Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq


Richard Moore

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Subject: Iraq Dispatches: Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
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      Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 30 May 2006

The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has
become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in 
Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the "scandal" of 
Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.

Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on the 
Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the 
awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply because the media 
finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion, to cover the story, and the
daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" 
forces has not stopped either.

Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On 
Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the Iraqi 
National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the Al-Latifya district 
south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter shelling. This led the families to 
flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals to protect themselves from the fierce 
shelling. Then seven helicopters landed to pursue the families who fled Š and 
killed them. The number of victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces 
detained another six persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and 
Widad Ahmed Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father 
was killed during the shelling."

The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq 
(MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They held an attack on 
May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National Guards. They also attacked 
the families' houses, and arrested a number of them while others fled. US 
snipers then used the homes to target more Iraqis. The reason for this crime was
due to the downing of a helicopter in an area close to where the forces held 
their attack."

The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where they 
killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the media.

On that same day, MHRI also reported that in the Yarmouk district of Baghdad, US
forces raided the home of Essam Fitian al-Rawi. Al-Rawi was killed along with 
his son Ahmed; then the soldiers reportedly removed the two bodies along with 
Al-Rawi's nephew, who was detained.

Similarly, in the city of Samara on May 5, MHRI reported, "American soldiers 
entered the house of Mr. Zidan Khalif Al-Heed after an attack upon American 
soldiers was launched nearby the house. American soldiers entered this home and 
killed the family, including the father, mother and daughter who is in the 6th 
grade, along with their son, who was suffering from mental and physical 

This same group, MHRI, also estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 Iraqi 
civilians were killed during the November 2004 US assault on Fallujah. Numbers 
which make those from the Haditha massacre pale in comparison.

Instead of reporting incidents such as these, mainstream outlets are referring 
to the Haditha slaughter as one of a few cases that "present the most serious 
challenge to US handling of the Iraq war since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal."

Marc Garlasco, of Human Rights Watch, told reporters recently, "What happened at
Haditha appears to be outright murder. The Haditha massacre will go down as 
Iraq's My Lai."

Then there is the daily reality of sectarian and ethnic cleansing in Iraq, which
is being carried out by US-backed Iraqi "security" forces. A recent example of 
this was provided by a representative of the Voice of Freedom Association for 
Human Rights, another Iraqi NGO which logs ongoing atrocities resulting from the
US occupation.

"The representative Š visited Fursan Village (Bani Zaid) with the Iraqi Red 
Crescent Al-Madayin Branch. The village of 60 houses, inhabited by Sunni 
families, was attacked on February 27, 2006, by groups of men wearing black 
clothes and driving cars from the Ministry of Interior. Most of the villagers 
escaped, but eight were caught and immediately executed. One of them was the 
Imam of the village mosque, Abu Aisha, and another was a 10-year-old boy, Adnan 
Madab. They were executed inside the room where they were hiding. Many animals 
(sheep, cows and dogs) were shot by the armed men also. The village mosque and 
most of the houses were destroyed and burnt."

The representative had obtained the information when four men who had fled the 
scene of the massacre returned to provide the details. The other survivors had 
all left to seek refuge in Baghdad. "The survivors who returned to give the 
details guided the representative and the Red Crescent personnel to where the 
bodies had been buried. They [the bodies] were of men, women and one of the 
village babies."

The director of MHRI, Muhamad T. Al-Deraji, said of this incident, "This 
situation is a simple part of a larger problem that is orchestrated by the 
government Š the delay in protecting more villagers from this will only increase
the number of tragedies."

Arun Gupta, an investigative journalist and editor with the New York Indypendent
newspaper of the New York Independent Media Center, has written extensively 
about US-backed militias and death squads in Iraq. He is also the former editor 
at the Guardian weekly in New York and writes frequently for Z Magazine and Left

"The fact is, while I think the militias have, to a degree, spiraled out of US 
control, it's the US who trains, arms, funds, and supplies all the police and 
military forces, and gives them critical logistical support," he told me this 
week. "For instance, there were reports at the beginning of the year that a US 
army unit caught a "death squad" operating inside the Iraqi Highway Patrol. 
There were the usual claims that the US has nothing to do with them. It's all a 
big lie. The American reporters are lazy. If they did just a little digging, 
there is loads of material out there showing how the US set up the highway 
patrol, established a special training academy just for them, equipped them, 
armed them, built all their bases, etc. It's all in government documents, so 
it's irrefutable. But then they tell the media we have nothing to do with them 
and they don't even fact check it. In any case, I think the story is significant
only insofar as it shows how the US tries to cover up its involvement."

Once again, like Abu Ghraib, a few US soldiers are being investigated about what
occurred in Haditha. The "few bad apples" scenario is being repeated in order to
obscure the fact that Iraqis are being slaughtered every single day. The "shoot 
first ask questions later" policy, which has been in effect from nearly the 
beginning in Iraq, creates trigger-happy American soldiers and US-backed Iraqi 
death squads who have no respect for the lives of the Iraqi people. Yet, rather 
than high-ranking members of the Bush administration who give the orders, 
including Bush himself, being tried for the war crimes they are most certainly 
guilty of, we have the ceremonial "public hanging" of a few lowly soldiers for 
their crimes committed on the ground.

In an interview with CNN on May 29th concerning the Haditha massacre, Chairman 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace commented, "It's going to be a 
couple more weeks before those investigations are complete, and we should not 
prejudge the outcome. But we should, in fact, as leaders take on the 
responsibility to get out and talk to our troops and make sure that they 
understand that what 99.9 percent of them are doing, which is fighting with 
honor and courage, is exactly what we expect of them."

This is the same Peter Pace who when asked how things were going in Iraq by Tim 
Russert on Meet the Press this past March 5th said, "I'd say they're going well.
I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're going 
very, very well from everything you look at Š"

Things are not "going very, very well" in Iraq. There have been countless My Lai
massacres, and we cannot blame 0.1% of the soldiers on the ground in Iraq for 
killing as many as a quarter of a million Iraqis, when it is the policies of the
Bush administration that generated the failed occupation to begin with.


A must read article on this topic which addresses US and International Law 
concerning this atrocity is "The Haditha Massacre" by Marjorie Cohn posted here 

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect 
of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive 
committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for
t r u t h o u t.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

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