The Acts of the Democracies

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Year : 2007

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2007

Invasion of Somalia

Ethiopia invades Somalia. The USA has warships patrolling off the coast of the country and directs operations. The USA backs the invasion in an attempt to ensure a pro-USA regime. The previous month, the United Nations had passed a resolution (1725) calling for a military force from the African Union. The countries that agreed the resolution insisted that no country sharing a border with Somalia would be involved. The USA agreed to this in order to get the resoltion (which they sponsored) passed and then ignored it by allowing Ethiopia to invade.

The West backs a "transitional government" run by Ali Mohammad Gedi which is not popular in Somalia as he is a war lord. The country had been relatively peaceful since June 2005 under a popular government called The Union of Islamic Courts who had pushed the previous USA backed governemnt out. They had ruled Somalia under the following principles: The independence of Somalia, freedom from warlord terror, justice, and respect for the Muslim faith. During their brief rule they had begun to restore property looted by the previous regime.

The UK supports the invasion and declares that members of the Islamic government should not be in power.

10,000 people are displaced by the fighting. Looting by war-lord led militias occurs in the capital, Mogadishu. Banditry by the militias begins again - it had been stopped by the previous government. The new "government" imposes martial law which is enforced by Ethiopian troops. Public meetings and gatherings are banned.

A few days later, USA forces bomb the south of the country in a series of air strikes using AC-130 gunships. These contain huge machine guns that fire 3000 rounds per minute. Over 150 Somalis are killed, including a group of 70 nomads in their night camp at Afmadow. Dozens of people were killed and over 100 are injured in an air raid in the fishing village of Ras Kamboni. At the same time Kenya, a USA ally, closes its border. The USA Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, declares that no civilians had been killed. Moalim Adan Osman, a village elder in Dhobley, contradicted this: "We estimated about 100 civilians have been killed. Some are still missing. The aeroplanes have bombed large areas. The have bombed the nomads indiscriminately".

The USA ignores international protests and sends a small number of its forces into the region to "check whether they had killed their targets".

20,000 Ethiopian soldiers remain in Somalia after the invasion.

The International Somalia Contact Group (a USA led grouping) calls for a United Nations peacekeeping force. The USA grants $ 16 million aid to the new Somali "government" and offers $ 14 million to any peacekeeping force.

Over 150 people who fled across the border to Kenya during the Ethiopian invasion are arrested and secretly flown at night from Nairobi to Somalia. They are held in underground prisons at the airport at Magadishu shackled to walls and without access to legal represenation. According to human rights groups, the detainees were questioned by USA and UK officials. They are then trasnferred to prisons in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. No legal extradition procedures had been followed.

Maini Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, accuses the USA and UK of carrying out "extraordinary rendition". This is the process where people are moved illegally across borders and detained.

The USA backed government orders the Arabic news station, Al Jazeera, and two local private radio stations (HornAfrik and IQK Koranic Radio) to stop broadcasting from Mogadishu. The radio stations come back on air for a few months until the military shoot at their offices and attack their offices with grenades. One of the presenters and the owner of HornAfrik are assassinated.

Ethiopian soldiers arrest business people and intellectuals who oppose the new government.

Fighting between Ethiopian forces and Somali resistance kills over 1000 people during March in the capital Mogadishu.

In April more fighting breaks out between the USA-Ethiopian government and Somalis resisting the occupation. Nearly 400 civilians are killed. The USA, having got its people in power, calls for a peace deal - in contrast to its failure to call for a cease fire when its ally, Israel, was bombing Lebanon in 2006.

Fighting continues with hundreds of civilians killed. In one incident rockets were fired into a crowded market and into a bus station. Resistance to the invasion is labelled as terrorism and blamed on Al-Qaida.

According to the United Nations, 321,000 people fled from Mogadishu, a city of two million people, by the middle of 2007.

KryssTal Opinion: Somalia had enjoyed a few months of peace after years of civil war. The overthrow of its government by the USA using Ethiopian troops has resulted in hundreds of unrecorded and under reported deaths from USA foreign policy.

As people continue dying in Somalia, the conflict and its reasons are ignored by USA and UK media. Andrew Cawthorne (Reuters in Kenya) reported that "the carnage and suffering in Somalia may be the worst in more than a decade -- but you'd hardly know it from your nightly news." By May 2007, more people had died in the conflict that had been killed in Lebanon during the 2006 bombing by Israel.

Nunu Kidane, a writer from Priority Africa Network (PAN) describes the situation: "USA political and military alliance with Ethiopia - which openly violated international law in its aggression towards Somalia, is destabilizing the Horn region and begins a new shift in the way the US plans to have permanent and active military presence in Africa." The Horn of Africa is the region of East Africa around Somalia.

Walter Lindner, the German Ambassador to Somalia wrote a letter describing the situation in the country: "The obviously indiscriminate use of heavy artillery in the capital has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, and forced over 200,000 more to flee for their lives. [Displaced persons were] at great risk of being subjected to looting, extortion and rape - including by uniformed troops at a various 'checkpoints'." The refugees are contracting cholera. International aid groups are being attacked by armed militia.

Andrew Cawthorne's report for Reuters continues with several quotes:

"There is a massive tragedy unfolding in Mogadishu, but from the world's silence, you would think it's Christmas. Somalis, caught up in Mogadishu's worst violence for 16 years, are painfully aware of their place on the global agenda."

"Nobody cares about Somalia, even if we die in our millions."

Michael Weinstein, a USA expert on Somalia at Purdue University explains why the media has been quiet about the situation in Somalia:

"For the major [world] leaders, there is a tremendous embarrassment over Somalia. They have committed themselves to supporting the interim government -- a government that has no broad legitimacy, a failing government. This is the heart of the problem. ... But Western leaders can't back out now, so of course they have 100% no interest in bringing global attention to Somalia. There is no doubt that Somalia has been shoved aside by major media outlets and global leaders, and the Somali Diaspora is left crying in the wilderness."

Although Ethiopia invaded Somalia and installed a puppet government, the affair was planned by the USA who are present in the background. The USA newspaper, Washington Post, reported "a picture of a nation that jails its citizens without reason or trial, and tortures many of them -- despite government claims to the contrary. Such cases are especially troubling because the US government, a key Ethiopian ally, has acknowledged interrogating terrorism suspects in Ethiopian prisons, where some detainees were sent after being arrested in connection with Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in December. There have been no reports that those jailed have been tortured."

The next day the newspaper was reporting that "more than 200 FBI and CIA agents have set up camp in the Sheraton Hotel here in Ethiopia's capital and have been interrogating dozens of detainees -- including a U.S. citizen -- picked up in Somalia and held without charge and without attorneys in a secret prison somewhere in this city, according to Ethiopian and U.S. officials who say the interrogations are lawful."

Carl Bloice of the USA based National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism reveals: "On file are plans - put on hold amid continuing conflicts - for nearly two-thirds of Somalia's oil fields to be allocated to the U.S. oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. It was recently reported that the U.S. - backed prime minister of Somalia has proposed enactment of a new oil law to encourage the return of foreign oil companies to the country.

Nunu Kidane: "The unlawful U.S.- Ethiopian invasion and occupation of that country and the accompanying human suffering and human rights abuses constitute a new - and still mostly hidden - war in many ways similar to that in Iraq. And, waged for the same reason.

Sound familiar? The same process that were seen in Afghanitsan, Haiti and Iraq are now operating in Somalia. The rest of the world stands meekly by or, in the case of the UK, approves.

