Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WWB: shattered families

WHAT WAR BRINGS: shattered families

Nearly every family in Iraq in the years 2003 to 2009 is a shattered family. Almost none of them are untouched by the refugee crisis, the poverty, the overwhelming violence and the high number of people killed and injured by the war that came to their country.

As Fisk said in 2006:

A Terrible Legacy of Hatred and Death

….. This, of course, is the hell we have bequeathed to all the Arab peoples of Iraq, this nightmare of genocidal threat and murder. All for non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

And, here is a more in depth story of an Iraqi family visited by rape and murder in 2006:

Killings shattered dreams of rural Iraqi family

The beautiful, dark-haired girl in the photograph stands near a wall in pre-invasion Iraq. What is unseen and now lost, her family says, is her dream of moving to the big city and getting married.

…. Al-Janabi family members testified at the guilt and sentencing phases of Green's trial, telling jurors through an interpreter about the al-Janabi family — Kassem, Fakhriya, Abeer, and Hadeel, who were killed in the attack, and two boys, Mohammed and Ahmed, who weren't home during the slayings. The family was close and dreamed of owning a home, sending the four children to school and living in peace, said a cousin, Abu Farras.

Kassem al-Janabi, a thin man whom jurors saw in a photo from his wedding day wearing a slightly too-large suit, was so fond of his sister Ameena's children he named his own girls after them. He called the oldest Abeer, which means "fragrance of flowers," and the younger girl Hadeel, which means "sound of the water," Ameena said.

….. Mohammed and Ahmed returned from school the afternoon of the attack to find smoke billowing from the windows. After going to their uncle's home, they returned to the house to find their father shot in the head, mother shot in the chest, Hadeel shot in the face and Abeer's remains burning. Since then, Mohammed and Ahmed said, they haven't gone to school. "I refuse to go," Mohammed said. "I don't have the mood to study."

Abeer, the “fragrance of flowers” and her sister Hadeel, the “sound of water” had their lives snuffed out that day in a horrific manner by US troops. The ones responsible did receive some punishment, but only the ringleader got life in prison. Let’s hope he never gets a parole.

And then there was the massacre in Haditha in 2005:

In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre

Then one of the Marines took charge and began shouting, said Fahmi, who was watching from his roof. Fahmi said he saw the Marine direct other Marines into the house closest to the blast, about 50 yards away.

It was the home of 76-year-old Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali. Although he had used a wheelchair since diabetes forced a leg amputation years ago, Ali was always one of the first on his block to go out every morning, scattering scraps for his chickens and hosing the dust of the arid western town from his driveway, neighbors said.

In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children -- 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.

Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots -- in Ali's house and two others -- were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha's hospital said.

A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.

Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate.

The Marines moved to the house next door, Fahmi said.

Inside were 43-year-old Khafif, 41-year-old Aeda Yasin Ahmed, an 8-year-old son, five young daughters and a 1-year-old girl staying with the family, according to death certificates and neighbors.

The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif's pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming.

Only 13-year-old Safa Younis lived -- saved, she said, by her mother's blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell, limp, in a faint.

Townspeople led a Washington Post reporter this week to the girl they identified as Safa. Wearing a ponytail and tracksuit, the girl said her mother died trying to gather the girls. The girl burst into tears after a few words. The older couple caring for her apologized and asked the reporter to leave.

Moving to a third house in the row, Marines burst in on four brothers, Marwan, Qahtan, Chasib and Jamal Ahmed. Neighbors said the Marines killed them together.

Marine officials said later that one of the brothers had the only gun found among the three families, although there has been no known allegation that the weapon was fired.

Yet more children killed inside their own homes by the US military. Just another incident of many such incidents. There is a video posted in the first comment below of Safa Younis and her recollection of what happened to her family on that dreadful day. Her entire town paid close attention to the trials concerning this incident, and were dismayed but not surprised when charges were dismissed against the Marines involved in the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha. I was not surprised either. I was further not surprised when this massacre inspired almost no Americans to question what we were doing in Iraq and what we hoped to accomplish there. The pro-war folks don’t seem to give a damn how many innocents get killed in our quest to provide “freedom and democracy” around the world. They did not care about the massacre in Haditha in 2006 and they do not care about the massacres in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan happening today. Most of them do not even NOTICE these massacres, and when their attention is called to them, they deny them. Or hand you some bullshit about how ‘war is messy’ but somehow needed to make the world a better place. I think it is too bad that they cannot swap places with these victims and get a fuller understanding of the evil they have caused.

But it is not just the US military shattering families in Iraq. The following is a story of a family who lived through kidnapping, beatings and murder back in 2007.

Victims of the death squads: One family's harrowing story of kidnap and murder in Iraq

Anyone who believes that the American-led "surge" in Iraq is succeeding should hear the story of Mohammed and Nadia al-Hayali. Both fluent in English – Nadia, who was born in Montpellier, also speaks French – they were the kind of well-educated, modern Iraqis who should have been the driving force behind a new secular democracy. Yet Mohammed is believed dead at the hands of kidnappers who seized the whole family, and Nadia is living the miserable half-life of the exile with their two children in Jordan.

…..I learned what happened next in a phone call from Nadia in April this year. Her voice was flat, emotionless. The family had been kidnapped by an armed gang, she said. She and the two children, Dahlia, eight, and Abdullah, 10, had eventually been freed, but Mohammed had been kept captive, despite the payment of a ransom. It was not until this summer, when I saw Nadia and the children in Amman, the capital of Jordan, that the final tragedy came out.

"Do you remember how it was, even a few years ago?" asked Nadia. The confident, articulate woman I remembered had gone, and the trauma of recent months was written on her pale, drawn face. "We thought things couldn't get worse, violence will ease off, things will get better. How wrong we were."

The mother and two children were released by the kidnappers, after a harrowing ordeal. They returned home and paid a $10,000 ransom, but never saw or heard from the father of the family again. The mother and two children fled to Jordan, where they live as refugees. Here is how that report ends:

The greatest tragedy is that the story of the Hayalis is far from unique. No police report was ever made on Mohammed's kidnapping and probable murder, so it is not included in the figures purporting to show that the "surge" is working. The same is true of vast numbers of deaths, because going to the police, infiltrated and dominated by militias in many districts of Baghdad, is considered futile or downright dangerous.

And there are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of stories like the above – stories of US troops shattering families, of armed gangs kidnapping and murdering families, of human destruction on a vast scale. But some of the stories do not even make it into the news.

Photo: An Iraqi woman, right, grieves for her husband and his brother, with her mother-in-law, left, at a hospital morgue in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007. The women say the two brothers were killed in an overnight raid by U.S. troops in a village 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Baqouba. There was no report by the U.S. military about the raid. (AP Photo)

I don’t have any stories from Afghanistan and Pakistan (from a lack of time, not a lack of material), but you can bet your last dollar that the very same things are happening there. I did find a video of a young Afghan girl who lost her entire family in a coalition bombing earlier this year. She also lost her arm and a leg. Her name is Grana and she is 12 years old. The video is posted below.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: shattered families.

Video report of the Haditha massacre:

Afghan girl hurt by coalition bombing:

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