Iraq Occupation Focus
Newsletter No. 25
September 6, 2005
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Iraq buries its dead but recriminations from the stampede have barely begun
The Independent reports (September 2nd):
Families of the hundreds of people who died in Wednesdays
catastrophic stampede in Baghdad have begun burying their dead
amid bitter recriminations over the failure of the government
to prevent the tragedy. A protest march towards the bridge
over the Tigris, where the stampede started, ended in more
panic and injuries when guarding soldiers began firing in the
Stampede illustrates Iraq tensions
The BBC reports (September 2nd): Within
hours of Wednesdays disaster the Health Minister, a Shia was
calling on the Defence Minister, who is a Sunni, to resign,
accusing him of having failed to protect the worshippers from
harm. Abdul Mutalib Ali also called for the resignation of the
Interior Minister, a Shia.
And while cabinet members argue among themselves, the
government as a whole has hardly helped lower the temperature
by pinning the blame for Wednesdays tragedy squarely on Saddam
loyalists. It accuses them of infiltrating the crowds and
spreading rumours of an imminent suicide attack in a
calculated attempt to cause panic.
Critics believe the government is simply trying to deflect
attention away from what they claim was its woeful
mismanagement of security for the Shia ceremony.
Badly-Placed Barricades Caused Stampede in Iraq
Zaman.com reports (September 2nd): According
to The Times, the disaster took place when security forces
blocked the exit of the bridge to prevent a possible suicide
attack and tried to search the participants who were about to
gather for a commemoration ceremony. Shiite worshippers who
could not jump over the barricades threw themselves to the
Tigris River to rescue themselves from the stampede.
It stresses that if the barricades had been set up at the
entrance to the bridge instead of the exit, the calamity could
not have occurred.
How the US got its neoliberal way in Iraq
Asia Times reports (September 1st): Last
June 30, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada published a draft of the
Iraqi constitution that wanted to build a Scandinavian-type
welfare system in the Arabian desert, with Iraqs vast oil
wealth to be spent on upholding every Iraqis right to
education, health care, housing, and other social services.
Those involved in drafting the constitution, wanted nothing of
the kind of economic and political system that Bremer and
other US officials had been attempting to create in Iraq ever
since the occupation began. What the occupation authorities
wanted was to fulfil the wish-list of international
investors, as The Economist magazine described the economic
policies they began imposing in the country in 2003.
By the time the next version was leaked in late July, the
progressive provisions in the draft constitution had
disappeared. Playing a central role was newly appointed US
ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, a member of the Project
for a New American Century who had called for invading Iraq
since 1998. Complained Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the
constitution committee Kurdish member of the constitutional
committee who was involved in the caucuses: The Americans say
they dont intervene, but they have intervened deep. They gave
us a detailed proposal, almost a full version of a
By the time it was served on the table on August 28, gone
was the article proclaiming adherence to social justice as the
basis of the economy and gone was the provision affirming the
Iraqi peoples collective ownership of Iraqs oil and other
natural resources and obliging the state to protect and
safeguard them. Instead, a new article lays the legal ground
for selling off Iraqs oil and putting it under the control
of the big multinational oil companies.
US forces, fighters clash in Iraq town
Al-Jazeera report (27 August): At least 20
people have been killed after heavy fighting erupted between
US forces and armed men in al-Qaim city, 340km west of
Baghdad, medical sources say.
Scores also were wounded in clashes in the town near the
Iraq-Syria border, an eyewitness told Aljazeera. Hassan Jasim,
who spoke to Aljazeera from al-Qaim, said US forces made
announcements through loudspeakers instructing people to leave
the city because warplanes would launch heavy air strikes on
the positions of the armed men.
Jasim, a resident of al-Qaim, said, US troops have
launched a savage attack against the city and a large number
of people have been killed and injured. He said water and
electricity were cut because of the air strike. The streets
are filled with dead and injured people and no one could reach
or help them due to the fighting, he said.
Earlier this year US forces hit the same desert region with
heavy artillery, destroying parts of the city. The military
then said it was targeting foreign fighters in the area who
slip through the border. Iraqis in al-Qaim, however, said
there are no foreigners among them.
