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Al-Qaim I
Al Qaim Hospital:
Tragedy beyond Description

Sabah Ali, Brussells Tribunal

June 10 2005

The picturesque and peaceful landscapes on the way to Al-Qaim contradict sharply with the tragic reality this little town more than 400 kilometers to the west of Baghdad, lives in for more than two years. The Euphrates flows slowly and calmly among many villages and small townships, those we rarely hear of in the news: Karabla, Ebeidy, Rommana, Al-Ish…surrounded by fruit orchards. Bombed houses on the way say something…but the reality is "beyond description" as Dr. Hamdi Al-Aaloossy says.

Dr. Hamdi was not in Al-Qaim when we arrived, but he came all the way from another city to meet us. He was very angry.

"What are you going to do for us? Once after I did an interview, the American troops came here and held me for more than 4 hours in my office. They did not leave until I show them the medical records and documents to support what I said in that interview"

What did they want?

"They asked me why I said that the casualties were women and children while the American military spokesman said they were terrorists. I told them that the casualties I treated here were women and children and showed them the medical files."

After we had a tour in the hospital, listening to what the patients and employees had to say, we found out that his anger was the least we could expect. Dr. Hamdi had to work, protect his medical staff, and help the hundreds of urgent cases in extremely difficult, almost impossible, situation without any help.

"The events began on May 2, 2005" Dr. Hamdi began his description of the situation, "there was fierce fighting, the hospital became a battle field. After 3 days of fighting and shelling on the hospital we decided to go to an alternative one in the center of town. We gave first aid, blood transfusions, nutritious solutions and medicines. We saved many lives in very difficult circumstances. We were under huge pressure. The ambulances movement was very limited, we could not do many operations, but we managed to save many children. There were many casualties, the majority civilians, tens of dead bodies, tens of the wounded. The situation was so tragic. We sent many calls of help to humanitarian organizations and to the fighting parties too, to stop the blood bath. Thanks to God that the situation stopped at this point. We ask God peace and security for this town".

"But other towns were exposed to heavy bombing, in Karabla and Rommana, many were killed. We could not reach them until after the fighting was over. I advice you to go there and see the damage, the demolished houses, and the victims who were buried under the rubbles. There were tens of them. In one house 4 were killed and 7 wounded, this is one example. The bombing and shells do not differentiate between civilians and fighters; they do not know children, old people, and women. The horror was so great. Many families fled to the desert, with nothing, only the sand and the sky. It was a human tragedy; we ask God that it will not happen again"

What about the number of casualties?

"42 people were killed, more than 50 injured. I assure you that the majority were civilians, women, children and old people. In Rommana 6 people were killed in one house, 5 in another."

What about the alternative hospital?

It is a diwan (big guest room or hall) in one house. The family volunteered to host us. It was not easy to work, but we did our best, as we say in Arabic "the less harmful", we had two choices: either stay in and jeopardize the lives of the medical staff, or leave the town. The fighting went on for almost two weeks. We could work in Al-Qaim only. We managed to send some medical help to Karabla, but the roads to Rommana were closed, we could not help them, and we apologized to them through some satellite channels. But we went to see them after the fighting was over.

"Who helped them?

I can not say, but some of the wounded were moved to Mosul through the desert. In Ebeidi they had an alternative hospital, and we sent them a surgeon and an anesthetist.

It was tragic because we could not move the injured to a hospital, we could not send an ambulance out, and we did not know how to behave.

What about on normal days, not during military operations, are there any casualties?

certainly, there are the American snipers. There are casualties every day. But of course when there are military operations the number is much higher, the situation becomes indescribable. Not enough medical supplies, very limited ambulance movement, difficult conditions…the second day in the alternative hospital, a bomb exploded few meters away. In normal situation there are the land mines, the snipers, the clashes, there is no single day without firing, casualties, and families leaving town.

In such (NORMAL) situation, do you have enough medical supplies especially for emergency cases?

