Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iraqis search for missing loved ones

One of the more horrific tragedies of the US war and occupation of Iraq is the number of people who simply went ‘missing’. They are most likely dead from violence, and that could be violence from over a dozen different sources.

During those years of extreme violence, the morgue in Baghdad would take photos of the dead and then bury them in Najaf if they were unclaimed. The numbered the graves and saved the photos and other identifying information.

Today, Iraqis are going to the morgue to try to identify their loved ones. According to this article, there are 22,000 unidentified graves in the cemetery in Najaf.

Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during those years of chaos, either kidnapped for ransom or killed in sectarian warfare. People were snatched from buses, stores and fake checkpoints, often in broad daylight. Dozens of bullet-riddled bodies were found on the streets and in the river every day, lacking any identification because their documents were taken as trophies.

On top of the 22,000 buried in Najaf, other mass graves are being discovered in Iraq on a regular basis. And there are more mass graves that have yet to be discovered.

Before the invasion of Iraq, members of the Bush administration talked about Saddam’s mass graves, even though these same people did not give a rat’s ass about these same mass graves when they were being created (due to the fact that Saddam was their friend at that time).

And there were mass graves from the Saddam era uncovered. One in Hilla had 3,000 bodies in it, and there was another one that had 5,000 Kurds in it. The Kurdish mass grave was uncovered and the bodies taken up to northern Iraq for a mass burial. To see 5,000 coffins lined up as far as the eye can see was a horrible sight.

But in the end, Bush made more mass graves in Iraq than Saddam did. It is debatable which person is responsible for more deaths overall, but there is no question who killed more Iraqis – and that would be Bush. And even Bush’s killing of Iraqis pales in comparison to the number of Iraqis killed under US-run UN sanctions. It was estimated that over a half million Iraqi kids died from the sanctions.

And today, Iraqis are coming down with cancer at an alarming rate. The number of Iraqis with cancer in the southern part of Iraq is sky-rocketing. And many of them will also die.

Meanwhile, most Americans remain totally unaware of the evil that they have allowed to be done in their names.

Photo: In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, gravedigger Ali Zayer-Daham is seen in the unidentified bodies section of the cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during years of violence, often ending up as bullet-riddled and unidentified bodies found on the streets or dumped in the river. The bodies were taken to the morgue and photographed but it was often too dangerous for loved ones to search for them. A sharp decline in violence has changed that. Often the search ends at the Wadi al-Salam, or the Valley of Peace, cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

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