Friday, August 14, 2009

WWB: civilian casualties from shootings

WHAT WAR BRINGS: civilian casualties from military shootings

Photo: "I hate the Americans," said Sufian Neda, 9, who was wounded when U.S. troops and insurgents traded gunfire near Baghdad. (By Ernesto LondoƱo -- The Washington Post)

Of course in every war and occupation, there will be cases of civilians being shot and killed by the superior military force. They really have no protection from that. The civilians just have to take it. Many civilians have been killed in Iraq and a significant number has been killed in Afghanistan too. In Pakistan, there are no US troops shooting at civilians, but there are drone attacks that have killed hundreds.

One blogger in Mosul told about her great uncle being shot by US troops. He was out driving his car, and he was unarmed. This happened in March 2006. This incident was never reported in regular news outlets and never made it into any US reports that were obtained by the ACLU…. I know because I checked.

Here is the blogger’s report:

We need help to stop the violence, and the disrespect of the humanity. I am giving some of the details about my relative's accident to seek for help, and investigation. On Wednesday afternoon about 5 pm. My dear grand uncle was shot by many American bullets from the right side while he was driving his car (Dark brown" Opel\vectra", model 1991.), in a residential neighborhood, "Al Tairan ". The report of the forensic doctor mentioned that the victim was turning his head toward the left, when he got the first bullet on his neck (that one caused immediate death), the other was in his upper right side of his chest, and the third bullet was on his upper part of his right arm. Such accidents, I mean shooting innocent people, had been repeated to a large extent that turned the appreciation of the Iraqis toward the American liberation from Saddams' regimen to hate or violence or at least suspicious about the intentions of the Americans' coexistence in Iraq

There are many more like this incident. I received the following information from an email sent to me by an Iraqi-American who posts at Daily Kos.

We all read about stories of horrors by soldiers in Colorado telling and explaining how being deployed in Iraq has affected their entire life, and if you did not here is the link.

As I was reading, I was feeling the pain in my heart toward both sides. Iraqis who were getting shot and killed left and right and those soldiers who were sent to hell for no reason at all and left them suffer what they suffer. It is really hard to have living heart that try to empathize and sympathize with both sides and that’s why I sometimes wish if I had a dead heart so I would not go through the pain and wonder who’s fault and who is to be blamed? Asking though is really the easy part of that.

I know a soldier who is a father of a very beautiful girl and a husband of a gorgeous wife. This guy was deployed to Iraq and came back to the States due to some injury. Every time I see this soldier and say to him hi I get that urging question to ask “how many Iraqi civilians did you kill?”. I know he has to defend his life and others. I know that he is doing his job but I am not talking about those terrorists who point their guns against the troops, or blow themselves and kill civilians. I am talking about those people who were in the wrong place on the wrong time. Those like my friend’s dad, Hamza.

Hamza was in his early fifties, still young to die. Any one is too young to die, especially if he was a loving father, a caring husband and beloved person by his community like Hamza. There was a rule of thumb over there in Iraq which it said that if you saw an American convoy, stay away from it as far as possible. Because you never know what would happen. And it was really a scary thing to share the road with the troops. Hamza knew about that rule and that’s why he got scared and confused when he saw the convoy, his fears and emotions made him act improperly by telling him to speed up and beat that convoy so he could get away from it. The matter that made him looked suspicious and ended up being showered with bullets. The car stopped so as the convoy but Hamza was bleeding inside his car which did not explode. He was not a suicider or anything; he was just a scared poor soul. So they took him thankfully to the nearest hospital and dropped him off there to face his fate, while I was trying to help him over here to get better treatment and care. I was trying to help Hamza as well as the troops to gain hearts and minds by facilitating better opportunity to survive. Operation give and its sponsors was my only choice since I did not know about other organization that may help in treatment back then. Fruitless my efforts were, and we were all late in doing so whereas Hamza’s time was coming to leave to a better place where is always peace and love and no hate.

He was not the only one who lost his life tragically like that my second cousin Ammar who was also another example. Ammar was in his twenties newly wed and enjoying life when he was driving his car down the roads of Baghdad sharing laughs and jokes with his mom and bride paying no attention to anything but his joyful moment. Forgetting about the rule of thumb and passing by the convoy of death. The shower of bullets started as soon as he passed by and the fate of the driver would be soon declared to dead. Ammar left this world without knowing that he was going to leave behind an orphan daughter whose life could have been definitely changed by having a loving father around to care and protect. Those were examples of people whom I knew about and there are many others whom I did not know, met, or heard about.

The question that remains in my mind is that whom to blame for that?

The above are but three examples of shooting by US troops in Iraq that never made the news. God only knows how many there are in total, but the number is not insignificant. Below are some reports that made the news – or at least, made the caption of a photograph.

This one is from May 2009 in Mosul, Iraq:

The US military says its forces have killed an Iraqi civilian who failed to heed warnings and stop his car at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The Monday killing comes nearly a month after US troops shot dead two members of an Iraqi family and detained four others in a raid on their house in the Iraqi city of al-Kut. Following the incident, the US military apologized and expressed sadness over its hostile conduct.

Sometimes, US troops wound someone and it is not fatal. This happened in Hilla, Iraq in May 2009:

U.S. forces on Saturday wounded a farmer northeast of Hilla city, according to a source from Babel province’s police.

U.S. forces opened fire on a farmer in the Neel area, 5 km northeast of Hilla,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. He pointed out that the injured farmer was admitted to the Hilla surgical hospital.