An exiled leader of Somalia, Hassan Dahir Uways, flees to Eritrea. The USA (which essentially paid Ethiopia to change Somalia's government) accuses Eritrea of destabilasing the region and threatens the country with sanctions. Eritrea publishes a condemnantion of USA foreign policy.

Nine months after the USA backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, over half a million people have been displaced and 80,000 children are in danger of starvation. The central market in Mogadishu is closed by the Ethiopian military who then burn it down. Kiosks and roadside stalls are also torn down leaving many people with no source of income.

Stephen Grey, a UK journalist in London and author of Ghost Plane, publishes an artical detailing the detention and torture of a UK citizen who was in Mogadishu at the time of the USA-backed Ethiopian invasion.

Reza Afsherzadegan was a 25 year old computer student from London (UK) who had gone to Somalia during the pre-invasion peace to teach computer skills to young people. Reza fled the capital during the invasion. He was captured by Kenyan soldiers near the frontier and flown to Nairobi.

He was held in crowded communal cells, with buckets as toilets, and accused of going to Somalia to train as a terrorist. "They would ask me if I've handled any weapons or received any training. I said I hadn't seen any of that. But they would look at me and say `you're lying'." Among the prisoners were women and children. "I saw a woman with five-year-old kids in cells opposite me and it was just incredible; you can't believe the way they've treated people." In violation of the Vienna Convention, Reza was denied access to his embassy (which would have been the UK embassy as he was a British national) but instead was questioned in a hotel by MI5, the British security service. Other detainees were treated in the same way.

A month later, Reza was flown blidfolded to Somalia with other detainees: "I thought to myself, can they do this? You know, can they send us to Somalia? The MI5, they know about us. They just sent us to Somalia. Can they do this?" They were held in dark, dirty underground cells.

Reza and other UK citizens were released and flown to the UK by the British embassy in Somalia. Other detainees were flown to Ethiopia. These included 11 women (five of them heavily pregnant) and 11 children as young as seven months old. Many of the people held in secret in three countries were released without any charge. Four of the women gave birth in captivity.

The story of the secrret detentions came out when some detainees obtained mobile (cell) phones from their guards and contacted human rights groups (among them Reprieve and CagePrisoners). The Muslim Human Rights Forum obtained flight manifests showing that 90 people were taken from Kenya to Somalia and these included women and children. Many ended up in Ethiopia where they were questioned by a team of USA agents.

One female victim was Fatma Chande, a 25 year old woman from Tanzania. She reported that she had been questioned by USA agents in Ethiopia. They also took her fingerprints and a DNA sample.

She stated: "The Kenyans told me originally that it is the Americans who wanted my husband, it's the Americans who were interested in us. The police tried to force me to admit my husband was a member of al-Qaida. I told them he was a businessman. He was nothing to do with al-Qaida. They kept banging on the table. They threatened to strangle me if I didn't tell them the truth."

Fatma's children also suffered: "When we arrived at the airport, we were handcuffed and our headscarves were pulled down over our eyes. The men were hooded. The children were crying all the time saying `we want to go home, we want to go home'."

This story was completely ignored the UK and USA newspapers and television news.

Iran Under Threat

In late 2006 the USA Treasury threaten UK banks who have business dealings in Iran. One senior executive stated that "the consequences of not toeing the American line on Iran have not yet been made clear, but we were left in no dount that we might not want to find out". The UK government, whose job it is to protect UK citizens and interests, makes no comment. According to the financial section of the UK newspaper, The Independent, "..UK business leaders - traditionally the biggest fans of America - are growing increasingly worried about what [the UK's] 'special relationship' with the US actually entails".

KryssTal Opinion: Welcome to how the rest of the world views the USA.

In January USA forces enter an Iranian consulate in the city of Mosul (northern Iraq) and arrest diplomats. Computer equipment and documents were also taken. Violation of embassies and consulates is not allowed under international law. Even the puppet government in Baghdad call for the release of the diplomats (which the USA ignores). The story is under-reported in the Western media.

The USA orders a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf. The Gulf is the body of water that borders southern Iran.

KryssTal Opinion: One wonders what the reaction would be if two Iranian warships were patrolling the waters off the coast of the USA.

Israeli military begin training to use nuclear weapons against Iran. The USA talks about the use of nuclear "bunker buster" bombs. Such bombs would cause massive nuclear contamination and would violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which both the USA and Iran have signed (but not signed by other nuclear powers in the region such as Israel, Pakistan and India). Use of nuclear weapons (especially against a non-nuclear state) would violate the United Nations Charter, other parts of international law, and the constitution of the USA.

Iran has not attacked or threatened to attack any country since the end of World War II. It defended itself when invaded by a USA backed and armed Iraq in the 1980s. Its Uranium enrichment does not violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme.

Iran does have oil, however, as well as a government that has defied the USA by removing a USA-installed regime in 1979.

The USA accuses Iran of being responsible for the deaths of its occupying forces in Iraq. This is contradicted by the USA's own National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which asserted in February 2007 that Iran's involvement in Iraq "is not likely to be a major driver of violence" there.

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies (based in the Netherlands) has analysed the reasons for the USA's threats on Iran:

"U.S. interest in controlling Iran, or at least undermining its independence, sovereignty and potential power, is not a new phenomenon. The U.S. overthrew the democratically elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953; installed, armed and protected brutal dictatorships (the Shah of Iran); cut off diplomatic relations and imposed tight economic sanctions (the Islamic Republic from 1979); and provided seed stock for biological weapons, targeting information for chemical weapons, and financial backing for Iran's enemy (Iraq) throughout the years of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)."

"The reasons have not changed. Iran is one of only two countries in the Middle East that contains the three prerequisites for indigenous power: oil / wealth, water, large land and population. The only other country is (or was�) Iraq."

"Later the U.S. moved strategically to prevent either regional power from challenging overall U.S. domination of the Middle East. It was on that basis that the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein's Iraq throughout the Gulf War - because Iran was stronger, so the U.S. weighed in on the side of the weaker competitor to keep the war going and encourage both regional challengers to waste their blood and treasure fighting each other, rather than turning on the U.S. So U.S. interest has always been in controlling Iran's oil (less for direct access, which was never a real necessity or real problem, than for control of pricing and supply, and to be able to act as guarantor of access for Washington's allies and now competitors such as China and India) and suppressing its regional influence."

Iran arrests fifteen UK sailors after they had "inspected" an Iranian cargo ship. The news is reported in the UK without mention of the Iranian diplomats being held by the USA and without mention of Somalis being flown between countries and questioned by UK and USA officials.

When released the captives are allowed to sell their stories to newspapers, something not normally allowed to UK military personnel. When it later transpires that the sailors had strayed into Iranian waters, the media remain silent.

News items in the USA and UK continue to attack Iran for enriching Uranium while ignoring a story that Russia has begun building floating nuclear power stations for export to energy-hungry developing countries.

KryssTal Opinion: FLOATING nuclear power stations?

The USA leads a campaign to have the United Nations impose sanctions on Iran which is abiding ny the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that it has signed. Iran also allows inspections of its facilities. This is in contrast with the treatment given to allies of the USA:

The USA has been pressurising the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the United Nstions. In one example, David Mulford, the USA Ambassador to India, threatened that country with an end to its nuclear assistance (itself a violation of the NPT) if it failed to vote against Iran (a non-violator of the NPT). This was admitted by Stephen Rademaker, the former USA Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-proliferation. If so, it makes the referral illegitimate.