The Red Crescent, the Humanitarian Relief and other organizations helped us, but the situation is too difficult, and we certainly need more help…

What are the damages in the hospital?

The hospital was partially damaged, we lost 2 ambulances and one Land Cruiser, the air-conditions, electricity net, water, medical instruments, doors, the building ….etc. We call upon humanitarian organizations for help. In the alternative hospital, we could do different types of operations: blood, nutritious solutions, surgery, amputation, and lung paracentesis. We had to chose between leaving the injured to death or do what ever we can do to save their lives. As doctors we can not go to our private clinics, which are closed now. We attend patients in houses and in the streets…

In the streets?!!!

Yes, we stop on the road to examine a patient. Snipers do not differentiate between people, also the shelling, the mortars and the bombing. The casualties are so many.

The whole atmosphere in Al-Qaim was tense. The sign that said "Welcome in Al-Qaim" at the main entrance of the town disappeared. The main commercial street was mysteriously deserted; many houses and public buildings were destroyed to the ground.

In the hospital, a crowd of men were waiting, one of them was crying. Traces of shelling, bullets, blasts were obvious on the walls, the broken windows, the ambulances and the air-conditions. In the emergency ward, a young man, Quosai, was lying, his head and chest wrapped, respiratory tube on his nose, another tube coming out of his bleeding lung. Quosai has a shoes-shop in the market. He was opening his shop when an American sniper shot him in the head and chest.

How is he now?

-unstable, Dr. Lam'an, who volunteered to show us around replied. "His right lung is torn, and we do not know about his head injury yet, he has to be sent to Baghdad for further examination, we do not have the equipments hear. Yesterday we sent another injured man; he passed away on the way to Baghdad".

A man volunteered to talk: "This is happening every day. Women and children are killed everyday. A 9 year old boy was injured with Quosai, and another man in a jewelry shop. The same place, the same street, every day. The snipers are everywhere, they occupy the high buildings, and they shoot randomly. 5 women were killed in a month, one of them is very old, she was going to the bank to receive her pension, the car was shot and 4 people were killed in the spot, including her".

The man who was crying outside turned out to be Quosai's brother. He was crying bitterly, and could not hide his anger "we are innocent civilians going to work. The American snipers are hiding everywhere aiming at who ever they want. We can not do anything, and this has been going on for months, snipers, airplanes, mortars, bombing. God will avenge us against them."

All the people of Al-Qaim say that the customs building, which gives on the main commercial street, and which is occupied by the American troops and used as their headquarters, is the point where the snipers are shooting people from.

Facing Quosai was a 10 year old boy, Ahmad Abdullah. His nose, hands, abdomen were all connected to many tubes. His abdomen was wrapped. Ahmad was going home from school after receiving his final report, he had good marks, and was very happy to be in the forth grade, when a mortar shell torn his stomach, liver and pancreas. He had shrapnel in his head. "What actually happened was that a mortar shell was dropped, Ahmad was afraid, and he came running into the house when the second shell was dropped and injured him. There were no armed fighter around, no terrorists, the American were shooting randomly and continuously", his father explained.

In the children ward, two women were preparing the kids who suffers from diarrhea, to leave, holding with them the medicines and the solution bottles,

Where are you going?

We are leaving; it is not safe to stay in the hospital. They began to talk about the problems we hear from almost all the Iraqi mothers nowadays: the milk is expensive, the fathers are unemployed, life is difficult…etc. The ward itself was miserable, with the old equipments, ruined and bare beds. The women ward was not better, neither the labor and delivery rooms. Dr. Lam'an explains that there is a new delivery hall, but it is closed "we do not have a cadre, no assistant doctors, no nurses, no anesthetists…they are not willing to work here. Few months ago a woman doctor and her fiancée, who is also a doctor, were killed, the anesthetist was beaten badly by the American troops. He refused to come back to work for a month".

