks to pull bodies to the football stadium to be buried. "I saw dead bodies on the ground and nobody could bury them because of the American snipers. The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah."
Abu Hammad describes what happened when people attempted to swim across the River Euphrates to escape the attack on Fallujah: "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore. Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot". He also describes seeing elderly women carrying white flags shot by USA soldiers. "Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed".
Kharma, a small city near Fallujah, was bombed by USA warplanes. In one instance a family of five was killed.
Initial figures by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) talk of over 800 civilians killed.
The USA newspaper, the New York Times, quoting the ICRC, cited the story of one family using a car to flee the carnage into the city only to come face to face with a marine squad who had taken control of a mosque as a defence position. "A barrage of bullets followed. Minutes later, Ms Abd Allah's mother lay bloodied and dying in the rear seat, glass shards strewn about her. Ms Abd Allah, hit in the back by a bullet, collapsed into her mother's lap. Three men in the car were lightly wounded," the paper reported.
When the USA marines realised they may have killed civilians, they rushed to check on the casualties. The USA-supported Iraqi National Guard (the so-called "Iraqi face" of the occupation) advised they kill the survivors, but the marines held off and provided medical assistance when it was determined the people in the car were not part of the city's resistance groups.
The Jolan and Askali neighbourhoods were the worst hit, with more than half of the houses destroyed. Dead bodies were scattered on the streets and narrow alleys of Jolan, one of Fallujah's oldest neighbourhoods. Witnesses told of blood and flesh were splattered on the walls of some of the houses. During one night, USA warplanes dropped eight 2,000-pound (900kg) bombs on the city overnight, and artillery boomed throughout the night and into the morning.
According to USA army captain, Erik Krivda: "For this operation, we took the gloves off."
Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year old man, tells Lebanese-born USA journalist, Dahr Jamail, "The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah, They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!" His friend adds "Everyone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!"
Although mostly ignored by Western media, reports of war crimes continue to surface: Aziz Abdulla (27) reports: "I saw so many civilians killed there, and I saw several tanks roll over the wounded in the streets." Abu Mohammed (40) reports the use of cluster bombs by the USA, adding: "The Americans smashed our city, killed thousands of people, destroyed our mosques and hospitals." Abu Aziz (45): "The tanks rolled over wounded people in the streets. They shot so many wounded people who went to mosques for shelter. Even the graves were bombed."
Naomi Klein of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, commented on the lack of reporting of civilian casualties in the Western media: "The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks."
Seven people, including a child, die when a bus is shot at by USA troops in Ramadi. Television footage from Reuters showed the bus peppered with bullet holes. Some of the windows were shattered and others spattered with blood. Flies buzzed around corpses in the vehicle, as men carried away bodies and loaded them into cars.
Many civilians are arrested in Samarra by USA troops and Iraqis working for the USA-appointed government. al-Adhamiya is put under a 6pm curfew. Citizens cower in their houses while USA helicopters fly overhead. USA troops conduct house to house searches in the Sadr City district of Baghdad where a 6 year old boy is shot for being outside during curfew.
A report published by Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the United Nations states that roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterised by chronic diarrhoea and dangerous protein deficiencies. This is 7.7% of the population, an increase since the invasion from 4%. Approximately 60% of rural residents and 20% of urban dwellers have access only to contaminated water.
The USA appointed Iraqi government announces that elections will take place on 30 January 2005. By the Muslim calendar this date is in the middle of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Farnaz Fassihi, a reporter in Iraq for the USA newspaper, Wall Street Journal sent an email to friends describing conditions for reporters in Iraq:
"Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days, is like being under virtual house arrest.... I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't."
In December the Western media announced that Iraq's debts would be forgiven. What was omitted from most reports was that this would only happen if the country allowed its economy to be run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for ten years regardless of what Iraqis themselves voted for. This is an excellent example of a story being misleading by omission.
The Accord is given support by former presidents and winners of the Nobel Peace prize including: Jimmy Carter (former USA president), Nelson Mandela (former South Africa president), Lech Walesa (former Poland president), Michael Gorbachev (former president of the USSR) and F W de Klerk (former South African president).
The Accord is rejected by the government of Israel and thousands of Palestinians who want to maintain the "right of return".
In March, Israel assassinates the spiritual leader of Hammas, Sheik Ahmad Yassin. The wheelchair-bound partially-sighted paraplegic was blown up outside a mosque by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter. Seven other people are also killed. The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the assassination.
In April, the USA president, George W Bush, makes a speech that approves a unilateral plan by Israel concerning the Palestinians and their occupied territories. The following points are approved:
Western media report this as a wonderful breakthrough and a chance for peace, even though it rewards Israel's ethnic cleansing and denies the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and will effectively turn Gaza into a prison for a million people. The story is told in the form "Israel to withdraw from Gaza".
The plan is discussed with the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak and the King of Jordan, Abdullah. No Palestinian representative is consulted. The UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who had boasted that invading Iraq with the USA would lead to a just peace in the Middle East, praises the plan.
