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People & Culture
Mitigating circumstances or 21st Century Guernica?
or 21st Century
Dedicated to the people of Fallujah
It began on the first day of Ramadan, 1
"Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage,
reduced to shards, the price
will be worth it.” 2
the sky seethed with billowing smoke and flames
above the holy city of
“We intend to liberate the people
to bring the rule of law to Fallujah.
to help liberate them from the terrorists and insurgents…
20 000 troops 3 surround the city; recruited
from dole queues and dead end jobs
in the shopping malls of Arbroath,
…It seems like the Fallujah people are helping
the terrorists. Thus, the military solution will end the crisis.” 4
A state of emergency is declared.
“We’re ready to go.
I’m just ready to get this done.
I want to go and kill people,
so we can go home…
First they take out the hospital. 5
…Kill them, and go home,
that’s all we can do now.” 6
Army snipers stake out the market places and
“We’re going to start at one end of the city
and we’re not going to stop
until we get to the other.” 7
A family of five are gunned down crossing the
he lives in Fallujah.” 9
Troops advance street by street,
house by house. 10
“This is another
Heat sensors, blind to age or
intention detect signs of life,
swiftly erased by bullets,
boots and rifle butts.
A wounded man is found in the Mosque.
“He's fucking faking he's dead!”
“Yeah, he's breathing.”
“He's faking he's fucking dead!”
There’s a burst of gunfire.
“He’s dead now.” 12
People writhe under the lethal white shower,
the indiscriminate fatal gleam, that indicates
a slow, painful, choking death.14
“Shoot everything that moves
and everything that doesn’t move.” 15
A nine year old boy,
bleeds to death
in his fathers arms,
shrapnel in his stomach.
“We buried him in the garden, it was too dangerous to go out.” 16
Six weeks later the city has fallen
silent, “deserted, polluted with death.” 17
“We found the bodies
right behind their front doors.
It looked to me as if
they had opened their doors…
and been immediately
That’s how we found them.” 18
Narrow alleys blocked by bloated corpses lying
in the dust, rabid dogs roam the streets
and ravage the remains.
No one can count the number of the dead
and on the first day of Eid
“The Americans marked the houses with
dead bodies with a cross.
That’s where we found the martyrs.
In my opinion, these people were civilians -
not terrorists; men who had stayed behind
to protect their homes.” 20
“To those who would doubt
it was a war.
We were attacked.” 21
1 The world looked the other way as the
2 In an attempt to ‘prepare’
3 The forces marshalled against Fallujah were overwhelmingly made up from the
4 Salih Kuzaie, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry, reported by Jackie Spinner in Talks to Avoid Fallujah Offensive Break Down in The Washington Post, 6th November 2004
5 BBC1 News on the 8th November 2004 reported that of the population of 300 000 it was estimated up to 50 000 remained in Fallujah. Other reports suggested as much as half the population could be left in the city. The report added the U.S. military had made a statement to the effect that the hospital was seized early “to prevent the resistance exaggerating casualties…” 38 people were killed in this action. The report suggested the assault was being carried out at the wishes of Iyad Allawi, maintaining a fiction that the
6 Lance Corporal Joseph Bowman, a 20 year old marine from
7 Colonel Pete Newell, commander of Task Force 2-2 of the 1st Infantry Division; his full statement read, “We’re going to start at one end of the city and we’re not going to stop until we get to the other. If there’s anybody left when that happens, we’re going to turn around and we’re going to go back and finish it.” Iraqi commandos seize Falluja hospital, 8th November 2004 http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/07/iraq.main/
8 Many families were forced to take extreme risks to leave the city as life became intolerable. Leading up to the ground assault “men of military age,” usually 15-55, were refused access through the checkpoints. When the state of emergency was declared, no one was permitted to leave, road blocks were set up on every road and a 6.00pm curfew imposed, by 5.00pm.of the second day all electrical power in the city has been cut. Operation Phantom Fury [Fallujah] November 8, 2004 - ? http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/oif-phantom-fury-fallujah.htm
9 Fixing the problem of Falluja, Paul Wood, BBC News, embedded with U.S. Marines near Fallujah. 7th November 2004 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3989639.stm
10 It took the
11 Announced Sergeant Major Carlton W. Kent to a meeting of 2500 marines. The battle was directly compared by the military to the battle for
12 Footage of this execution was broadcast around the world giving a glimpse of the true nature of the assault. Full transcript can be found in Crimes in Iraq: How America Wages War in Iraq, freelance columnist Firas Al-Atraqchi, 18th November 2004 http://www.islamonline.net/english/In_Depth/Iraq_Aftermath/2004/11/article_07.shtml
13 Lieutenant General John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The tone of his comment stands in contrast to his earlier description of the resistance in Fallujah as “mugs, thugs, murderers and intimidators.”
14 Documented in Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre by RAI News correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci. White phosphorus sticks to the skin and burns the flesh down to the bones. It is banned under the Geneva Convention. The Italian documentary, produced by Maurizio Torrealta, reveals what human rights activists have long asserted, that
15 Reported statement of Company Commander to marines before entering the city. Falluja troops told to shoot on sight 9th November 2004 http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/75E3CA31-83B0-46FD-A762-0C1157C408F9.htm
16 Muhammad Abbud, a schoolteacher, described how he was forced to watch his nine-year-old son bleed to death because the family could not take him to the hospital while bombs and gunfire poured into their neighbourhood from
17 Description given by Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil in his authoritative documentary Fallujah: City of Ghosts commissioned by The Guardian and Channel 4 News. Channel 4 have refused to broadcast this material. Full transcript http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1387460,00.html
18 Sheikh Jamal al-Mihimdi recorded in Falluja - The Real Story,
http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=18059" l "18048" t "_blank
19 Legacy of Fallujah, Journeyman Pictures. This film has been made with footage from a video shot on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, one of the biggest festivals in the Muslim year. It comes at the end of Ramadan. Traditionally celebrated by visiting family members, sharing meals together and wearing new clothes. Children receive gifts and people set off fireworks at night. Legacy shows the men of Fallujah, rather than celebrating with family and friends, they are still digging graves for them. http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=18196&cc=1
20 From a statement by Sheikh Jamal al-Mihimdi recorded in Falluja - The Real Story, he added, “I say this because we found the bodies in groups of two or three or four: it was Ramadan and people would naturally gather together for Iftar - the first meal after fasting.” http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=18059" l "18048" t "_blank
21 This was the substance of numerous statements in justification of the war and subsequent occupation of