The USA continues to violate the United Nations Charter of self determination by running secret operations in Iran to raise ethnic unrest to distabilise the country. Spy planes regularly violate the country's sovereignty (Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, 17th April 2006).

The USA imposes sanctions on Iran's military in October. It then puts pressure on European companies to stop trading with Iran. Germany and France comply after the USA threatens to make life difficult for their financial institutions. The UK company British Petroleum agrees not to trade in Iran.

KryssTal Opinion: The irony here is that British Petroleum began life as The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and was set up to trade in Iranian oil. The company was evicted from Iran when a democratic government was elected in the late 1940s. The company only returned to Iran when the USA and UK engineered a coup against this government in 1953.

Palestine Under Siege

The United Nations confirms that between 2002 and the end of 2005, 36 Palestinian babies have died because their mothers were detained during their labour at Israeli checkpoints located on Palstinian land. One woman, Jamilla Alahad Naim, has to pass through two Israeli checkpoints between her home and the hospital and is considering having her baby at home.

After the Palestinians elected a new government, Israel stopped giving the new government money it was collecting in taxes, Europe stopped sending aid money and the USA threatened countries who provided aid with economic sanctions. This has led to poverty and hardship in the Palestinian territories.

Israel has been building a 8m high wall around Jerusalem that is designed to control Palestinian entry from the West Bank. The wall cuts through historic highways from Jerusalem (part of which is considered as occupied under international law) to Amman (Jordan) and from Jenin to Hebron. For West Bank Palestinians, the wall is broken only at four checkpoints. These can only be reached after many detours which require travellers to leave their vehicles and cross on foot. Palestinian vehicles are banned from Jerusalem.

The 180km wall will cost over $ 1,000,000 per kilometre. Only 5km of wall runs along the recognised border between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Most of it is being built on Palestinian territory. Around Jerusalem, the majority of the wall does not separate Israelis and Palestinians (as required by Israel stating that the wall is for security) but cuts off Palestinians from their schools, fields, olive groves, hospitals and cemeteries.

The West Bank city of Qalqiliya (population 40,000) is now surrounded by the wall. Residents can only enter and exit through a single military checkpoint which is open daily between 7am and 7pm.

When the wall is completed, there will be over 400,000 Palestinians completely or partially surrounded by it.

East Jerusalem was originally an Arab city. Israel has annexed the entire city and has passed apartheid laws allowing the building of Jewish only "settlements" on the land. Since 1967, 250,000 Jewish settlers have been housed in this area.

In contrast to the difficulty encountered by West Bank Palestinians entering Jerusalem, Israel has built new roads to enable Jewish settlers to reach the city as quickly as possible. A tramline is also planned. The roads form a network of four lane highways, lit up at night, along which the trees have been cut down, Palestinian houses demolished, and protective walls erected. These highways linking the settlements and Jerusalem are prohibited to Palestinian vehicles. They have to use poor quality secondary roads that are badly maintained and controlled by checkpoints. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat describes the dual road system as the "apartheid that dare not speak its name".

In Jerusalem all Jews but only 2.3% of Palestinians are citizens. West Bank Palestinians have green identity cards which give them no no rights in the city, not even the right to enter without permission. Permanent residents with blue identity cards enjoy voting and welfare benefits, but those rights are not transmitted automatically to their spouses or children.

The European Union published a report in 2005 (that was censored) that highlighted more discrimination: "Between 1996-1999 Israel implemented a centre of life policy, meaning that those with blue ID found living or working outside East Jerusalem, for example in Ramallah, would lose their ID. A wave of blue ID cardholders quickly moved back to East Jerusalem".

These policies have succeeded in making life difficult for the city's Arab population in a number of ways:

Meron Benvenisti, a leading expert on Jerusalem, described the situation as follows:

"The wall? A monument to despair! Look at Bethlehem: on one side, the Church of the Nativity, on the other, the bunker around Rachel's Tomb. It's the arrogance of an occupier who feels free to define and redefine communities as he sees fit. As if the fence separated 'good' Arabs, accepted in Jerusalem, from 'bad' Arabs excluded from it. Those who dreamed-up this horror follow the same logic of 19th century colonialism as did the French when they hung on to Indochina and North Africa. It won't work this time either. The Jerusalem wall will go the same way as the Berlin wall."

This "ethnic management" of Jerusalem is under-reported in the Western media.

Facts about the wall (2006):

Total length of planned wall700km
Amount of the West Bank left on the Israeli side of the wall50%
Maximum distance into the West Bank taken by the route of the wall16km
Width of buffer zone around the wall70m to 100m

Facts about the occupation (2006):

Percentage of Arabs living in Palestine in 1918 when the UK issued the Balfour Declaration90%
Percentage of historical Palestine allocated to the Jewish state by the United Nations in 194757%
Percentage of historical Palestine that became Israel in 194878%
Number of Palestinian villages destroyed in the 78% of historical Palestine that now forms Israel531
Percentage of historical Palestine currently recognised as occupied by Israel22%
Percentage of occupied territories on the Israeli side of the wall or taken by illegal settlements50%
Percentage of Palestine's natural water used by Israel every year82%
Maximum depth of Palestinian wells allowed by Israel140m
Maximum depth of Israeli wells800m
Amount of aid received by Israel from the USA$ 5,000 million
Number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces and settlers (Sep 2000 to Dec 2005)652
Percentage of Palestine's population that is under 18 years old52%
Percentage of Palestinian children suffering from chronic or acute malnutrition22.5%
Number of journalists killed / injured by Israeli forces between 2000 and 200512 / 300
Number of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons7,500
Number of Palestinians homes demolished under Israeli occupation12,000
Number of Palestinians homes demolished (2000 to 2006)5,000
Percentage of Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories as opposed to Israel (2000 to 2003)96%

In June 2006, Israel banned all fishing from Gaza. According to the United Nations 35,000 people directly rely on the fishing industry for subsistence. A blockade of Gaza is maintained by Israeli naval vessels. The Western media (which loudly reported the "withdrawal" of Israel from Gaza) fails to report this illegal blockade of Gaza's coast.

Between 2000 and 2006 the monthly catch of fish by Palestinians has dropped from 823 to 50 tonnes. The World Bank cites Israel's blockade as responsible for the economic and humanitarian crisis facing Gaza.

These actions by Israel violate article 52 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which Israeli has signed. The article states: "No contract, agreement or regulation shall impair the right of any worker, whether voluntary or not. All measures aiming at creating unemployment or at restricting the opportunities offered to workers in an occupied territory, in order to induce them to work for the Occupying Power, are prohibited."

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza has been monitoring the blockade: "Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by the Israeli occupation forces, which use helicopters gunships and gunboats". During 2006 four fishermen were killed after being attacked by Israeli forces and many have been arrested.

Israel begins excavations close to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The work violates the Israel-Jordan peace treaty which awarded custody of the Islamic and Christian holy places in eastern Jerusalem to Jordan. The site is protected by UNESCO World Heritage. Israel ignores protests from groups as diverse as the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Nonaligned Movement and Churches for Middle East Peace.

In Umm Naser in northern Gaza a river of raw sewage and debris overflowed from a collapsed earth embankment into a refugee camp driving 3,000 Palestinians from their homes. Five people died by drowning, 25 were injured and many houses were destroyed. In the USA, the media blamed the Palestinians for building shoddy infrustructure.

There are two causes of this ecological disaster. Firstly it is the economic blockade imposed by Israel (and enforced internationally by the USA) on the Palestinian territories. Secondly, massive bombing by Israel on Gaza during 2006, demolished roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, water purification and electrical power plants.

