Biography | comments from Baghdad | One Year Later: An Iraqi Speaks From
Ghazwan Al Mukhtar's weblog: http://www.voicesfromiraq.blogspot.com/
Lion,On His Den
“President Sukarno of Indonesia once said, ‘We silence the enemies of freedom.’”
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar slumps back in his chair, silently gauging the effect of that absurdly ironic statement on his listeners.
And Ghazwan is an Iraqi who lives his ironies: a denouncer of Saddam regime inequities who continues to live in Iraq; a man who worked hard to provide for his family and his retirement, only to have his assets frozen in foreign banks as a result of U.N. Resolution 687; a heart attack-age guy who’s trying to quit smoking, but liberally helps himself to my cigarettes all thru 2 separate conversations; a well spoken professional who peppers his gravel-voiced diatribes with pungent American profanities.
He’s been asked to join the Voices in the Wilderness Writers Project, a unique attempt to give Iraqis an Internet forum. VitW is the Chicago-based group that has been working since ’96 to end the economic sanctions against Iraq. I give him a call, and he agrees to meet me in the dining room of the Al-Fanar Hotel, Voices’ headquarters in Baghdad.
Ghazwan studied geophysics at Cal Berkley, and graduated with an engineering degree from Marquette in ‘67. For most of his career, he sold medical supplies to hospitals. He says he has too scientific a mind to be a writer, yet he has written dozens of articles over the years, critical not only of the U.N. sanctions against his country, but also the current regime in Baghdad.
“I never wrote until I had to vent my frustration. Iraq is being singled out for punishment. I don’t complain about my own condition, I’m comfortable, but I’m thinking about how the people are hurting, their lack of a future.”
Iraq, once boasted the highest standard of medical care in the Middle East outside of Israel. He bemoans the 12-year information gap that the sanctions created when they cut Iraq off from world developments in the medical field. Compounding the problem, thousands of health care professionals have been lost to death or emigration. Altogether, 2 million people have left Iraq since the sanctions were imposed.
“Are they political refugees? Are they economic refugees? If they leave, they must claim political asylum because no country will recognize economic refugees. And these are highly qualified people we’re talking about, scientists, professors. My own brother-in-law is in a camp in Sweden.
“The U.S. accepted refugees from the north (Kurdish Iraq) in ’92. They took anyone, doctors, peasants. They (the U.S.) said that Mr. Sadddam was threatening the Kurds. Then the Kurdish leaders Barzani and Talibani invite Mr. Saddam to mediate some problems between them. They ask him to do this!” This request made the American position look ridiculous. The U.S. retaliated for this affront to their credibility by bombing Baghdad itself that January. The prestigious Al Rasheed Hotel took a hit, injuring many foreign guests and killing 2 employees.
We discuss Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam supposedly “gassed his own people”. It is a card that the Bush administration plays often because it plays well with the American press and public. In fact, the gassing of the town occurred during a battle between Iraqis and Iranians at the end of their 8-year war. A U.S. Military College report at the time found that most of the Kurds there had died of cyanide, a gas used exclusively by the Iranian army. A Roger Trilling article in New York City’s Village Voice, 5/1/02, confirmed this.
“Why was the Halabja story buried? Why, when Al Gore speaks against war with Iraq, does CNN cut his speech in half? He leans forward in his chair again…..“Who gave the order to cut Gore?”…..and let’s the question dangle. “When Jimmy Carter comes out against the war, it’s buried. In the U.S., who do you point at? Here, when we want to point the finger at our censor, we point at the Ministry of Information.”
(I stop the interview, concerned about printing what he’s saying. He assures me that he’s been criticizing his government for years. “If they wanted to shoot me, they would have done it by now.”)
“In 1988, your Congress passed a resolution calling for (limited) sanctions against Iraq (oil imports, weaponry) because of Halabja. President Reagan vetoed it.” That House resolution was virtually copied in 1990 to become U.N. Resolution 687 (the sanctions measure that has been in place ever since).
Yet despite the bitter fruit of those sanctions, 500,000 Iraqi children dead of malnutrition and treatable diseases since 1991, Americans seem blithely unaware of it all. On a recent call to N.Y. Representative McNulty’s office, his staff person had no idea the sanctions were still in effect, nor that the weekly bombing of Iraq has never ceased.
“The average American, when it comes to international politics, is illiterate. The smallest school child anywhere knows more about the world than an American. Illiteracy and democracy—that’s a contradiction.”
Taking up the oxymoron of America “imposing democracy” on other nations: “I have a headache (‘headache’ is his metaphor for the Saddam regime). I don’t complain to you about it. But you say you want to fix my headache. You will cut off my head to fix my headache!”
On the Bush administration’s current favorite to replace Saddam: “Impose an Al-Chalabi dynasty? A crook and embezzler who had to run out of the country in the trunk of a car?
“That’s our middle class now, criminals. The sanctions squeezed out the middle class, and crooks and embezzlers took their place.” His wife’s career is an object illustration in what happened—she was a gynecologist who in 1979 was being paid $300 a month by the government. In 1991 her salary shrank to $60. In 2000 she retired because she was only getting $15 a month.
Ghazwan sold and serviced medical equipment from ‘74 to ’90, the year of the Gulf War. He had done very well for himself up to that point, but “I gave myself an early retirement,” meaning that suddenly he could find no work. “I’m a double victim of sanctions. I put my money in foreign banks, and then the sanctions froze the Iraqi assets. Now I have to borrow money to live.” He squints and smiles. “I fight the sanctions now so my kids don’t have to leave the country some day, just when I’m too fucking old to do anything anymore!
“I think Mr. Saddam is laughing now. He’s laughing because the Americans are proving him right with their double standards. Mr. Rumsfeld was in Baghdad to re-establish relations with Iraq in ’84. He was fully aware of the Amnesty International report on this (the Saddam) regime. But today suddenly he says that he can’t deal with this regime?
“Between 1948 and 1998, there are 50 U.N. resolutions Israel has not abided by. This double standard of the Americans (ignoring the Israeli government’s brutalization of the Palestinians while demanding Iraqi compliance with tough U.N. resolutions) is making the U.N. irrelevant.”
Dennis Halliday, former U.N. Director of Iraqi Relief Programs, has said much the same thing. Blaming U.S. coercion and deal making in the Security Council, Halliday says frankly, “The U.N. is dying.” He labels the sanctions “a genocide”.
The U.S., in its dependence on military solutions to solve its problems, is sowing the seeds of further violence against Americans. “And it’s not only the poor and disenfranchised who will be responsible” for acts such as the recent attacks on Americans in Kuwait and Jordan. America has radicalized what he calls the “Pepsi Generation” Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Egyptians.
He tells the story of the Baghdad professional man who came home on 9/11/01, stupefied by what had happened in New York and Washington. There, clustered around the TV were his son and a bunch of his friends—celebrating. What unnerved the man was not only that they should welcome such a tragedy, but that these kids, up to then, had never before evinced any interest in political matters.
When the brother of the man who perpetrated the Kuwait attacks was questioned, he said that his brother had seen something about the Palestinians on TV, and had acted out of a sense of helplessness and rage. No matter how corrupt their governments are, “average Arabs are in solidarity with their fellow Arabs. An Egyptian feels the same voicelessness as a Palestinian.”
We discuss the depleted uranium (DU) problem in Iraq. During the Gulf War, the U.S. and Britain fired 300 tons of DU shells and bullets, exposing Iraqis and American servicemen alike to its radiological and chemical toxicity. 150,000 Gulf War veterans have applied for disability benefits; the military refuses to recognize most of these claims, which include cancers, genetic mutations among their children, immune disorders, and memory loss. Meanwhile, cancer in parts of southern Iraq has risen by 1800%.
“Suppose a cruise missile hits a building, a hospital. Reconstruction of the building spreads the radioactive dust all over. The isotope—it’s like you’ve inhaled a nuclear generator, and now it’s trapped in you. Oxidation takes place, and the rainwater washes DU oxide into the soil, the plants. Animals eat the plants.”
On what he would do if America invades Iraq: “I can’t leave here, I’m too old. I built things, I worked on public projects here. I’m a part of this country. Last night my wife wakes up in the middle of the night, she can’t sleep. She says, ‘Ghazwan, what will we do, where will we go?” I told her, ‘we’ll stay in our house and wait for the bombs. What else can we do?’ I ask you, is that any way to live?”
He’s successfully ducked a writing assignment by instead giving me a full-length interview. I congratulate him on the ruse, and that’s his cue. “Now I must go. We are ruled by women. If I don’t go now, I won’t be allowed to go out tomorrow night.”
By the time the interview ends, various Voices members who’ve stopped in for a quick meal sit clustered around us. And as he strides out of the room, someone mutters admiringly, “What an old lion.” Afterwards, Farah Mokhtareizedeh remembers that the first time she met him he’d said, “Voices in the Wilderness? Are you sure you don’t mean ‘Voices Lost in the Wilderness of America?’”
you for your "yesterday " e-mails. I do understand your sorrow to what happened Sep. 11
and your fears of reprisals for being an "Arab". I too felt very sorry for losing lives of innocent
people whether in NY, Baghdad , Hilla , Basrra , Bet lehim, Gaza,....Bosnia.. the list is long.
The aftermath of death of the innocent people will be long lasting. I personally have lost several innocent friends, relatives or just ordinary people I happen to deal with. They were murdered, in 1991, for absolutely no reason. Um Abbass used to make bread, Iraqi bread, so she can earn money to support her 3 children. She built a small "tin" house on a vacant plot of land not far away from where I lived. She used to make excellent bread and send to my house with Abbass for few coins.
Every day I get my fresh bread. Suddenly some one in the American government decided that her "tin house" was a legitimate military target and was a threat to the world security so they bombed it. Um Abbass and her three children, God bless there soles, were murdered, in Baghdad, 800 Km away from Kuwait to drive the Iraqi army out of Kuwait !! I don't know if or where they were buried. If I find out I want to go to her grave and read a verse or two from the Quran to comfort her sole. I will tell her that even bread does not taste the same again even after eleven years. May God bless her sole every day.
Our neighborhood had a very young and nice looking traffic policeman. We used to exchange greetings every time I pass the intersection. Some times we used to exchange few words while stopping at the traffic light. Some times he turned a blind eye if I run the stop sign. Some how we were friends even when we did not know each other's names. He was murdered while he was directing ambulances and fire fighting trucks to save lives of innocent people who were subjected to the harshest and the most cruel inhuman air bombardment in the twentieth century. My friend, like the NY police officers who were killed on Sep. 11, was doing his job protecting civilians. The only difference is that the world greatest
government USA killed my friend while the NY policemen were killed by few radicals yet to be identified.
To recount the horrors of the 43 days of hell (in 1991) would only open wounds that I have tried to desperately to block in my mind. I know that talking about it might help. I will need a lot more than 43 days of crying for my cousin Ahmad, his wife Layla, his sons Kamel 14 years, Shehab 12 years, and their 10 years old beautiful girl Shema. Probably I am fooling my self in believing that they were a sleep when the bomb hit their house. I want to believe that the died instantly without knowing what hit them else I go crazy. I will need a lot more than 43 days of crying for the more than 400 civilians, women, children, and old people, who were incinerated at Alameria civil defense shelter. To cry for the thousands and thousands of innocent civilians who died in 1991 because of the American terrorism acts against the civilian population of Iraq, and to cry for hundreds of thousands ( if not a million and a half) who
died because of the sanctions is by far beyond any body's emotional capability. This is why I am blocking it IN , and not out of, my mind.
The "civilized" west watched the massacre of Iraqi civilians on television with jubilation. The "victorious" army marched through downtown NY, probably pass the World Trade Center, with such fanfare. The best producers in Hollywood could not put any better show. Naturally America wanted every one around the world to watch this spectacular "victory" parade". They beamed it to every TV station in world. America thought that satellite television broadcast was the best way they have for "Cultural dominance" and to spread the American values. Every country in the world started at least one satellite channel most of them relying mainly on US and western produced footage. This marvelous innovation soon turned against the US
For 11 years most of the world watched, through their TV, the destruction of Iraq and the hardship inflected on the civilian population of Iraq. Naturally Arab satellite channels devoted more time than the American media to the plight of Iraqi people. A lot of the satellite channels invited US officials to explain to the Arab masses the US policy toward Iraq. I am sorry to say that those, ideates, did more harm than good to the American image. The phone-in response, from the Arabs in the west and even Iraqi's abroad, was so anti US that made the presence of such ideates on the program so pathetic.
11 years ago the arab government were led, like sheep to the slaughterhouse, into believing that joining the American coalition against Iraq will lead to the settlement of the arab-Israeli conflict. The Americans talked about UN SCR 242, 338 and the return of the Palestinian refugees, land for peace and ... and. Only stupid people believed in American sincerity. Then came Oslo, Madrid, Camp David ..etc. After 11 years of piss talk, or is it peace talk, the Israelis were using F16 fighter planes, Helicopter gun ships, tanks, to attack stone throwing Palestinians. They destroyed hundreds of houses, orchid, schools, telephone systems.. just like America did in Iraq. Naturally "civilized America and the west" asked the Palestinians for restrain. Now after 11 years we no longer hear about UN SCR 242 or 338 but about Michael report and Tenet understanding. The free American and western media freely elected to ignore the plight of the Palestinians, they freely distorted facts, they freely and willfully demonized the Palestinians and Arabs. Yes you have a free press! We in the Arab world watched every day, on our TV, the shelling, the killing, the beating and the humiliation of women, children, and the elderly Palestinians. I need not to remind you that we also watched the massacres and the ethnic cleansing of Moslems in Bosnia who were under the protection by the NATO KFOR forces.
the sixties we were flooded by American films about the "liberation" of Europe from the German
occupation. We saw Nuns, Priests, joining the "freedom fighters". We saw churches used to hide
ammunition for the invading armies, or being a refuge to American or British saboteurs. We saw nuns and
priests throwing hand grenades to kill German solders and in many cases killing innocent civilians. Even
Hitler's propaganda did not call them "Christian" terrorist. During the sixties Archbishop
Makarious fought the British in Cypress, he too directed attacks against the British which resulted in the
killing of innocent people. No one in the west called him a "Christian" terrorist. I am sure that
you could find other examples of the west "double standards".
think you agree with me that Hitler, Mosileny, Stalin, Melosovich, Karadich, ... and Sharoon have no
connection with Islam. Between them, those western leaders have murdered millions of innocent people all
around the world. Your history books may call them violins, dictators but never called them terrorist! The
ethnic cleansing which the "civilized west" practiced in former Yugoslavia is never called
terrorist acts. The "civilized west" has an infinite capacity to invent terminology to disguise its
To get rid of the Russians from Afghanistan the American government played the religious game. Since communism was equated with atheism then it was the duty of the Moslems to fight in Afghanistan. The American government created, trained, supplied, supported various organizations for the holy war "Jehad" against the atheist Afghan government. The Afghan-Arabs were the main fighting force in Afghanistan. They included such "freedom fighters", as the American called them at that time, like Omar Abdulrahman, Usama Ben Laden, Abuhamza Al-Musri. Once the Russians were driven out of Afghanistan those fighters turned their attention to what was happening in the Arab and Moslem countries. Ben Laden resisted the presence of the American forces in the Moslem's holiest place.
