BRITISH TV and newspapers focused last week on the killing of what they called "civilian contractors" in the central Iraqi town of Fallujah. They raged against what they called a "barbarous" killing of civilians trying to help Iraqis. In fact the four men killed in Fallujah were US mercenaries. Most of the media did not report the scale of brutality that US forces had recently meted out to Iraqi civilians in Fallujah.
US forces opened fire on demonstrators in Fallujah in April last year, killing at least 15 Iraqi civilians. The Sunni Muslim town has become a centre of resistance. One US report describes how "in the last week the American military has intensified the repression of the 500,000 residents of Fallujah.
"On 24 March the California-based First Marine Division took over control of the area. The troops have been attempting to assert their control using brutal tactics. Last Friday morning, hundreds of marines with tanks and armoured vehicles deployed into the city in force. Most of the 15 Iraqis killed and many of the wounded were non-combatants gunned down by the Americans. The major roads in and out of Fallujah were blockaded by US tanks and troops until Tuesday, with hundreds of people being subjected to vehicle searches. On Monday and Tuesday, marines carried out house to house searches for insurgents in three suburbs, including al-Askari. An unknown number of men were detained."
The US International Herald Tribune newspaper also pointed out one telling fact about the attack on the US mercenaries in Fallujah: "The steadily deteriorating security situation in the Fallujah area has become so dangerous that no American soldiers or Iraqi security staff responded to the attack against the contractors. There are a number of police stations in Fallujah and a base of more than 4,000 marines nearby." None attempted to intervene in last week's incident.
The paper also reported the mood among ordinary Iraqis in Fallujah after the killing of the mercenaries: "'Long live the resistance!' shouted Said Khalaf, a taxi driver. Many people said they felt they had won an important victory."
US and British journalists were not attacked. Local people wanted to tell their story, and proclaim their defiance and resistance to the occupation. US general Mark Klimmit told a press conference that the marines' attitude in Fallujah was simple: "They will go in. They will restore order. And they'll put those people back in their place." That will only fuel greater resistance. Ghazia Mohammed, a Fallujah schoolteacher, says, "It is not just a matter of resistance-it is a matter of self defence because they occupied our state. "They destroyed our houses, our stores, they are raiding our families, they don't respect us. How should we accept that? They said they would improve our lives while instead they are fighting us. Is that democracy?"