Last month we discussed the real, human cost of the war in Iraq. We discovered amazingly that 1.2 – 1.6 million people have died due to the Iraq conflict, approximately 1:18 of the population. This month we are told 15% of the population, 1:6 has been displaced by the war.
Seven years after the March 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq remains deeply divided. There are few prospects of durable solutions for the approximately 15 per cent of the population who are displaced inside and outside Iraq. It is thought that there are almost 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs), close to half of whom were displaced prior to 2003. Daily life for all Iraqis is precarious. Public health, electricity, water and sanitation services remain inadequate.
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Iraq Occupation Focus
Newsletter No. 142
March 25th, 2010
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Police: US troops kill Iraqi reporter and husband
AP reports (March 12th): U.S. troops opened fire on a car in western Baghdad, killing an Iraqi journalist and her husband, a police official said. Morgue officials confirmed the deaths and said the bodies of Aseel al-Obeidi and her husband were riddled with bullets.
UK government violated human rights of two imprisoned Iraqis, court rules
The Guardian reports (March 2nd): The UK government was condemned for violating the human rights of two Iraqis accused of murdering two captive British soldiers in 2003. Faisal al-Saadoon and Khalef Hussain Mufdhi, Sunni Muslims and former officials of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party, have been detained for almost seven years. They are currently being held in the Rusafa prison near Baghdad. The European court of human rights in Strasbourg unanimously foundthe pair were “at real risk of being subjected to an unfair trial followed by execution by hanging” in Iraq.
Former murder squad chief to head inquiry into Iraqi killings allegation
The Guardian reports (March 9th): An investigation into claims that British troops killed and abused prisoners will be led by a former head of a Scotland Yard murder squad. The case will involve seeking evidence from witnesses to a fierce battle in southern Iraq six years ago. The huge task was announced at the launch of a public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis after the “battle of Danny Boy”, named after a checkpoint in Maysan province, north of Basra, on 14 May 2004.
Interference Seen in Blackwater Inquiry
NY Times reports (March 2nd): An official at the United States Embassy in Iraq has told federal prosecutors that he believes that State Department officials sought to block any serious investigation of the 2007 shooting episode in which Blackwater Worldwide security guards were accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians, according to court testimony. David Farrington, a State Department security agent in the American Embassy at the time of the shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, told prosecutors that some of his colleagues were handling evidence in a way they hoped would help the Blackwater guards avoid punishment for a crime that drew headlines and raised tensions between American and Iraqi officials.
Urgent Appeal for releasing the prisoners detained in Iraq prisons
Brussells Tribunal reports: (March 11th): World Association of Arab Translators and Linguists are appealing to the Secretary General of the United Nations for the release of Iraqi prisoners: “The USA occupying forces in Iraq have locked up more than 162,000 Iraqi citizens in more than 50 prisons and detention camps including 28 camps run by US occupying forces, in addition to many undisclosed investigation and incarceration centres over Iraq.
The number of detainees registered in International Red Cross records is around 71,000, the other detainees are not recorded with the IRC because they are arrested at US detaining centres where visits by the Red-Cross representatives are denied by the occupying forces and thousands of war prisoners and old age detainees have been imprisoned and detained for more than six years suffering from unbearable and painful living and health conditions..
Among the detainees there are 520 women detained by the US forces as hostages in place of their husbands or sons who have escaped detention by the US occupying forces. In prisons run by the US occupying forces there are also more than 900 children of less than fifteen years of age and 470 of them are less than twelve years of age. In the government prisons there are 1400 children less than fifteen years dumped into crowded and filthy cells. There are also 12,000 persons detained by mistake or under suspicion who are still detained for many years.”
Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects
BBC reports (March 4th): Doctors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are reporting a high level of birth defects, with some blaming weapons used by the US after the Iraq invasion. The city witnessed fierce fighting in 2004 as US forces carried out a major offensive against insurgents.Now, the level of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe. British-based Iraqi researcher Malik Hamdan told the BBC’s World Today programme that doctors in Fallujah were witnessing a “massive unprecedented number” of heart defects, and an increase in the number of nervous system defects. She said that one doctor in the city had compared data about birth defects from before 2003 – when she saw about one case every two months – with the situation now, when, she saw cases every day.
2.8 million Iraqis remain internally displaced
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports (March 4th): Seven years after the March 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq remains deeply divided. There are few prospects of durable solutions for the approximately 15 per cent of the population who are displaced inside and outside Iraq. It is thought that there are almost 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs), close to half of whom were displaced prior to 2003. Though Iraq is no longer in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, daily life for all Iraqis is precarious. Public health, electricity, water and sanitation services remain inadequate.
Iraq’s trade ministry hit by £2.6 billion fraud
The Times reports (March 7th): Rampant government corruption emerged as one of the biggest issues in the election campaign, with the exposure of a huge fraud at the trade ministry. Sabah al-Saadi, head of the Iraqi parliament’s anti-corruption committee, said documents showed that $4 billion (£2.6 billion) had gone missing from the ministry, but that the total could be as high as $8 billion in the past four years. Saadi said he was pursuing 20,000 legal cases for official corruption, most of which had been delayed until a new government was installed.