Naturally the American and Saudi governments were not happy with him. I think it is foolish to expect him to accept the American presence in the Moslems holiest places when he spent years fighting to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. To add insult to injury Ben Laden watched, like the rest of the Arab world, what happened to Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, and Palestine, which further alienated him. He soon was transferred from " freedom fighter " to the most wanted "terrorist".
One striking point in the Sep. 11 event is that the FBI within less than 24 hours announced the name of 19 people who were "responsible" for these suicide attacks, and presumed to have been killed. Few days latter some them appeared alive in Tunis or in Saudi Arabia. According to FBI reports the people who hijacked the planes are from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the strongest allies of USA, and possibly one from Lebanon and not from "rouge" regimes. The big question is why such wealthy individuals who are of the " Macdonald and the Pepsi generation" decided to attack the US the way they did? In my simple and probably naïve understand of thing is that American policy around the world and specially in the meddle east have alienated the people, not necessarily the governments, of this area.
The world richest and strongest nation in the world, USA, may attack the world poorest, weakest, and most primitive nation in the world. You may drive them to the Stone Age, remember Jams Baker threat to drive Iraq to the pre-industrial age, but at what price? You may be able to kill Ben Ladden but how many Ben Laddens are going to be created. Don't forget we all are going to watch the massacres on our TVs and in colors!. Bush "put his foot in his mouth" when he declared the "Crusade" of the "civilized world" against terrorism. I know he latter withdraw this because it might be linked to the historic "Christian Crusade" against the Moslem Arabs specially sensitive when Jerusalem is occupied by the Israelis with the help and the blessings of America.
late Reverend Martin Luther King was murdered by a White Anglo Saxon Protestant, (WASP) , fanatic not a
terrorist!!. If you believe in day of judgement you know that he, Martin Luther King, will meet Um
Abbass, Abbass, my cousin Ahmad, Layla, Kamel, Shehab, Shema, and the other millions who are victims of
terrorism. He will remind them that he once warned that America has Guided missiles but misguided people. The
misguided people didn't like what he said so they killed him.
response to last week bombing in
coalition should bomb the
of the group who agree with me will be given "proof" of the involvement of IRA. Those who do not
agree will be enticed to do so. We will absolve all their previous "sins", we will take care of
their financial debts, we will keep them busy every day talking to important world leaders promising more
help, we might even call them "PRESIDENT" rather than general.
are free to choice sides, BUT those who do not support my call are siding with the terrorist! I hope members
understand that I am terrorizing the group I am offering them the "democratic free choice"
promise that the campaign will be short, sharp, and will be targeted against those responsible for the
terrorist acts. Any civilian killed will be considered a legitimate target because he did nothing to
overthrow the Pope ! Let us finish this before Christmas! There is no letup in our vigorous campaign even for
the catholic members of the group I say we will attack the "protestant" terrorist next.
Nothing will stop us in our efforts to achieve "enduring freedom" !
us pray to god that elected leaders, and dictators, see the stupidity of this thinking and do something about
it before it's too late. Amen.
My understanding of the cash component runs like this: Iraq will be paid cash "from its money" for services rendered under "Oil for food program". Lets take few examples of this:
1- The government of Iraq distribute 200000 tones on wheat a month under the MOU. This is ALL imported wheat. CAN the natively produced wheat be paid for from the MOU. If yes how, Under what conditions? Who actually receives the wheat and pays the farmers (thousands of them each one contributing few hundred tons) is it the government or is it another UN bureaucracy. I can envision endless obstacles if the UN take up the assignment. But the UN on the other hand does not want the government to handle the money.
2- Medical drugs is another example. We can manufacture the drug (normal drugs with no hint of dual use materials) a lot cheaper than importing them BUT we have to import raw materials. We expect that the manufacturing cost to be paid for from our money which is in the hands of the UN. The UN defiantly would not accept because this will enhance the Iraqi drug industry (not on their agenda). It will create a problem for the UN because they will have to have an army of monitors to verify that all materials have been manufactured and delivered to health stores...etc. Then there is the financial side.
In the UN philosophy importing finished good can be easily monitored. Raw materials to be manufactured over a period of time is really a night mare to the UN.
3- Soap and detergents are another. We had factories for the last fifty years. They need raw material to start functioning again. The UN will not
agree to supply these factories with the raw materials because it will enhance Iraqi industry so we import soap and detergents.
I can continue listing item like powdered milk, vegetable gee.. Can they be imported in BULK and be packed by the governmentor or the private sector for distribution?. Knowing the 661 committee and the UK USA stand I think they defiantly will not agree.
Putting the blame on the Iraqi government is the easiest way to cover-up their "not so smart" sanctions
reply to Mr. Wilson statement that "There is no evidence that sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people
" I would like to invite Mr. Wilson for a week visit to Baghdad in July or August. Mr. Wilson will be my
guest in our home, not in a 5 star hotel. I am sure Mr. Wilson will not mind staying in a house that does not
have electricity for 18 hours each day when the temperature inside the house is above 45 degrees. If he
elects to go to the garden to cool of the temperature is close to 55. I will make sure to boil the water he
drinks not because he likes his water hot but to kill the bacteria. He should not wary about his health
because my wife is a doctor and will take him to the hospital " it feels like an oven, no
air-conditioning" were he is going to have the same medical facilities we have. If that does not
convince him then I will take him the poor section in Baghdad were he will walk through sewage ponds. If that
does not convince him then I will give him a megaphone to tell the people of Baghdad that " There is no
evidence that sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people". I think hot-tempered people in such hot climate
might just kill him.God where did you find such a leader? Was he a sleep for ten years or is he as smart as
the " smart bombs" that hit Baghdad last week? No wonder the UK is losing credibility fast.
the UK government froze the accounts of Iraqi's in 1990 the UK banks went through their computers and froze
every account that had" Iraqi" entered into the nationality field of the record. This rule applied
irrespective whether the account holder was a resident of the UK or Iraq or any place else in the world. A
friend was in London at that time. The British council sponsored his trip to the UK and he was getting a
monthly payment from the British government. His account was frozen like the rest of the "Iraqi"
accounts but he kept getting checks from the British government!! I am told that even the Iraqi embassy
accounts where frozen which created a very big problem since the embassy used to pay for the thousands of
Iraqi scholarship students studying at British universities. You can imagine the plight of those thousands of
students whose accounts were frozen and their embassy cannot send them money or pay their bills. That
was 11 years ago.
are some examples of the current application of the regulations:
An Iraqi insurance company has a property (and a bank account) in London bought years ago. The company cannot
have an office in London so the appointed a lawyer to look after their affairs. The lawyer appointed a state
agent to rent the property. The agent deducts his charges from the rent and deposit the rest in the bank
account (the account is NOT frozen in this instance) but when the British lawyer wants his fee he cannot
withdraw from account because it is Frozen!!
An Iraqi friend used to work FAO (the UN) for twenty years outside Iraq. He has an account with a bank in
London. His last deposit was after
August 1990 from his UN post in Yemen. Several years ago he decided to come back to Iraq. He thought that he
could spend the money to buy a nice house and enjoy his retirement. After singing contract for the purchase
of the house and nice furniture he dashed to Amman to withdraw "some" of his money in London. His
bankers informed him that his accounts are frozen and cannot get a single penny. He pleaded with them that
his money originated from the UN and from outside Iraq but they refused. My friend gave up smoking because he
could not afford too many vices at one time with no income!
Last year I was approached by retired University professor some 65 years old. He has an account at a British
bank and a house in the UK. He was not permitted to withdraw from his account to meet his expenses and to add
insult to injury he was not given a visa to go to the UK to sell his house. He told me all that he wanted was
to settle his financial affairs before he dies!
Some one has an account with Midland bank, Park lane branch in London he tried desperately to get some money
from his (frozen) account but he could not. He approached the Arab bank in Jordan for help. They advised him
that if he open's another frozen account with their branch in London (less than 100 meters away from the
midland branch) they, the Arab bank in Jordan, might conceder giving him a lone and use his frozen account as
a collateral. He did all that BUT the UK central bank refused to transfer the money from ONE frozen account
to ANOTHER frozen account both in London. The man was left broke despite the fact that he has money (frozen
in the UK) that he is prevented from accessing it for NO reason except his nationality.
Many people, who have money abroad, seek medical help abroad. Naturally their medical condition is so bad
that they tolerate the tortures trip and the expenses to Jordan. Doctors face big problems they need the
money upfront before treating the patient fearing that the patient might not live!. The banks will not pay
the money in advance of the operation. The argument, which comes first the chicken or the egg, goes on for
some time. Many Patients have died before that argument was settled. I am sure that their death is attributed
to the sanctions
I am told by my British lawyer that there is no way for me to get my hand on, even a small part, of my money
frozen in the UK. Eleven years ago my "kids" were kid. I used to please them buying them a toy or a
chocolate bar. The "kids" are now attending medical school and soon they will graduate as doctors
and they will get $3 a month!!. Now what please them is a car, a P3 computer, a fancy dress, lots of makeup,
and all the expensive things. Dad you have the money why not spend it they say. I keep reminding them that
for the last 11 years I have been borrowing money because I cannot get to my money. I keep reminding them
that our financial difficulty is due mainly to the unjustifiable freezing of our accounts.
Two years ago my father (79 years old) visited the UK. He
applied to the bank to withdraw about 1000 pound out of his account to cover his expenses. He left the UK a
month later without getting the permission. Luckily my brother in London paid for his expenses.
Some tried to have legal residency in another country or even a second nationality in an attempt to unfreeze
their accounts. I am told they very few had success with this. As a matter of facts most Iraqi's living in
the UK now have to various degree a limitation on the amount of that
they can take out of their account.
and thousands of Iraqi's used to travel regularly to the UK to study or vacations or business. They would
open a bank account when they first arrive and will not bother to close the account when they leave because
they will come back again and put more money in the account. These accounts belong to Doctors, Engineers,
Teachers, … highly educated people as well as businessmen, even housewives. The freezing of these civilian
accounts constituted a violation of our human rights. Considering
the harsh realty of the economic situation of Iraq after ten years of sanctions, the continuation of the
"freezing for 11 years and counting" is defiantly a crime that cannot be morally or legally
am sure the each and every one of us affected by the freezing of our personal accounts will include this
action in his list of "Why we hate the
BBC and VOA may tell us that the rest of the world hate the west because of "our democracy and human
values" and that such actions are not intended to hurt the innocent civilian population of Iraq. Bull
shit THEY simply don't know what they are talking about. No wonder the west is under attack and is losing
credibility they believe their own lies. I can see one day one
of those thousands will be so frustrated that he will revert to violence and the west will have to fight
bin-Dollars terrorist organization!
Al-Mukhtar Baghdad, Iraq email@example.com
question of defectors, political asylum seekers has to be looked at in the light of the following personal
Sanctions have created a tremendous economic hard ship to all the people of Iraq. North, Central, and
Medical and educational services were greatly effected.
Sanctions have lasted much longer than any one could imagine.
The above three have resulted in many many people to seek a better life overseas.
Europe and the rest of the western world do not accept economic immigration.
easiest and probably the only way open to those people was to seek political asylum in the west. The
climate is right.
qualify for such status they invented endless stories, produced forged documents, bribed immigration
Even the immigration "detention" camps are more comfortable than their "homes" plus the
fact that they get paid more money in the detention camps than they make at home. In fact some came back from
detention centers "rich"
Once their asylum is accepted they will have to continue their "anti Saddam" rhetoric fearing that
they may be asked to leave. Remember what is happening to the Afghan refugees in Australia, After 5 years in
the detention center they are being kicked out because Taliban is no longer rule Afghanistan !
Some political asylum seekers I know took a leave from their government jobs left to Jordan leaving
their families in a government subsidized housing!. His family continued to occupy the house till
he obtained his political asylum. My friend claimed he did not know a single English word (he is an
engineer and studied 14 years of engilish) so they had to get him a translator who was paid handsomely to
direct and/or miss translate my friend's claims. Some of them are accused of criminal charges,
like robbery, issuing checks with no fund....
My wife is a Kurdish doctor and we travel each year to the north to see my in-laws. Each year I see less
and less of her extended family because they have taken political asylum in Europe. The Question is: The
Kurds have the safe heavens, the no fly zone, and are outside the control of Saddam Hussein yet they are the
most eager to immigrate( and since that is impossible they apply for political asylum). I know that some EU
members do not grant political asylums to Kurds for that reason. A new trick take a fake ID that they
are from the south (Shia) and that will make you a persecuted person!
Those high ranking intelligence officers as well as the director of military intelligence service (the
defectors) were the instrument of the regime. It goes without say that they have participated one way or the
other in the persecution of innocent people they claim that Saddam has killed. Instead of being questioned by
the western authorities about the crimes they committed, when they were serving the regime, they are
presented to us by the west as the champions of democracy, or is it dumb-cracy!
I am in no way defending the government and I am in no way criticizing the asylum seekers they want the best
for their families. All I am saying is that take their stories with a "grain of salt".
The west is free to believe in any thing they want, distorting fact as they please in the end I have to
decide, for example, whether Ghallabi is a thief and embezzler of Al-Perta bank or he is the LEADER of
the western backed INC. If he is the BEST the west could offer us then god help the west!
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar (05/02/2002)
subject of Amnesty International deserves a separate message. On the outset let me state that :
I Have never read any of their reports ( I heard of them on the radio and were quoted in papers). I
hope you didn’t
expect me to have read them.
am in no way defending the other side or agreeing with his methods.
the many many years living in Baghdad and talking to people from inside and outside the country I think
some cases were deliberately distorted to suite the objective.
news media may have contributed to the bad image of AI by selectively reporting abuse of human rights in
one country while neglecting the reports of other countries. AI may (?) have reports on the human rights
abuses of the Palestinians by the Israeli authorities but such reports are very seldom broadcasted. We see
every day on our televisions the killings and the destruction of house in Gaza and other Palestinian cities
and do not read or hear AI reports condemning such actions. The next day we are bombarded by AI reports
criticizing KSA because the punishment for some crimes did not meet the standards of the west . AI might
not be at fault but it might be the media.
reports are always available to be used selectively. In my previous posting I pointed out that the UK
ignored AI reports for 20+ years, to further their interest, then decided to open the files, added the
figures and came up with 30000+. In fact AI reports are becoming ready made inditement document to be used
as and when needed.
ever there is a westerner involved in a crime in a third wold country, e.g. drinking alcohol in KSA, every
one quotes AI reports as if the westerners should to be judged by a different standards.
concentrates on the political rights and tend to ignore other rights. Sanctions that effect civilian
population is really a collective punishment ( saying it mildly ) of innocent people. The effects of this
punishment are more devastating and more important ( to the people being punished) than the ability to say
that the leader is good or bad. One has to feed his family, work at a decent work ( no more than 40-50
hours a week) , send his children to schools, see to it that kids are treated adequately at hospital, …the
list is long.. In a posting to CASI last year some one said that AI is considering taking a stand against
sanctions. The question DID THEY? IF so why did it take them so long?
think the “acid test” for AI is now. Can AI stand firm and demand that US should respect the human
rights of the prisoners from Afghanistan ( the Arabs, the Moslems and the westerners ). Are we going to see
a deference in their treatment. Are they going to appear in front of the same courts Are they going to
enjoy equal legal protection. I hope so . If AI can not defend , protect and stop the human right abuses of
the leader of the free world (America) then why do you expect that dictators to respect it. With the
current climate I think we are going to see the “double standard judicial system” to compliment the “double
standard political system”.