In May, less than a month before the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel bombs Gaza killing dozens of people in an attempt to assassinate members of the Palestinian government. The Western media fail to mention the anniversary of the occupation and concentrate on the fewer numbers of Israelis attacked by rockets.

Israel arrests more of the elected officials of Palestine - the number reaches one third. Western governments, which attempt to impose "democracy" on the Arabs, says nothing.

Between September 2000 and July 2007, 5,776 people have been killed in the conflict, most of them Palestinians.

The charity Save The Children reports that serious malnutrician is becoming a problem in Gaza as Israel continues the siege and blockade. Apart from the UK newspaper, The Independent, this story is unreported in the Western media. Israel begins cutting power to Gaza. This causes problems in industry and begins to close hospitals. 85% of people in Gaza have no work and banks have run out of money. The siege stops movement of people and goods between Palestine and Israel as well as limit movement within the West Bank. There are 546 checkpoints. 40% of the West Bank is inaccessible to Palestinians.

Human rights groups condemn the Israeli siege as a violation of the Geneva Conventions against collective punishment. The siege continues to be supported and enforced by the USA (which controls financial institutions in the region), the UK and Europe.

Nofer Ishai-Karen, an ex-soldier in the Israeli army, publishes a report after interviewing a number of soldiers involved in the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Two platoons were studied, ESHBAL and ESHKHAR. The interviews show what life under occupation is like for the Palestinians. The soldiers spoke freely about events which occurred nearly 20 years previously admitting to murder, breaking bones of Palestinian children, actions of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft.

Since 1967 Israel has imprisoned more than 650,000 Palestinians, equivalent to nearly 20 per cent of the population. In 2007, there are 10,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The USA, Israel and three small islands in the Pacific Ocean voted against a resolution by the United Nations calling for self determination for the Palestinian people.

Iraq Under Occupation

In Baghdad, over 100 people die every day from violence unleashed by the USA-UK invasion of the country in 2003. It is estimated that 180 attacks on the occupying forces and their collaborators occur each day. Only sectarian attacks are reported in the Western media. The "Iraqi government" cannot leave a fortified area of Baghdad called the Green Zone. Members of the government have stated that they are not allowed to move a single company of soldiers without USA permission. The Western media treats this "government" as a real entity.

Police are involved in kidnapping and there are death squads, the result of the USA policy known as the Salvador Option, based on deaths squads trained by the USA in Central America in the 1980s. Many of the death squads that commit multiple murders are under the control of the USA-backed government.

Ethnic cleansing is being committed by the different communities as the country heads to a civil war. The governments of the USA and UK blame anti-democratic forces, Iran, Syria, the media and everyone apart from their policies. According to the United Nations, 1,800,000 Iraqis are refugees outside the country while 1,600,000 are internally displaced. The following figures were compiled at the beginning of 2007:

Iraqis who have died since the invasion655,000
Estimated strength of anti-occupation resistance30,000
USA and UK troops killed3,006
Journalists killed77
Percentage of children suffering malnutrition33%
Population with access to clean drinking water in 2003 (before invasion)12,900,000
Population with access to clean drinking water in 20079,700,000
Iraqi refugees outside the country1,800,000
Iraqi refugees inside the country1,600,000

The USA hand over the deposed president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, for execution. The execution is filmed on mobile (cell) phones and broadcast on the internet. His executioners (members of a different community) can be heard taunting him in his final moments. Hussein's final words about Iraqis overcoming the occupation of their country and support for the Palestinians are described as "sarcastic" by the UK's BBC who fail to inform their viewers of them.

A group of UK soldiers who had been filmed beating Iraqi civilians escape facing criminal charges. The soldiers had also abused a dead Iraqi's body while providing "amusing" comentary for the videos.

The USA backed government approves a new hydrocarbon law that will allow USA and UK companies generous concessions to the oil reserves of Iraq. The USA government helped to draw up the law with the help of a USA company called Bearing Point. This law will allow companies like British Petroleum, Shell (UK), Chevron and Exxon (USA) to take on 30 year contracts to extract the oil and take 75% of their profits out of the country. Foreign ownership of Iraq's oil plus the removal of profits has been illegal in the country since 1972. The USA illegally changed the constitution of Iraq in 2004 to allow this - occupying powers that change constitutions are in violation of the Haigue Convention.

In March 2003 the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, stated that oil was not the reason for the invasion and that Iraq's oil wealth would be managed by a United Nations trust fund. Also in 2003, Colin Powell, Secretary of State in the USA, had assured the world that "... the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people: it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil." In May 2003, the UK and USA co-sponsored a United Nations resolution (1483) that would give the two nations control over Iraq's oil revenues.

Iraq has the third largest oil reserves in the world, estimated at 115,000 million barrels.

The new legislation was scrutinised by the USA government, the major oil comanies and the International Monetary Fund. Very few members of the Iraq parliament had seen it by early 2007. The law allows for disputes to be settled internationally, undermining Iraq's sovereignty. It also allows for companies to take out their profits tax free and to freely sell shares to non-Iraqi institutions.

Iraqi trade unionists who met in Jordan have suggested that the terms of the law would cause problems in Iraq once its terms became known:

"The Iraqi people refuse to allow the future of their oil to be decided behind closed doors. The occupier seeks and wishes to secure energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future, while still under conditions of occupation. Iraqi public opinion strongly opposes the handing of authority and control over the oil to foreign companies, that aim to make big profits at the expense of the people. They aim to rob Iraq's national wealth by virtue of unfair, long term oil contracts that undermine the sovereignty of the State and the dignity of the Iraqi people. History will not forgive those who play recklessly with our wealth.... We consider the new law unbalanced and incoherent with the hopes of those who work in the oil industry. It has been drafted in a great rush in harsh circumstances."

Very liitle of the story of this law is covered by the Western media.

Since the 2003 invasion the USA has kept full control of the award of contracts in Iraq for the restoration of infrastructure, electricty and gas networks, securty, development of media, schools and hospitals, financial services and the oil industry. The USA company Halliburton has received $ 13,000 million - the USA Vice President, Dick Cheney, one of the loudest advocates for the invasion, used to be one of their directors. Other USA beneficieries include Bechtel, Bearing Point (the company that drafted the oil law and has also donated heavilly to the ruling political party in the USA) and General Electric. Over 150 USA companies haver been given contracts worth more than $ 50,000 million. Despite the amount of money given to USA companies in preference to Iraqi companies, clean water, sanitation and electricity are below pre-invasion levels.

Unreported in the Western media, food shortages begin to appear in Iraq. The Inter Press Agency (IPS) quotes 60-year-old Um Muthanna, a food vendor from Baghdad, "Look at us begging for food despite the fortunes we have. A country with two great rivers should have been the biggest exporter in the world, but now we beg for food from those who participated in killing us."

The Iraqi import laws were changed in 2004 by the former USA administrator, Paul Bremer. This constitutional change (illegal under international law) resulted in dropped tariffs on import of foreign products. This made it impossible for Iraqi farmers to compete. Countless Iraqi farms went bankrupt. Iraq was forced to import but prices of imported goods increased. By 2007, most of the food in Iraqi markets is imported, and more expensive due to increasing fuel costs and lack of government regulation. Imported foods like chicken, fruits and vegetables cost more than locally grown foods.

Food rations put in place in the 1990s have been cut due to their cost. As 35 year old mother of five children, Um Jamila, told IPS, "What food ration are you talking about. The whole country has been stolen from us. If this goes on another six months, we will be just like any starving country."