Voter fraud allegations
Juan Cole reports (March 5th): Aljazeera Arabic reports that parties are attempting to buy votes among the often penniless refugees. Al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that over a million Iraqis took part in early voting. An official in the Independent High Electoral Commission, Hamdiya al-Husaini, confirmed to al-Hayat that soldiers had been pressured to vote for a certain party, which she would not name, and even that some soldiers arrived at the voting station only to find that someone else had already voted on their behalf. She promised an investigation by the High Electoral Commission. The voting process was chaotic, and many soldiers’s names could not be found at their voting stations on the registration rolls. Some soldiers even staged demonstrations over being disenfranchised in this way, in response to which the High Electoral Commission promised them redress. Nevertheless, thousands are estimated to have been unable to vote.
Iraq opposition alleges ‘flagrant’ election fraud
AFP reports (March 12th): A senior member of Iraq’s main secular opposition bloc protested of blatant fraud in favour of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during Iraq’s general election. “There has been clear and flagrant fraud,” said Intisar Allawi, a senior candidate in ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, the main rival to Maliki’s State of Law Alliance. “There were persons who manipulated or changed the figures to increase the vote in favour of the State of Law Alliance.” She said that Iraqiya’s own election observers for last Sunday’s poll had found ballot papers in garbage dumps in the northern disputed province of Kirkuk.
Ayad Allawi accuses Nouri al-Maliki’s group of fraud in bid to retain power
The Time adds (March 12th): Ayad Allawi told Western officials that aides to Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, had hidden ballot papers and falsified computer records in an effort to retain power. “They are stealing the votes of the Iraqi people,” his spokesman told a press conference called to set out the main claims. Several violations alleged by Mr Allawi have been confirmed by diplomats and election observers. Mr Allawi also claimed that 250,000 soldiers were denied the chance to vote, and that an election monitor had found ballot papers with votes for Mr Allawi dumped in the garden of a polling station in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Number of Iraqis killed jumps as election nears
AP report (March 2nd): The number of Iraqis killed in war-related violence increased by 44 percent between January and February, according to a count by The Associated Press, with civilians accounting for almost all of the casualties.
Iraqi children’s rights violated
The Brussells Tribunal reports (February 2010): Under the American occupation, lack of security, sectarian violence, deterioration of health care systems, poverty, massive imprisonments, clean water shortages, limited or no electrical power, environmental pollution and lack of sanitation all contributed to grave violations to children’s rights and a drastic increase in the child mortality rate. It has been reported that one out of eight children in Iraq die before their fifth birthday.
Iraq’s Christians demand justice
Al Jazeera reports (February 28th): Iraqis in Baghdad and Mosul have protested a recent wave of attacks on their minority religious communities, following the murder of eight Christians in less than two weeks. Holding olive branches and the national flag, demonstrators vented their anger over the poor security afforded them in the wake of a series of killings. Shouting slogans such as “stop the killing of Christians”, hundreds of demonstrators called on authorities to guarantee their protection as they marched round al-Ferdus Square in central Baghdad.
EI protests against the continued harassment of union leaders
Education International reports (February 26th): Education International is very concerned about the continuous governmental interference the Iraqi Teachers’ Union (ITU) is experiencing. The ITU, an organisation currently applying for EI membership, continues to face extreme attacks from the Iraqi government which wants to control the union. Iraqi teacher unionist al-Battat was arrested and then released on 22 February after an eight-day detention period. He was involved in strike actions, and his home came under fire after he refused to hand over the union memberships lists.
Women Miss Saddam
Abdu Rahman and Dahr Jamail report for IPS (March 12th): Under Saddam Hussein, women in government got a year’s maternity leave; that is now cut to six months. Under the Personal Status Law in force since Jul. 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women had most of the rights that Western women do. Now they have Article 2 of the Constitution: “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation.” Sub-head A says “No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.” Under this Article the interpretation of women’s rights is left to religious leaders – and many of them are under Iranian influence.”The U.S. occupation has decided to let go of women’s rights,” Yanar Mohammed who campaigns for women’s rights in Iraq says.
New Fraud Cases Point to Lapses in Iraq Projects
NY Times reports (March 13th): Investigators looking into corruption involving reconstruction in Iraq say they have opened more than 50 new cases in six months by scrutinizing large cash transactions — involving banks, land deals, loan payments, casinos and even plastic surgery — made by some of the Americans involved in the nearly $150 billion program. Some of the cases involve people who are suspected of having mailed tens of thousands of dollars to themselves from Iraq, or of having stuffed the money into duffel bags and suitcases when leaving the country, the federal investigators said. In other cases, millions of dollars were moved through wire transfers. Suspects then used cash to buy BMWs, Humvees and expensive jewellery, or to pay off enormous casino debts.