The only operation theater in hospital was not in a better shape. The windows were closed by bricks because every time the glasses were repaired, a blast destroys them. The doors are destroyed by soldiers' kicks or blasts. "All kinds of operations are done here" explained Dr.Lam'an, "Al-Qaim is a town of 200.000 population. You can imagine the pressure, with all the wounded and the women cases. We added a new operation table now, but the place is miserable as you can see". The walls were cracked; the operation table was broken and supported by a piece of wood. "This is our electronic door" Dr. Lam'an was sarcastically pointing at an aluminum door which has been broken and repaired many times.

"Nothing is left unbroken here" says Abu Mohammad, a male nurse and assistant administrative employee "the doors, the equipments, the windows, the cars…they say that we treat terrorists here, but when a patient is brought we do not ask if he is a terrorist or a soldier. I' ve been working here for 30 years, nothing like this happened under Saddam, with all his injustice. No doctor was ever beaten or humiliated. No doctor was arrested. We got rid of Saddam, but all the woe began. If you see the autopsy files, all of them are women and children. 50% of Al-Qaim people run away, in my area only three families are left, the houses are deserted, the shops are closed. They (the American) destroyed the court building, the fuel station, a house for the unmarried, the insurance company. The snipers are every where, occupying the houses and buildings. They say we want to protect you from the terrorists…but we do not know when the American would come and demolish our houses".

Abu Mohammad showed us all the destruction of the hospital.

Aysha, a young widow covered with black, who works in the hospital, was there on May 2, 2005.

"It was noon; the shooting began after a dead body was brought here. The hospital was surrounded; the place was full of armed men. I told them that my 3 children are alone in the house and that I got to leave. I had to go from corner to corner, under the fire. I found the fighters inside my house. They told me to stay, I could not. I decided to take the children to my father in law's house across the street. A shell was dropped at the door; I decided to go no matter what. My husband's family went out to see, another shell was dropped on them, 5 children were killed, and 4 women injured, one of them lost one of her eyes. I left Al-Qaim and went to Ebeidi; the fighting was heavier, so I went to a village called Al-Khaseem until the fighting was over. Many people are telling me to leave Al-Qaim, but where am I to go, I work here". Aysha's father, an old man in his 80s, was killed by a sniper shot while he was leaving the mosque. Her husband died 4 months ago in a car accident. Her oldest son is 6 years.

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Al-Qaim II
Snipers' Indiscriminate Killings: Testimonies of Civilian Casualties

(Dedicated to the UN, with Documents)

Sabah Ali, Brussells Tribunal

While we were writing this report , Dr .H Al-Aaloossy , the director of Al-Qaim General Hospital sent a call for help (June 20,2005) to the international community asking for lifting the military siege imposed by the American and British troops on Al-Qaim and the neighboring areas, and to let the ambulances evacuate the wounded. He also called upon these troops to stop the blood bath, and to let water, electricity, and medical help reach the civilians. He said that tens of families are buried under the rubbles and no medical help can reach them. He confirmed that the majority of the casualties were civilians, women and children.

The stories we heard in Al-Qaim General Hospital (see part I) give part of the picture. Al-Qaim is becoming a town of death. Before the current attack, the American snipers were the major problem. Almost all the casualties we heard of, or saw were shot by snipers who occupy houses after arresting the whole family in one room, or simply evacuate it.

But the main and the most dangerous place is the customs building. Al-Qaim is a border town, and the customs building looks on the main street. It is occupied by the American troops who shot civilians in that street where the market place and the clinics compound are. Many shop owners, civilians, women and children were killed by these snipers' bullets.

Shokor Mahmood

Shokor was the only son of a poor widow, and a brother of two young sisters. He has just turned 20 and was newly married. His wife Sarah, 16, is one month pregnant. He was a worker in a shoes shop for $50 a month. His father was killed in the Iraqi-Iranian war in the eighties. He had to leave school at the fifth grade to help his mother supporting the family. The family actually lived on charities and small businesses, selling candies, cleaning…etc.