1990 Saddam Hussein pointed out that the west was using double standards.
The west in 1990 denied that fact and kept insisting that SH is wrong.
They started the peace process to show that they could solve the Palestinian question and to prove that SH was wrong. 12 years later they are not talking , let alone implementing UNSCR 242 or 338 (not implemented after 35 years and more than 1000 resolutions ago !).
Iraq rejected UNMOVIC more than a year ago but the UN kept employing staff for that committee and kept paying for the idle staff from the Iraqi money and insisting that Iraq should comply with UNMOVIC.
In a vulgar demonstration of the double standards Kofi Annan dissolved the fact finding UN committee to investigate the Israeli atrocities in Jenen,
days after he formed it, because Israel rejected it.
The west should keep this vulgarity so SH could win more credibility.
I can visualize him getting up every morning watch the news and laugh saying I didn't do any thing THEY are proving that I am RIGHT.
YES HE IS RIGHT
to the civil defence department the number of people killed in the No-Fly zones are 1141. The number injured
are 1256. This is the official figures.
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar (27/05/2002)
As the bombs were falling
on Baghdad a year ago, retired engineer Ghazwan al-Mukhtar told us: "UK/USA
means to me United to Kill Us All." On the first anniversary of "Shock and Awe", Ghazwan
joins us from
GOODMAN: Can you describe the
Well, for twelve months I have been liberated
from my water supply, liberated from electricity, liberated from my telephone; maybe soon I will be liberated
from my life.
The invasion is nothing more than an extension of this sanctions - exempt it's worse. The medical system
has collapsed; so has the water supply and the sewage system even deteriorated more. The security situation
is atrocious. You cannot drive outside your house safely at night. The bombing is happening. Almost every day
we hear a bomb. In fact, we hear more bombs than it is reported on the news media. Now that the telephone
system -- we are without a telephone system for now a year. I still don't have a telephone line. The land
lines have been damaged totally. The health system just collapsed. So, it is even worse than what it was a
year ago. And there is no prospect of improvement within the foreseeable month or next few months or a year,
even, because the attempt -- no attempt has been visible on the reconstruction of all those facilities. So, I
would say a year after the invasion, life is miserable in
GOODMAN: How’s the attitude to
AL-MUKHTAR: Well, the attitude
things are not improving. They are deteriorating and deteriorating rapidly. I was just traveling on the
can not talk about the situation in occupied
In order to establish law and order, a strong "force" must take care to implement the order. The Americans having dissolved the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police have created a power vacuum. Armies are an essential element in every society. Their duty is to help restore order. They have the capability to respond quickly in case of emergency. Look what happened in
They will stay in
My understanding is that they have no intenstion to leave soon. They say that they will stay as long as needed. They are the ones who decide that they are needed.
were probably afraid to talk about one person, Saddam. Now we are afraid to talk about all the 25 people
running the IGC as well as Bremer and the Americans.
Some weeks a go I gave a radio interview to a radio station in
GOODMAN: You are an engineer. In
terms of reconstruction, what has happened?
AL-MUKHTAR: Visibly, nothing.
They painted few schools and they cleaned some of the rubble off of the buildings that have been bombed. Let
me give you an example, which uses a telephone exchange which serves my area. In 1991, that building was
totally demolished with all the equipment destroyed. With the engineers of
AL-MUKHTAR: I’m a sixty year old man, but I
am not going to let anybody, any foreigner tell me what to do or running my own country. This is a country I
have spent all my life, trying to build something, to do something about improving the lot of the Iraqi
AL-MUKHTAR: Well, they’re entitled to their
view, but my view is that Saddam Hussein, was in 1984 was the President when Donald Rumsfeld came and shook
his hand and said “he’s a nice fellow, we can work with him.” Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein
that you people gave commodity credits to. So what changes is the perceptions of Donald Rumsfeld of what
Saddam Hussein is. Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein that I have known in ’79 when he took power.
So anything that changes, it’s the perception of Donald Rumsfeld. Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein
that dealt with Ronald Reagan and the presidents before him. It’s now Bush, he doesn’t like Saddam
Hussein and they are ruining the country. Bush is entitled to say whatever he wants. But that doesn’t make
AL-MUKHTAR: If I was Paul
Bremer, I would reinstate everybody that they have kicked out of his job, barring only those people who are
criminals, who have committed a crime. In fact, those who are suspected of committing a crime should be even
kept in the government and investigated. If they have committed a crime, they should be kicked out of the
government. You don't punish a person by denying him a job because you think he is-- he might have done
I was Paul Bremer, I would return all those people to their previous jobs because those are experienced
people. Those are people that you cannot replace. You get somebody from Bechtel, the best engineer from
Bechtel, and it takes him ages to understand what the problem is with the Iraqi oil, the Iraqi factory or the
Iraqi telecommunication system. Until now, after one year, we still don't have a telephone system. I'm
calling you from a mobile system which has a
GOODMAN: Would he then be
reconstituting a pro-Saddam force?
AL-MUKHTAR: It doesn't have to
be a pro-Saddam force. An engineer who does his job is an engineer irrespective whether he is a pro or
against Saddam. Do you think right now that they are hiring only the pro-American engineers working for the
ministry of oil? Are you going to be-- kick everybody who does not like the
you have deposed the dictator, which, by the way you supported, the
same people who forced Saddam Hussein in 2003, that is to say Donald Rumsfeld and his group, and it is the
same people who shook hands with Saddam Hussein in '83, and we established diplomatic relations with the
dictator. And they are the same people who supported Saddam Hussein throughout the war with
are penalizing us, the poor, powerless subjects of dictator for crimes they have committed. We haven't
committed a crime. We, as individuals, haven't committed a crime against anybody. We are victims of ten years
of-- 13 years of sanctions, and six months right now, ten months of occupation, and we are going to be
punished and punished, again and again, again so that Halliburton and Bechtel and MCI and whoever can make
AMY GOODMAN: Can
you describe the reaction in the streets to what took place in Fallujah?
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: This
incident happened in Fallujah where two days before that, the American army shot many many people, women and
children, on the streets, and --- in a bizarre shooting incident that was unjustified, killing many people.
Fallujah has been a place where the US Army has actually used brutal force to suppress the people there,
including using the F-15s, and F-16s to attack villages and place where they think the resistances are, which
is unjustified to use high explosives against individuals. This resulted in many, many casualties in the
province. Added to it, they have detained, for 50 or 60 days, hundreds of people on and off, which alienated
the people against the American forces and the American contractors or the American security contractors,
which are really a private army, uncontrollable by the
AMY GOODMAN: Well,
some of the commercial media here in the United States are claiming that Fallujah is a hotbed of resistance,
that up to 70% of the people are supporting attacks or have voiced in opinion polls support for attacks on
the US forces. Is there a continuing large presence of US military within -- within the city itself, or have
they largely pulled out to the outskirts of Fallujah?
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: They
pulled out to the outskirts, but they keep intruding into the city. Ten days ago, I was passing through
Fallujah, and in the middle of the city, they brought the main highway, and we saw inside the city a convoy
of US military vehicles. So, they keep coming in and out. If they keep out, I don't think they would have
that many attacks on them, but don't forget, those are an occupying force, and the people believe they have
the right to resist an occupying force - a foreign occupying force. We -- the closest we come to you is eight
hours difference. That's 8,000, 9,000 miles. That's between us. You people have – you came to the east
8,000 miles to run a country you have no business in occupying. After we discovered that there was no
justification for the
The final thing, the final thing, I
think, it’s the blind leading the blind. You are blind, I mean the
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar: "Zijn VS wel klaar voor verkiezingen in Irak?
by christophe callewaert en han soete Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2004 at 5:38 PM
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar was één van de Iraakse getuigen op het
Brussels Tribunal. Hij getuigde er over de concrete gevolgen van de Amerikaanse bezetting van de Iraakse
Al-Mukhtar noemt zich zelf een politieke activist. Het waren de sancties die de ingenieur op rust tot het
activisme bekeerden. “Ik studeerde in de VS, werkte daarna een paar jaar voor de Iraakse regering en de
rest van mijn carrière was ik zakenman. Pas toen wij hier de sancties meer en meer begonnen te voelen ben ik
een politieke activist geworden. Ik ben geen groot schrijver, maar schrijven was wel de enige manier om de
buitenwereld te laten weten wat er in Irak gebeurde.” Zo werd Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar één van de weinige
onafhankelijke Iraakse stemmen die vanuit Bagdad communiceerden met de wereld. Door de jaren werd hij een
gewaardeerde getuige voor alternatieve media als het Amerikaanse Democracy Now!. Vandaag klinkt zijn stem nog
even verontwaardigd als veertien jaar geleden na de eerste oorlog in Irak.
is ook een continuïteit,” legt hij traag en geduldig uit. “Deze bezetting is niets anders dan een
uitbreiding van de sancties. Al de gruwelen van de sancties gaan nu gewoon door. De ondervoeding neemt toe.
De ziekenhuizen zijn er slechter aan toe dan een jaar geleden. Waarom moet ik betalen voor de daden van
Saddam Hoessein? Hij heeft mij nooit om mijn mening gevraagd. Ik heb nooit op hem gestemd. Na veertien jaar
sancties is het genoeg geweest. Dit moet stoppen.” Terwijl hij spreekt slaat hij af en toe de handen voor
de ogen. Zelfs hier is rustig praten moeilijk. Thuis is hij de ontploffingen en het altijd aanwezige gevaar
gewoon. Hier maakt hij zich zorgen over zijn familie. Tijdens het interview staat hij af en toe op om snel
zijn mails te checken. Zijn hele familie heeft de taak om meerdere keren per dag te bevestigen dat alles in
orde is thuis in Bagdad.
beweert dat de oorlog van 2003 en de daaropvolgende bezetting gewoon een verderzetting is van de sancties.
Kunt u dat wat uitleggen?
Al-Mukhtar: “In de jaren '80 bouwde Irak een degelijk communicatiesysteem uit. Tijdens de eerste golfoorlog
van 1991 werden alle telefooncentrales platgebombardeerd. Vraag me niet hoe we het gedaan hebben, maar we
zijn er in geslaagd om de meeste centrales te herstellen. Om het systeem te upgraden hadden we wel
vervangstukken nodig, maar die mochten we vanwege de sancties niet invoeren. In 1996 stuurde de VN een team
om de toestand van het Iraakse telefoonnetwerk te bestuderen. Zij stelden vast dat het systeem niet goed
functioneerde en dat herstelling moeilijk was gezien het gebrek aan vervangstukken. Pas dan kreeg Irak van de
VN de toelating om nieuwe telefooncentrales te importeren. Zo beschikte Irak vanaf begin 2000 eindelijk weer
over een goed werkend telefoonnetwerk. Ik heb er zelf maar een half jaar kunnen van genieten omdat het
opnieuw werd weggebombardeerd tijdens de oorlog van vorig jaar. De Amerikanen beloofden het land snel weer op
te bouwen. Eén jaar later heb ik nog altijd geen telefoon in mijn huis.
is het zelfde verhaal. In 1990 produceerden we genoeg electriciteit voor een onafgebroken levering aan de
huishoudens en de industrie. De oorlog van 1991 veegde 95 % van de electriciteitsproductiecapaciteit weg. In
een maand tijd hadden we al een deel hersteld. Na drie maanden zaten we al terug op 67 % van het vroegere
niveau. We hadden ook hier vervangstukken nodig om op het vroegere niveau te geraken. Het VN-sanctiecomité
verzette zich tegen de invoer van vervangstukken. Het was pas nadat de UNDP aan de alarmbel had getrokken
over de rampzalige gezondheidstoestand van kinderen dat de vervangstukken Irak toch binnen mochten. Na de
oorlog is de situatie nog verslechterd. De Amerikanen durven de electriciteitscentrale van Bagdad niet te
betreden uit angst voor een asbest-besmetting. Ze wachten nu al maanden op beschermkledij. Zonder
electriciteit draaien de fabrieken niet, werken de ziekenhuizen niet, evenmin als de pompstations, de
waterzuivering,.... Zij weerhouden ons ervan te leven. Kan je je voorstellen wat het is om te leven zonder
electriciteit als het buiten 60 ° graden is?”
er dan momenteel helemaal geen electriciteit?
zijn onderbrekingen. Dan is er eens twee uur electriciteit en dan weer twee uur niet. Onze huizen hebben
airco nodig want ze zijn gebouwd in een tijd dat er volop electriciteit was en dat men er niet aan dacht om
ze aan te passen aan zo'n hitte. Nu slapen wij buiten in de tuin en staan we af en toe op om ons te
overgieten met koud water. Het gebrek aan energie leidt ook tot fabriekssluitingen die nog maar eens het
inkomen van werkende Irakezen aantasten.”
het vanuit Amerikaans standpunt niet bijzonder dom om de electriciteitsvoorziening niet te herstellen? Zij
hebben toch alle belang bij een tevreden bevolking en een stabiel land?
is dom, ja. Maar wie zegt dat ze slim zijn? En zijn ze wel in staat om het te herstellen? De Amerikanen
kennen de Amerikaanse installaties. Ik verwacht toch ook niet van een Chinese ingenieur dat hij de
Amerikaanse machines meteen aan de praat krijgt. Bovendien zijn de Iraakse ingenieurs meer gekwalificeerd dan
de Amerikaanse technici die ze op ons afsturen. Ik kan niet aanvaarden dat een Amerikaanse zesde
graad-ingenieur mij hier komt vertellen hoe ik Iraakse elektriciteitscentrales moet herstellen.”
zou een Amerikaanse ingenieur dat niet kunnen?
heeft noch de kennis, noch de ervaring, noch de juiste mentaliteit om dingen te herstellen. Weet je hoe een
Amerikaanse te werk gaat als een machine stuk is? Hij schrijft het type-nummer op en bestelt een vervangstuk.
's Anderendaags komt dat toe en de machine is hersteld. Maar verstellen is nog iets anders dan vervangstukken
aanbrengen. Soms moet je een speciale verbinding maken, een kortsluiting omzeilen, een kabel herleggen,... Zo
hebben wij veertien jaar gewerkt. Daardoor zitten wij nu met organisch gegroeide machines. Een idioot uit
weet ik veel begrijpt niet hoe hij daar moet aan beginnen.”
laten ze dat dan niet gewoon door Irakezen doen?
hebben de contracten aan Halliburton (het Amerikaanse bedrijf waar de huidige vice-president Dick Cheney voor
werkte en waarvan hij nog altijd aandeelhouder is, cc). Als ze het door Irakezne laten doen verdienen ze er
niets aan. Ze azen op de hoge onkostenvergoedingen. Ze zijn ons land aan het leegplunderen, weet je wel.
Kijk, laat ik u nog een voorbeeld geven. Na de oorlog in 1991 waren de raffinaderijen na drie à vier maanden terug actief. We konden opnieuw geraffineerde producten als diesel en benzine uitvoeren. Hoewel de raffinaderijen deze keer niet werden gebombardeerd zijn ze toch nog altijd niet heropgestart.”
ze vorig jaar niet beschadigd?
en toch voert Halliburton nu geraffineerde producten in uit Koeweit en Turkije. Dat gebeurt via de
Amerikaanse firma Halliburton. Die daarvoor 2,64 dollar per gallon aanrekent (een gallon is 3,8 liter). Dat
is verschrikkelijk duur. De Iraakse firma Somo voert eveneens uit Koeweit en Turkije geraffineerde olie in.