The leader of the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, declares that the resistance to Israeli occupation will continue and encourages Arab states to meet and discuss the new USA policy. A legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organisation told the USA newspaper, New York Times, "imagine if Palestinians said, 'O.K., we give California to Canada.' Americans should stop wondering why they have so little credibility in the Middle East."
Phyllis Bennis, of the Institute For Policy Studies, writes: "The U.S. position returns Middle East diplomacy to its pre-1991 position, when Palestinians were excluded from all negotiations. Israeli-U.S. negotiations become the substitute for Israeli-Palestinian talks, with the U.S. free to concede Palestinian land and rights. The official U.S. acceptance of the Israeli occupation of huge swathes of Palestinian territory, and the Bush administration's willingness to cede internationally-recognized Palestinian rights represents a new version of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which Britain, the colonial power, guaranteed settlers of the early Zionist movement a 'national Jewish homeland' in Palestine disregarding the rights of the indigenous population."
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, criticizes the USA endorsement of Israel's unilateral plan when he affirmed that "final status issues should be determined in negotiations between the parties based on relevant Security Council resolutions".
Shortly after, Abdul Aziz Rantisi, the leader of Hammas for only a month, is assassinated by an Israeli missile attack. The killing causes mass anger throughout the Arab world and is condemned by many countries (but not the USA).
20 armed Israeli settlers move into Silwan, an Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem, to occupy a seven storey apartment building. Police help as Palestinians are evicted. The area is recognised as part of the occupied territories by the United Nations.
During May, Israeli forces attack occupied Gaza killing people and demolishing homes, shops, power and telephone lines and destroying agricultural land. Among the dead were Asmaa Mughayer (15) and her brother Ahmed (13) killed on their roof as they fed pigeons. The Israeli army says that they were killed by a Palestinian bomb. Dr Ahmed Abu Nkaira, at Rafah Hospital, shows the single bullet wounds to the heads with their larger exit wounds, to UK journalist, Donald Macintyre.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Israel destroyed 100 homes in 10 days, leaving 1110 Palestinians homeless. 131 residential buildings were damaged.
UNRWA declares that the demolitions violate the Geneva Conventions. The human rights group, Amnesty International, calls the actions "a war crime" as the demolitions are part of a policy of collective punishments and to help the establishment of illegal settlements (actually "colonies") in violation of international law.
The USA says it is "concerned" and "troubled" but condones the actions as "self defence" even though they are the actions of an occupying army on occupied territories. In the UK, only one newspaper (The Independent) and one television news broadcast (Channel 4 News) covers the story with pictures. These show distressed families in and around the wreckage of their homes trying to salvage possessions, buldozers tearing down walls of buildings and houses being blown up. Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid criticised his own government with this moving statement:
"I saw on television an old woman picking through the rubble of her house in Rafah, looking for her medicine. She reminded me of my grandmother who was expelled from her home during the Holocaust."
In Rafah, an Israeli tank and helicopter fire shells and missiles on civilians demonstrating against the house demolitions. Dozens are killed and injured, mainly children and teenagers. The injuries include severed limbs and intestines hanging out. The pictures seen around the world are so graphic that in the United Nations Security Council, even the rabidly pro-Israel USA abstains and a resolution is passed (by 14 - 0) condemning the attack and calling for Israel to respect international law and to stop demolishing houses.
The death toll between September 2000 and May 2004 stands at 921 Israelis and 2,806 Palestinians. In Gaza, over 2,300 homes have been demolished by Israel, making 17,594 people homeless. Rafah is the worst affected area where 11,215 people have already been made homeless over a three year period. Many people in Rafah are refugees from 1948, 1967 and 1973. Many have been refugees on more than one occasion. The dispair of a people under a 37 year occupation while the powerful West looks the other way can only be imagined.
An Israeli buldozer in Rafah.
Family among the ruins of their demolished house.
Family looking for belongings in their demolished house.
House being blown up by Israeli forces.
Family outside their demolished house.
A homeless family.
Children crying after their home has been demolished.
Desolation and despair in Rafah.
In June, a group of MPs (Members of Parliament) from the UK visit the area as part of a United Nations fact finding mission. They are shot at by Israeli snipers. The UK media bury the story.
In July, the World Court rules that the wall being built by Israel in the West Bank is illegal. The court found that:
"Israel is under obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein stated".
Israel ignores the ruling, saying the the wall (which it calls a "security fence") is temporary. The court disagrees: "the construction of the wall and its associate regime creates a 'fait accompli' on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case, and not withstanding the formal characterisation by Israel, it would be tantamount to annexation".
Further, the court states that Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. It specifically excludes portions of the wall built on Israeli territory. This indicates that there is no problem with the wall itself but with the route of the wall.
The court confirmed that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies to all people over which a state has jurisdiction, meaning that they apply to the Palestinian Territories under Israeli occupation.The court also noted that the wall's route has been drawn to include over 80% of the settlements - and it rules that the settlements are illegal, a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The USA calls the ruling "inappropriate".
The wall snakes over occupied Palestinian territory.
The wall snakes across the occupied territory of the West Bank. It cuts off villages from their fields; sometimes it cuts villages in two. It cuts off tens of thousands of people from their families, schools and places of work. Over 200km of a planned 700km has been built. Its maximum height is 8m (30 feet). By comparison, the Berlin Wall was 3.6m.