On May 21, 2005, at 5 in the afternoon he went to the market. He was shot by snipers in his chest and died immediately; the shot was in the heart.

Subhi, Shokor's uncle and father in law explains what happened: "at 5.45 six bullets were shot from the customs building, five people were injured and Shokor was killed. He was walking, eating nuts with his friends, not armed."

- Who shot them?

- The American. They occupied the whole area: the court, the Bank, the fuel station, the shops…every thing. Any one walks on that way is shot

- Why?

- This is the question: why? He is not a mojahid, not a fundamentalist, his mother prevents him, he is her only son, she is crazy about his safety. But this happens daily, to every one not only Shokor, just now a young man is shot, he is in the hospital (Referring to Qusai we mentioned in part I), we want to know why the American are killing people who do not threaten them. They (the American) are controlling and surrounding the whole area, so why killing civilians, and old women…The shop owners can not open, if they do, they must not put their heads out …

- how long this has been going on?

- since they occupied the fuel station less than two months ago. Since then they destroyed the agriculture building, the bank, the court, and the shops near the court. It seems that they were attacked from a place behind the station. They exploded the building

- the buildings were not air bombed?

- No, they were exploded from inside. Our problem is that there is no media to cover these crimes. If you cross the river, go to Rabot village, you can see the three families which were killed yesterday at 3 am. Where is the media! One missile in Rabot village made a hole of 20 meters in the ground. Houses are flattened to the ground. Go to Karabla village, and see the houses and the families who were bombed. If they are after terrorists, why they bomb houses. This is our problem. They want to destroy us. If they are after Zarqawi, as they say, why do not they catch him? They are one thousands every where, apart from the National Guards. Al-Qaim would not take five minutes to be surrounded and controlled. Why they killed the Anbar governor!. They know that he was kidnapped and they know where he was kept near Rawa, why did they bomb the area and kill him?"

Other Fallujah's

The military campaign on Al-Qaim is going on for two months now. The people say that the American troops had a very bad hit, that they gave many casualties, that is why a new wave of attacks was expected, which came true soon. (On June 17 the second attack began, the American news say that 9 big bombs were dropped on the town, that tens were killed on that day. On June 20 Dr.Hamdi , the director of Al-Qaim General hospital, sent a message through media calling upon the American and British troops to stop the blood bath and he called upon the international and humanitarian organizations to do what ever they can to help the civilians who are buried under the rubbles, to let ambulances move, especially in Karabla village, 5 kilometers east of Al-Qaim. He confirmed again that the majority of the dead and wounded were civilians). The campaign means that they besiege the town, bomb it, occupy many houses and buildings, and kill any moving thing. Daham, a citizen from Al-Qaim said that "they occupied no less than 100 houses for 2-3 days each and then retreat, and use the roofs to shot near by houses. They arrest people collectively. There are hundreds of them in Al-Qaim. When they raid a house and find some gusts they arrest them. This is again another big problem, because this town is actually a center of a very large area, people come from far villages to see doctors or finish business; they stay in their relatives' houses. When many men meet in a house, it is raided and they are arrested for suspicion of being terrorists. After the attack on the neighboring villages many families seek refuge in Al-Qaim, again they are suspected. In Shokor's house there were 4 families".

It is a policy of intimidation and humiliation. The people are not safe in their houses, in the street, in their cars, in the hospital…They do not argue about arresting or killing fighters, because it is the fighter's choice to fight. The argument is only about the civilians. A girl of 11, Sahar Diyab, was injured and taken by the American, supposedly to be treated. She was never found. Her family is looking for 3 months everywhere. In Rabot village, men of 3 families were arrested, 12 or 13 of them.

Rabot is a village of about one thousands, now no more than few tens remain because of the bombing and raids. It is located between the Euphrates and the mountains, the American say that the mojahideen hide in it, also in Karabla.