Somo krijgt daarvoor 97 cent per gallon. Dat is een prijs die overeenkomt met de kost van aankoop, transport
en verkoop. Maar Halliburton krijgt dus 2,6 keer die prijs. Tussen maart en december kreeg Halliburton voor
die invoer 200 miljoen dollar uitbetaald terwijl ze, gerekend aan de normale prijs, maar 77 miljoen had mogen
krijgen. Winst voor Halliburton: 123 miljoen dollar. De Amerikaanse overheid verkoopt de olie die het van
Halliburton kocht aan... 15 cent per gallon! Dat is dus een heel dure grap. Het kan mij niet veel schelen als
Halliburton de Amerikaanse regering oplicht maar Halliburton steelt dat geld van Irak. Want de Amerikaanse
regering betaalt Halliburton met het geld dat ze verdient aan de uitvoer van Iraakse ruwe (niet geraffineerde
olie). De opbrengst daarvan is nu al 7 miljard dollar. Een deel ervan krijgt Halliburton cadeau. Het kost 2
miljoen dollar om de raffinaderijen te herstellen, maar dan zou het wel gedaan zijn met de miljoenenwinsten
voor Halliburton. En dus doen ze liever niets om de raffinaderijen her op te starten.”
de voorlopige Iraakse regering hier dan niet tegen?
Iraakse regering? Denkt u dat er een Iraakse regering is? De Iraakse regeringsraad is aangeduid door de VS om
de Amerikaanse belangen in Irak te verdedigen. Iedereen maakt winst, ook de leden van de regeringsraad. De
tijd dringt en dit is een unieke kans om in één jaar tijd zoveel geld bij één te stelen.
De zoon van een lid van de regeringsraad heeft een firma opgericht om in het zuiden het mobiele telefoonnet te beheren. Een andere heeft nu een veiligheidscontract en werkt met huurlingen. Ze verdienen allemaal heel veel geld. De meeste leden van de regeringsraad waren de voorbije 20 jaar niet Irak, maar leefden in de VS en willen nu als compensatie op korte tijd heel veel geld verdienen. Kan je dat een regering noemen die haar verantwoordelijkheid neemt?”
de gewone Irakezen wat er gebeurt?
dat is het probleem. De meeste zogezegd 'vrije' kranten worden volledig gefinancierd door de Amerikaanse
bezettingsmacht. Zij kunnen dus niet vrij spreken over de rampen die ons overkomen. Zij die het wel hebben
geprobeerd, werden gesloten. Ik heb weet van 5 kranten die op die manier gesloten werden. Als ze gesloten
worden, starten ze elders onder een andere naam opnieuw op. Maar ze kunnen niet echt schrijven over Irak
zonder problemen te krijgen. Uiteindelijk moeten ze ook kiezen tussen kranten verkopen en honger lijden.”
VS houden blijkbaar niet van kritische journalisten. In hun voorstel voor een bestand in Fallujah stond dat
de Arabische zender Al Jazeera de stad moest verlaten.
van hun ankermannen – Mansour, een gerespecteerd journalist – bevond zich in Fallujah en bracht van
daaruit verslag uit. Ik heb zelf ook ondervonden hoe Al Jazeera onder druk werd gezet. Samen met Al Jazeera
onderzoeken we de zaak van een man die in Kirkoek werd aangehouden. De Amerikanen brachten hem over naar
Tikrit voor ondervraging. Hij werd zo hard aangepakt dat hij in coma geraakte. De Amerikanen wisten niet wat
ze met hem moesten aanvangen en dumpten hem in een ziekenhuis. Ze gaven alleen zijn naam door, geen adres en
geen andere gegevens. Het personeel van het ziekenhuis nam foto's van de man en contacteerde het Rode Kruis
dat die foto's ophing in alle bushokjes van Tikrit. Uiteindelijk konden we zijn familie contacteren. Met een
cameraploeg van Al Jazeera en een Amerikaanse advocaat zijn we naar de plaats geweest waar hij waarschijnlijk
werd gemarteld. Heel zorgvuldig stelden we een goed gedocumenteerd dossier samen. Een arts stelde vast dat de
man verschillende slagen op het achterhoofd kreeg waardoor hij een hersenbeschadiging opliep. Op zijn voeten
had hij zwarte vlekken die volgens de arts het resultaat waren van elektrocutie. Toen de reportage klaar was
weigerde Al Jazeera ze uit te zenden. “Als we dat doen, sluiten ze ons.” Wij werden zelf onder druk gezet
door de Amerikanen die ons aanmaanden om de zaak te laten vallen.”
opstand van de sji'ietische leider Al Sadr begon ook al met de sluiting van een krant.
krant had geschreven dat al die bomaanslagen dienden om verdeeldheid en chaos te zaaien wat dan weer als een
excuus kan dienen voor de Amerikaanse troepen om langer te blijven. De krant werd prompt gesloten.
Pro-Amerikaanse kranten begonnen toen ook te schrijven dat Al Sadr, de sji-ietische leider van de opstand,
een misdadiger en moordenaar was die moest worden opgesloten. Dat wilden ze de Irakezen doen geloven.”
dat is blijkbaar niet meteen gelukt?
je al die moorden ziet, het schieten, het bombarderen... Hoe kan je de Amerikanen dan nog geloven? Dat blijft
maar duren. Veel Irakezen zijn er nu van overtuigd dat de Amerikanen ons voortdurend beliegen, dat ze nooit
de bedoeling hebben gehad om het land her op te bouwen en dat ze de Irakezen mishandelen. Irakezen beginnen
nu ook luidop te zeggen dat de Amerikanen hun land aan het leegroven zijn.”
dat wel zo? Uit een bevraging bleek onlangs nog dat de Irakezen relatief tevreden zijn?
er maar vanaf wie je bevraagt. Als u met ons spreekt, zullen wij een eerlijk beeld geven van de situatie. Als
u enkel met de oppositie in Londen spreekt over wat er gebeurt in Irak dan zal u natuurlijk te horen krijgen
dat het toch zo fijn is om bevrijd te zijn.
Maar als al die mensen het zo heerlijk vinden om bevrijd te zijn, waarom komen ze hier dan niet wonen? Waarom smeken ze de mensenrechtenorganisaties in Groot-Brittannië om te helpen verhinderen dat ze worden uitgewezen? Blijkbaar zijn ze niet bereid om te komen leven in een stad waar straten worden afgesloten met grote muren van drie meter hoog. In het hart van de stad reduceerden ze de drie rijvakken van de hoofdlaan tot één rijvak door langs beide kanten twee meter hoge betonblokken te leggen. Bepaalde gebieden worden zelfs gewoon afgesloten. Dat is vragen om verkeersproblemen. Grote legertanks wringen zich nu door smalle straatjes om de blokkades te omzeilen. 2En van dezer dagen zal de riolering het daardoor begeven doordat de grond verzakt. Dat noem ik chaos scheppen.
politie van wie je toch verwacht dat ze je beschermen stoppen zich weg in een afgesloten blok. Als ze zoveel
moeite doen om zichzelf te beschermen, hoe kunnen ze dan ooit ons beschermen? Ik heb een internetcafé vlak
naast een politiekantoor. Je zou verwachten dat dat een veilige plaats is tegen overvallers en diefstallen,
maar sinds de oorlog heb ik het nog niet kunnen openen. Ik wil de kinderen die daar komen surfen niet
blootstellen aan een aanslag. De politie is helaas een doelwit geworden doordat ze collaboreren met de
is de toestand nu eigenlijk in Bagdad? Verloopt het leven er normaal? Zijn er marktjes? Zitten de theehuizen
hoor, alles is normaal. We raken stilaan gewend aan de drie bombardementen per dag. Die ontploffingen zijn
een deel van ons leven geworden. Misschien krijgen we het straks wel psychologisch moeilijk als er geen
ontploffingen meer zijn.
dochter is laatste jaars student geneeskunde. Vorig jaar nam ze de auto om naar de les te gaan omdat de
universiteit nogal ver afgelegen ligt. Nu is dat niet meer veilig en moet ik een taxi betalen die haar elke
dag heen en terug brengt. Sommige rijkere mensen sturen nu hun kinderen met een bodyguard naar school.
Onlangs werd ook één van de bekendste artsen van Bagdad gekidnapt en vermoord.”
gaan geruchten dat er de laatste tijd wel meer intellectuelen worden vermoord in Irak?
waarom heeft men economische sancties opgelegd aan Irak? Dat deed men om ons onderwijssysteem te ondermijnen.
Sinds de jaren '30 van vorige eeuw hebben alle Iraakse regering consequent geïnvesteerd in het onderwijs.
Begin jaren '60 was ik een hogeschoolstudent en de Iraakse regering gaf mij opdracht om te gaan studeren in
de VS. Ik kreeg een beurs aan de Berkeley-universiteit in California. Na mijn studies daar ging ik gewoon
terug naar Irak. De enige compensatie die de Iraakse regering vroeg was dat ik vier jaar voor de overheid
moest werken. Om te mogen studeren moest je niet de zoon zijn van één of andere minister. Zelfs mensen die
afkomstig waren uit arme boerenfamilies kregen de kans om te studeren. Wij hebben daardoor uitstekende
ingenieurs, heel knappe artsen, noem maar op... Ons onderwijsssyteem was één van de beste van de hele
Arabische wereld. In de jaren '80 verwezenlijkten wij het veralgemeende lager onderwijs voor alle Iraakse
kinderen waarvoor we de prijs van de Unesco voor de uitroeiing van het analfabetisme kregen. De VS voelden
zich hoerdoor bedreigd. Zij wilden geen intellectuelen in Irak. Door de sancties mochten geneeskundige
publicaties veertien jaar lang Irak niet binnen. Onze artsen konden zich daardoor niet bijscholen. Zijn
medische publicaties massavernietigingswapens? In Irak zijn er veel artsen die een Engels- of Franstalige
opleiding genoten in het buitenland. Na 1991 werden Irakezen niet meer toegelaten tot westerse
universiteiten. Misschien zou ik nog kunnen begrijpen dat je geen Irakezen toelaat tot de opleidingen
mechanica of electronica want met die kennis zouden ze raketten kunnen maken. Maar wat met huisartsen?
Blijkbaar wilden ze verhinderen dat de Iraakse bevolking een bepaalde levensstandaard bereikte. We zaten al
veel hoger dan ze ons gunden en om ons klein te houden, moest het terug naar omlaag. Het geweld tegen
intellectuelen moet je ook in die context plaatsen. Ze willen intellectuelen dwingen om het land te
intellectuelen dan zo gevaarlijk in het huidige Irak?
ja hoor, dat zijn de gevaarlijkste mensen. Hou alleen idioten over en geef ze een dollar om te zeggen dat
alles goed gaat zoals in het onderzoek waar u daarnet naar verwees. Spreek met een intellectueel en die
zullen je zeggen dat het niet goed gaat want die vinden het niet fijn om tot niets herleid worden. Mensen die
rijk worden door te collaboreren met de bezetter zullen natuurlijk vinden dat het nu beter gaat. Maar praat
eens een arts of een ingenieur die weet waarom er geen telefoon of electriciteit is. Zij zijn gevaarlijk.”
u een idee hoeveel intellectuelen het land al verlaten hebben?
recente gegevens zouden er al 3.000 intellectuelen vertrokken zijn.”
er cijfers over het aantal vermoorde intellectuelen?
bestaan gegevens over het aantal wetenschappers die werden gevangen genomen in het kader van het onderzoek
naar massavernietigingswapen. Sommigen van hen worden met de dood bedreigd en verlaten het land.”
het westen krijgen we de indruk dat de spanningen tussen de soennieten en de sji'ieten toenemen en dat de
Amerikaanse troepen daarom in Irak moeten blijven om die twee groepen uit elkaar te houden.
is precies wat de VS zouden willen dat de Irakezen doen. Eerst scheppen ze een vacuüm, dan vullen ze dat
vacuüm op met hun eigen mensen die ze vragen om tegen elkaar te vechten. Om daarna te kunnen zeggen: wij
zijn de enigen die hier nog het geweld kunnen stoppen. Ze ontbonden het leger, de politie en de
veiligheidsdiensten. Zo werden de Amerikanen de enige macht die nog de orde kon herstellen. Daarna begonnen
ze de soennieten en de sji'ieten tegen elkaar op te zetten. In de geschiedenis van Irak hebben we dat nog
nooit meegemaakt. Sedert de jaren '40 zijn er een hele reeks sji'ietische ministers geweest en dat was nooit
een punt. In alle volkstellingen sinds 1927 werd nooit de vraag gesteld tot welke groep de Irakezen
behoorden. De helft van de regionale leiding van de Baath-partij was sji'iet. Er was wel een zekere
disproportionaliteit omdat de mensen uit het zuiden, waar veel sji'ieten wonen, traditioneel liever in de
privé-sector werken. Dat heeft te maken met een mentaliteit, niet met soenniet of sji'iet zijn.”
is er een gevaar voor een burgeroorlog?
is altijd gevaar voor een burgeroorlog, maar niet alleen tussen soennieten en sji'ieten. Er kan er evengoed
één komen tussen sji'ieten onderling. Elk van de leiders heeft nu een militie. Wat zal er gebeuren als de
milities van Al Badr en Al Hakim tegen elkaar beginnen te vechten? Het Iraakse leger ontbinden is de grootste
fout die de VS maakten. Maar het was een doelbewuste fout. Doordat er nu geen enkele andere kracht is die
vechtende milities uit elkaar kan houden, kunnen zij dat als voorwendsel gebruiken om het land verder te
u zegt dus ook dat als de VS weggaan er een burgeroorlog uitbreekt?
problemen in Irak kunnen gemakkelijk worden opgelost. Geef opdracht aan het ontbonden Iraakse leger om zich
te herstellen. Het moet niet heropgericht worden. Irak had 70 jaar lang een leger. We hadden zeer goed
opgeleide en getrainde officieren. We hebben geen Jordaniërs nodig om Irakezen te trainen. Ze moeten van hen
niet leren dat ze eerst met de rechter- en dan met de linkervoet moeten stappen. Ze weten hoe ze moeten
marcheren, laden of salueren. Ze kennen discipline en weten hoe ze moeten trainen om fysiek in conditie te
als het Iraakse leger in ere wordt hersteld, kunnen de VS met een gerust hart vertrekken?
probeer geen Amerikaanse problemen op te lossen. Mij interesseren enkel de problemen van Irak.
Iraakse oplossingen de Amerikanen niet goed uitkomen, dat ze ons dan met rust laten. Het is hun land niet.
Zij creëerden hier de chaos. En wij lossen hun problemen niet op voor hen. Wij weten wat ze willen: geen
Iraaks leger, zodat zij de enigen zijn die heersen in Irak.”
VS hebben de oprichting van de milities oogluikend toegelaten, maar zijn nu wel geconfronteerd met een
groeiend verzet van diezelfde milities?