In January, a report released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) showed that 1,500,000 internally displaced people in Iraq lack basic necessities such as adequate food, drinking water, sanitation, and health and education facilities.

In late February, USA soldiers raid and ransack the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad. Guards are arrested. Computers and electricity generators are taken. According to Youssif al-Tamimi of the ISJ: "The Americans have delivered so many messages to us, but we simply refused all of them. They killed our colleagues, closed so many newspapers, arrested hundreds of us and now they are shooting at our hearts by raiding our headquarters. This is the freedom of speech we received."

Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists issues a statement saying that "anyone working for media that does not endorse U.S. policy and actions could now be at risk. In the past three years more than 120 Iraqi journalists, many of them Syndicate members, have been killed, and now their union has been turned over in an unprovoked act of intimidation."

Hashim Jawad of the Iraqi Lawyers Union in Baghdad: "The Americans and their Iraqi government followers are destroying social activities and civil unions so that no group can oppose their crimes and plans. The press is our remaining lung to breathe democracy in this country and now it is being targeted."

Reporters Without Borders lists over 148 journalists and media workers killed in Iraq since the beginning of the USA-led invasion in 2003. The group also compiles an annual Press Freedom Index for countries around the world. In 2002, before the USA invasion, Iraq ranked 130th. In 2006 Iraq had fallen to 154th.

Mansoor Salim, a retired journalist, told IPS: "I only wish the U.S. administration and our government would stop lying about freedom in Iraq. How stupid we were to have believed their statements about freedom. I admit that I was one of the fools."

After pressure from the USA, Egypt closes al-Zawraa television station which broadcasts from the Iraqi resistance.

On the fourth anniversary of the USA invasion of Iraq, the United Nations reports that nearly 2 million Iraqis have left the country as refugees. The majority have gone to Syria and Jordan with smaller numbers heading for Turkey and Iran. Some have been admitted to European countries but very few have been taken in by the USA whose invasion caused the refugee crisis. In addition just under 2 million Iraqis are displaced internally.

The reasons vary from sectarian violence, the occupation, torture (both by the state and by militias), lack of water and electricity, crime, lack of medical supplies and malnutrition.

Palestinian refugees who left Palestine when the state of Israel was set up settled in Iraq. Many of them have become refugees again fleeing from the USA occupation as well as sectarian violence. These people are effectivel stateless and many hundreds remain stranded on the border of Iraq with Jordan and Syria.

Al Iraqiya, a USA-financed national televisions station, broadcasts a reality program called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice. This program shows captured insurgents "confessing" to their crimes in front of the camera. Human rights groups condemn the program as violating the Geneva Conventions as none of the participants are charged before judicial authorities prior to appearing. Many show signs of violence. In one program a former policeman with two black eyes confessed to killing two police officers in Samarra. A few days later, his body was delivered to his family.

The detainees shown on television are captured by Iraqi commandos trained and supervised by USA advisers.

Peter Maass writing for the USA publication, New York Times Magazine, says that this is part of a USA strategy of getting local militias to do their fighting for them, the so-called Salvador option:

"The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, to which it has often been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war beginning in 1980. The cost was high - more than 70,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it."

In March, the Arab American Institute (AAI) and Zogby International, a polling organisation, release the results of a survey conducted among the populations of five Middle East countries with pro-USA governments and media. The poll asked if it was thought that USA influence in Iraq was positive or negative. Most said negative; for example for heavilly censored Saudi Arabia the figure was 68%, in Egypt it was 83%, Jordan with its large numbers of Palestinian refugees was at 96%.

Al-Jazeera present a report describing conditions for many children in Iraq on the 4th anniversary of the USA led invasion. Many children have lost their families to the violence and are forced to live on the streets during a civil war and occupation, surviving by living in dumps and eating whatever food they can find. According to the report, poverty in Iraq has reached new levels in the last four years. Many children have little or no access to basic necessities, like clean water, health care or education.

4% of all children die before the age of five. 25% (more than three million children) are malnourished and 20% do not go to school.

Sijad Ali is typical - both his parents died when he was 5 years old. He lived on the streets until taken to an orphanage. "The National Guards and the Americans used to beat and arrest me, suspecting I was a terrorist. No matter how much I told them I wasn't. Then I ended up here. It's a comfortable place and we have full rights."

In April, Iraqi troops, supported by USA helicopters, raided a mosque in the middle of old Baghdad. The muazzin (the man who calls from the minaret), Abu Saif and another person were executed in public. Local people attacked the troops. 34 people were killed in the resulting fighting, including women and children. A military statement drafted by the USA forces stated that USA and Iraqi forces were continuing to "locate, identify, and engage and kill insurgents targeting coalition and Iraqi security forces in the area".

The Western media tends only to report attacks on civilians if the USA is not involved. The occupation forces and their collaborators routinely break into homes and arrest people.

According to the International Red Cross, "the number of people arrested or interned by the multinational forces has increased by 40% since early 2006. The number of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly."

An artical in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, discusses the little reported treatment of female detainees in a society that is deeply conservative: "Many of the security detainees are women who have been subjected to abuse and rape and who are often arrested as a means to force male relatives to confess to crimes they have not committed. According to the Iraqi MP Mohamed al-Dainey, there are 65 documented cases of women's rape in occupation detention centres in 2006. Four women currently face execution - the death penalty for women was outlawed in Iraq from 1965 until 2004 - for allegedly killing security force members. These are accusations they deny and Amnesty International has challenged". Amnesty International reports that 65 people were executed in Iraq in 2006, a number only exceded by China, Iran and Pakistan.

The Western media continue to report that Iraq is suffering a civil war. A study by the independent US research institute, Brookings, showed that 75% of recorded attacks are against occupation forces, and a further 17% on Iraqi government forces. The remaining 8% are the subject of most news items in the USA and UK. The average number of attacks against the occupation doubled during 2006 to about 185 a day in 2007. That is more than 5,500 a month.

A leaked document explains how the USA attempted to trick one of Iraq's leaders, Muqtada al-Sadr, into a meeting where they would trap and kill him. al-Sadr opposes the USA occupation, the building of military bases, and the Hydrovarbon Law.

In June oil workers strike in Iraq over the Hydrocarbon Law, which gives foreign companies control of the counry's oil for 30 years. This story remains unreported in the Western media. The USA-backed government in Iraq issues arrest warrents for the strike leaders.

The most contentious aspects of the new law are:

In July, Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, states in an interview that oil is the main reason that Australia has troops in Iraq. This is immediately denied by the Prime Minister.

USA company Blackwater comes under the spotlight after a number of Iraqis are killed. Blackwater have been paid $ 832 million by the USA government to provide "security". In fact they are a privatised mercenary army. They were awarded their contarct in Iraq (and Afghanistan) without having to bid. The 1000 strong private army is not subject to any laws (either USA or Iraqi).

In mid September, at least 28 civilians were killed when members of this private army fired indescriminantly into a feeing crowd of men women and children in central Baghdad. The shots incinerated cars with their occupants still inside - in one a mother and her infant died, their bodies fused together by the heat. One lawyer, Hassan Jabar Salman, was shot four times in the back while his car was riddled with eight bullets: "I saw womwn and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot. But still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about ten leaping in fear from a minibus, he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him, she jumped out after him, and she was killed."

The victims included Iraqi police and soldiers. A private attack helicopter was called in which added to the carnage.

