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“Every moment in Iraq is like this!”

Karen Button

26aprile-orphaned.jpeg

June 9, 2006

My Iraqi colleague and friend Aishya is on the phone detailing names, ages and method of death for each of the victims of Haditha’s massacre by US troops last November. She tells me that from her interviews with survivors, there are certain details being incorrectly reported and she wants to correct them. She double-checked, she says, on a recent trip when she was bringing medical supplies to Haditha.

As I scribble down the information, she pauses. "You know," she says, "this happens every day, of course. And what about the wedding party in Mukaradeeb the US murdered in 2004?" At least 45 people were killed by US troops in the attack near Al-Qaim in western Iraq. Pentagon officials denied a wedding was in procession, claiming instead that party-goers were "anti-coalition forces."

"We need to get this information out," Aishya continues, "but let me tell you something that happened just the other day."

Aishya was staying in Haditha with the Al-Hadithi family at the end of May. In the morning 41-year old Hanan woke her, looking very sad. When Aishya asked what was wrong, Hanan told her she was extremely worried about her 18-month old boy, Hakam. He’d been having severe diarrhea and stomach pains.

Looking at the little boy, Aishya became worried too. Having seen many similar cases, she was concerned for the boy’s life. "There is no doctor in Haditha who can treat cases like this and I told Hanan and her husband they should bring the little boy to Baghdad. I invited them to come with me, but they were too afraid. I offered to go to Ramadi with them, but they were also too afraid."

In the west of Iraq, where heavy US and Iraqi military operations have been underway for close for over a year, tens of thousands of Iraqis are homeless, either from fleeing or from having their homes reduced to rubble in air attacks. Resistance in the area has grown in response to the US-led attacks.

Finally, Hanan and her husband, Jawad, agreed to load Hakam into the car with Aishya and go to nearby Baghdadi. "But, the doctor was away," says Aishya. This is often the case as doctors try to attend to outlying villages. "The little boy was getting worse, vomiting the whole way.

"We began driving to Hit, but on the way there was a roadblock by the Americans. They now have a new technique. They block the road and stay the same distance away as a car bomb would explode. But how do the people get through? I decided to walk that distance to them. With my hands up, I began waving. I was calling to the Americans to tell them who we are.

"Instead of coming to meet me, one of the soldiers used this sign of his hand across his neck, like he would kill me. The other one put his M16 on the side of his tank and pointed it at me. Then they began moving a humvee and a tank toward me, stopping to completely block the road."

Jawad Al-Hadithi wanted to get out of the car to help Aishya, but would likely have been shot as males between the ages of 15 and 55 are automatically considered potential "insurgents."

"Can you imagine? They said nothing. No one came to talk to me. They didn’t even come closer, except with their tanks. This is they way of treatment of the people."

Earlier in the day, the small group was worried only for the life of the child. Now, trying to find a doctor, they were worried for lives of them all. Aishya says Hanan was begging her husband that they must all leave or be killed.

"I felt so powerless. Useless. Imagine you can’t do anything for the person who is the closest to you.

"I had put my hands on my head. I was speaking to them in English, but they don’t care. They didn’t give a shit. Maybe they think I am a suicide bomber. But this little boy is very sick.

"We had to turn back. We had not choice. We drove to another village and here, fortunately, we could find a doctor. It is extremely hot now. We are in the summer. But we had to stop at a bridge because it was blocked by a concrete wall. We carried the boy by our arms, but we got him to the doctor.

"Imagine you have a little boy in a similar [health] situation and it is impossible to take your child to the doctor? What if your child might die because of this kind of treatment?

"This is the everyday story in Iraq. Every moment in Iraq is like this!"


:: Article nr. 23844 sent on 09-jun-2006 18:00 ECT

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