Haditha under fire
Azzaman reports (August 22): It was Friday,
August 5, when the bombs started falling on our city. They
came in like heavy rain and their thunder broke the silence
and early morning calls to prayer from the mosques minarets.
When the shelling subsided, U.S. commanders ordered their
marines to storm the city. They searched Haditha quarter by
quarter, house by houses and arrested scores of young men and
even women and prevented us from holding the afternoon Friday
In one bloody incident I saw the marines killing two
unarmed inhabitants. One of them was in his bed in the Sheikh
Hadid district, where Sumaidi was born. The second was killed
as he strolled in his garden. More residents began falling. In
our area only the marines killed five people, all of them
unarmed and had nothing to do with the insurgents.
Troops Target Homes in West Iraq
LA Times report (August 31st): U.S.
warplanes bombed several Iraqi houses along the Syrian border,
killing a man described by the military as a known terrorist
and destroying what officials called three insurgent safe
houses. A U.S. military statement gave no overall casualty
estimate for the attacks on the remote border towns of
Karabila and Husaybah, but residents estimated that more than
50 people were killed. The military statement said there was
little damage to surrounding buildings. Iraqi residents,
however, said there had been massive property damage and high
civilian casualties. Residents put the death toll for the
bombings at 56, and said U.S. warplanes also attacked rescuers
attempting to extract survivors from the debris.
US probes killing of Iraqi by marines
Reuters report (August 21st): The U.S.
military said it had opened a criminal investigation into the
killing by U.S. Marines of a relative of Iraqs ambassador to
the United Nations. A statement from the military said the
commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force had
referred the case of the death of Mohammed al-Sumaida'ie to
the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service for further
Mohammed al-Sumaida'ie, the son of ambassador Samir al-
Sumaida'ies first cousin, was shot dead near Haditha, western
Iraq, as Marines were searching his familys home on June 25.
In July, ambassador Sumaida'ie, who has been Iraqs
representative at the United Nations since last year, accused
U.S. troops of killing his 21-year-old relative, an
engineering student, in cold blood and demanded a full
general says US troops shot him
Reuters report (August 20th): An Iraqi
general who commands the countrys border defence force was
shot and wounded while driving in Baghdad late on Saturday and
accused U.S. troops of firing on his car, police and hospital
Major General Ali Hamadi told doctors at Yarmouk Hospital,
who treated him for a gunshot wound to the abdomen, that U.S.
forces fired on him as he was driving himself to a doctors
appointment, a source at the hospital told Reuters.
Iraqis daily accuse American troops of opening fire on
motorists, often killing them.
Tens of thousands languish in jail
The Washington Post reports (August 24th):
Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, the military said
it has arrested more than 40,000 people. The population today
at the three U.S.-run prisons Bucca, Abu Ghraib and Camp
Cropper near the Baghdad airport, where former President
Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants are being held is 10,600,
double the number of a year ago. The average incarceration at
Bucca is a year. The military attributes the surge in
detentions to an increase in combat operations and the
inability of the nascent Iraqi justice system to handle the
Many of the freed detainees express bewilderment at why
they were held; even the U.S. commander who oversees Bucca,
Col. Austin Schmidt, 55, of Fairfax, estimated that one in
four prisoners perhaps were just snagged in a dragnet-type
operation or were victims of personal vendettas. This is
like Chicago in the 30s: You dont like somebody, you drop a
dime on them, Schmidt said. And by the time the Iraqi court
system figures it out, they go home. But it takes a
No special consideration for journalists
The Guardian reports (August 26th): The US
military has told journalists working in Iraq they will be
given no special consideration after Reuters demanded an
explanation for the continued detention of its cameraman in
the countrys notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Reuters has been
denied access to Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani since he was
arrested by US troops at his home in Ramadi on August 8.
Military sources told the news agency Mashhadani was a
security detainee, implying suspected links to insurgents,
but have refused to give details of any suspicions or
International press freedom groups have spoken out against
the arrest, pointing out that journalists work is likely to
put them into contact with insurgents. There is an
intolerable denial of basic rights here, said Aidan White,
the general secretary of the International Federation of
Journalists. This man is being denied visitors and there is
growing concern about his welfare. The US authorities should
reveal what, if anything, he is charged with or free him
Radioactive Wounds of War
In These Times reports (August 25th): Gerard
Matthew returned from his Iraq tour a year and a half ago
alive but learned that a bunkmate, Sgt. Ray Ramos, and a group
of N.Y. Guard members from another unit tested for depleted
uranium (DU) contamination, and had tested positive. Matthew,
31, decided that hed better get tested too. It turned out he
was the most contaminated of them all.