A month later a USA Congressional report finds that Blackwater was involved in over 200 shootings between January 2005 and October 2007. In 80% of the incidents, the mercenaries had fired first. In one incident a drunken Blackwater employee shot and killed a bodyguard of an Iraqi vice president. His punishment was to be sacked and returned to the USA. The company paid the man's family $15,000. The USA government later offered the men immunity from prosecution.

Blackwater are one of many companies providing mercenaries in war zones, mainly for the occupying powers. The industry is worth $ 120,000 million world wide. 177 of these companies operate just in Iraq using 48,000 people. Over 800 have been killed between 2003 and 2007 - these deaths are not generally included in casualty figures. Companies include:

In October, a USA airstrike in the Lake Thar Thar region kills 34 people including 15 women and children. The news was covered on the UK BBC television news as a statement from the USA military which essentially blamed the Iraqis themselves for the deaths: "These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence". This statement ignores that fact the the Iraqi victims were in their own country while the USA military were not.

Days earlier another USA raid on the village of Khalis (a Shia city) killed 25 people.

A group pf ex-soldiers from the USA called Iraq Veterans Against the War publish statements from soldiers who had fought in Iraq condemning the invasion. The interviews were conducted in the magazine, The Nation (30 July 2007). The statements include reasons why they oppose the war:

Russian author, Professor Adel Safty, writes that "the picture that emerges from the interviews is that of a depraved and brutal colonial war and a deeply oppressive occupation, in sharp contrast to how the Bush administration and the influential media have been portraying the war."

He continues: "The veterans� accounts revealed a pattern of behaviour that showed callous disregard for Iraqi civilian lives, and dehumanization of the Iraqi people on a daily basis. 'Dozens of those interviewed,' the report states, 'witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings�' Although many interviewees said such acts were perpetrated by a minority, they described such acts as common and often go unreported.

Jeff Englehart from Colorado (USA), who was with the Third Brigade in Baquba admitted: "I guess while I was there the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi."

John Bruhns, a Sergent from Philadelphia (USA) fought in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib. He participated in hundreds of raids on Iraqi homes. He describes the process:

"You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall. You have junior-level troops� will run into the other rooms and grab the family, and you'll group them all together. Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds�and you get the man of the home, and you have him at gunpoint, and you'll ask the interpreter to ask him: 'Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda�?' Normally they'll say no, because that's normally the truth. And if you find something, then you'll detain him. If not, you'll say, 'Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening.' So you've just humiliated this man in front of his entire family and terrorized his entire family and you've destroyed his home. And then you go right next door and you do the same thing in a hundred homes."

Note the question about "Do you have any anti-US propaganda".

Sergent Patrick Campbell (California, USA) "said his unit fired often and without much warning on Iraqi civilians in a desperate bid to ward off attacks."

Many soldiers reported that the killing of unarmed Iraqis was common. Such killings were sometimes justified by framing innocents as terrorists. American troops would plant AK-47s next to the bodies of those they had just killed to make it seem as if the civilians they had just shot were combatants.

This reality of the occupation of Iraq is rarely aired on USA or UK television news.

According to the UK newspaper, Financial Times, the war in Iraq has cost UK tax payers over $ 13,000 million (till 2007). In the USA the cost to the people averages $ 10,000 million every month. Over $ 50,000 million is being spent by the USA every year building between six and twelve large permanent bases from which to control Iraq.

The USA "embassy" in Baghdad will cost around $ 600 million and is due to be completed during 2007. David Phinney, a researcher with CorpWatch says that this "embassy" "may be the most lasting monument to the U.S. occupation in the war-torn nation." The huge walled structure in a prime location in the city is being built by Asian migrants who work long hours earning around $500 a month. It will be a city within a city and have its own water and sewage system separate to the rest of the city. It will, in fact be a colonial headquarters.

Dahr Jamail, an unembedded (i.e. non USA controlled) journalist in Iraq makes a telling point about the large bases being constructed around Iraq (an example is a huge air base at Balad). He writes that these bases are "very similar as far as amenities, and infrastructure of the base, and the size, and the number of people there as you would see in, for example, [permanent] American bases in Germany, American bases in Okinawa, American bases in South Korea, American bases in other parts of the Middle East. [...] these are the same types of bases that are being built in Iraq."

According to Associated Press, the number of bombs dropped on Iraq during the first six months of 2007 increased by five times compared with the same period in 2006. Over 30 tonnes were cluster weapons, which take a heavy toll on civilians. F-16 airctaft were moved into Balad air base near Baghdad. This base conducts 10,000 air operations a week. Work is underway to strengthen its runways to handle the increase in air activity.

Improving the runways has allowed the USA Air Force to move B1-B bombers from Diego Garcia (an island in the Indian Ocean) to Balad. These large aircraft carry out daily strikes. A B1-B can carry over 20 tonness of bombs.

A study of "excess deaths" caused by the Iraq-USA war by the UK medical journal Lancet found that air attacks were responsible for 13% of deaths of Iraqis. This figure was 76,000 in June 2006. It also found that that 50% of deaths of children under 15 were caused by air strikes.

In October, 49 people are killed by USA forces in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad. Victims of the USA, normally labelled as "militants", are labelled as "criminals". Many of the dead were killed when USA forces called in air strikes in the middle of a city. The Reuters news agency reported an interview with Abdul-Mehdi al-Muteyri: "Most of those killed and wounded were women, children and elderly men which shows the indiscriminate monstrosity of the attacks on this crowded area."

A statement by the USA military denied that women and children had died: "Ground forces reported they were unaware of any innocent civilians being killed as a result of this operation." This statement fails to explain why the USA has the right to accuse, try and execute Iraqis in their own country.

Results of a study by UK polling group ORB are published but not widely publicised. The report states that over a million Iraqis (1,220,580) had died between 2003 and late 2007 as a result of the USA-led invasion and occupation. This is more than the Rwanda genocide.

The following breakdown of the cause of death was found:

Cause of Death Percentage
Gunshot wound 48%
Car bomb 20%
Aerial bombardment 9%
Accident 6%
Other blast / ordnance 6%

The USA newspaper, Washington Post, publishes a report that USA soldiers use a secret tactic of leaving weapons as bait and shooting or arresting anyone who picks them up. Anyone killed is then labelled an "enemy combatant" and used to proclaim success of USA military policy. The statement by Captain Matthew Didier was typical: "Basically we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against the US forces". "Engage the individual" is a military euphamism.

A USA television programme called 60 Minutes interviews Frank Wuterich, a staff sergent in the USA army who was the patrol leader in the massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha in 2005. In the interview he describes how he was trained to break down the front door of a house and "prep" the inside rooms by opening the door a crack and rolling a grenade inside. The interviewer, Scott Pelley, asked "But when you roll a grenade in a room through the crack in the door, that�s not positive identification, that�s taking a chance on anything that could be behind that door." Wuterich answered: "Well that�s what we do. That�s how our training goes."

In December, Turkey bombs Kurdish areas in Northern Iraq killing hundreds of people. The attacks are supported by the USA and are little reported in the Western media. In 2007, the USA has made 1447 air bombing raids over Iraq. No casualty figures have been published.

Occupied Afghanistan

Hundreds of people are killed by USA and UK air strikes in Afghanistan.

In Nangarhar, 16 Afghans are killed after USA soldiers begin firing on them after a suicide bomb attack. Afghans injured in the shooting told the Associated Press news agency that USA soldiers had shot at pedestrians and passing cars indiscriminately along a five-kilometre stretch of one of eastern Afghanistan's busiest roads.