Here’s another example of US troops wounding someone, again in Hilla in May 2009:

A professor working at al-Qadissiya University in the province of al-Diwaniya was wounded on Sunday morning when U.S. forces opened fire on him to the north of al-Hilla city, a police source in Babel said. U.S. troops opened fire on a Caprice vehicle carrying al-Qadissiya university professor Abdulhussein Abbas, at al-Mahaweel district, (16 km) north of Hilla, leaving him wounded,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

And here is another story of two civilians being wounded by US shooting in Mosul:

“One civilian and a woman were wounded when U.S. forces opened fire randomly in al-Adl neighborhood in eastern Mosul,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. “The two were in a bus when the forces opened fire on them,” he added. “The woman is a Mosul University employee,” he noted.

Here’s one that never made a news story, but made it into the caption for a Reuter’s photograph. This happened in May 2009:

A woman, whose her husband was killed during a U.S. raid, cries in her house in Kut, 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Baghdad April 26, 2009. Hundreds of Iraqis protested against U.S. forces on Sunday after U.S. soldiers killed a policeman and a woman in an overnight raid that was condemned by the provincial governor. REUTERS/Jaafer Abed (IRAQ CONFLICT POLITICS)

And here is another one that made it into a caption of a photograph, and happened in 2005:

“After the shooting stopped, the American convoy continued driving. I thought only the driver was hit. His injuries were serious but not life threatening. When I looked into the back seat, I found my wife and two children covered in blood. I realized my wife was dead. My daughter was dead. I tried to lift my daughter. Parts of her brain fell from the wound on the side of her head. My baby boy was covered with blood and wounds. He survived. I don’t know why the Americans shot at us.” - AHMED MOAYDA, WITH HIS SON, HAMZA

This one happened in Iraq in July 2009:

NORTHERN IRAQ - U.S forces shot dead a civilian on a highway between the cities of Tikrit and Balad, north of Baghdad, on Friday, the U.S military said. The statement said a U.S. soldier opened fire on a man driving a truck after he failed to heed a signal to stop.

There was another incident in July 2009 in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Apparently, US soldiers had killed three civilians and wounded four more (including two children). This sounds like it might be a ‘caught in the crossfire’ type of incident, but an Iraqi officer tried to detain the US soldiers. I guess the Iraqi officer felt it was excessive force:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said an Iraqi officer who ordered the detention of US soldiers last week after they killed three Iraqis had acted "out of line."

The prime minister told The Washington Post in an interview the officer "did not understand the agreement" governing US military activities since US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities last month.

…… Four Iraqis, including two children, were also wounded in the incident when US forces returned fire and raided nearby houses after insurgents attacked their convoy.

That Iraqi officer is not the only one confused. I am confused too at this so-called sovereignty of Iraq where the US troops stay on their bases, except they don’t. And they are still shooting up Iraqi civilians and raiding Iraqi homes, just like they have been for the past six years.

Here’s what one of the injured children in this shooting had to say:

Neda's 9-year-old son, Sufian, said he was wounded when a bullet grazed his left shoulder.

"I hate the Americans," the boy said quietly. "I never liked them, even before this happened."

That article also states:

Interviews with residents, hospital officials and Iraqi army police commanders in the suburb of Abu Ghraib suggest that conventional wisdom holds the Americans killed civilians.

And here is a statement from the Haditha massacre that killed 24 civilians in their homes after a roadside bomb had killed a US troop (some graphic pictures of this incident at the link). This happened in November 2005.:

“The brains of at least one of the little girls were shoved through fractures in her skull by the impact of a bullet. This is a standard effect of high-velocity rounds fired into the closed cavity of a head. Later that day, when a replacement Marine came in to carry out the bodies, the girl's brains would fall onto his boot.” - William Langewiesche

But, Iraq is not alone. Afghanistan also has had it’s share of US troops shooting civilians, and the number of incidents has gone up lately.

This one happened in Afghanistan in July 2009:

US-led coalition forces have gunned down one civilian and detained 3 others outside Kabul The operation was carried out overnight in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province, 40 km south of the Afghan capital, Kabul, a government spokesman said.

Din Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the provincial administration, added that the troops have killed a retired former head of the traffic department in Logar province.

…… According to the district governor, Abdul Hamid, the former government employee had no connections to any militant or terrorist groups.

This one also happened in Afghanistan in July 2009:

German soldiers killed two civilians Sunday when their van failed to stop as it approached a roadblock near Kunduz, Afghanistan, defence officials said.

….. A youth was killed in the van and one of the three people seriously wounded by the gunfire died while being rushed to a clinic operated by the German provincial reconstruction team in Kunduz.

And here is another one from Afghanistan in July 2009:

An Afghan girl has been killed in an accidental shooting by Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province.

….. When the driver did not heed signals to stop, a warning shot was fired and the motorcycle changed direction and sped away. Moments later, officials say the soldiers noticed a crowd gathering and discovered that a girl, whose age was not disclosed, had been shot.

And here is a report from Afghanistan in May 2009:

In a separate episode in Farah on Tuesday, one Afghan was killed and another was wounded when an American convoy on a supply mission fired on their car as it approached at high speed, according to the American military. Despite three warning flares and three rounds of warning shots, the car continued to approach the convoy, the military said.

Although an investigation is still under way, Col. Chris Kubik, a military spokesman, said the two Afghans were likely civilians “who did not understand our escalation-of-force procedures.”

I would not understand them either. Particularly if I didn’t see them.

Yes, shooting up civilians is a part of every war. And many of them end up dead or with terrible injuries. And then they are mostly ignored, but if there is any attention paid to them, then we will shed a few tears. And go out tomorrow and shoot some more civilians up.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: US troops shooting up civilians.

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