Matthew immediately urged his wife to get an ultrasound
check of their unborn baby. They discovered the fetus had a
condition common to those with radioactive exposure: atypical
syndactyly. The right hand had only two digits.
Uranium is also a highly toxic heavy metal. According to
Mt. Sinai pathologist Thomas Fasey, who participated in the
New York Guard unit testing, the element has an affinity for
bonding with DNA, where even trace amounts can cause cancers
and fetal abnormalities.
No one knows how many U.S. soldiers have been contaminated
by DU residue. Despite regulations authorizing tests for any
military personnel who suspects exposure, the U.S. military is
avoiding doing those tests梠r delaying them until they are
Iraqi unions face threat to independence
Scottish Socialist Voice reports (August
25th): The Iraqi government is attempting to control trade
union activity by overturning an agreement that allowed unions
to operate without any undue interference or harassment from
A new decree adopted by the Iraqi Council of Ministers
stated that the government would be taking control of all
monies belonging to the trade unions to prevent them from
dispensing any such monies. Ominously the decree also says
that new proposals on how trade unions should function,
operate and organise will be prepared. The proposals have
drawn protests from UK trade unions.
One example of the growing union activity saw health care
workers in the hospital and medical centres in Kirkuk and its
suburban cities organising a two-hour general strike against
pay cuts imposed by the Health Ministry. And the dangers faced
by trade unionists were highlighted last week when a US
military helicopter attacked workers gathered in Alawi
Al-Hilla district in Baghdad on 15 August 2005, where the
Transport and Communication Workers Union has its head
office, injuring 26 workers who were taken to hospital. Unions
have protested about the attack to the Iraqi
People falling ill from contaminated water
IRIN report (August 25th): Numerous cases of
people falling ill from contaminated water in districts across
Baghdad have been reported by local doctors and the Ministry
of Public Works this week.
We have registered dozens of cases of people falling ill
from dirty water in the past four days and we have found that
the water used was from taps water inside the homes, Dr
Hassan Adnan, a paediatrician at Yarmouk Hospital, said.
Doctors have informed the ministries of Public Works and
Health and asked for urgent assistance, especially in
districts where there are large numbers of people falling
Condemnation of scheduled executions
IRIN report (August 24th): International
human rights groups have condemned the passing down of the
first death sentence in Iraq since US-led forces invaded the
country in April 2003 and ousted former leader Saddam Hussein.
Three men will be executed in the first week of September,
The death penalty, which was used to punish criminals
during Husseins regime, was abolished by US forces in 2003,
but reinstated in August 2004 during the rule of former prime
minister, Iyad Allawi.
A senior Ministry of Human Rights official, Ahmed Subhi,
said that they believe the implementation of the death penalty
was not a solution. Amnesty International also condemned the
execution order, saying it was concerned that dozens of death
sentences had been handed out in recent weeks and that in this
case there was no difference between the time of Saddam and
Iraq war costlier than Vietnam
BBC reports (August 31st): The monthly
cost to the US of the war in Iraq is now greater than the
average monthly cost of the Vietnam War, a report by two
anti-war groups says. The report put costs in Iraq at $500m
(�8m) a month more than in Vietnam, adjusted for inflation.
This makes Iraq the most expensive US war in the past 60
years, they say. The report by the Institute for Policy
Studies (IPS) and Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), called The
Iraq Quagmire, calculates the cost of current military
operations in Iraq at $5.6bn (�1bn) every month.
Iraqi hospitals ailing under Occupation
Dahr Jamail reports (issued on June 21st and
endorsed by the Brussels Tribunal): Hospitals in Iraq continue
to face ongoing medicine, equipment, and staffing shortages
under the US-led occupation. Many doctors in Iraq believe
that, more widely, the lack of assistance, if not outright
hostility, by the US military, coupled with the lack of
rebuilding and reconstruction by foreign contractors has
compounded the problems they are facing ...