The court quotes United Nations reports which state that 16% of the West Bank will end up between the wall and the internationally recognised armistice line (the Green Line). This belt includes 237,000 illegal Jewish settlers (a more accurate word is "colonists") and 160,000 Palestinians who will live "in almost completely encircled communities" (a more accurate word is "ghettos").
The United Nations warns that "with the fence/wall cutting communities off from their land and water without other means of subsistence" it fears that people will leave. In the town of Qalqilya over 6,000 people have already left and 600 business or shops have closed. The town will be completely surrounded by a 11km wall. The UN warning continues that the wall is depriving a significant number of Palestinians of the "freedom to choose [their] place of residence" and "is tending to alter the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory". A better phrase for this is "ethnic cleansing".
The Israeli Foreign Ministry defends the building of the wall: "if there was no terror; there would be no fence". This is reported in the the Western media who fail to mention the counter claim that if there was no occupation, there might not be a resistance to it.
Over 200km of a planned 700km has been built. Its maximum (30 feet).
The Berlin Wall was 3.6m.
Primary school children walking home from school by the wall.
Mahmoud Jaffal tells journalist Sa'id Ghazali that his route to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from his village involves going through a tiny opening in the wall: "I am angry at the world. Israel does not respect the international law. Israel is a rebellious country. Why can Jews who are from Africa and all over the world move freely here and I, who live in Abu Dis, can not enter Jerusalem? It is disgraceful that the world can not do anything. We are human beings and not animals.."
Meanwhile, Israeli companies have moved factories and complexes close to the wall where they employ Palestinians who earn less than the legal minimum wage in Israel and are not protected by Israeli labour laws. The industries moving from Israel to the West Bank are many of the most polluting - Israel's strict environmental laws will not apply.
An 11km section of the wall will completely surround the town of Qalqilya. According to the United Nations, over 6,000 people have left the town and 600 business or shops have closed (as of mid 2004).
Satelite views of Qalqilya in 2002 (left) before the construction of the wall and in 2003 (right) during the construction of the wall.
School children waiting for the checkpoint to open to return home.
Ana'ta district in East Jerusalem. One of thousands of homes demolished to make way for the wall.
According to figures from the Israel Defence Force and the Palestinian Monitor, 587 Palestinian and 111 Israeli children have been killed in the region between 2000 and 2004. The following table shows the causes of death for all non-military deaths for the same period.
|Cause of Death||Israelis||Palestinians|
|Rubber / Plastic Coated Bullets||0||3|
|Shelling / Bombing||108||650|
|Prevention of Medical Treatment||0||87|
|Bystanders During Assassinations||0||152+|
For virtually every cause of death, many more Palestinians die than Israelis. The only cause of death that affects Israelis more than Palestinians is suicide bombings. The vast majority of the media coverage in the West covers these suicide bombings. They are endlessly discussed while the other sources of death are virtually ignored. Each event is given major coverage including views of victims and their families. In contrast, Palestinian deaths by, say, missile attacks are only briefly shown, if at all.
In television interviews, Palestinian leaders are constantly asked when the suicide bombings will stop. In contrast, Israeli leaders are rarely asked why so many Palestinians are killed by live ammunition (the biggest cause of death in the table above). Indeed, Israeli leaders are never asked the fundamental question of when the 37 year long occupation will end; or why people die because of being denied medical treatment (a violation of the Geneva Conventions).
This one sided coverage gives a misleading image of the conflict. The fact that Western governments condone it is a betrayal of an occupied people as well as a source of deep anger in the Arab world.
The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning Israel's building of a wall on Palestinian territory. The resolution is passed with 150 votes (including the European Union) with 6 votes against (including the USA) and 10 abstentions. The UK asks Israel to comply saying that it has a right to build the wall but not on occupied territory.
The USA sends 100 F16-I jets to Israel. These are advanced jet bombers that "can reach Iran and return" and are equipped with "special weapons". None of this is mentioned in the Western press.
In September, Israeli raids in Nablus and Jenin kill 10 people including an 11 year old girl, Mariam al-Nakhlah. The girl's grandmother, Muyasar al-Nakhlah, said that "She was watching the ambulances taking away the bodies when soldiers posted on the roof of a house shot at her, hitting her in the face". 30 people are injured including a 14 year old boy shot in the head.
As usual, none of this is covered by the Western media while Arab stations like al-Jazeera are barred from entering the area.
According to United Nations aid officials, Israeli army bulldozers demolish the homes of more than 200 Palestinians in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Yunis. The attack came after midnight and resulted in 60 families (about 230 people) losing their homes.
The story appears on the BBC website but is omitted from television broadcasts. Their journalists are barred from entering the area. Fathi Zaroub (who has four children) told the Associated Press: "We were forced to leave the house under intensive shooting from the sky and from tanks, we took nothing from our belongings. We ran away in our pyjamas and we have no other refuge."