Trying to document the destruction…

We tried to get some photos of the demolished public buildings, when a white car drove beside us

- what are you doing? a young man who was driving asked

- getting some shots of the street

- stop the car!!

- why?

- just stop the car, I tell you….he was very serious. we stopped

- give me the camera

- no, why should I?

- then you have to come with me, follow me!!

- no, we are not. Where do you want to take us? Who are you?

- just follow me or give me the camera

- no!

- Does any one in Al-Qaim know you?

- of course, many

- then take me to one of them.

We did, and after our friend form Al-Qaim confirmed to the young man that he knew us very well, and that we were good, he apologized

- you have to understand that we lost too many people here, we can not tolerate strangers taking pictures, and what were you doing there anyway?

- we wanted some pictures of the court and the bank

- Do not. You were too near to the customs building, and do me a favor: leave Al-Qaim as soon as possible!!


We could not. We had to meet a family whose mother was killed by snipers. She was visiting the private clinic of Dr. Ali Al-Ani around 6pm on May 20, 2005, accompanied by her son, her daughter in law, and her grand son. The car was shot very heavily, the mother, Wadha Jasim Hassan, 53, was killed the three others were injured. The car was burnt.

Rain of Ambers

An eye witness of the crime described what happened "We were waiting for our turn in the clinic. Few minutes after the family left, we heard the shooting. We tried to go out to see what was going on but the shooting was too heavy, like a rain of ambers. I saw Abu Omar (the son) and his mother in the front seat. Waddhah, 2, was in the back seat, the daughter was still in the clinic, she tried to go out, and she got a bullet in her head. Abu Omar was injured and he was bleeding .He opened the door next to his mother and pushed her out, she was bleeding. He threw him self out of the car and was shouting at Waddhah. The shooting continued on Abu Omar and the mother, both were on the ground outside the car. Dr Ali and two of us tried to reach him, but it was impossible. Abu Omar crawled until he was about a meter from the clinic; we managed to pull him inside. His mother was still lying beside the car, bleeding. The kid began to run towards us, he was shot and fell to the ground. The car began to leak; we shouted at the mother to crawl, she tried. She actually crawled for few meters, but the shooting continued on her until she was dead. The car began to burn ".

- Was there fighting? Was it random shooting? Why the family car was targeted?

- We do not know. There was nothing, no fighting; otherwise we could not go there. Another car, KIA Sportage, was also shot and burnt. There were two children in, one 6 the other 14; he was injured too in the thigh.

The death certificate of the mother says that the cause of death was a "piercing shot in the abdomen and the stomach. The spleen, the small intestine, and the diaphragm were torn"

Abu Omar got two bad shots in his left shoulder and right thigh. He was still in the hospital in Baghdad. His wife had shrapnel in her head, she needs a sensitive operation. The child lost two of his left hand fingers, and was injured in his intestine. He had an operation and his condition is stable now.

Zarqawi had Dinner at Aftan's

During our visits to the casualties, asking them why they were targeted, we heard the same joke: Zarqawi was there, and a reply came quickly, "No, Zarqawi was having dinner with Aftan". We were very curios to know who this Aftan was until a young man volunteered to show us the house. It was no more than a heap of rubbles.

Aftan was an old ill man. On May 26, 2005 at 2 am, his house, which is located on the way to the customs building, was raided by huge forces with airplanes and armored vehicles. Many troops invaded the house, arrested Aftan and his four sons, searched the house, and broke everything. After they left, they blasted the house to the degree that not a single wall was still there. The 5 men are still in jail, the women are staying with relatives.………

The problem is that after they finished with Aftan's house, they raided the next neighbors asking what they knew about Aftan. Again they searched the house, found nothing interesting except a locked safe. The owner of the house, who had the key, was sleeping in his second wife house in the same street. They did not wait for the key and blasted the safe. They found nothing in it except 25.000 ID ($17) and the family personal documents. They took them and arrested the only boy in the house, Hussein, who was diabetic. Two days later he was released.