Amerikanen krijgen niet alleen af te rekenen met de milities. Zelfs het nieuwe Irakese leger dat in Jordanië
met de rechtervoet eerst leerde marcheren, weigert nu om deel te nemen aan de aanvallen op Fallujah. Wat gaan
ze nu doen? Het nieuwe Iraakse leger ontbinden en een 'nieuw nieuw Iraaks leger' oprichten? Maar nogmaals ik
hou mij niet bezig met de problemen van comical Donald (Rumsfeld, cc).Om de zoveel tijd daalt hij hier met
zijn helikopter neer om een half uurtje te babbelen met zijn staf waarna hij naar de VS terugkeert om daar te
vertellen dat de Irakezen zo gelukkig zijn. Hij heeft nog nooit een Irakees gezien! Als hij echt Irak wil
besturen dat hij dan Irakees wordt en in Irak komt wonen.”
kan u misschien minister worden in de VS?
“Weet je, toen Amy Goodman van Democracy Now mij onlangs wou interviewen, moest ik een beroep doen op een
klein mobiel communicatiestation van de Amerikaanse administratie en enkele NGO's in Bagdad. Om mij op te
bellen, moest Amy een New Yorks telefoonnummer draaien. Ik werd daarna ook door een radiostation uit San
Francisco geïnterviewd. Toen ik uitlegde hoe fantastisch het leven hier is, werd de lijn plots onderbroken.
Blijkbaar luisterde er iemand mee die niet helemaal akkoord was met wat ik vertelde. Eerder heeft men ook al
mijn internetverbinding afgesloten. Dat is democratie van Amerikaanse makelij. Wat is nu eigenlijk het
verschil met Saddam Hoessein? Toen die nog aan de macht was, zette ik berichten op internet waarin stond dat
Saddam een vreselijke dictator was. Nooit zijn er pogingen gedaan om mijn internetverbinding af te
Rumsfeld noemde het verzet het werk van enkele gangsterbendes.
het verzet tijdens WO II in België het werk van gangsterbendes?”
zou u ze dan noemen?
Onlangs was ik op een bijéénkomst in Libanon waar een hooggeplaatste sji'iet mij vertelde dat sj'ieten en
soennieten zonder onderscheid samenwerken.”
is het verzet zo hardnekkig?
worden al een jaar lang bezet. Het verzet komt ook niet uit de lucht gevallen. Zes maanden voor de oorlog
wisten wij al waaraan we ons mochten verwachten. Je moet ook begrijpen dat Irak een tribale samenleving is.
Als een lid van een bepaalde stam wordt vermoord, hebben alle leden van de stam de plicht om het slachtoffer
te wreken. Dat heeft niets met sji'ieten of soennieten te maken maar met familiebanden. Het is een
verzet kon dus niet beperkt blijven tot de fameuze 'sunni triangle'?
naam alleen al is een Amerikaanse uitvinding. Vermoedelijk krijgen we straks de shia square en
binnenkort de Iraqi circle. (lacht) Basra was de eerste stad die dwars lag en dat ligt dan zogezegd in
sji'ietisch gebied ver van de soennietische driehoek.”
verwonderde ons inderdaad wel een beetje dat de inwoners van het soennitische bolwerk Fallujah portretten van
de sji'ietische leider Al Sadr meedroegen in betogingen.
VS begingen verschrikkelijke misdaden in Fallujah. Ze gingen er op zoek naar de drie moordenaars van de vier
Amerikaanse huurlingen. En tijdens die zoektocht hebben ze minstens 600 mensen vermoord. Er raakte ook een
duizendtal mensen gewond bij de beschietingen. Dat betekent dat ze enorm zwaar geschut hebben gebruikt.
Normaal bedraagt de verhouding gewonden en doden één op tien. Nu is het minder dan één op twee. Waarom
veeg je een stad van de kaart omdat enkele jongeren een ontoelaatbare misdaad begaan? Ze zijn trouwens fier
op die cijfers. Toen men generaal Kimmit vroeg wat hij vond van de tien Amerikaanse soldaten die tijdens de
gevechten rond Fallujah het leven lieten, antwoordde hij dat dat nog meeviel vergeleken bij de 600 Iraakse
de VS er in slagen om het verzet uit te roeien zoals ze b lijkbaar van plan zijn?
verzet is het werk van kleine groepen met kalasjnikovs. Tanks zou je kunnen bombarderen, maar het verzet kan
je zo niet aanpakken. Ze leven onder bevolking. Mijn buur kan best een actief weerstander zijn zonder dat ik
zal er op 30 juni gebeuren? Komt de macht dan eindelijk terug in handen van de Irakezen?
gaat helemaal niks gebeuren. Enkele idioten worden vervangen door andere idioten.”
het Amerikaanse leger zich terugtrekken?
Na 30 juni zal de nieuwe Iraakse regering de Amerikanen uitnodigen om te blijven. Het Amerikaans leger zal
dan niet langer een bezettingsmacht zijn, maar een officiële gast. De huidige Amerikaanse Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA) van Paul Bremer zal worden omgevormd tot ambassade. Wellicht zullen enkele
duizenden Amerikanen Irak besturen vanuit de Amerikaanse ambassade.”
die Iraakse regering kunnen rekenen op de steun van de bevolking?
bij één procent van de bevolking wel ja.”
Irak klaar voor democratische verkiezingen?
is of de Amerikanen wel klaar zijn voor verkiezingen. Of krijgen we een democratie waarin we alleen mogen
stemmen op die Irakezen die de Amerikanen gunstig gezind zijn?”
(Met dank aan Leni Boom voor het uitschrijven en vertalen van het interview)
* Christophe Callewaert is een redacteur van Indymedia Belgium.
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar est un ingénieur irakien habitant Bagdad. Il est l'une des voix indépendantes les plus fortes de l'Irak. On l'entend jusqu'en Occident. Depuis le début de cette guerre, al-Mukhtar témoigne sur la destruction de l'infrastructure de son pays, sur les représailles exercées par l'armée américaine, sur le banditisme de firmes comme Halliburton et Bechtel... Juste avant son départ pour la Belgique, il se trouvait dans la ville assiégée de Fallujah. La semaine dernière, il a témoigné devant le BRussells Tribunal.
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. L'occupation est plus pénible pour les pauvres. Les atrocités provoquées par les sanctions, comme la sous-alimentation, par exemple, ont encore augmenté. La situation des hôpitaux est encore pire qu'en 1990. L'Irak était un pays doté d'un des meilleurs systèmes de santé du Moyen-Orient. Les sanctions ont mis tout cela en l'air.
Et la guerre, aussi?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Oui, et la guerre aussi, mais surtout les sanctions. Après un an de «libération», tout s'est encore considérablement aggravé. Ça doit finir, car les gens ont assez souffert. Et pour rien. Ce n'est pas la faute des gens. Ce ne l'était pas en 1991, et ce ne l'est toujours pas aujourd'hui. Saddam n'a pas consulté les gens. On ne m'a pas demandé mon avis. J'ai assez payé avec ces 13 ans de sanctions. J'ai assez souffert pour des crimes que je n'ai pas commis.
Pouvez-vous expliquer ce qu'étaient ces sanctions et ce qu'elles ont provoqué?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. En 1990, nous produisions 9.000 mégawatts d'électricité. C'était suffisant pour une alimentation constante en électricité dans tout le pays, tant pour l'usage ménager qu'industriel, jour et nuit. Un mois après la guerre de 1991, nous avons pu rétablir l'électricité à 67%. Après 3 mois, nous avions rétabli 73% de notre capacité. Il nous fallait des pièces de rechange et de l'aide pour faire plus. Mais, du fait du blocus, nous n'avons pas reçu de pièces de rechange. Nous n'avons même pas pu importer les produits chimiques pour épurer l'eau des centrales électriques. Ils voulaient boycotter l'approvisionnement en électricité, c'était clair. À un certain moment, les responsables du Fonds de Développement des Nations unies se sont adressés au Conseil de sécurité, en disant: «Vous êtes en train d'assassiner un peuple. Voici les contrats qui peuvent rétablir l'approvisionnement en électricité, on n'a pas la permission de les réaliser». Mais rien n'a bougé.
En novembre 2000, j'ai publié un article sur la problématique de l'électricité. J'ai écrit: «Sans électricité, les usines ne tournent pas, les hôpitaux ne marchent pas, les stations de pompage sont à l'arrêt, l'épuration de l'eau est au point mort. Cela a des conséquences catastrophiques pour les simples citoyens. Cela nous rend la vie impossible».
Que puis-je faire quand il fait 60° dehors? On ne peut quand même pas vivre dans une maison dont l'air conditionné ne fonctionne pas! La nuit aussi, la température est intenable? Nous ne vivons plus dans des maisons, mais dans des fours. Nous les avons construites parce que nous avions de l'électricité, de l'eau et l'air conditionné. Sans électricité, nos maisons et nos villes sont inhabitables.
Il n'y a donc pas d'électricité pour l'instant?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Si, quand même, mais avec de longues interruptions. J'ai du courant pendant 2 heures, puis 2 heures sans. La nuit, désormais, je dors dans le jardin. Avec un seau d'eau à portée de main pour me rafraîchir: je m'asperge d'eau et j'essaie de me rendormir. Dormir à l'intérieur n'est pas possible.
Les coupures de courant provoquent la fermeture des usines et l'effondrement de ce qui restait de notre économie. Résultat: une très grande partie de la population est sans travail. Les gens ne cessent de s'appauvrir.
Et qu'en est-il de l'approvisionnement en pétrole? A-t-il été rétabli?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Après la guerre de 1991, nous nous sommes chargés nous-mêmes de la reconstruction. Nous devions nous battre contre un blocus et contre des sanctions, mais, au bout de 3 ou 4 mois, nous avons pu relancer les raffineries de pétrole. De là, nous exportions des produits raffinés, tels mazout et essence vers la Turquie, l'Iran, la Syrie, la Jordanie. Les Américains disaient que c'était de la contrebande, parce que cela nous était officiellement interdit. Je n'appelle pas ça de la contrebande, j'appelle ça de l'exportation hors contrôle américain. Tout pays a le droit de vendre ses richesses. Nous avions 5.000 camions qui faisaient la navette entre l'Irak et ces pays. C'était la situation, à l'époque. Et aujourd'hui? Aujourd'hui, force nous est de constater qu'ils n'utilisent même pas les raffineries! Même si elles n'ont que peu, voire pas du tout, souffert de la guerre.
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Aujourd'hui, l'Irak importe des produits raffinés du Koweït et de la Turquie. Cela passe par le biais de la firme américaine Halliburton. Celle-ci facture l'essence à 2,64 dollars le gallon (un gallon US = 3,78 l). C'est terriblement cher. La firme irakienne Somo importe le même pétrole raffiné du Koweït et de la Turquie. Elle en reçoit 97 cents le gallon. Un prix en concordance avec le prix d'achat, de transport et de vente. Halliburton reçoit donc 2,7 fois ce prix. Entre mars et décembre, pour ces seules importations, Halliburton a touché 200 millions de dollars alors qu'ils n'auraient dû n'en toucher que 77 millions. Bénéfice pour Halliburton: 123 millions de dollars. Les autorités américaines vendent le pétrole qu'elles ont acheté à Halliburton à... 15 cents le gallon! C'est une sale plaisanterie et qui coûte cher.
Je me moque que Halliburton arnaque le gouvernement américain, mais cet argent, c'est à l'Irak que Halliburton le vole. Car le gouvernement américain paie Halliburton avec l'argent qu'il gagne sur l'exportation du brut (pétrole non raffiné) irakien. Jusqu'à présent, celui-ci a déjà rapporté 7 milliards de dollars. Et Halliburton en ramasse une partie en cadeau.
Maintenant, si vous me demandez pourquoi ils ne rétablissent pas les raffineries, je pense à Halliburton et à ses gigantesques pillages. Si les raffineries étaient rétablies, ces millions de dollars passeraient sous le nez de Halliburton.
Le gouvernement irakien ne proteste-t-il pas contre cet état de chose?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Quel gouvernement irakien? Vous pensez qu'il y a un gouvernement irakien? Le conseil gouvernemental irakien a été désigné par les Etats-Unis afin de défendre les intérêts américains en Irak, afin de protéger ses possessions et de servir ses intérêts commerciaux. Les Américains et les membres du conseil gouvernemental sont occupés à piller notre pays. Un scandale n'est pas encore dévoilé qu'il en éclate déjà un nouveau.
Le fils d'un membre du conseil gouvernemental a fondé une firme en vue de gérer le réseau de téléphonie mobile dans le Sud. Un autre a un contrat de sécurité et il travaille avec des mercenaires. Tous ramassent de l'or en barre. La plupart des membres du conseil gouvernemental vivaient aux Etats-Unis ces 20 dernières années. Et aujourd'hui, ils veulent se remplir les poches le plus vite possible. Et vous voudriez appeler ça un gouvernement qui prend ses responsabilités?
La population irakienne est-elle au courant de tout cela?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Non. C'est ça, le problème. Parce que certains journaux sont totalement payés par le conseil gouvernemental. Il y a donc peu de chances qu'ils aillent dévoiler les activités de pillage de ceux qui les nourrissent. D'autres journaux, qui ont tenté d'être objectifs, ont été fermés sur ordre du conseil gouvernemental ou de l'occupant. J'en connais cinq. Les journalistes de ces journaux essaient alors de sortir un autre journal sous un autre nom. Un journaliste m'a dit: «Mais, dans ce cas, nous devons nous adapter, sinon nous sommes fermés tout de suite, une fois de plus».
De temps à autre, en Occident, on perçoit des infos où il est question de torture...
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. En ce moment précis, Occupation Watch, l'organisation à laquelle je collabore, enquête sur l'affaire d'un homme qui a été arrêté à Kirkuk. Les Américians l'ont transféré à Tikrit pour l'interroger. Il a tellement été maltraité qu'il est tombé dans le coma. Les Américains ne savaient pas ce qu'ils devaient en faire et ils l'ont largué dans un hôpital. Ils n'ont transmis que son nom, mais pas d'adresse ni aucune autre donnée. Le personnel de l'hôpital a pris des photos de l'homme et a contacté la Croix-Rouge qui a placardé ces photos à tous les arrêts de bus de Tikrit. Finalement, nous avons pu contacter sa famille. Avec une équipe de cameramen d'Al Jazeera et un avocat américain, nous nous sommes rendus à l'endroit probable où il a été torturé. Très prudemment, nous avons constitué un dossier solidement documenté. Un médecin a constaté que l'homme avait reçu plusieurs coups sur l'arrière de la tête, ce qui lui avait occasionné des lésions cérébrales. Aux pieds, il avait des taches noires qui, selon le médecin, sont dues à une électrocution. Quand le reportage a été fin prêt, Al Jazeera a refusé de le diffuser. Le journaliste a dit: «Si on le fait, ils nous ferment».
Les Américains essaient de présenter la résistance comme une bande de tueurs. Les journaux pro-américains parlent d'al-Sadr, le dirigeant chiite qui a déclaré que manifester n'avait plus de sens et qu'il était temps de passer à la résistance armée, comme d'un bandit et d'un criminel. Mais je ne pense pas que la population se laisse beaucoup impressionner par ces mensonges. Le seriez-vous si vous aviez subi une première guerre, puis douze ans de blocus et, maintenant, une nouvelle guerre? Beaucoup d'Irakiens sont convaincus que les Américains nous mentent en permanence, qu'ils n'ont jamais eu l'intention de reconstruire le pays et qu'ils maltraitent les Irakiens. De plus, les Irakiens commencent aujourd'hui à dire tout haut que les Américains sont occupés à vider complètement leur pays.