In October over 150 people, nearly half of them children, are killed when Israeli forces attack Gaza. The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the action. Israel arrests 13 United Nations workers. Israel destroys over 100 homes. According to the UK based newspaper, al-Sharq al-Awsat, the lack of international criticism to Israeli policies has emboldened Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, assuring him that he can carry out "disproportionately aggressive reprisals against Palestinians". The report continues: "With the Arab world in a state of complete paralysis, the US in the fray of a contentious election where Bush and Kerry are vying to appease Israel irrespective of its crimes, and with the EU content with issuing polite calls for restraint, Sharon feels he is above the world and above international law and that he can do anything he wants with the Palestinians."
In Jenin, 12 year old Ibrahim Muhammad Ismail is shot dead by Israeli troops during demonstrations against the occupation. In Gaza, 7 year old Ahmad al-Smari and his cousin, 8 year old Muhammad al-Smari are killed when an Israeli tank shell slams into their house near Khan Yunis, shredding their bodies. Three other people are killed on the same day.
In Gaza, Israeli soldiers shoot and kill a 13 year old girl, Iman al-Hams, as she walks to school. An audio tape of the killing was broadcast on Israeli television station, Channel Two. A soldier is heard to clearly identify the target as a child: "It's a little girl. She's running defensively eastwards, a girl of about 10. She's behind the embankment, scared to death". The Israeli commander is heard to say "Anyone who's mobile, moving in the zone, even if it's a three year old, needs to be killed". Ten bullets were fired into the child as she lay motionless on the ground. This story is not covered in the USA or UK. A year later, an Israeli court clears the soldier and commander involved.
After being confined to his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah by the Israelis for three years, 75 year old Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat falls ill. He is allowed to leave for Paris where he dies. The Western media's coverage of his life is mixed, many following the Israeli and USA line that he was the cause of the problems in the region.
1400 Palestinian civilians, including 570 minors, were killed in the occupied territories in 2004. Many Israeli soldiers have begun to admit publicly that they are often given explicit orders to shoot Palestinian civilians, including children, when seen entering or approaching a certain "danger zone". Amos Harel of the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, describes the Israeli army's practice of shooting Palestinian children and then covering up the killing as "despicable and criminal".
A field study published in the British Medical Journal reports that, in the previous four years, "Two-thirds of the 621 children killed [by the Israelis] at checkpoints on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half the cases to the head, neck, and chest the sniper's wound." A quarter of Palestinian infants under the age of five are acutely or chronically malnourished. The Israeli wall "will isolate 97 primary health clinics and 11 hospitals from the populations they serve."
The report described "a man in a now fenced-in village near Qalqilya [who] approached the gate with his seriously ill daughter in his arms and begged the soldiers on duty to let him pass so that he could take her to hospital. The soldiers refused."
A Friends of the Earth report finds that 94% of Israeli settlements (colonies) pump untreated sewage onto Palestinian land.
Tim Llewellyn, the UK BBC Middle East Correspondent between 1970 and 1990, describes how bias in inbuilt in the BBC's coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict:
"In the news reporting of the domestic BBC TV bulletins, 'balance', the BBC's crudely applied device for avoiding trouble, means that Israel's
lethal modern army is one force, the Palestinians, with their rifles and home-made bombs, the other 'force': two sides equally strong and culpable
in a difficult dispute, it is implied, that could easily be sorted out if extremists on both sides would see reason and the leaders do as instructed
"When suicide bombers attack inside Israel the shock is palpable. The BBC rarely reports the context, however. Many of these acts of killing and
martyrdom are reprisals for assassinations by Israel's death squads, soldiers and agents who risk nothing as they shoot from helicopters or send
death down a telephone line. I rarely see or hear any analysis of how many times the Israelis have deliberately shattered a period of Palestinian
calm with an egregious attack or murder. 'Quiet' periods mean no Israelis died... it is rarely shown that during these 'quiet' times Palestinians
continued to be killed by the score."
"When suicide bombers attack inside Israel the shock is palpable. The BBC rarely reports the context, however. Many of these acts of killing and martyrdom are reprisals for assassinations by Israel's death squads, soldiers and agents who risk nothing as they shoot from helicopters or send death down a telephone line. I rarely see or hear any analysis of how many times the Israelis have deliberately shattered a period of Palestinian calm with an egregious attack or murder. 'Quiet' periods mean no Israelis died... it is rarely shown that during these 'quiet' times Palestinians continued to be killed by the score."
"No. I was forced to leave. Agents were telling me that if I don't leave they would start shooting and killing in a matter of time."
The USA says it escorted the president out of the country. At the airport he handed a letter of resignation to Luis Moreno, the deputy chief of the USA embassy.
Father Michael Graves, a USA born preacher who has worked in Haiti for 18 years contradicted this account, saying that the president was escorted out of the country at gunpoint after being forced to sign his resignation: "I am outraged that the US has stepped into a sovereign country, a fledgling democracy, and forced out a leader who was elected."
Aristide's concierge, Joseph Pierre, confirmed that: "White Americans came by helicopter to get him. They also took his bodyguards. It was around two o'clock in the morning. He didn't want to leave. The American soldiers forced him to. Because they were pointing guns at him, he had to follow them. The Americans are second only to God in terms of strength".