Tur Gul, a 38 yearl old man shot twice as he stood by the roadside stated: "They were firing everywhere, and they even opened fire on 14 to 15 vehicles passing on the highway. They opened fire on everybody, the ones inside the vehicles and the ones on foot.".

One man told Al Jazeera that five members of his family were killed in the shooting: "American bullets murdered my family ... it's tyranny and injustice." Mohammad Khan Katawazi, the district chief of Shinwar, said the Americans had treated every person and car along the road as a potential attacker.

Abdul Nangahar, a police chief, told news reporters: "When local people came to the scene, the soldiers just opened fire on the crowd. People got killed and wounded."

Local people demonstrated showting "Death to America! Death to Karzai!"

Journalists from Associated Press had their images of a vehicle with dead bodies deleted by USA soldiers.

A NATO air raid in Kapisa (northern Afghanistan) kills nine civilians including two children. NATO is a group of mainly European countries led by the USA.

At the end of May, USA forces bomb the village of Shindand, killing 57 people, half of them women and children. Mohammad Zarif Achakzai, who escaped, told the BBC: "The bombardments were going on day and night. Those who tried to get out somewhere safe were being bombed. They didn't care if it was women, children or old men." Baryaly Noorzai stated that USA forces arrived and entered houses in a culturally insensitive way, angering the local people: "When the Americans came the people started fighting them back, and then the planes came and started bombing us. Even under the Russians we haven't witnessed bombardments like it before."

Over 100 people, including many civilians, are killed by NATO air strikes over a weekend in July. The story is ignored in the UK because of a failed terrorist attack that hurt nobody apart from the attackers.

In the village of Watapour, NATO air strikes killed 25 people who were burying ten people killed by an earlier air strike. The ten included nine members of a single family. In Uruzgan, USA forces killed 33 people.

Phillip Gordon (a Fellow from the Brookings Institute which looks at USA foreign policy) told the Asia Times newspaper: "If you talk privately to the generals, they are very worried. Far from bringing about the intended softening up of the opposition, bombing tends to rally people behind their leaders and cause them to dig in against outsiders who, whatever the justification, are destroying their homeland."

USA and Human Rights

After five years, the USA continues to hold prisoners without charge or trial, access to family or legal representation in a military base called Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. None of the prisoners has gone through legal extradition procedures - all have, in effect, been kidnapped by the USA. All prisoners are considered as "enemy combatants" by the USA even though many were not captured in battle and all should be held under the Geneva Conventions. There have been numerous reports of abuse, humiliation and torture. Prisoners are not allowed to see any evidence against them. The UK government has made no attempt to help eight UK residents who are being held.

The following figures are as 10 June 2007.

Number of prisoners detained400
Number of prisoners released since 2002340
Number of prisoners to be charged by the USA70
Number of prisoners who have attempted suicide40
Number of prisoners charged10
Number of prisoners who have committed suicide3
Number of prisoners brought to trial1

Guantanamo Bay is one of many detention centres run by the USA around the world. In August 2006, there were 14,000 prisoners in USA custody around the world.

In March the USA begins a number hearings for 14 detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The prisoners are without legal representation. The hearings are to determine whether the detainees are to be labelled as "enemy combatants", a USA term with no international validity. If found "guilty" the prisoners can be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals. All the prisoners had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006 after years held in secret CIA prisons.

Both defence lawyers and reporters were barred from the proceedings.

One 20 year old detainee from Canada, Omar Khadr, had not spoken to his family between 2002 and 2007 when he was allowed a telephone call. The call was permitted only after months of lobbying the USA military by lawyers. One of the lawyers, Rick Wilson, a law professor at the American University in Washington, stated: "We made arguments based on his youth and the amount of time he's spent away from his family, and apparently those were persuasive."

Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national who is resident in the UK, is released without charge from Guantanamo Bay after nearly five years. He was detained while on a trip to Gambia in 2002.

Another detainee is Sami al-Haj, a journalist from Sudan who was a cameraman working for Al-Jazeera television. In June 2007 he had been in detention for five years and has a son he does not know.

He had been arrested in Pakistan close to the border Afghanistan. All his documents were valid. For five years he was held in a small cell and allowed to excercis for one hour per week. He had only been working for Al-Jazeera for a few months. For the five years of his detention he was not chanrged with any crime. During over 130 interrogations he was not asked about terrorism but was questioned about the workings of Al-Jazeera. His lawyer reports that al-Haj has been told that he would be released if he were to spy for the USA against his employer.

He described tortures on himself and other detainees including having testicles squeezed by female guards, having to watch guards having sex, detainnes having menstral blood smeared onto their bodies, being forced to walk on all fours while guards ride on the back of a prisoner, deprivation of sleep, having Israeli and USA flags warpped around them, being terrorised by dogs and solitary confinement for years.

Jumah al-Dossari has been detained for four years without charge. He has been beaten, sexually abused and watched USA guards abuse the Koran. He has attempted suicide 12 times, once during a visit by a lawyer.

Majid Khan, previously a resident of Baltimore, was held in secret CIA-run prisons before being transferred to Guant�namo Bay in 2006 after a USA Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions should apply to �war on terror� detainees.

Khan came to the USA in 1996 from Pakistan and has been granted asylum. In 2003, he visited Pakistan to see his wife and family. In March 2003, Pakistani police arrested him, his brother, his sister-in-law and their 1 month old daughter in a midnight raid on their house.

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR): �Majid�s sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for a week. Pakistani officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid�s brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid�s family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.�

The family knew nothing until September 2006 when the USA described him as a �ghost detainee� being transferred to Guant�namo Bay. Khan was retied to a chair every hour with his bonds tightened each time so that it was more painful. He was often hooded and had difficulty breathing. He was beaten repeatedly, slapped him in the face, and deprived of sleep. When not being interrogated, he was kept in a small totally dark cell. The cell was too small for him to lie down in or sit in with his legs stretched out - he could only crouch. The room was infested with mosquitoes. This torture only stopped when he agreed to sign a statement that he was not allowed to read.

The USA CIA denies torturing Khan. However the USA Justice Department stated that he should not be allowed to speak to a civilian lawyer, because he might �reveal the agency�s closely guarded interrogation techniques.�

Chalmers Johnson of the Japan Policy Research Institute publishes details of the number of USA personnel and bases around the world as at 2005. The figures are taken from the USA's own Defence Department inventory, trade and building magazines and other sources. This information is very rarely found in the mainstream news media.

Number of USA personnel in bases outside of the USA2,500,000
Number of uniformed USA military personnel in bases outside of the USA196,975
Number of local people hired to work in USA bases outside of the USA81,425
Number of USA bases in foreign countries737
Number of medium and large USA bases in foreign countries (naval and air)39
Value of foreign bases$ 127,000 million
Number of barracks, hangars, hospitals and other buildings owned by the USA military outside the USA32,327
Number of barracks, hangars, hospitals and other buildings leased by the USA military outside the USA16,527

The numbers, though large, are not complete as they do not include bases in Kosovo (Serbia), Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan.

Iraq (under USA occupation in 2007) had 106 garrisons (May 2005). The island of Okinawa (Japan) has 38 USA bases that cover 19% of the island's prime sites.

A number of military and espionage installations in the UK (worth $ 5,000 million and disguised as Royal Air Force bases) are also excluded from USA figures.

Many countries insist that the USA does not publicise the presence of its bases on their soil. This includes Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The topic of USA bases is generally not reported in the media of the USA.

