Posted by Sadie from ? (18.104.22.168) on Thursday, July 31, 2003 at 2:25PM :
Human rights, US style: The pupil is gone, the master has replaced him
Zehira Houfani, Montreal Iraq Solidarity Project
29 July 2003
It was around 6 pm, this Sunday July 27th 2003, when the El-Birhana family left their home in their car, driving towards their neighbourhood Church, Al-Mansour, Hay Al-Andalous, right in the middle of Baghdad.
The El-Birhana family was comprised of the mother and her two sons, Tamer et Mazen, respectively 35 and 27 years old. Tamer was driving the family vehicle and was proceeding normally towards the end of the alley, when suddently at the point of turning, the car was sprayed with US soldiers gunfire. The entire Birhana family was killed instantly in a terrifying bloodbath. The car that was following immediately behind, with two passengers on board, experienced the same fate at the hand of US soldiers.
Shock and consternation in the neighbourhood! In these (rather durable) times of heatwave, this is a really cold shower informing the world on the true nature of the mission of the United States in Iraq. Human rights Democracy? None of that for the Iraqis. The only thing in store for them is brutality, contempt, and humiliation, the most blatant form of which is the body search of women by men at the checkpoints established by the US military everywhere in the country. When the least respect for the Iraqi people would have required that the US invaders assign such duty to women.
It is this same attitude of contempt which lead the soldiers to fire on Iraqi civilians without any warning on this Sunday July 27th. No one could understand the behaviour of the US military in this massacre of 5 persons. How can they behave so savagely with people they claim to have liberated from the savagery of Saddam?
No journalist was tolerated at the scene of this crime. With utmost brutality, the soldiers grabbed the Al- Jazeera Arab Network journalist and took him away, before they closed the sector. Closing the sector is what they should have done when they investigated the place, supposedly to catch Saddam's young son, whom they did not find. They could have spared innocent lives like those of the Birhana family.
Within minutes of the carnage, the soldiers took away the bodies of the mother, the youngest son, and other victims, leaving Tamer's corpse, in a pool of blood, on the side of the street for over one hour, under still overpowering heat.
Alerted by the gunfire, the neighbours faced this spectacle in total dismay. "Ya Haram!", whispers Laraba, a neighbour in her forties, drying her tears with the old scarf she was wearing on her head. "Why have these damned soldiers done this? These were good people, a Christian family held in esteem in all the neighbourhood. In 30 years, nobody ever held a complaint against them. Ya habibi ya Tamer! What have these criminals done to you ?" "He wouldn't have killed a fly", Larama continued in my direction, "look how they have smashed his head!" Difficult to withstand, the young man's head was completely crushed and part of his brain was coming out of his skull.
Two hours later, only the dried blood of the Iraqi victims was left, to be met at some point in the future with an official "Sorry", the umpteenth criminal mistake which nobody will ever have to pay for. Not to mention the fact that Tamer's father left to work in the United States several years ago, and that Tamer himself worked as a translator for the occupying forces... But for the latter, he remained the Arab, the Iraqi, the enemy.
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