Comment est la situation à Bagdad?
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Nous nous habituons tout doucement à trois bombardements par jour. Ces explosions ont fini par faire partie de notre vie. Peut-être aurons-nous des problèmes psychologiques s'il n'y a plus toutes ces explosions
Ma fille est étudiante en dernière année de médecine. L'an dernier, elle prenait l'auto pour se rendre à l'université. Maintenant, cela n'est plus sûr du tout et je dois payer un taxi pour la conduire et la ramener chaque jour. Certains riches envoient leurs enfants à l'école avec un garde du corps. Récemment, l'un des médecins les plus réputés de Bagdad a également été enlevé et assassiné.
Ces derniers temps, des rumeurs prétendent qu'on assassine beaucoup d'intellectuels, en Irak...
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Pourquoi les Américains ont-ils imposé des sanctions économiques à l'Irak? L'une des conséquences, en tout cas, a été de saper notre système d'enseignement. Depuis les années 30, tous les gouvernements irakiens ont investi avec à-propos dans l'enseignement. Pour pouvoir étudier, il ne fallait pas être le fils d'un ministre. Des enfants de pauvres familles de paysans ont eux aussi pu faire des études. De ce fait, nous avons d'excellents ingénieurs, des médecins très capables, et que sais-je encore. Notre système d'enseignement était l'un des meilleurs du monde arabe. Dans les années 80, nous sommes arrivés à généraliser l'enseignement primaire pour tous les enfants irakiens et nous avons même reçu le prix de l'Unesco pour avoir complètement éradiqué l'analphabétisme.
Les Etats-Unis ont suivi tout cela d'un regard désapprobateur. Ils se sentaient menacés. Ils ne voulaient pas d'intellectuels en Irak. Avec les sanctions, aucune publication médicale n'a pu entrer en Irak durant 14 ans. De ce fait, nos médecins ne pouvaient se perfectionner. Les publications médicales seraient-elles des armes de destruction massive? Après 1991, on n'a plus admis d'Irakiens dans les universités occidentales. Je comprendrais peut-être encore qu'on n'admette plus des Irakiens dans des formations de mécanique ou d'électronique, car ces connaissances pourraient leur permettre de fabriquer des fusées. Mais des médecins, allons!
Manifestement, ils voulaient empêcher que la population irakienne atteigne un certain niveau de vie. Nous étions déjà beaucoup plus haut qu'ils ne le voulaient et, pour nous humilier, il fallait redescendre. C'est dans un tel contexte qu'il convient de situer la violence contre les intellectuels. Ainsi, il leur est plus facile de rabaisser la population.
On nous dit que les tensions entre sunnites et chiites augmentent et que les troupes américaines doivent rester sur place afin d'éviter une guerre civile.Ghazwan al-Mukhtar. Les Etats-Unis veulent précisément que chiites et sunnites en viennent aux mains. Car, dans ce cas, ils pourront dire: nous sommes les seuls, ici, à pouvoir encore arrêter cette violence. Ils ont dissous notre armée, notre police et nos services de sécurité. Ainsi, les Américains sont devenus la seule force encore à même de rétablir l'ordre. Ensuite, ils ont commencé à dresser les sunnites et les chiites les uns contre les autres. Dans l'histoire de l'Irak, nous n'avons encore jamais vécu cela. Depuis les années 40, il y a eu toute une série de ministres chiites et cela n'a jamais constitué un point de discorde. Les Américains ont été poussés à la défensive. Maintenant, ils essaient de s'en sortir avec la vieille tactique du «diviser pour régner».
* Christophe Callewaert est rédacteur à Indymedia.
"I don't have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think that they're a prehistoric group that is - yeah, there's excuses. Sure, they're terrorized, they've never known freedom, all of that. There's excuses. I understand. But I don't have to respect them because you know when you have Americans dying trying to, you know institute some kind of democracy there, and two percent of the people appreciate it, you know, it's time to - time to wise up. The big lesson is that we cannot intervene using ground troops in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do, is bomb the living daylights out of them, just like we did in the Balkans. Bomb the living daylights out of them. But no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds; ain't going to work They're just people who are primitive."
- Bill O' Reilly, leading news commentator on Fox TV
From: Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 5:25 PM
Subject: Response from Baghdad to O'reilly
I found your comments on the Iraqi people very unfortunate and shows your total lack of knowledge, and to say the least the lack of decency. Yes Mr. O’ reilly only 2%, now may be less, of the Iraqi people appreciate the presence of the American forces in Iraq. Those 2% of the people, most likely, came to Iraq on the back of the American tanks or were working for American forces or firms.
I need not to remind you, Mr. O’ reilly, that your American forces have detained more than one hundred thousand Iraqi in one year time. Your American forces have tortured hundreds of them. Your glorious American solders have killed other thousands in prison in cold blood. These atrocities are not rumours, Mr. O’reilly, these are documented in US government reports. I know, Mr. O’reilly, that you are free to disregard these reports, for what every reason you want, but these reports shows the atrocities committed by glorious forces in total violation of the “civilized” norms that hat you are trying to teach the “uncivilized” world. I am ‘sure, Mr. O’reilly, that more reports will come from the American government to tell the world that these barbaric actions were not done by only the “seven bad apples“ as you and the rest of the DOD wants the world to believe. I know that decent people in America will not let such atrocities be committed in their name.
Yes Mr. O’reilly, America can bomb the hell out of the innocent Iraqi people, which they do with their F15, F16 and the Apache helicopters. America can kill as much as they want and claim that they are killing “insurgents”. As an Iraqi living in Baghdad I feel very proud when America calls a 5 years old boy killed in the savage bombing as an “insurgent” it gives me the impression that every one, short of the CIA appointed gangs, are resisting the American occupation. Sadly, Mr. O’reilly, this gives me hope that a new resistance fighter has just been recruited.
I do understand, Mr. O’reilly, your point that we are a “prehistoric group”. I have no doubt that you know that the Iraqi people invented the writing and that the first laws in human history was written in Iraq nearly six thousand years ago. I am sure, Mr. O’reilly, that while your ancestors were hunting, or may be eating human flesh my ancestors were writing the laws and history. It looks to me that you consider history started when you ancestors learned to read and write not so many years go. I am sure, Mr. O’reilly, that it is best for your “cowboys” to “pack up” and leave. We will continue to sell oil to the world. I am sure, Mr. Oreilly, that the American ingenuity will find a way to convert the cow shit into bio-fuel and that way you don’t need us, or our oil, any ny more. One thing for sure, Mr. O’rielly, we in Iraq want Americans to get the shit out of Iraq.
Like Mr. Bush, you Mr. O’reilly, you can claim, falsely, that the Iraqi people will not be subject to torture any more now that we are “liberated”. While your Mr. Bush is bombing us daily into “democracy and freedom” you, Mr. O’reilly, could bomb the American audience with your hypocritical, slanderous and down right stupid reasons to kill more people. Mr. Oreilly you can fool some people some time but you can not fool all the people all the time.
A “prehistoric” citizen from occupied Iraq
|The U.S.: More Like Saddam Every Day the Occupation Continues|
|Written by Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar|
|Monday, 09 May 2005|
Year Review From Inside Occupied Iraq
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar is an engineer living in what America calls "liberated' Iraq" but what he calls "occupied Baghdad." Ghazwan has been an outspoken critic of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, he was also an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein. During our interview, which was conducted over email, Ghwazan noted that using the Internet was a problem because "electricity comes 2 hours (most likely less) and then goes off for 4 hours." Now that the two year anniversary of the U.S. invasion has passed the interview provides a useful historical review of how the occupation has unfolded as well as an informed perspective of whether Iraq is better or worse off today then prior to the occupation. The interview was conducted by Kevin Zeese of Democracy Rising.
Describe yourself, background and connection to Iraq.
Ghazwan: I am an engineer, a medical engineer who worked with, and not for, the Iraqi Ministry of Health. I am living in occupied Baghdad. I lived most of my 60 years in Iraq. I have been, for the last twelve years, active in the anti-sanctions and anti-war movement in Iraq. I devoted a lot of my time talking and exchanging ideas with foreign activists visiting Iraq. The war of 1991 forced me to close my engineering business and forced me to give myself an early retirement. I pride myself as an independent thinker with no connection to any political party in power. In addition to my experience I also draw on the experiences of my wife, a gynecologist who worked 30 years at the Ministry of Health.
What have you observed regarding the behavior of US troops and the reaction to them from the people of Baghdad?
Ghazwan: The American forces occupied my kids school at the beginning of the occupation. I repeatedly asked them to leave the school so that our kids can go back to classes. They refused. I had Al-Jazeera make a report on that and the troops still did not leave. I called CNN and took them to the school and they talked to the principal. I am not sure if they broadcast that. CBS was also invited by us to visit the school and again interviews with teachers, students and parents. Again I am not sure CBS conveyed the message. Out of desperation we led a demonstration to "free our school" from the American occupation. This time we did not rely on the American news media. We issued a press release that we will demonstrate and free our schools on May 3 rd 2003. The idea is that they can not occupy schools and convert them to military bases. WE MANAGED TO FREE OUR SCHOOL !!!! Many non-American papers did report the freeing of our school!
Looting started after the fall of Baghdad. Most of the hospitals in Baghdad were looted . The only hospital in Baghdad that was protected by the American forces was the "Al-Wasiti" hospital. This was done simply because a Reuter's correspondent, a British journalist injured before the fall of Baghdad, was in that hospital. For 3 days I kept going to that hospital, sometimes more than once a day, and each time I asked the Americans to do something about looting the other four nearby hospitals. Regrettably each time I asked them they refused to interfere or to call the responsible commanders to take action to stop the looting. I do not want to speculate as to WHY.
The US forces not only did not stop the looting and burning of hospitals and other official buildings but in fact encouraged it. US Secretary of Defense Rumsfield justified these actions by saying that the looting was "part of the price" for what the United States and Britain have called "the liberation of Iraq". Rumsfeld also made a comment that: " Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things ." His comment serves to highlight the attitude of the occupation authorities.
One of the first acts of the occupation authority was to dissolve the army and the police forces at a time when the country needed them most. After about two months of near total chaos, the occupation authorities created a new police force. This new police force depended mostly on new recruits without any experience and a few experienced former police officers. Police officers who were in service before the occupation were seen to be unfit for the "new" force because of their "alleged" association with the old regime. This policy deprived the police force of the experience of very highly qualified police officers.
By dissolving the police force and the army the US wanted to be "the only game in town" something that they regretted later. Ministries and state establishment were also dissolved. Government employees were kicked out of their jobs without being paid any compensation or social security benefit or retirement benefits. The lack of security and other services like electricity, water, sewage or reasonable health services reflected badly, or were attributed to the American occupation force. Things started to go from bad to worse. Most people started blaming America.
How has the occupation affected employment in Iraq and how have employment decision effected reconstruction?
Unemployment has risen dramatically since the occupation. There are an estimated five million Iraqis who are unemployed . The current unemployment rate is 60% of the total population, compared to 30% before the war . This rapid increase in unemployment is largely the result of the CPA's "de-Ba'athification" campaign, meaning the decision to disband Iraq's military and dismantle much of Iraq's state bureaucracy. This put 750,000 people out of work . The destruction and looting of factories, the inability to find spare parts needed to fix them, the general lawlessness, and the lack of electricity and fuel resulted in additional closure of factories adding to the number of unemployed. This high level of unemployment fueled the insurgency by putting many angry young men on the street.
U.S. reconstruction policy - importing contractors rather than hiring Iraqis fuels economic problems in Iraq. Fewer than 25,000 Iraqis are working on projects in the U.S. reconstruction efforts. In fact the Bush administration concedes that less than one percen t of Iraq's workforce of seven million is currently involved in the reconstruction process. Most of Iraq's reconstruction has been contracted out to American companies, rather than Iraqi or regional companies . This practice helps to maintain Iraq's high unemployment rate. Obviously, this has a disastrous impact on Iraq's economy.
To make matters worse, the work to date has proceeded far too slowly, AND it is extremely expensive, but of substandard quality. After 24 months of occupation hundreds of government buildings are still destroyed. We Iraqis see NO visible sign of ongoing work on these buildings. Local contractors and government contracting companies are capable and qualified to do the reconstruction work. Money for these reconstruction projects is available. As of June 22, 2004 the CPA had used "less than 2 percent of the reconstruction money lawmakers provided. The funds were meant to finance everything from training Iraqi police to starting small businesses to rebuilding the country's electric, water, health, and oil production facilities."
The need is there, the manpower is there, the material is there, and the money is there. However, the will and the decision to start the reconstruction AND hence reduce the unemployment are, regrettably, not there. Unemployment will continue to be above 50% until and unless meaningful and honest efforts are made to carry out the reconstruction.
Describe the health care system in Iraq.
Before August 1990, the health care system in Iraq was based on an extensive and developed network of primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities. After 1990, the situation of the health care system changed drastically. The Gulf War, followed by more than 10 years of sanctions has resulted in significant damage to the health care network.
Because of the current situation, the health facilities are dealing with a severe shortage of critically needed items and supplies. The poor environmental quality, reported malnutrition and difficult socioeconomic conditions have seriously aggravated this health situation.
The situation in Baghdad's hospitals is critical, particularly in terms of unhygienic and unsafe working conditions , according to a recent survey by the US-based Medicine For Peace (MFP) NGO. The looting, the lack of security, the lack of planning for improvement all lead to further deteriorating medical services.
To complicate the health crises more than 100 doctors have been kidnapped for ransom by criminal gangs in Iraq since the occupation. Countless doctors and scientist were threatened and forced to flee from Iraq. Indeed, a few hundred highly qualified doctors ran away from the country not because of the tyranny of Saddam but because of the lack of security in the American run Iraq.
During the period of economic sanctions the Iraqi medical colleges were able to train more than 2,000 specialist's doctors despite US and UK embargo on medical journals and books coming into the country. This intellectual genocide is unprecedented in history.
To complicate the health situation further after the occupation the sewage and water systems stopped working properly. The whole city sewage system is not working. Reasons? Lack of electricity to drive sewage pumps, spare parts for sewage stations, specialized sewage trucks with vacuum pumps for maintenance.... and most importantly the will and the decision to improve and fix things. This is lacking under the current government.
Before the occupation we had 800 garbage trucks now we have 80 . Why? Do we wait for the World Bank, US AID, or Bechtel to rehire the 720 drivers or to buy new trucks? We had money until $8.8 Billion went missing and unaccounted for by the CPA!!!! By the way this $8.8 is enough to feed all the 26 million Iraqis for more than 60 months of the current food ration!!! [See http://democracyrising.us/content/view/28/74/ for the facts on the missing $8.8 Billion of Coalition Provisional Authority dollars and discussion of other problems with the economics of the occupation.]
Can the United States win the hearts and minds of Iraqis?
Ghazwan: Not preventing the looting and occupying schools are totally unacceptable and is illegal because it is the duty of the occupying force to withhold the law and order. Dissolving the police and the army and the resultant chaotic situation is a good indication that America started on the wrong footing in Iraq.