Around the world in 2007, 95% of all foreign military bases belong to the USA.

The USA has negotiated agreements which allow it access to other country's sea and air space. In addition it has insisted on what are called Article 98 agreements. These controversial treaties are designed to exempt USA citizens from prosecution under the International Criminal Court (which the USA has refused to sign up to).

The USA states that Iranian bombs are being used to kill USA soldiers in Iraq. The following figures are from the USA writer Robert Weitzel:

Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos297 million
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Kosovo (1999)290,000
Number of civilians killed by cluster bombs in Kosovo in the 12 months after the end of hostilities151
Number of unexploded cluster bombs in Afghanistan as at 20075,000
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Iraq and Kuwait in 199154 million
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Iraq in 20032 million
Number of unexploded cluster bombs in Iraq in 200713 million
Number of USA made cluster bombs dropped by Israel in Lebanon in 20064 million
Number of unexplodede cluster bombs in Lebanon (2007)350,000

During aviation negociations between Europe and the USA, one of the points of contention is that European companies are allowed to own no more than 25% of USA airlines whereas the USA can control up to 49% of European carriers.

In April Amnesty International publish a report saying that conditions at the USA detention camp at Guantanamo Bay are deteriorating. some detainees at the camp are close to mental and physical breakdown. The report states that over 160 prisoners (roughly 30%) have been moved to a new building called Camp Six. The report continues: "Amnesty International believes that conditions in Camp Six, as shown in photographs or described by detainees and their attorneys, contravene international standards for humane treatment."

Camp Six is composed of windowless, steel cells where prisoners are confined for at least 22 hours a day. According to Amnesty, Camp Six has created increased conditions of extreme isolation, to the detriment of prisoners' mental health: "...in Camp Six is that detainees have no way of knowing whether it is day or night."

The USA attempts to interpret the law to allow the use of torture. This prompts Elisa Massimino, director of Human Rights First to state �Instead of abiding by the law, the administration stocks the Justice Department with lawyers who will say that black is white and wrong is right and waterboarding is not torture.�

Seventy countries meet in Peru to ban cluster bombs which kill thousands of civilians every year. The biggest users and manufacturers of these weapons (USA, UK and Israel) fail to attend.

Osama Bin Laden produces a video in September attacking USA foreign policy. The Western media condemn the video without broadcasting its contents. Some extracts are listed below:

John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton publish a book (The Best War Ever) detailing how the USA uses propaganda in the Arab world. The USA Pentagon paid $5,400,000 to a public relations firm called the Lincoln Group. The company was responsible for giving USA government money to Iraqi media and newspapers to carry stories written by USA "information operations". The stories and articles are designed to creative a positive image for the role of the USA in Iraq.

The articles would be drafted by Pentagon staff and then planted in Iraqi and other Arabic newspapers by the Lincoln Group: "When delivering the stories to media outlets in Baghdad, Lincoln's staff and subcontractors sometimes posted as freelance reported or advertising executives. The amounts paid ranged from $50 to $2,000 per story placed. All told, the Lincoln Group had planted more than 1,000 stories in the Iraqi and Arab press."

This policy of paying newspapers for positive stories about the USA or negative stories about its enemies has been used before by the USA. In the examples below, newspapers promoted false news aimed at undermining a governments or its leader, reported non-existent shortages to create a panic that would induce an actual shortage and defended hostile economic and military actions by the USA.

The USA (along with Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the UK) votes against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for peaceful uses of outer space. This was one of several such votes in 2007.

The USA also voted against a female anti-descrimination resolution, three times, and against a convention for the rights of children (183 to 1).

The USA alone voted against the right for food.

The USA (and Israel) also voted against a resolution protecting civilians under the Geneva Convention at times of war.

The USA (and Japan) voted against global climate protection.

The USA (and UK and France) voted against the implementation of the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace.

Kurds in Turkey

In Turkey, Ahmet Turk, head of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), and Aysel Tugluk, the party's deputy leader, are both imprisoned for 18 months for using the Kurdish language in political leaflets.

The leaflets were distributed on International Women's Day in March 2006.

Lebanon

The former USA ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is interviewed by the BBC about the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. The radio documentary is called The Summer War in Lebanon.

He says that before any ceasefire the USA wanted Israel to eliminate Hezbollah's military capability. He said that an early ceasefire would have been "dangerous and misguided". John Bolton said the USA decided to join efforts to end the conflict only when it was clear Israel's campaign was not working. He added that he was "damned proud of what we did" to prevent an early ceasefire.

The UK joined the USA in refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in defiance of the rest of the world.

In December an Israeli court declares that Israeli use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in 2006 was legal. The United Nations disagrees calling their use "shocking and immoral" as most were used in the final 72 hours of the conflict when a resoltion was imminant.

Syria

Israel (which has occupied and annexed the Golan Heights since 1967) sends jets to bomb Syria on 6 September.

Burma and the West

In Burma, the military dictatorship attcks democracy demonstrators, killing hundreds.

Western countries call for "restraint" but continue to invest in the country:

Western reporting of the events of Burma (a country backed by China) differs from similar events in Pakistan (backed by the USA):

Item Burma Pakistan
The rulers of the country Junta Government
The leader of the country Military ruler President
The killings Brutal suppression Clashes

Pakistan and the West

Elections for president are held in Pakistan which many human rights groups label as flawed. Hundreds of dissidents and opposition activists are jailed by the regime. General Pervez Musharraf took power in a military coup in 1999 and has been backed by the USA which has provided over $ 10,000 million to the military government.

According to Ali Hasann of USA-based Human Rights Watch: "Pakistan's human rights situation is dismal and has grown steadily worse under Musharraf. While it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of disappearance cases, there are hundreds of such cases on the record. While the US and UK have been complicit in the disappearance of alleged al_Qa'ida suspects, the Pakistani government has taken full advantage of Western complicity in such acts to extend their scope to domestic political opponents and critics."

A robotic plane (a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator) directed from the Nevada Desert in the USA fires three AGM-114 Hellfire missiles into Pakistan while flying over Afghanistan. The missiles strike the village of Datta Khel, a town in North Waziristan. A madrassa (Islamic school) was hit and 30 people were killed.

The use of robotic planes by the USA is increasing so quickly that David Branham, a USA Leutenant Colonel was able to tell the USA newspaper, New York Times: "It is possible that in our lifetime we will be able to run a war without ever leaving the US."

In November, the military government suspends the constitution, arrests hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists and opposition politicians. One of the politicians arrested is Imran Khan, an ex-cricket player who eventually has to go into hiding.

The main oposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, is put under house arrest. Her supporters, including women, are beaten by police. She is later released but the military government ban her political gatherings.

The USA and UK complain in public but continue to call the country an ally and provide aid. In the UK BBC reporters talk about "difficult choices" and fail to use the words "military junta" which they frequently use when describing similar events in Burma.

Drugs

Multinational drug companies from the USA and Europe give money and gifts to doctors from developing countries to encourage them to prescribe their drugs regardless of their value to patients. The group Consumers International produced a report (Drugs, Doctors and Dinners) which interviewed doctors in several countries.

Rafik Ibrahim, a doctor in Kuala Lumpa (Malaysia) tells of being repeatedly approached by a representitive of 25 drug companies.

In Afghanistan and Colombia, the poppy plants that produce heroin could be harvested to produce pain killers but there is resistance from the developed countries to this. Instead, the poppy fields are destroyed, often with chemical weapons by the USA military. These chemicals have detrimental effects on people and environment.

© 2017, KryssTal


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