Doctors from Fallujah General Hospital, as well as others
who worked in clinics throughout the city during the US siege
of Fallujah reported that US Marines obstructed their services
and that US snipers intentionally targeted their clinics and
Economic Occupation of Iraq on Trial
Four British human rights activists face trial for
attempting to prevent the alleged criminal activity of
London-based Iraq privatisation organisers Windrush
Communications. The defendants have applied for disclosure of
all advice given by the Attorney General to the British
Government. Their defence statements will be challenging the
legality of the economic reforms imposed by coalition
authorities in occupied Iraq.
The defendants will be arguing that they were attempting to
prevent crimes being committed under the International
Criminal Court Act 2000. The ICCA allows for the prosecution
of war crimes committed in Britain or by British
Steven Barnes 30, Nick Gill, 28, Ewa Jasiewicz, 27, and
Yasmin Khan, 24 will appear at Bow Magistrates Court on
September 14th, 16th, and 19th 2005. The four were originally
arrested for Aggravated Trespass disrupting a lawful
activity when they besieged the offices of Windrush
Communications in December 2004.
For more information: http://www.radicalactivist.net/corporateiraq.shtml
10 September 2005, LEEDS: 'Anti-Occupation March'.
Assemble 12 noon outside Leeds City Art Gallery,
Headrow. Organised by Leeds Stop the War.
11 September 2005 (1-7pm),HASTINGS: Green Fair 2005
Alexandra Park. Free Admission. JNV stand and workshop
11 September 2005 (10am-6pm), SALFORD: International
Conference Against Terrorism. Salford University.
speakers Mark Curtis (Unpeople), Dr. Jan Hancock (Centre for
International Politics, University of Manchester) and others.
Tickets � available from The Basement bookshop, 24
Lever Street (off Picadilly Gardens). 07881 798960 or email email@example.com
14 September 2005 (10am), LONDON: Trial of Activists
Arrested for Occupying the Office of Windrush
The organiser of a series of business
conferences re. Iraq. 10am, Bow Road Magistrates Court.
17 September 2005 (11.30am), LONDON: Islington Carnival
for Peace. Highbury Fields. March to Islington Green for
rally with Jeremy Corbyn MP
21 September 2005, LONDON: Public Meeting organised by
Brent Stop the War. Pakistani Community
Saturday 24 September 2005 (1pm), LONDON: National
Stop the War Coalition with CND and MAB have
called a National Demonstration to Stop the Bombings, Stop the
War, Bring the Troops Home, Defend Civil Liberties and Defend
the Muslim Community.
Sunday 25 September 2005 (79pm), BRIGHTON: Labour
Against the War at the Labour Party Conference fringe.
IRAQ: END THE OCCUPATION, BRING THE TROOPS HOME.
Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton.
Simpson MP. Confirmed speakers: Tony Benn, Michael Meacher MP,
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Gerry Doherty (General Secretary TSSA),
Christine Shawcroft (LP NEC), Sami Ramadani (Senior lecture,
London Metropolitan University), Reg Keys.
Voices from Occupied Iraq
An International Teach-in
Saturday 26 November 2005
Themes: Corporate invasion; democratic, civil and human rights; resistance.
Organised by: Iraq Occupation Focus
Sponsored by: Voices In the Wilderness, Labour and Trade Union Review/Bevin Society.
Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1.
10am 5pm (Registration: 10 am).
Gilbert Achcar, author The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder
Ismeel Dawood, human rights activist, Baghdad
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary National Union of Journalists
Hassan Jumaa, General Secretary, General Union of Oil Employees,Basra
Rahul Mahajan, author of Empire Notes (http://www.empirenotes.org)
Professor Kamil Mahdi, Exeter University Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Sami Ramadani, lecturer, Iraqi-born activist, regular contributor to The Guardian,
Haifa Zangana, Iraqi-born novelist, activist and former political prisoner in Iraq, regular contributor to The Guardian
Registration �(waged), �(unwaged). Creche available if booked in advance.
To register in advance, or for further information contact Iraq Occupation Focus, http://www.iraqoccupationfocus.org/ or PO Box 44680, London N16 7XX, email: firstname.lastname@example.org