Socialist Worker

Continuing injustice breeds the resistance

by Helen Shooter
Issue No. 1893

WARMONGERS IN the West rushed to express horror at the death toll in last week's bomb attacks in Madrid. Yet they continue to carry out massacres of their own in Iraq on a regular basis. A year of occupation has led to the deaths of over 10,000 Iraqi civilians.

Those killings are still going on. Are these people not worth mourning and holding discussions over how to make sure such tragedies never happen again? As Jeremy Corbyn MP said last week, 'The world won't ignore what is happening in Iraq. After the horrors in Madrid there was a huge amount of media coverage and worldwide sympathy. We all wanted those responsible to be caught. But why isn't there the same media coverage when people die in Iraq or Afghanistan, or die slow, painful deaths from depleted uranium? Every life lost is a tragedy. American, European and British lives are not worth more than Iraqi or Afghan lives.'

Bashir Ata Allah Salih described last Sunday what happened when US troops attacked his cousin's house in the village of Zuham, just north of Baghdad: 'The attack happened at about 11.30am, when the family was in the house. The first shell landed in a nearby shop, and the next one inside the house. Two children were blown into pieces. There were five killed and five wounded.'

Just hours before Bashir spoke, another of the children wounded in the attack died in Baquba hospital. On Monday of last week US troops fired a mortar round in an attack near Mosul, north Iraq. They claim they were targeting insurgents. But they hit the wrong target, destroying a house, and killing and wounding civilians.

The bloody legacy of the US war on Afghanistan was also shown last week. The US has absolved itself of any blame in the deaths of nine children in a compound in Ghanzi, central Afghanistan. The attack took place last December. The children, aged nine to 12 years old, were killed when a US fighter-bomber fired on them.

A US investigation found that its military had used 'appropriate rules of engagement'. That means nothing to the families struggling to cope with the tragic loss of their children. Also in December, six children and two adults were found dead under a collapsed wall in the neighbouring Gardez province after a US attack.

Iraq and Afghanistan are the 'victories' in Bush and Blair's war on terror. They have not brought peace. Bush and Blair's war has ravaged Iraq, and fuelled anger and resistance. The occupation has ensured Iraqi hospitals are in crisis.

Babies are dying from basic diseases because of a shortage of antibiotics. Patients who need surgery are regularly turned away because of shortages of oxygen. Doctors at Iskan hospital in Baghdad are struggling to cope with 300 patients in a hospital built for half that number.

The floors are covered with blood and raw sewage, which cannot be properly cleaned because there are no supplies. Only half of the children in Iraq have access to education. A report by Unicef showed that in some cities three quarters of children were forced to work, usually in low paid jobs in markets and on construction sites.

In many areas the agriculture has been devastated by the war and occupation. Occupying troops have cleared huge swathes of farmland, claiming it offers cover to resistance forces. The crisis in agriculture has driven up the prices of basic necessities. The prices of most basic foods have tripled since the war. There are also reports of the harassment Iraqis suffer at the hands of the US military in Iraq.

One Iraqi describes an arrest in Tikrit, saying, 'They raided his home and gathered the 25 year old man, two brothers and an elderly uncle. They got the usual treatment-a bag on the head, and hands behind their backs. They were taken to a place outside of Tikrit and thrown into a barn-like area with bags on their heads-still tied up. For three days they were kicked and cursed by the troops. In between the kicking and cursing, a hefty soldier would scream questions at them and an interpreter would translate: 'Are you part of Al Qaida? Do you know Osama Bin Laden?''

Salah Hassan is a cameraman from the Al Jazeera Arabic news service. He was covering an attack on a US convoy when he was arrested by troops. He was tied up and a hood placed over his head. After four days being held in bathrooms at Baghdad airport and in Tikrit, he was placed in one of the prisons built by Saddam Hussein.

The prison is now used by the US. Some 13,000 other Iraqis are now in such jails. Salah Hassan was stripped naked apart from his hood and forced to stand outside at night for 11 hours. Every time he fell over the troops would kick him until he stood up again. As the death, destruction and US brutality in Iraq grows, so does the determination of the anti-war movement across the world to stop Bush and Blair.


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International
Sat 20 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1893
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