Saturday, September 12, 2009

11 reported dead, 27 wounded in Iraq

In the open desert outside Baiji, Iraq, a naked man with a thick black beard crouched in the dust of a railroad culvert at twilight. Hours before, he had been mumbling and praying in Arabic. Now he spoke few words. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna stood over him in the grainy darkness, his Glock pistol racked and pointed down at him.
"If you don't talk, I will kill you," Behenna said.

The above is the opening to Joe Mozingo's indepth "A deadly interrogation in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times) exploring how an Iraqi in US custody ended up dead, his body disposed in a gulley or culvert. Before that the man will repeatedly protest his innocence only to end up shot dead while in US custody. The report is part-one and the paper will run part-two tomorrow.

Meanwhile Jordan Shay was buired today. He died last week in Iraq bombing. Kathy McCabe (Boston Globe) reports that among the hundreds at his funeral today included US Senator John Kerry and the state's governor, Deval Patrick. Holly Shay, his mother, is qutoed stating, "I am heartbroken Jordan is no longer on this earth. He was and is everything to his family." Jordan Shay is among 6 US service members who have died in Iraq so far this month. Thomas Lyons was killed in Iraq this week. Jenna Flint, his mother, notifies the Reno Gazette-Journal that he will be buried Tuesday "at noon at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetry, 14 Veterans Way in Fenley" and that the public viewing will be an hour before "at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 155 U.S. 95A in Fenley". His mother is quoted stating, "I have been asked how I would like Thomas to be remembered, and I would like to quote fellow soldier (rank unknown) John Emery, 'He put everyone above himself.' He always bringens up your day with his (presence). Also he did what he thought was right and not what was popular, regardless of who agreed with him." Yesterday, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons' office issued the following statement:

Governor Jim Gibbons has ordered flags at the Capitol Complex to be flown at half staff on Tuesday September 15, 2009 in honor of United States Army Pfc. Thomas Lyons. Lyons was killed when an enemy explosion hit the truck he was riding in. He was participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom when the incident happened in southern Baghdad. Two other U.S. soldiers also died in the attack. Pfc. Lyons was assigned to the 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army, Alaska, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Pfc. Lyons grew up in Carson City and Fernley. His mother and step-father live in Fernley. His funeral and memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday September 15, 2009 in Fernley. Pfc. Lyons will be buried with military honors at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. He was 20 years old. Pfc. Lyons was married to Delvin Lyons, also an active duty soldier. The young couple has a 3-month old son.
"My deepest sorrow is with the family and friends of Thomas Lyons," Governor Gibbons said, "We must always remember the sacrifices made by Private First Class Lyons and others who have given up their lives to protect our freedom."

Violence continues today in Iraq.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two police officers injured, two Baghdad bombings (one after the other) which claimed 3 lives and left fifteen injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, a second Baghdad sticky bombing which left five people injured, a Muqdadiyah sticky bombing targeting Sahwa leader Ahmed al-Zheri which claimed his life and 3 other adults (two were women), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and a Mousl roadside bombing which left two Iraqi service members wounded. Reuters states the attack on Ahmed al-Zheri killed him and two women but maintains it also killed "two children in the car" (and says nothing about another male adult).


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Mosul in which two Iraqi security forces were injured and then drops back to Friday to note an attack on a Kirkuk military checkpoint which resulted in 5 soldiers being shot dead (two of which were then burned by assailants).

Turning to Camp Ashraf which is made up of Iranian dissidents belonging to the MEK who were given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein and have remained in Iraq for decades. Following the US invasion, the US military provided security for them and the US government labeled them "protected persons" under Geneva. Though Nouri 'promised' he wouldn't move against Camp Ashraf, but July 28th he launched an assault. Yesterday Amnesty International released the following:

Amnesty International has written to the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki expressing its deep concern about killings and other abuses committed by Iraqi security forces at Camp Ashraf this summer.
On 28-29 July a large number of Iraqi security personnel seized control of Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a settlement that has been home to some 3,400 Iranian exiles for over 20 years. At least nine camp residents were shot dead and others sustained serious injuries during the storming of the camp, during which vehicles were driven into crowds of protesting residents and live ammunition used, apparently without adequate justification. Since July, 36 camp residents have been held without charge or trial.
In response, fears for the thousands of Iranian nationals - many with a long history of political opposition to the government of neighbouring Iran - have been raised by numerous supporters around the world. There have been protests around the world, including a long-running vigil and hunger strike outside the US embassy in London. Protestors say the withdrawal of US forces to military bases in Iraq earlier this year has left Camp Ashraf residents newly vulnerable to Iraqi security forces, a concern shared by Amnesty.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'There are numerous reports - including shocking images - of the Iraq security forces using what appears to be grossly excessive force in their seizure of Camp Ashraf and this must be properly investigated. So must reports that detainees have been abused in detention
'The fear now is that Iraq may force Camp Ashraf residents to return to Iran, where they could face imprisonment or torture. No vulnerable residents of Camp Ashraf must face this fate.'
Amnesty has made clear to both the Iraqi and US governments that it strongly opposes any forcible returns, either of those at Camp Ashraf or of other Iranian nationals who currently reside in Iraq having left Iran for political reasons or to escape persecution. In its letter to prime minister al-Maliki, Amnesty urges him to immediately establish a full and independent investigation into the methods used by Iraqi security forces during the Camp Ashraf operation, making its findings public as soon as possible. Amnesty also urged him to ensure that members of the security forces and other officials found responsible for using excessive force and of committing serious human rights violations are immediately suspended from duty and promptly brought to justice.
Meanwhile Amnesty has expressed particular concern over the fate of the 36 detained men, not least as there are allegations that they have been beaten and otherwise ill-treated. They are currently held at a police station in al-Khalis - a town some 15 miles from Camp Ashraf -- where they are reported to be in poor health and to be maintaining a hunger strike in protest at their detention and ill-treatment.
On 24 August an Iraqi investigative judge ordered the release of the 36 on the grounds that they had no charges to answer, but local police refused to release them, in breach of Iraqi law. A public prosecutor in Baquba, Diyala province, is then reported to have appealed against the investigative judge's release order, apparently as a means of justifying their continued detention, and the appeal is now awaiting determination by the Court of Cassation.
In its letter Amnesty urged the Iraq prime minister to intervene and ensure that the 36 detainees are released immediately and unconditionally unless they are to face recognisably criminal charges and brought to trial fairly and promptly. Amnesty also urged Mr al-Maliki to order an investigation into the failure by police at al-Khalis to comply with the judge's order for the release of the 36 and to ensure that any police officers responsible for unlawful detentions are held to account.

Tim Cocks (Reuters) reports that "a six-week-old under strike" continues at Camp Ashraf as a result of the 36 residents who were hauled away and imprisoned by Nouri's forces:

PMOI spokesman Shahriar Kia, speaking by phone from the camp, said the 36 exiles arrested on rioting charges after the clashes were expected to go on trial on Sunday. They were on hunger strike along with "hundreds" of other camp residents.
The PMOI is fighting the Shi'ite-led government's plan to close Ashraf and send the exiles to
Iran or a third country. Iran, Iraq and the United States consider the PMOI a terrorist organization.
Iraqi officials have not said when it might evict them.

Camp resident Mahkrokh Ghaffari, 47, said she had been on hunger strike for 46 days, only drinking water. She had been given intravenous solution, she said.

Actually, some of Nouri's spokesmodels stated in the days after the assault that the MEK would be forced out of Iraq in 30 days. 30 days have come and past but Nouri's never been good at time tables.

Demonstrations continue around the world for the residents of Camp Ashraf. The hunger strikes in London have garnered some attention. Gaelle Faure (Time magazine) covers it and we'll note the conclusion of that article:

In London, the protesters say that if one of them dies, others will replace them. "I will continue my hunger strike until my family and friends are protected," says Khalil Abadi, a middle-aged man speaking breathlessly as he hangs on to a podium to address supporters on his 44th day without food. Someone helps him walk slowly back to his cot, and he lies down again, facing the U.S. embassy. Whether or not the strikers continue to go hungry, Camp Ashraf's fate depends on who has more influence on Iraq: the U.S. or Iran. And that's a contest the U.S. would be loath to lose.

From Cindy Sheehan's website, this is the Delcaration to the International People's Declaration of Peace:

We the undersigned responsible citizens of this planet declare:

We will recognize, first and foremost, the intrinsic value of each and every human being;

We will recognize that even though we are individuals with both unique talents and needs, we are also one in the community of humanity;

We will vigorously proclaim that no
person is better than any other person irrespective of: race, religion, occupation, income level, gender, marital status, age, or national origin;

We will not allow ourselves, or our children, to enlist in, or be forcibly conscripted into our nation’s armed services recognizing this is never an option whether it is for economic reasons or false patriotic fervor.

We will remove ourselves as far as ideologically possible from our governments when war is proposed, or promulgated;

We will actively protest against wars, violence or economic oppression no matter
who, or what, governs our nations;

We will not allow the fruits of our labor to be used by our governments to finance wars;

We will boycott news sources that promote war and not buy into the culture of violence that is promoted by certain movies, video games and other popular culture;

We will boycott products and/or services from companies that profit from war and to the greatest extent as possible, we will not work for companies that profit from war;

We will proclaim to our nations, families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers that using violence to solve problems is infantile and barbaric and we will not use violence in our own lives and we will teach our children peaceful conflict resolution.

Two more things. As Mike noted, Carly Simon and her children Ben and Sally Taylor performed "Let the River Run" (link YouTube video). Caro (MakeThemAccountable) notes Alex Bolton's reporting for The Hill: "Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and the world’s second richest man, told Senate Democrats that wealthy Americans need to pay higher taxes, giving Democrats something to mull as they address healthcare reform and soaring federal deficits."
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