September 4, 2006
On 18 July 2006 the United Nations reported:
9. The reported number of civilian casualties continued an upward trend. (…) The total figure of civilians killed in Iraq, adding the figures provided by the Ministry of Health and the MLI, reaches 2,669 civilians in May and 3,149 in June 2006. According to the Ministry of Health, from January to June 2006 there were 6,826 civilians killed and 13,256 wounded. Including the figures of the MLI in Baghdad for the period, the total of civilians killed in Iraq from January-June 2006 was 14,338.This past June, when the Los Angeles Times published "War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000" ["according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies"] Stephen Soldz wrote:
10. On 25 June, the Ministry of Health publicly acknowledged information stating that since 2003 at least 50,000 persons have been killed violently. The Baghdad morgue reportedly received 30,204 bodies from 2003 to mid-2006. Death numbering 18,933 occurred from "military clashes" and "terrorist attacks" between 5 April 2004 and 1 June 2006. The Ministry further indicated that the number of deaths is probably underreported. (1)
Further, the fact that mortality estimates come from government sources raises questions as to the accuracy of attributed causes. After all, attributing deaths to "terrorist attacks" is more acceptable to the powers-that-be than is attributing tem to "American forces" or to pro-government militias and death squads. (2)The Iraqi Health Ministry, which operates the Baghdad morgue and government hospitals, is in the hands of a religious party headed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose militia, the Mahdi Army, is responsible of mass murdering and ethnic cleansing.
In spite of the propaganda coming from certain sectors of the Western antiwar movement and the so called "left" claiming that Muqtada al-Sadr is a hero of the Iraqi resistance and he’s fiercely anti-US and anti-occupation, the reality couldn’t be more different.
The Iraqi government will continue to work with Muqtada Sadr, the main force behind one of Iraq's largest Shiite militias, a top Iraqi official said Friday. "We have to distinguish between the political line and the militia line," said Iraqi Deputy President Adil Abd al-Mahdi. "We ... are working a lot (with Sadr), and he is supporting the government. He has ministers in the government. And we are trying to distinguish between undisciplined groups from the disciplined ones. The government of (Prime Minister) Maliki is working very well on that issue." Mahdi made his remarks Friday at the Pentagon, where he met with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (3) It’s unfortunate – to say the least – that the "few bad apples" myth has been voiced in the West by many leftists and intellectuals. The huge amount of evidence we now have tells us that:
1) Muqtada al-Sadr is the leader of a bloody criminal organization, the Mahdi Army, that’s been committing mass murdering and ethnic cleansing in Iraq;In July, the Washington Post reported:
2) this organization is an important part of the Iraqi puppet government; and
3) it’s been cooperating with the occupation forces in the fighting against the Iraqi resistance.
According to witnesses and a Washington Post special correspondent, carloads of men in tracksuits, suspected by residents to be members of the powerful Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army, pulled up outside the Malouki mosque and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of worship. During the firefight, a bullet pierced the shoulder of a mosque guard. Cars were gutted and burned. Residents said they did not know how many people died."And how could you know that they are the Mahdi Army?" is the same reply that too many in the West use every time someone tries to raise questions on the role of Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army.
Gunfire clattered through the hot evening air; children bawled at the sound. In one home, a wife locked the front door and pleaded with her husband not to leave the house. A former army officer barked orders to neighbors who assembled to mount a defense: You go up to the rooftops. You guard the street corners.
Saleh Muhammed, an Amiriyah resident, told a Post special correspondent that he dialed 130 into his cellphone, Baghdad's emergency number. "The Mahdi Army has attacked Amiriyah," he told the Interior Ministry dispatcher.
"The Mahdi Army are not terrorists like you," said the dispatcher at the ministry, which is controlled by a Shiite party and operates closely with militias. "They are people doing their duty. And how could you know that they are the Mahdi Army? Is it written on their foreheads?" He hung up the phone. (4)
"Among other death squads and militias, a truly independent investigation must question the Badr Organisation [the armed wing of the Shia Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq] and the Mehdi Army [the militia of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr] within the frame of the US-led occupation and its puppet Iraqi government of which Moqtada al-Sadr with his religious party is one of the most important components." an article I co-authored with Uruknet’s editor Paola Pisi concluded on 6 July 2006. (5)
This request for a truly independent investigation was enough to attract the lightening strikes coming from the BRussells Tribunal that published and distributed an article by Max Fuller, accusing Paola Pisi and me of doing "exactly what the Occupation wants". In this smear, Fuller twists, manipulates and distorts facts, evidence and logic so to be able to defend mass murdering and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Sadr Brigades and the Mahdi Army. The Middle East is Burning. The BRussells Tribunal Slanders Uruknet, the reply by the Uruknet’s Editorial Staff, far from being a "personal bickering" as it was so vulgarly suggested, tries to light the reality and the horror that Iraq and Iraqis are living every day on their own skin, a reality hidden behind mountains of propaganda.
There is much evidence that the Iraqi puppet government has been minimizing the number of casualties. [On this topic, please read Iraq between genocide and coincidences, an article I wrote on 26 June 2006 ]
A scientific study published at the end of October 2004 on the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet and buried by the US and UK governments and their obedient servants in the media tells us a different story.
'Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey’ reads:
Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. (Interpretation)The same study reads:
Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. (Findings) (7)
"The researchers found that the majority of deaths were attributed to violence, which were primarily the result of military actions by Coalition forces. Most of those killed by Coalition forces were women and children... Eighty-four percent of the [violent] deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces and 95 percent of those deaths were due to air strikes and artillery." (8)This study was published two years ago! But today, September 4, 2006, the front page of the "pro-Israeli" Independent reads: "Victims estimated at 41,639".
This number comes from Iraq Body Count (IBC).
The Western mainstream media resort to IBC to give the number of the Iraqi civilians killed since the 2003 invasion. On this outrageous scandal I have written a number of times:
Darkness and Light
An exchange between Les Roberts and John Sloboda on Iraq Body Count and the Lancet
Silence kills and silence is complicity - email to Phyllis Bennis
Silence kills and silence is complicity - email to United for Peace and Justice
Silence kills and silence is complicity - 'a follow-up'
Iraq between genocide and coincidences
Iraq Body Count - NOT JUST NUMBERS!
Shameless Mother Jones
THE BBC SMEARS MEDIA LENS - an email exchange with the BBC
IPS, nothing different... maybe worse
It’s bad enough when lies and propaganda come from our ruthless leaders and their servants in the state-corporate media. But what should we say when an even more pernicious propaganda comes from those who supposedly should be "on our side"?
The serious questions regarding Iraq Body Count are not a "ridiculous bickering" as a journalist "on the left" and supposedly "on our side" recently wrote me. These questions regard the very central issue of the Iraq invasion and occupation: the scale of the horror brought to the Iraqi People by our governments, with our money and in our name.
But the anti-war movement and the so called "left" is shamefully silent on this subject, when not defending Iraq Body Count against those who dared to ask questions. Why?
Shouldn’t we all be interested in what’s really going on in Iraq?
But this seems to be the point. In the West, too many on the "left" and in the so-called "anti-war movement" are not interested in reality. Iraq seems to exist just in function of their power games. Too often "peace and justice" have become a business that has nothing to do with the oppressed victims’ struggle and all to do instead with the acquisition of privileges and power that neutralizes real dissent and block change. The elites in the "left" and in the antiwar movement have become so obsessed with their own power, with their own "place in society" to be completely indifferent to the facts, to compromise with the perils of rewriting history, conceding points that shouldn't be conceded.
For these two subjects, Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army and Iraq Body Count, pass the truth about the horror that the Iraqi People have been forced to live since the new crusaders invaded their country. On both these subjects, vast sectors of the international anti-war movement and the so-called "left" have been silent at best when not actively cooperating with the propaganda machine.
I have been attacked many times because I keep asking questions to those who claim to be "on our side". Which side, if I may ask? The only side we all should care is the side of the truth and running after it. The power that be wants us to be ignorant and brainwashed. For that purpose it has lowered the level of political discussion to "we and they", "good and evil". It seems too often that on the so-called "left" too many have been doing the same.
Donny George, president of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, resigned on August 7 and fled the country soon after, taking refuge in Syria.
Dr George says that, having worked for the SBAH for over 30 years, he retired on 7 August because his position had become "intolerable" over the past year. "The board has come under the increasing influence of al-Sadr [the militant Shi’ite party founded by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which has 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament and controls a number of ministries]," says Dr George. "I can no longer work with these people who have come in with the new ministry. They have no knowledge of archaeology, no knowledge of antiquities, nothing." (…) "A lot of people have been sent to our institutions," he says. "They are only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq’s earlier heritage." According to Dr George, the new President of the SBAH is Haider Farhan, an al-Sadr party member with no relevant experience for the post. "There is nothing to recommend him," says Dr George. Dr George is well known in museums around the world, but says that he had come under increasing pressure to discontinue these international links which he believed were essential to the activities of the SBAH. "They did not like me having any contact with anyone from outside," he says. He says that it had even become difficult to maintain a liaison with the Coalition representatives in Baghdad, making it harder to respond quickly to reports of troops damaging archaeological sites. (9)
"Horrible" is how the University of Chicago's McGuire Gibson described the current situation regarding Iraq's ancient monuments and sites to the Washington Post. And the future? "Donny's departure raises a lot of questions, and I think the answers are going to be very disturbing indeed," says Atwood. Jane C. Waldbaum, president of the Archaeological Institute of America, told ARCHAEOLOGY, "We view with regret and sorrow this latest evidence of the deteriorating situation with respect to Iraq's antiquities and hope that every effort will be made to protect Iraq's rich archaeological heritage." (10)But on the "left" is just wilderness and Ivory Towers...
1) UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Human Rights Report, 1 May – 30 June 2006
2) Los Angeles Times estimates Iraqi dead at 50,000, June 25th, 2006, Psyche, Science, and Society, Blog of Stephen Soldz: Psychoanalyst, Psychologist, Researcher, and Activist
3) Iraqi government working with Sadr, UPI, 25 August 2006
4) From Baghdad Mosque, a Call to Arms, By Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi, Washington Post, Wednesday, July 12, 2006; A08
5) Iraq: Listening to the Survivors. The killing of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers and the Iraqi testimonies, by Paola Pisi and Gabriele Zamparini, Uruknet and The Cat’s Blog, 6 July 2006
6) Iraq between genocide and coincidences, by Gabriele Zamparini, The Cat’s Blog, 26 June 2006
7) Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey, The Lancet, Published online October 29,2004
8) 'Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion', October 28, 2004, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
9) Iraq’s top cultural official resigns, By Lucian Harris, The Art Newspaper, 26 August 2006
10) Iraq's Heritage Critically Endangered, Archaeology, August 28, 2006