"They asked me what did I know about our neighbors, and I told them. I was beaten; I did not get my medicine, eyes and hands …

cuffed no food, hot water, bad treatment…two days later I collapsed.

I was vomiting and fainted. They threw me on the way to the paved road. They told me to run and began shooting at me. I ran as fast as I could until I fell near the car road. A pick up took me some time later, I found myself in Rawa hospital".

"I wish he was killed fighting them"

When Lo'ai, 30, finished his study in the engineering college and could not find job, he worked as a taxi driver on Al-Qaim-Baghdad highway. On Nov 27, 2004, he was driving on the way between Falloja-Ramadi taking his mother in law to the cancer hospital in Baghdad and two other passengers. The car was shot by the American troops, every body was killed and the car was set on fire, as usual, to hide the evidence.

Lo'ai was the only supporter of a very big family. Apart from his wife and three children, the oldest of whom is 8, he was looking after 15 of brothers, sisters, mother and a handicapped father (a retired employee in agriculture) and a mentally retarded brother.

The father was crying bitterly "I know my son, he was very intelligent and committed. If the road was closed, he would have known and stopped. They assassinated him" But the mother was proud "I consider him a martyr, he is my honor. I am only sorry that he was not killed holding his gun fighting them"

They apologized and suggested help!

Bahjat … was taking his sons' bride, her mother and sister to a lunch invitation in Al-Qaim at 12 am on March 26, 2005. There was an American check point. He stopped. Few minutes later the shooting began. The bride, whose wedding was few days ago, who was sitting in the front seat beside her father in law, got a bullet in her head and died immediately. Bahjat, who was driving got a bullet in his eye. After the attack an American officer came to the family, apologized for the (mistake) and offered help treating the old man's eye.

Bahjat refused his offer and rejected his apology. He had already three operations in his eye and was getting well.

Hippocritic Apology

Salah Shaban Askar, a blind man in his fifties, and his son Omar, 14, were going back home from the mosque after evening prayer on Sept 23, 2004 when they were shot in the head and chest 200 meters away from their house. There was no shooting, no fighting, actually there was a crowd leaving the mosque. No one was allowed to approach them, according to a civil defence officer (A.J.) who tried to attend and evacuate them. He was shot at.

The next two days, the American troops visited the family during the funeral. They apologized for the (mistake) and told the family to present a claim and ask for compensation. They also arrested some people who were attending the funeral. The family did present a file in two languages explaining everything and asking for compensation, with all the police, the hospital, and witnesses testimonies and documents. They waited for months, there was no reply. Then a friend brought them their file saying that he found it in the Civil Defense garbage.

Salah who lost his eye in 1991 war, left 6 young daughters, one of them is Mongolian. The family is living on charities now, the widow is trying to get her husband's pension but it is difficult to leave Al-Qaim because of the whole situation and because the transportations are too costly"

"The problem is that there is no authority to go to and ask help" says Qahtan A. Askar, Salah's nephew and son in law. "The court, the police station, the committee, even the mosque…all is destroyed". In the mosque there is a relief fund. The family presented the file to get some help. The mosque was raided, destroyed, and the fund was stolen.

Mustapha was lucky

Mustapha, 12, lives in the railway station. On April28, 2005 he was going to see his friend when he got shot by an American sniper. The shot tore his back and abdomen. But he was lucky; the shot was very close to his back bone but did not injure it, neither his intestine nor stomach. He had an operation immediately and is getting well.

