Wednesday, February 16, 2005

War Crimes in Fallujah: Photographic Evidence

From Socialist Worker and via 'lenin':
In some places we found bodies of fighters, dressed in black and with ammunition belts.

But in most of the houses, the bodies were of civilians. Many were dressed in housecoats, many of the women were not veiled—meaning there were no men other than family members in the house. There were no weapons, no spent cartridges.

It became clear to us that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.

Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime. What happened in Fallujah was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.

And then there is this part:
I also found survivors of another family from the Jolan district. They told me that at the end of the second week of the siege the US troops swept through the Jolan. The Iraqi National Guard

used loudspeakers to call on people to get out of the houses carrying white flags, bringing all their belongings with them. They were ordered to gather outside near the Jamah al-Furkan mosque in the centre of town.

On 12 November Eyad Naji Latif and eight members of his family—one of them a six month old child—gathered their belongings and walked in single file, as instructed, to the mosque.

When they reached the main road outside the mosque they heard a shout, but they could not understand what was being shouted. Eyad told me it could have been “now” in English. Then the firing began.

US soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire. Eyad’s father was shot in the heart and his mother in the chest.

They died instantly. Two of Eyad’s brothers were also hit, one in the chest and one in the neck. Two of the women were hit, one in the hand and one in the leg.

Then the snipers killed the wife of one of Eyad’s brothers. When she fell her five year old son ran to her and stood over her body. They shot him dead too.

Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing.

But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand.

The five survivors, including the six month old child, lay in the street for seven hours. Then four of them crawled to the nearest home to find shelter.

Watching the documentary "Control Room" this evening, I am struck by how the Senior Producer at Al-jazeera comes off as intelligent, courageous and genuinely likeable. Courageous not only in the face of missile attacks against the station of course, but also in his articulation of what an open media in an active democracy should be. The pitiful blue-eyed boy at CentCom doesn't come off as any of these things. At one point he nearly has an epiphany--(about the, gasp, humanity of Iraqi civilian casualties, and ironically enough brought about by the same Al-jazeera coverage of interviews with captured US soldiers that he has just been criticizing as "propoganda")--a critical awakening that should have come sometime in sixth grade, say. It's a fleeting moment. The organized propaganda spectacles of the Jessica Lynch affair, of the 12 men (without Iraqi accents) waving their shirts as the Saddam statue falls, of Kurds tearing up Iraqi currency that isn't used in their region, of the US general who holds a press conference to announce a "deck of cards" (of the 55 "most wanted" Iraqis) that he first agrees and then refuses to let anyone actually see, etc. etc. basically shows the U.S. media as no more than an effective propaganda machine. Surprise, suprise. But the documentary is well worth seeing for the behind-the-scenes look at Al-jazeera, and as an interesting study of a young press organization feeling its way in a particularly fragile, if also unprecedentedly influential moment. Of course so much has happened since then that another documentary probably deserves to be made.

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