Monday, December 01, 2003

Monday, December 1, 2003 8:28 pm Baghdad Time

Today we went to the town of Ramadi to meet with an Iraqi human rights attorney and learn about recent events in that city. The attorney, along with all of the men in his neighborhood, were rousted from their homes on Oct. 31, forced on the ground so their hands could be tied behind their backs, hooded, and taken outdoors aways from their families. Before he was hooded he saw at least 8 tanks filling his street (a neighborhood with about 100 homes). Someone opened fire from one of the homes and only a shell of a house was left after the tanks opened fire on it. This happened even after he showed the military his lawyer's card and Human Rights Organization credentials. His young daughter is still afraid of strangers (even us) who come to their home.

Worse still is the story of Al-Jazeer Abouasaaf, a small farming village west of Ramadi. We visited the home where on November 22 a lawyer, his brother, and guest we killed in cold blood. According to witnesses that we talked the men were just pulling up to their home after work and before they could get inside they we arrested and tied up and told to kneel on the ground. The troops (U.S.) split into two groups, one going around back and the other entering the front of this home. All was dark since the electricity was off. The women and children were in the kitchen preparing the Ramadan break-fast by lamplight.

Something went wrong and the soldiers starting firing on each other, thinking that the other group was insurgent. The result were 4 dead soldiers. But, then things got even uglier. The hype-upped military then went to the men outside angry about their dead friends and summarily excuted the 3 kneeling Iraqis - in cold blood. During this time they also bombed the house from the air and shot (and killed?) 5 bystanders who came to see what was going on. The result is that a 13-month old has lost his father, his mother is in the hospital with shrapnel and the brother's bride-to-be has lost her future husband. One person reported a soldier saying (for the festivities that were being prepared), "would you like cake with that?" to the injured mother.

They people said that the military came back the next day and said "we are sorry for the accident".

Despite all of this, the people of the village we very moved that the CPT was there to find out the truth and invited us to stay for lunch after we toured the home.

We haven't yet had a chance to hear the military's side of the story but if what happened is even close to the truth, war crimes need to be considered.

Sorry that the new wasn't more upbeat but sometimes the anger and frustration of the idiocacy and waste of the situation here overwhelms.

Peace, Charlie

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