Alaa' survived by a miracle

Not a single centimeter of Alaa' Khalid's body was free of shrapnel. She is 3 years old; her family did not believe that she could survive. Alaa' is one of a family of 14. The men, two brothers, work as carpenters in Rawa (one hour to the east of Al-Qaim). On May 3, 2005 they returned home to find everybody, the entire family, killed or injured. A grenade was dropped on the house. There were 4 women and 10 children. Alaa's mother, Zeinab, lost her eye. Two other women's legs were broken. 5 of the children were killed and buried in that day. Alaa' was thought to be dead too, she was no more than a paste flesh and blood, but she survived. She had shrapnel in her eyes, and need an immediate operation that can not be done in Iraq. She had many holes in her intestine. Now she does not look well, she is suffering the pains of too many shrapnel in her skin and different parts of her body. She can not eat properly, and neither can she walk. Her legs are getting weaker.

Suad is not getting any pension

Suad Abbass Kadhum, 40, the widow of Hamid Abdul Majeed the train station employee who was killed in the market on Dec28, 2004. He left 5 children; the oldest of them is 16, an intermediate school student.

Hamid had a herbs shop too. He was inside his shop when shooting began in the market. Hamid was curios, he went out to see what was going on. He was shot. He was not taken to the hospital until a long time later, when his friends in the market could move out. The medical death certificate says that he died of bleeding in the neck, chest and abdomen.

Suad's problem now is how to get his pension, because his salary is cut after his death. She is doing the only thing she could do, sewing. Her family and her husband's family are not in a better financial condition. It is also too dangerous for her to move outside Al-Qaim to work on getting a pension.

Dhafir: the wounded as Suspect

Dhafir, 25, student in the technical institute, was shot once by a sniper on August 20, 2004 in Si'da village. He was leaving home in the evening with two of his cousins. He was left for an hour bleeding, and then people of the area took him to the hospital. The doctor said that the nerve was cut; he has a dropping foot now. He does not feel it, even if it is burnt, which actually happened . The shot went into his thigh from the outside and emerged from the inside.

But he was luckier than his cousins who were both killed. Hamad, 60, was shot in the chest and the abdomen. He bled to death, and his only son, Mon'im, 19, was shot in the heart and died immediately. Hamad had 11 children, all girls. Now they are being taken care of by their uncles.

Dhafir's problem does not end here. Now he can not go out, can not go to Baghdad to treat his injury for fear of being arrested. The American troops are now arresting injured young men because they suspect them as fighters. M.H. Jasim, Dhafir's uncle was arrested 7 months ago in his house. He had an injury and the soldiers arrested him for that. He is still in Abu Greib.

What the Lawyers Say

Lawyer A.J. was a member of claims committee in Al-Qaim local council before it was recently dissolved. Since October 2004 he, alone, presented more than 100 claims to the American authorities in the town. His colleagues, other lawyers, work directly with the people, not necessarily through the council, they had more cases. Many other cases were not registered for different reasons: no court, no police station, no security, no feeling of trust that the Americans are serious about these cases, and a general feeling of despair and the absurdity of the whole situation. Some people however refuse to present their claims to the enemy.

Of these hundreds of cases, only three were compensated, according to lawyer A. They were trivial , like a case of confiscated blankets on the borders or a case of confiscated construction stones…No real cases of killing, injury, demolished houses, car or property damage were compensated.

What the American authorities are actually doing is bluffing the people. Last year an officer, Velasios or Belasios in Division 82 was appointed by these troops as responsible for receiving the casualties' cases. He had an office to receive the people and the lawyers. He collected hundreds of the original documents of these cases, with photos and official reports. He used to read the case and decide which was good enough for compensation and which was not. He gets the addresses, supposedly to reply. All of a sudden this officer disappeared, and all the documents disappeared with him.

Another one called Captain Fetch never agreed to compensate any case. We got copies of about 40 replies from the American authorities, all are clichés of the same wording; the only change is the name of the complainant. The replies were in English, full of law jargon that no one can understand. All of them say "the claim is denied" no matter what it is. There is one sentence that says the complainant has the right to appeal in Ramadi or Baghdad, which of course is the worst part, because if the case is denied in the spot, how the appeal would work in a place that does not know anything about it. Some lawyers, however, did go to Baghdad to appeal, they were told that there is a responsible office in Al-Qaim for these cases and that they have to solve the cases there, because "we have nothing to do with it", and that this office itself should present the appeal, which is illogical.