Stories about American soldiers stealing money from the poor Iraqis started to emerge very soon after the occupation. The first thing that Americans did was to grant themselves total immunity from prosecution and Iraqi courts were not allowed to hear any complaint against the Americans and those working for them. This deprived the Iraqis the right to seek legal action for crimes committed against them by the American force.
Arrests and detention became more frequent and stories of human rights abuse became widely known "secrets." I personally handed Amnesty International delegations visiting Baghdad around end of May 2003 pictures of torture by the American forces. Even Arab media were afraid to cover such stories until the CBS pictures were released. The graphic images we kept seeing for months helped to inflame the resentment to the way Americans were treating the Iraqi detainees.
Saddam used Abu Ghraib prison to torture prisoners. In November 2002 all prisoners in Iraq were released and Abu Ghraib prison was closed. The Americans reopened the prison again and started torturing Iraqis more savagely. It is now more appropriate to call it Abu Gulag!!! To add insult to injury we were told that those actions are done by "the seven bad apples" and they want us to believe that!!! The torture migrated, or was it illegally smuggled!!!, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to Iraq. I think that lie was the straw that broke the camels back.
The attack on Falluja, the US use of chemical weapons against it civilian population , the total destruction of the city of 350,000 people and making them refuges did more to increase the resentment exponentially. Now we are reading that there is a video CD, created by members of the US forces, called "Ramadi madness" this does not surprise me at all. It is only another example of the American madness
One British journalist wrote in The Economist an article "When deadly force bumps into hearts and minds ". He gives examples how and why Americas lost the battle to win the hearts and mind. He is one of the few "embedded", and not "inbeded", reporters who had the courage to report what he sees. His name was withheld by The Economist probably fearing he might be shut out by the Americans.
What can you tell us about civilian deaths in Iraq?
It is very hard to know the exact human cost of the occupation of Iraq. The U.S. military refuses to monitor or even estimate the number of Iraqi civilian casualties. Gen. Tommy Franks says, "We don't do body counts." Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S. Military, said U.S. forces do not have the capacity to track Iraqi civilian casualties. According to the Associated Press, the American-appointed Iraqi Minister of Health "has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far." The official who oversaw the count provided this information.
Iraq Body Count, a group of academics and researchers, has compiled a comprehensive account of civilian casualties during the war. IBC researchers have determined that as of May, 2005, somewhere between 21,447 and maximum 24,324 civilians have been killed as a direct result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation of Iraq. Other researchers put the estimate over 100,000 civilian deaths.
Data from past wars shows us that the number of wounded in war is about three times as many killed. This means that approximately 65,000 Iraqis may have been wounded as of May 2005. However, Iraq's hospitals and health system have been understaffed and overwhelmed throughout the war, meaning that the actual number could be even higher. Months ago, Medact, an organization dedicated to alleviating the health effects of war, estimates that at least 40,000 Iraqis have been injured.
During "major combat" operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed. The nature of the fighting has made it difficult to distinguish civilians from fighters. The Pentagon provides day-to-day estimates of insurgent deaths, but Iraqis on the ground claim that occupying forces unfairly categorize civilians as insurgents. For example, during the spring 2004 siege of Fallujah, over 600 Iraqis were killed. Rahul Mahajan, a journalist reporting from Fallujah during that period, estimated that the dead included 100 children and 200 women. However, the U.S. commander of the operation, without visiting any hospitals or cemeteries, insisted that of the 600 killed, "95 percent of those were military age males."
Can you compare Iraq today with Iraq under Saddam Hussein?
I will not try to proportionate the blame between Saddam and America for the ills that happened to us, the Iraqi people, since I believe the civilized world should not have turned the blind eye to the blight of the Iraqi people just because the ills were done by Saddam. Probably the civilized world is more guilty than Saddam because Saddam was a known dictator long before the Gulf War stated in 1991. Some of those civilized and bleeding hearts were in Baghdad meeting Saddam, shaking his hand and later on supported him in his war against Iran. They totally disregarded Saddam's human rights abuse for their political gains. I am sure you know that I am referring to the visit in 1983 and 1984 by none other than Donald Rumsfield who aligned his country, the USA, to a dictator like Saddam.
One basic measure that highlights how Iraq is doing is food supplies. During the 1980s Iraq had one of the highest levels of per capita food availability in the Middle East. Calorie availability data from FAO food balance sheets show an increase from 1,958 kcal in 1961 to approximately 3,200 kcal during 1984 - 1990. The latter figure exceeds the estimated average caloric requirement of the Iraqi population of 2,250 kcal per person/day.
Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Common diets are believed to have had ample levels of most nutrients; in fact, the rate of obesity was on the increase. Food items not produced locally were widely available and sold at subsidized price by the Government of Iraq (GOI).
Production and importation of food declined rapidly in 1990 when comprehensive trade sanctions drastically reduced the country's purchasing power. The trade sanctions had several negative effects: increase in the inflation rate (the price of food soared), and an increase in the rate of unemployment. Existing salaries and benefits did not reflect the inflation rate. Poverty became widespread.
The previous diet became unattainable for most Iraqis. Deprivation changed the food habits of most people. Rationing further influenced these habits. In an attempt to address the food security crisis, GOI re-introduced a public food rationing system in September 1990. GOI rationed wheat flour, rice, sugar, vegetable oil, lentils, tea, and milk powder. The composition of the ration over 1990-1997 changed several times, reflecting GOI's declining financial capacity to provide food for its population.
The availability of food increased in successive phases of the Oil for Food Programme, providing, on average, 2,000 -2,200 kcal per person.
Routine distribution of food on this scale is in itself a massive logistic operation that appears to work flawlessly. Some 24 million people (20.5 million in the south/centre and 3.5 million in northern Iraq), or roughly 3.7 million families currently receive an average of 2,230 kcal per person per day (kcal/p/d).
Since 1997, 60% of households interviewed in Iraq were totally dependant on the ration system and reported that rations lasted less than 20 days. Iodized salt, pulses and rice are depleted the fastest, while sugar and wheat flour last the longest.
As Iraqis used to have much greater access to higher quantities and quality of food, cultural patterns of food preference and eating habits likely influence the acceptability of current diets. In order to make an assessment of the Oil for Food Programme, we would need to look at the Programme in a broader context.
Another interesting way to look at Iraq today is oil. We have the third largest oil reserves in the world. Yet, we have an added crisis right now of petrol. Iraq was an exporting country of diesel fuel and refined oil products. Since the occupation, we have been importing oil from Turkey. No one fixes the refineries. There is a huge queue of cars waiting to get oil or petrol. And the U.S. Congress said in May 2003, seven out of 18 governmentals had more than 16 hours of electricity. Now we are getting two hours of electricity right in Baghdad.
For a more complete description of the conditions before and after the U.S. invasion and occupation please see my report: http://www.iacenter.org/wct_ghazwan.htm.
What was your reaction -- and the reaction of other Iraqi's -- to the recent election? Do you consider it to be a legitimate election?
I do not believe that the election was legitimate, the election was held under the occupation. The occupying power has modified the basic rules in Iraq as to who is an Iraqi and who is not. The election was shoved down our throat because all the major parties, including Allawi's party, requested that the election be postponed. That was in November. And before even the independent electoral commission could decide on the request, President Bush said he does not want the election to be postponed and Ambassador Negroponte said, oddly enough from Fallujah that the elections will be held on January 30. It is an Iraqi election, it is not a U.S. election, it is not Negroponte's election, it is the Iraqi people's election. So, if the Iraqi parties wanted to postpone the election, they should have been able to do so without the interference of the United States government.
Anyway, the election was forced down our throat, a lot of people boycotted it. The Sunnis boycotted the elections. Some of the Shias boycotted it. Muktadar Al Sadr faction boycotted the election. Al Khalaf faction boycotted the election. There is a resistance to the occupation in Iraq. This resistance stems from the fact that our life has been, for the last 24 months, deteriorating day and night and we have not seen any improvement in our condition for the last 24 months, nor that anything has been reconstructed. The telephone system is bad, the electricity is worse, the security condition is worse. A lot of people are saying, why do I vote? What does the government do for me? They did absolutely nothing. The shocking thing is that the conditions after 24 months of occupation are a lot worse in every single aspect of life than with Saddam Hussein, after 12 years of sanction.
I did not vote and I will not vote to any one of those people who came on the back of the American banks and their military.
Are you taking a risk speaking out against the US government occupation?
Gwahzan: I do not only
criticize the United States occupation. I also criticized Saddam. I called him a ruthless dictator. He did
not arrest me. On the otherhand when America destroyed our telephone system in 2003 they set up a small
mobile system which they used and shared with NGO. We called it the (914) system, a US number with country
code 1, and was ran by MCI. My wife was working as a doctor for the UNDP so she was issued this 914
telephone. Amy Goodman from Democracy Now sent me a message to give her a phone number so they could call
for interview. I gave her my wife's number (cheep local call!!) she called and we talked about the
situation in Iraq. Two days later the phone went dead and was never reactivated again. I think BIG BROTHER
did not like what I said. Democracy?
In comparing Saddam with US actions there are remarkable similarities. Both Iraq and Iran had and used chemical weapons in their war. The United States and the United Kingdom assisted, encouraged, armed, priovided intelligence and protected Iraq in the UN during Iraq's war with Iran for their own political and economic goals. Iraq used gas in Halabja then the two governments, UK and US, made every effort to cover-up facts, again for their political and economic interests.
Iraq was on the Amnesty International list for human rights violations for decades. For 20 years, the UK and US government told us that, Saddam Hussein, and the government, was "not so bad." They ignored human right abuses for their political and economic self interest.
It was not until 1990 that the US and UK governments started talking about 30,000+ political prisoners and human rights abuses. Where were they for 20 years!
During the Gulf War the allies deliberately bombed vital civilian targets like water purification plants, sewage systems, electricity, irrigation, hospitals, roads... in violation of UN conventions. Such facilities are essential for the civilian population. I am not going to tell you about the unjustified killing on the highway of death nor talk about the use of depleted uranium and its disastrous long-term effects. [See Iraq War Facts section on history of Iraq http://democracyrising.us/content/view/48/74/ for further discussion of these issues.]
The economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq for more than 10 years. These sanctions have caused any were between 500,000 to 1.5 million additional deaths, nearly 300,000 children less than 5 years old. Add up all of the civilians killed by Saddam and there would be less than 500,000 deaths. The U.S. has certainly killed more Iraqi civilians since 1991.
Regarding Saddam, I will accept any figure you wish to quote for political prisoners. While Saddam's atrocities cannot be justified let me make the following distinction: The political prisoners are adults who decided willingly to oppose the government knowing the fact that their action is punishable by death. The same thing CANNOT be said for the nearly 300,000 children under five they are too young to know the responsibility - killed by economic sanctions. With the economic sanctions the American and the British governments took all the 20+ million Iraq's as hostages for over 11 years.
While Saddam denied the Iraqi people of their political rights The UK-USA-UN have denied the people of Iraq most of their other rights, namely the right to have decent education, clean water, medical health through the economic sanctions. And, now with the war and occupation not only have these basic necessities continued to be taken from us but now our political rights are being taken as well.
One is free to accuse Saddam of anything they want, America has accused him of September 11, Anthrax and weapons of mass destruction to justify invading Iraq - only to find out that it is not true.
Saddam tortured the Iraqi people. The Bush Army used the same prison and tortured the Iraqi people. Pictures speak louder than words.
Saddam is accused of using poison gas, but according to the American appointed ministry of health offical the Bush Army not only destroyed Fallujja BUT "gased" the Iraqi people See: www.fpp.co.uk/online/05/02/Rumsfeld_Anklage_4.html
Saddam killed people and burried them in mass graves. See what the Americans did http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0211/sloyan.html
What else are we going to findout!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While Saddam Hussein's actions could be looked at as stupid acts of a dictator I wish I could say the same on the actions of elected and civilized governments who imposed a genocidal sanctions on 20+ million Iraqi's and then illegally invaded and occupied our country.
If there were a national vote on whether the United States should continue to have a military and corporate presence in Iraq how do you think Iraqi's would vote?
So, all those factors will indicate that the people are discontented, the people are resentful of the presence of the American forces, that the people are dissatisfied with the occupation, because they have not seen any improvement in their life. Unemployment is very high; it's at about 60%. People are starving. This is the basis for the resistance. It's not the Mussabu Al Zarqawi and Abu, I don't know who, or the terrorists coming from the outside of Iraq. It is the indigenous Iraqi resistance. While we were told that Saddam Hussein was torturing us, we are finding after 22 months that the Americans are torturing us, the British are torturing us, the Danish are torturing us and now we discover that the Iraqi forces, the ING is torturing us. So, instead of one having one torturer, now we have four torturers. And you want us to be happy with the election.
Written by Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar
Thursday, 26 May 2005
Abu: "The father of" in Arabic.
Gulag: The worst type of prison.
With the migration of torture from Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib evolved into Abu Gulag. With the protection of those responsible for the U.S. torture policy it has become Abu American lies.
In the late 1950s the Iraqi government commissioned an American consulting firm to design and build a modern prison in Baghdad. It was decided that the nearby agricultural area of "Abu Ghraib" was the best place to build the prison. We had our American designed "model" prison in the early 60's.
Like many police forces in the world the Iraqi police forces had "detention" centers inside the police station where suspects are kept. It is at these police stations that interrogations are done. These interrogations were supposed to be supervised by interrogation judges from the ministry of justice. In most cases suspects continued to be the responsibility of the ministry of interior until the end of trials. Once sentenced to prison the criminal was handed over to the ministry of social affairs which is responsible for Abu Ghraib prison and others.
Iraq Security police and the Iraqi intelligence agency "Mukhabarat" and other security forces each has their own "detention" centers and interrogating judges independent from the ones at the local police stations or Abu Ghraib prison.
It is most likely that at these "detention" centers human rights are violated or "torture" is used to extract "confessions" to be "used" in the court to put "criminals" at Abu Ghraib prison. "Convicted" criminals, prisoners, very seldom were re-interrogated in the prison hence very seldom were "tortured" at Abu Ghraib prison. In most cases torture was done before the prisoner was sent to Abu Ghraib to serve a sentence issued by a court.
Under Saddam, the notoriety of Abu Ghraib prison was in fact due to the very large number of prisoners in death row rather than "torture." Since 1980 laws were introduced or amended to make more crimes punishable by capital punishment. Some laws were strange. Breaking into a house for stealing carries the death penalty if it is done at night while the same crime committed during the day carries a less penalty. Drug cases were also another example. Courts in Iraq were obliged to follow these laws.
The increased number of executions at Abu Ghraib was mostly attributed to the increase number of crimes punishable by death and due to the socio-economic crises that Iraq went through during Iraq-Iran war, 1991 Gulf War and the 13 years of economic sanctions.
In November 2002 Saddam surprised everyone by freeing all prisoners in prisons as well as those in detention centers and police stations. Criminals arrested that day were actually released some without literally setting a foot in the police stations. That day I saw TV reports of journalist going through the empty Abu Ghraib prison. I also saw relatives of detainees waiting for family members at one of the known interrogation centers of the fearful Mukhabarat.