The USA ensured that $ 500 million in emergency humanitarian aid from the USA, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund was suspended.
Several of the paramilitary leaders of the insurgency are men who were behind the previous USA-backed coup and its aftermath (1991 to 1994). Louis Jodel Chamblain is a former member of the paramilitary death squads from that period.
The USA controlled the president's security until USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell informed Aristide that the USA would not protect him. In other words, resign and leave or be killed. After a 20 hour flight Aristide found himself in a French military base in the Central African Republic.
The coup occurs after the USA had been destabilising the country and strangling the economy with sanctions and supporting a rebel insurgency since 2001. The new government is recognised by the USA and France. The USA and its media describes Aristide's exile as "a voluntary departure" which allowed the "restoration of democracy". In 2002, the USA had commissioned a report into the elections in the country which had verified them. The report was supressed by the USA government.
The USA ensured that $ 500 million in emergency humanitarian aid from the USA, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund was suspended.
Since 2001, human rights activists and humanitarian workers in Haiti had documented numerous killings of government officials and bystanders in attacks on health clinics, police stations and government vehicles. None of these killings had been condemned by the USA government. The rebel gangs responsible are linked to two groups financed by the USA: the Convergence for Democracy (supported by George W Bush and his party) and the pro-business Group of 184 (represented by Andy Apaid, a supporter of the former Duvalier dictatorship and now a USA citizen).
France backed USA calls for the president to resign. Aristide was accused by the USA of becoming dictatorial even though he had abolished the (USA created) army in 1995. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union call for a formal investigation into Aristide's removal. This is unreported by the Western media which barely covers the events in the country.
Haiti is the poorest country in the "Western Hemisphere" and the fourth poorest country in the world. 50% of the country's wealth is owned by 1% of the population. Life expectancy is 52 years for women and 48 for men. Unemployment is about 70%. About 85% of the population live on less than $1 per day.
60% of the country's trade is with the USA. The manufacture of baseballs, textiles, cheap electronics, and toys, the country's sugar, bauxite and sisal are all controlled by USA companies. As an example, the USA entertainment company, Disney, has used sweatshops in Haiti to produce Pocahontas pajamas, among other items, at the rate of $0.11 per hour. Aristide had attempted to raise the minimum wage.
The country has a debt of $1,134,000 million. About 40% of this debt stems from loans from the USA to the brutal Duvalier dictators who had been backed by the USA. Little of this money had actually benefited the population. In July 2003, Haiti had to send over 90% of its foreign reserves to the USA to pay off some of the debt.
Foreign companies receive vast incentives to set up plants in Haiti but returns to the Haitian economy are minimal. Working and living standards of the local people have steadily declined.
Tom Driver, a frequent visitor to Haiti describes the country after the exile of the president:
"the National Palace ... the building is mostly occupied by U.S. Marines, who also patrol the streets and the airport, and fly helicopters almost constantly over the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince night and day. U.S. forces have made many night-time raids into some of the poorest quarters, particularly the one called Belair. In these raids they have killed an uncertain number of people, estimates going as high as 70. Occasionally the foreign soldiers venture into middle class neighborhoods, but never threaten the houses on the hills where the wealthy live."
A school of medicine established by Aristide is closed by the USA military and the building used as a barracks.
The USA military do not arrest the rebels who had taken up arms against the legitimate government as this is "not part of the mission of the U.S. forces", according to USA embassy staff. Force is used, however, against militants in the slums who are loyal to Aristide.
The new Prime Minister is Gerard Latortue, who had lived in Florida (USA) for 14 years. He had been a member of the previous government of 1988 (also installed by coup). Another minister, Herard Abraham, is a former general who intends to re-form the army. Most of the new Cabinet are exiles who have worked for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Business leaders praise the new government.
The day after the coup, 34 union members at the Ouanaminthe garment assembly factory are fired. When the workforce decides to strike, a group of armed men attack the strikers. The workers are forced back inside the factory.
The new government releases from prison the former general, Prosper Avril. He had seized power in September 1988 (until March 1990). Victims of torture under his regime were awarded $41 million in compensation. These victims included opposition politicians, union leaders, scholars, even a doctor trying to practise community medicine. Three of his torture victims were shown on television after being tortured. He suspended 37 articles of the constitution.
During March 2004, 1000 political murders take place and dozens are killed by USA marines.
In the Summer of 2004, several tropical storms kill more than 3,000 in Haiti. The large number of deaths is attributed to lack of infrastructure and deforestation. This began in 1915 when the USA invaded the country and USA corporations were given ownership of the most fertile lands. Thousands of acres were cleared for rubber production, sugar plantations, and produce for export. The clearing of the original forest has left the country with little top soil so it is susceptible to flooding.
In December a report from the human rights group, Comit� des Avocats pour le Respect des Libert�s Individuelles (CARLI), reports hundreds of cases of rape by the USA backed military, Forces Armee d'Haiti or FADH:
"In the month of August, for example, more than 50 cases of rape by former military were reported to our hot line."
"In the three months, July to September, 81 women - all under the age of 30 - were admitted to health centres run by GHESKIO (Groupe Ha�tien d'Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes) for treatment and counselling following sexual assaults. The majority of assaults took place in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince. According to GHESKIO, 54% of rapes are committed by armed men in the victim's home."
A UNICEF team deployed to the city of Gona�ves from 20 October to 2 November reported a "problem of rape of teenage girls".
According to Michael Brewer, who runs an organization called Haitian Street Kids, street children are frequently killed by soldiers and former soldiers. He describes one such attack:
"At approximately 7pm in the evening, a carload of these ex-military members drove by the park [Place Boyer in Petionville] and stopped where 20 to 30 children were sleeping. The ones that were not asleep alerted the others, and they all began to run. Three were caught by the men: one 7-year old by the name of Linxson, one 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. The boys were first beaten severely. Black bags were then put over their heads and tied around their necks, and then they were shot and killed. The bodies were placed in the trunk of the car and taken away from the scene."
"One week earlier, a nine-year-old named Emmanuel was running from a group of these men after he refused to come to them when they called him. They shot him in the leg with an assault rifle to stop him. Three of the men casually walked up to where the child was lying on the ground and crying. They ridiculed him, then shot him again with pistols and a shotgun, for a total of 4 more times. One of my children, a 14 year old boy named Makinzi, was murdered as he was walking down the side of the road about three weeks ago..."
None of these events is reported in the Western media.
Human rights organisations report that poorer neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince continue to be targeted by death squads. Bodies are often found in an area called Titanyen long a favorite dumping spot of bodies by FADH and paramilitary killing squads. According to Melinda Miles, a USA citizen living in Haiti:
"In Haiti today we are not thankful for the pillage of our natural resources, and the sweatshops that suck the life out of young mothers in the cities. We are not thankful for the overfilled slums of Port-au-Prince and the rocky, hostile land where once there was fertile soil. We are not thankful for the violence of poverty."
A few days before the election in April 2004, dozens of bombs exploded in Madrid, killing 200 people in and around the central railway station. No warnings were given.
The attacks had the hallmarks of the Islamic terror group, Al-Qa'ida. However, Jose Maria Aznar began a propaganda and media campaign aimed at blaming the Basque separatist group, ETA for the attacks even through they normally give warnings or target government individuals. The media colluded with the government and showed cartoons in place of news coverage. The people had to view other European stations to find out what was happening. The UK government followed the line put out by Spain, also blaming ETA.
Al-Qa'ida admitted the attacks with a taped message "Stop targeting us, release our prisoners and leave our land and we will stop attacking you. The people of the US allied countries have to put pressure on their governments to immediately end their alliance with the US in the war against terror (Islam)."
Spain did exactly that; Aznar lost the election even though he had been leading before the bombings. The new government promised to withdraw the country's troops from Iraq.
After being promised by the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in 2001 that the West would "not walk away", the country's infrastructure remains shattered, warlords rule vast regions and opium production continues to grow. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, controls only the capital, Kabul.
USA forces, occupying the country, continue to kill uncounted, unreported and unmourned civilians. A report by Human Rights Watch states that USA forces arrest people arbitrarilly, loot homes and torture and kill prisoners. The report states that conditions and practices in the prisons at Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad violate international law by denying legal protection and access to the prisoners.
The USA uses aid to extract intelligence. The UK newspaper, The Independent (issue 25 May), quotes a USA soldier telling journalists: "It's simple. The more they help us find the bad guys, the more good stuff they get". Teena Roberts, head of the country's Christian Aid mission describes the effects of this policy: "The result of this is aid workers have become targets. I have not come across the use of aid in this way before".
In 2004, child mortality remains at 80% (no change from 2001) while life expectancy has dropped from 46 to 43 during the same period. Pregnancy and childbirth remains the leading cause of death amongst women.
Amanullah Haidar, an ex-soldier says "I remember all these people who came here from Europe and America and told us how they were going to help us. But where are the factories and offices we thought we would get? What about the elections we were promised?"
In 2002, Laura Bush, wife of the USA president, had stated that "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women". According to Amnesty International reports that in 2004 "the risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed forces and former combatants is still high. Forced marriages, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas".
The rare snow leopard and mountain sheep are endangered by Western game hunters paying $ 40,000 to USA companies for the privalage of killing these animals.
The United Nations reveals that opium growing in Afghanistan has increased by 64% in 2004. Most profits are made by the war lords who fought alongside the USA against the Taliban government, which had surpressed the opium trade. The country is ranked by the United Nations as a failed state.
Eva Golinger, a USA attorney, obtained the information from declassified documents: "It certainly shows an incredible pattern of financing basically every single sector in Venezuelan society". She asks "How can they say they are supporting democracy when they are funding groups that backed the coup?�
Chris Sabatini, the NED's senior program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean said pro-Chavez groups have not received funds because "they didn't ask for any..." The NED denies involvement in the coup but in an interview with USA newspaper, The Washington Post (22 September 1991), Allen Weinstein, one of the figures behind the establishment of the NED, admitted "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."
During the brief 2002 coup, the country's democratic institutions were disbanded (including Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution). Chavez restored them on his return. Chavez is very popular with the poorer sectors of the population because of his literacy programs and other policies helping slum dwellers and peasants.
The USA-backed government of Colombia has called on the Organisation of American States to condemn the "dictatorial regime" in Venezuela.
Venezuela has large oil reserves. The USA oil company, Occidental Petroleum UK owned BP-Amoco explore for oil in Colombia close to the border with Venezuela. The Colombian side of the border is heavily militarised and serves as a platform for Colombian army and paramilitary provocations against Venezuela. On 9 May, 130 Colombian paramilitaries are discovered outside the capital, Caracas.
The former United Nations weapons inspector, Hans Blix, agreed: "I think we still over-estimate the danger of terror. There are other things that are of equal if not greater magnitude, like the environmental global risks".
The UK government sees the statement as an attack on the ecological policies of the USA and limits his contacts with the media. In a leaked memo, King is ordered not to give interviews to USA or UK newspapers or radio programmes. The memo also gave stock answers to 136 questions.
In a radio interview on the BBC (Today, 9 January), King stated that climate change has already killed more people than terrorism. The leaked memo advised King to answer that "both are serious and immediate problems for the world today".
He admits that "if an election were held today... Osama bin Laden would be elected by a landslide".
The ruling family (the House of Saud) consists of over 20,000 members and has ruled the region since the 1920s. Most of the senior posts in the government as well as the majority of ambassadors abroad are in the hands of the family.
The country has no elections and discriminates against women and non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia is supported by the West: the UK sells the regime arms worth over $40 million per year; until the invasion of Iraq the USA kept several bases and thousands of troops in the kingdom.
As a consequence, the first Kurdish television program is broadcast showing a 30 minute program in a language that was banned until 1991.
Turkey has denied the existence of its Kurdish minority (12 million people out of a total population of 70 million) for decades. Over 37,000 Kurds have been killed by the Turkish military in the east of the country where the USA has bases. Western criticism of the actions as well as Western media coverage has been muted.
Nobel Peace prize nominee, Leyla Zena, is released after 10 years in prison. She had been in Parliament between 1991 and 1994 where she campaigned for Kurdish rights. Three other Kurdish members of Parliament are also released.
The report describes the following violations of human rights:
The report states that similar violations are beginning to occur in neighbouring regions like Ingushetia where 34 people have disappeared after being arrested and helicopters are used to fire on civilians.
Russia has claimed that the situation in the region is "normalising". Western European and North American reporting and criticism of this report is muted as the region is an important source of oil.
Oleg Orlov of Memorial, a Russian human rights organisation, writes "People come in armoured vehicles without licence plates and take people away. Like in Stalin's time". The organisation estimates that 3000 people have disappeared in Chechnya between 1999 and 2003. This is 43 disappearances for every 10,000 people (compared to 44 per 10,000 in Stalin's Russia of 1938).
In August, elections are held for the post of President. The Russian's preferred candidate is Major-General Alu Alkhanov. His major rival is disqualified on a technicality. Six other candidates get no television coverage while Alkhanov is allowed hours of pre-election time. Independent observers query the elections but Western media fail to cover the story. Many Chechens consider their president appointed by Russia.
In September, Chechen terrorists kill hundreds of children in the city of Beslan. The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, attempts to distance his policies in Chechnya from this crime, equating the terrorists with al-Qa'ida. The editor of Isvestia (a Russian newspaper), Raf Shakirov, is fired after questioning the government's official line. Andre Babiski, a journalist who frequently films in Chechnya, is arrested on his way to Beslan and jailed for 5 days. Other journalists are harassed including one from the television station al-Arabiya, who is arrested.
Russia denounces the terrorists as Arabs but the hostages' accounts indicate that they are Chechen or Ingush.
Many of the arms go to undemocratic regimes or governments with poor human rights records. The countries being sold arms by the UK include:
The country remained obscure until the mid-1990s when oil was discovered. Western companies like ExxonMobile (USA) have invested nearly $ 6,000 million in the country since then. Since the discovery of oil, France has set up a mobile phone network and the Netherlands airline company KLM, named one of its planes after Obiang.
The USA re-opened its embassy after closing it for eight years due to the poor human rights record of the country. Western criticism of the regime and its human rights violations decreased with the increase in investment.
More than 3000 USA technicians work in the country. 350,000 barrels of oil are pumped per day. The country has become the third largest exporter of oil in Africa. Up to $ 700 million is earned by Equatorial Guinea each year. Most of the money disappears into foreign bank accounts, most controlled by the president. Very little of the wealth reaches the people of the country. The majority of the country's half million population live on less than $2 per day.
Global Witness, a human rights group, say that little has changed for the people and that corruption is endemic in the government. In addition many officials from the country are involved in drug smuggling.
A coup attempt by a number of South African mercenaries is foiled when their aircraft lands in Zimbabwe to buy arms. Warships from Spain are rumoured to have been in the region at the time and moved away when the plot failed.
A month earlier the USA (not a European country) had declared that Turkey was ready for membership of the European Union.
KryssTal Opinion: Membership of the European Union should be decided by European countries and should be based on economic and human rights criteria and not dependent on religion or culture.
Before the invasion of Iraq, the USA spent 43% of the world's military spending. The proposed military budget for 2004 is $ 401,300 million
During 2003 and 2004 that USA suspended military aid to 35 countries that have failed to sign agreements giving USA citizens immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court, created to try war crimes.
In September 2004, over 600 citizens of 42 nations were being held in Guantanamo Bay, a USA military base in Cuba. Some detainees had been held for three years without proper access to legal representation and were being denied prisoner of war status. Some of the UK citizens were eventually allowed access to lawyers but these were not allowed to discuss their visits.
Human rights groups have consistently criticised conditions in Guantanamo Bay and have stated that the detentions are illegal. Detainees have been handcuffed, shackled and there have been numerous reports of torture. 32 inmates have attempted suicide.
The USA plans military tribunals for the detainees. Human rights groups condemn the hearings as unfair and in violation of the Geneva Conventions: "We're concerned that the military commission rules lack key fair-trial protection. Under these rules, the military serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, appeals court and, potentially, even as executioner. The commission rules do not create a level playing field. The military commissions offer no possibility for independent appeal, no matter how serious the error. A fair system of justice provides an opportunity for trial mistakes to be corrected through independent review."
The defendant or their lawyers have no right to see evidence used by the prosecution plus all conversations will be monitored. Information obtained by torture will be allowed.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) publishes a report in December. The report confirms that the USA military have intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners in Guant�namo Bay. The report concludes that the USA military has developed a system to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions.The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture."
The report continues doctors and other medical workers in Guant�namo Bay were participating in planning for interrogations in "a flagrant violation of medical ethics. Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators to assist in information-gathering .
The population of the USA is 5% of the world's total. The country uses 25% of the world's oil and is ranked first in emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas that is responsible for global warming. In comparison, the UK with 2% of the world's population uses 2% of its oil.
The USA refuses to ratify the Kyoto Agreement which is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The USA Vice President, Dick Cheney, has set up the Energy Task Force to study the problem. The 63 member group includes 62 representatives with ties to corporate energy interests. No environmentalists were invited to speak at any of the meetings. In March 2001, the Task Force was busy investigating the oil reserves of Iraq.
Canadian author, Graydon Carter, published a report called What We've Lost. The following figures appear in the report.
|USA citizens who believe that Iraq was to blame for the attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001||69%|
|USA citizens who believed in June 2003 that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq||34%|
|USA citizens who believed in May 2003 that weapons of mass destruction had been used against USA forces in Iraq||22%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel on a map||85%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map||30%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find the USA on a map||11%|
|Young USA adults who believe that "politics and government are too complicated to understand"||30%|
Before the 2004 elections, over 40,000 voters appeared on a list of people ineligible to vote. These were suspected felons and ex-felons. In Florida, felons who served their sentence had to apply to be re-instated on the voters list because of a law dating from 1868. They had to apply to the Governor of the state who is Jeb Bush, brother of the USA president (George W Bush) who was applying for re-election. The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that 600,000 people in Florida had no vote (including 1 in 3 black men).
The UK's BBC (Newsnight, 26 October 2004) broadcast the story of Willy Steen, a black voter from Tampa, who was barred from voting in the 2000 election for being a convicted felon. He had, in fact, never even been arrested. In 2004, he attempted to vote early and was again barred. The bar to his voting disappeared when he arrived at the voting station with BBC reporters.
In December, the USA newspaper, Washington Post, reveals that the USA was using phone tapping and other electronic surveillance on Mohammad El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in an attempt to undermine and remove him from office. His crime was to show that evidence used by the USA to justify its invasion of Iraq in 2003 was fake.
Nadir Fergani, the author of a United Nations report on freedom and government in the Arab world said that the USA threatened to cut aid if the report was published. The cost to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would be about $100 million a year. Fergani said the USA had already penalised the UNDP by $12 million because it did not like the previous report. The report, which criticises USA involvement in Iraq and Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories, is eventually brought out as a private document.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency proposes that all production and processing of weapon-usable material should be under international control, with "assurance that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies". The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (or Fissban) was debated by the United Nations Committee on Disarmament in November.
The vote was 147 to one (USA), with two abstentions: Israel and UK.
A year later the United Nations General Assembly would agree the resolution 179 to two (USA and Palau) with Israel and UK abstaining.
In 2005 the USA would use production and processing of weapon-usable material as an excuse to threaten Iran.
Western governments remain quiet about these anti-democratic changes because Russia stays silent on the USA and UK occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The report states that 1,000 million children are at risk from war, poverty and hunger. These children fall below levels promised by the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child.
One in six children is severely hungry; one in seven lacks access to health care.
Between 1990 and 2004, more than 1.5 million children have died in conflicts and wars around the world. 20 million have been forced from their homes and communities by fighting.
The report gave the following figures:
During 2003, over 10 million children under 5 years old died from preventable deaths; a total of 30,000 per day. Half a million children (under 15) died of AIDS.
The United Nations estimates that $ 100,000 million would solve all child poverty. This is less than 10% of the amount spent on arms in a single year.