The cheating is obvious; at least they want to make it more difficult for the people so that they stop complaining.

"In my last meeting with the American officer" Lawyer A. says," I asked him are you serious about the compensations", he said "yes, and there are money allocated for these cases, but the problem is that you are bringing cases of terrorists"

"I asked him about some cases, as the case of Malik, the mentally abnormal old man who was shot, and about Abid the crippled who was shot in front of his house, and about Abdul Qadir who was killed by a mortar grenade in his house, and his two sons who were killed in their father's funeral inside the same house two days later"

- In such a situation, as a lawyer, what do you advise the people?

- I advise them to raise their voices, to tell the International and the humanitarian organizations about their violated rights. But the problem is the people are too tired and desperate of any possible change, and also the bombing, the curfew, the difficult situation in general.

"We know that the casualties are not terrorists"

- Why do you think the American are killing so many civilians? We asked A.

"A prisoner in one of the American prisons asked a guard the same question, and the soldier replied: we know that they are not terrorists, because the terrorists who hit us do not stay in the same place. But we are doing this so that the civilians would not allow the terrorists to hit us" . The prisoner asked again" if you, the Americans with all your power and weapons are not stopping them, how do you think we could" and the reply was" that is why we keep on shooting so that the civilians prevent the terrorists from attacking us"

So it not mistake, not "collateral damage", but a policy of terror and intimidation.

These testimonies are just few examples. There are hundreds more.

Sabah Ali, June 20,2005.

To be continued…

Thanks to Dirk Adriaensens, Brussells Tribunal

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IRAQ: Aid agencies call for access to Karabila

21 Jun 2005 07:46:10 GMT
Source: IRIN

BAGHDAD, 20 June (IRIN) - Aid agencies and doctors have called on Coalition forces in Iraq to allow them safe access to the village of Karabila in the west of the country, as battles between troops and insurgents continue.

"The situation is critical in the village of Karabila. Hundreds of injured people are inside the town requiring urgent medical treatment but have been prohibited to leave the village by US forces and we are not authorised to enter there," Dr Hamed al-Alousi, director at the nearby al-Qaim general hospital, said.

'Operation Spear', launched on 17 June, is the second Coalition offensive in the Anbar governorate designed to root out insurgents and prevent foreign rebels using the region as a staging post en route from Syria.

Karabila is close to the Syrian border and home to some 60,000 people. Al-Qaim, recently the scene of similar battles, is the nearest town to the village, some 320 km west of the capital, Baghdad.

According to al-Alousi, since Friday they received 15 bodies and treated 27 injured people in al-Qaim before US forces closed entry points to Karabila. He added that more than 100 people may have been trapped under houses destroyed during the offensive.

A US military source in Baghdad said that more than 90 insurgents had already been killed in the offensive but denied that there were civilian casualties.

"We have some medicine and emergency supplies in our hospital but as we cannot enter the village it has become useless," al-Alousi added.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) staff said that hundreds of residents had fled Karabila over the weekend carrying white flags and were camped in the desert a few kilometres away.

"We have reported that more than 7,000 families from Karabila are camped in the desert near to the village. All of them need urgent food and medical supplies and more than 150 houses have been totally destroyed inside the village," Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswoman for the IRCS, said.

She added that thousands of families inside the village had run out of water, power and food supplies as they could not leave their homes and aid agencies have not been able to enter.

"The situation is very critical in the area and could become a humanitarian disaster. We are going to send a convoy with supplies on Tuesday and will try and get inside the village," a senior IRCS official said.

The convoy of four trucks and two ambulances will carry food parcels, blankets, tents and water canisters. The agency has asked for help from other aid organisations for medical supplies in particular.


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