After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 people looted what ever was left in Abu Ghraib prison, doors, window frames - anything they could put their hands on. It is fair to say that after one week of looting Abu Ghraib was not fit to be used for anything. Similarly police stations and their small detention cells and other interrogation centers were looted and burned. The Iraqi police force was dissolved and the American armed forces were the "only game in town." The American forces started arresting common criminals, people suspected of resistance activities, sometimes people suspected of nothing and they needed "detention centers" and "interrogation centers" outside their military camps. This forced them into using the Abu Ghraib prison after fixing it.
Under the American control Abu Ghraib was transformed from a prison to a "detention and interrogation" center. American forces lacking the language skill, the cultural understanding and sheer volume of detainees were frustrated by the lack of progress in getting the intelligence information they needed. This frustration led to the "migration" of interrogation methods developed in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. This was the beginning of the Abu Gulag prison. It is at that time that the father of the worst prisons was created in Iraq by the American forces.
Saddam's Abu Ghraib was a jail of convicted criminals - at least there was an appearance that they were convicted in Saddam's courts. The American Abu Gulag was a place where people were detained with no judicial orders and detainees were tortured to speedily extract information from them.
Three factors contributed to the atrocities at the American Abu Gulag. Firstly, America shielded its people of any legal responsibility under Iraqi law. This blanket immunity encouraged American forces and American civilian contractors to violate the law without being prosecuted in Iraq or answering to their atrocities. Secondly, U.S. officially "migrated," meaning approved, authorized, these inhuman interrogation techniques. Thirdly, the U.S. intimidated Arab media from even talking about such things. I provided information and photos to Arab media outlets and they would not touch it because of U.S. pressure. In August/September 2003 I approached Al-Arabia satellite station in Baghdad about a torture story. I was told by the station director in Baghdad that they have instructions from the American forces not to cover such subjects. I went to Al-Jazeera office and they agreed to send a reporter with me. I documented the torture story in the presence of an American lawyer, Al-Jazeera was reluctant to broadcast the story. Eventually Dahr Jamail broke the story along with pictures and information I provided.
Torture and human rights abuses apparently were common even before the official "migration" of the interrogation rules. Now we know that the U.S. Navy seals had pictures of human rights violations in May 2003. I know that Amnesty International was handed different pictures of torture also in May 2003 when they were visiting Baghdad.
President Bush told the Iraqi people and the world that Iraqis will not be tortured again since he has deposed the dictator, Saddam who tortured his people. For one year we the Iraqi people tried hard to believe him. Then when the Abu Gulag pictures were made public we were told over and over that those responsible for what happened to our countrymen would be held accountable. But now, one year later, those who signed the decrees authorizing torture, and those like President Bush himself, who were told by human rights groups about the torture, have not been held accountable. We are now told that what was done was by few people taking the "law" into their own hands and were actually just "seven bad apples." But, we are not fools - we know an Abu Lie when we hear one.
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar is an engineer living in what America calls "liberated' Iraq" but what he calls "occupied Baghdad."
Tuesday, 31 May 2005
Many historians consider Iraq as the cradle of civilization. It was in
Iraq that of writing was invented. It was in Iraq that the great Hammurabi's Code of Laws was first
engraved. Iraq was the birthplace of Abraham, father of the Jews and the Arabs.
The territory now called Iraq was the center of the greatest powers of the day. At other times it was conquered by Alexander the Great, ravaged by the Mongols and dominated by empires based in Persia, Turkey, Britain and now the United States.
One of the first acts of the American occupation authorities in Iraq
is the destruction of the tomb
of Michael Aflaq, an Arab nationalist philosopher and a founder of the Arab Baath party which
ruled Iraq. This savage act was totally unwarranted and unjustified. It reminds us of the barbaric
actions of the Mongols centuries ago. Regrettably this twenty first century barbarism is practiced
in the name of "freedom," "democracy," "liberation"
and "human rights." What makes this barbaric action even worse is that it is done by an "elected" government which tells the world that its actions are taken in the name of the American people.
I do not blame the American people for not knowing what atrocities are being committed in their name. I watch U.S. network news so I know Americans are not told what is really going on in Iraq.
During WWI (1914-1919) the British army fought military battles with the Ottoman (Turkish) armies that were stationed in Iraq. Many thousands were killed and buried in Iraq from both sides.
We have British cemeteries in Basra, Kut and in Baghdad where approximately 54,000 Commonwealth troops are buried. We have a cemetery for the Indian soldiers who fought with the British army. We also have the Turkish cemetery in Baghdad.
For over 90 years since the establishment of these cemeteries the Iraqi governments and the Iraqi people respected the sanctity of these graves. In those 90 years Baghdad expanded so much that these cemeteries became a prime property and were obstructing the full development of badly needed project. Despite this the government of Iraq respected its humanitarian obligation to protect these cemeteries.
In fact in April 2002, a year before the attack on Iraq, the Iraqi government approved the restoration of the Australian cemetery despite all the problems of the first Gulf War and the 12 years of sanctions.
Mr. Peter Francis, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said: "The (Iraqis) said that the government of Iraq attached great importance to the longstanding War Graves Agreements between it and the commission and that it was ready to provide whatever assistance the commission required to carry out its work in Iraq."
Our 7000 years of history and civilization have taught us to respect the sanctity of death and a respect to the graves of dead people irrespective whether they are natives, occupiers or enemy soldiers. These values are shared with other civilized people around the world.
Jon Lee Anderson writing in the New Yorker about a visit he had to the British cemetery in Baghdad days before the American invasion. His last paragraph was "As we were walking out of the cemetery, we passed an obelisk with the inscription 'Here are the honoured Turkish soldiers who fell for their country in the Great War, 1914-1918.' When I pointed this out to Khalid, he seemed confused, and I explained that the obelisk had been erected by the British to honor their enemies. He smirked. 'So, the British have honor!' he said, and he walked away, then turned back. 'Maybe they will do the same for us, after they have killed us. Thank you very much.'"
I hate to disappoint my friend Khalid. The American army did not respect nor honored the Iraqi soldiers died fighting for their country they let them rot in the streets. The Americans did not allow the Red Cross to enter Fallujah for days after their "liberation" of the city. Dead people we left to rot in the runes of their houses without burying them of moving them mortuary.
The American administrator for Iraq Mr. L. Bremer elected to "teach" the Iraqis his set of values. He justified leveling "the tomb to earth." by his desire to "eradicate the Baath party." His barbaric action and "cowboy" mentality is so strange to the civilized world and would not even be accepted in his "wild wild west." It is by any standard and for any reason a barbaric act.
June 14 2005
The US backed AlSabaah newspaper published in Baghdad reported on the Medical Drugs situation in Iraq. In its article “Medical centers suffers a decline in the number of patients” published 6 June 2005 it draws a very gloomy picture of the medical services in Iraq 2 years after the occupation.
The article states that “A team of experts recently assessed the medical drugs situation and found out an alarming (fearful) shortage of certain drugs”. The report stated that out of 900 basic drugs needed 401 (45%) of them are totally unavailable while another 350 (39%) drugs are in a very short supply and what is available would last for only “few week”. The report did not mention the stock situation of the other 149 (17%).
The report quoting the ministry of health as saying that the ministry could not provide 26 (81%) drugs out of 32 drugs used for the treatment of patients with chronic illness. Those are patients with illness like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac diseases that must be maintained for a long time on medications.
The report states that large quantities of “anesthetic drugs, antibiotics and cancer treatment drugs disappeared”. Ministry of health sources attributed the situation to the chaotic situation resulting from the reorganization of the ministry of health after the occupation as well as the problems between the ministry of health, the ministry of finance and the banks causing a delay in opening letters of credits needed to import drugs.
Dr. Ali Abdul Hussein, director of Al-Noor medical center in Baghdad, was quoted as saying that the most prominent problem faced in this center is the shortage of certain drugs as well as the unavailability of others. This has created problems with patients and their families. He goes on to say that drugs supplied to the medical center would last only 10 days of every month.
Similar complaints were echoed by Dr. Reid Al-Marouh, the assistant director of Al-Mustansyreah specialist medical clinic in Baghdad. The center is attended by an average of 300 patients a day most of them are sent home with prescription to buy from the private pharmacies because the center lacks most of the drugs. The drugs supplied would only last one to two weeks a month. Sometimes the have even shortages of simple drugs like Aspirin or Paracetamol.
During the 1980s the government established “Martyr court” pharmacies which were supplied with certain type of drugs to be sold (rather than given free at the hospitals). These types of government run pharmacies were another source of medical drugs Iraqis depended on. It continued to fill the shortages during the 13 years of sanctions.
According to Dr. Jawad Abdulallah of “Martyr court” pharmacy No. 4 in Baghdad the pharmacy “became just a word with no meaning” because we are unable to supply drugs that are unavailable at other pharmacies as we used to do. He was quoted as saying “We do not have drugs to regulate the hormones, or infertility drugs, or high potency antibiotics”. Dr. Abdulallah attributes the problem to the ministry of health.
The article published in the US backed newspaper cover only the question of the availability, more precisely the unavailability, of medical drugs after 2 years of occupation. Several reports were published concerning the catastrophic condition of hospitals as a result of the occupation. The chaotic security conditions and the lack of effective functioning government contributed further to deteriorating medical services. Doctors at hospitals were attacked by frustrated patients or even by the American trained Iraqi National Guards. Doctors were threatened or kidnapped forcing many of the highly qualified doctors to quit and leave the country.
The destruction of the essential services like clean water, sewage, electricity are contributing to spread of diseases. This means more people require medical services which puts more pressure on the already poorly functioning health system.
According to WHO reports Health Situation in Iraq (1990) was “one of the best in the Middle-East Region.”. The UN report states that “Before August 1990, the health care system in Iraq was based on an extensive and developed network of primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities. These facilities were linked among themselves and with the community by a large fleet of ambulances and service vehicles, and by a good communications network facilitating referral to the next level of the health care system. It was estimated by the Government of Iraq (GOI) that 97% and 79% of the urban and rural populations, respectively, had access to health care. While the system tended to emphasize curative aspects, it was complemented by a set of public health activities that included, among others, malaria control, an expanded programme of immunizations (EPI) and tuberculosis control activities.”
The decline in the health service standards from what it was in 1990 have resulted in the death of no less than 500000 child under the age of 5 years due to the UK USA sanctions. A further decline in health services as a result of the current occupation is causing the silent death of thousands of innocent civilians mostly children. This chaotic health system can not be justified under any circumstances. I think UK USA stands for United to Kill US All this time silently. Now they do not have Saddam to blame!!!! Would they have the courage to blame themselves or their client state for this crime? I don’t think so.
From: Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, 28 September 2008.
To: President George W. Bush
Dear Mr. President, I am writing to you because I know that your letter to President Talabani and others will not be answered. I suspect that they are busy jockeying for power and the wealth of my country Iraq. As an Iraqi citizen I have taken the liberty to reply for them.
Mr. President, I am writing to you on a matter of grave importance. It’s hard to express how deep the humanitarian crisis in Iraq today. There are nearly 3 million Iraqi refugees living in poverty in surrounding countries. Another 2 millions are internally displaced. Those who lucky not to be forced out of their houses are living in darkness because the electricity generated now is less than that before the fall of Baghdad more than 5 years ago.
To compound the misery of the Iraqi people your friends, Talabani and Maliki, are starving the civilian population of Iraq. Through corruption and inefficiency the food ration system provides now less than that before the fall of Baghdad. The food ration system was installed in 1991 in response to your father’s war on Iraq. The UN said then that the Iraqi food ration system was “the most equitable food distribution”. More than 80% of the population is dependent on the system. It was less than 60% before your war of terror 2003.
Probably your friends, Talabani and Maliki, are too ashamed to tell you that the people of “the land between the two rivers” do not have clean drinking water. As a result now Cholera epidemic is killing hundreds of poor Iraqis mostly children. Last year Cholera started in “Al Qaeda free” Kurdistan. This year it started south of Baghdad and is speeding fast. Your friends, Mr. President, deny it but the death is continuing.
The Sick and injured civilians in Iraq can not find the proper medical care that they used to enjoy in the past. Nearly half of the Iraqi doctors have fled the country for their own safety. I know, Mr. President that you do not like to be reminded that John Hopkins School of Public Heath study which estimated that more than one million Iraqis died then, because of your war of terror on Iraqis. That is a fact my friend that is a fact.
I know Mr. President that you are now interested in the economic conditions in your county which you called the economic 911. I totally agree with you, that it is too much for America to spend One billion dollars a day in Iraq. America could save hundreds of billion of dollars by pulling your troop out of my country. I am sure that the billions saved could be a great boost to the American economy. It could used to help rebuilding New Orleans, or Galveston. I do trust your wisdom of knowing what to do with the saved Billions.
Do not misunderstand me, Mr. President; I do appreciate Americans effort to establishing the “New Iraqi Army”. What I am criticizing is the wisdom of dissolving the “Old Iraqi Army”. Iraq had compulsory military service which made the “old Army” a truly representative of the Iraqi society. Everybody, irrespective of his ethnicity, or religious sect served in the “Old Army”. It was The Notational Army. What we have created now is an ethnic, secretion and sometimes party affiliated “New Iraqi Army” units. Probably you know that the separate Kurdish parties have separate military units of the “New Iraqi Army”. Those unite follow orders from their respective parties and not the Central government in Baghdad.
I find it strange, Mr. President that you talk about constitutions being imposed on the Arab people by kings or dictators. The current Iraqi constitution was written by Noah Fieldman and was imposed on us by the Americans and not by Arab kings or dictators. It was cosmetically modified to ensure its acceptance. So far after 2 years the parliamentary committee has proposed modification to 60 of the 142 articles. I am sure that the committee will continue quarreling for the next few years without reaching agreement on the supposedly our “Noah Fieldman” constitution.
No doubt you know the Iraqi government has accumulated more than 80 billion dollars deposited in US banks. They have the money to help the poor Iraqi refugees. It is just that your friends do not give a damn. They are busy running their corruption racket. For two years in a row Iraq occupied the top of the list of the most corrupt governments ahead only of the war lords run Somalia and the military Junta in Myanmar.
Mr. President, Iraq does not need a new oil law to give long term concessions to your oil companies. Iraq in 1980 exported twice as much as the current export figures. Few short term service contracts will double our production in a very short time. Even your best Iraqi friends, Talabani and Maliki, could not accept conditions put to them by the American companies. They activated a Saddam era service contract with the China. Mr. President, we owe it to future generation of Iraqis to safeguard their wealth. It is important that Iraq oil should be explored wisely and rationally. It is important also to keep the oil in the ground if for nothing else to safely keep it away from the hands of the Thieves of Baghdad.
Finally, Mr. President, even your friends in Baghdad, Talabani and Maliki, want the US forces to leave Iraq by 2011. My question, to you and to the American people, are you going to impose yourself on the Iraqi people? Are you going to continue to be un-welcomed guests in our country? I know that no self-respecting American would agree to stay.
It takes courage, Mr. President, to admit a mistake. It is even more courageous to take actions to correct the mistake. Please have the courage to order the withdrawal of your troop from Iraq now before someone else makes that decision. It will save your legacy and will show you as a courageous leader.
I pray to God almighty to open your eyes to see the facts and give you the wisdom.
Ordinary Iraqi Citizen, member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee.