Sunday, September 13, 2009


Thursday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill offered testimony to the House Foreign Relations Committee and to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the past, that would have garnered some serious press attention. When Ryan Crocker was US Ambassador to Iraq and he testified, it was big news. But for Hill?


Very little press coverage.

So his statements that Iraq's external refugees had to return, that the country needed them, that Iraq's stability depended on it? Not covered. Now the external refugees left for a reason with the bulk of them fleeing the country during the 2007 genocide. They left and many do not plan on returning. Payment's been offered, travel arrangements, nothing has tempted the buk of the refugees into returning.

But Chris Hill thinks he can force them into returning. Thinks they must be forced into returning.

That's pretty scary. The refugees have already suffered enough but, if Hill has his way, they'll be forced into returning.

For other things covered in the hearings, see C.I.'s reporting here and here and Kat's here.

Last week, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps – Iraq servicemember was killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting the patrol detonated in southern Baghdad at approximately 10: 30 a.m. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of servicemembers are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the servicemember's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Three Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldiers were killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting their patrol detonated in northern Iraq at approximately 11:40 a.m. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The four deaths brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4343.

That was not the only violence.

On Sunday, there were 24 reported deaths and 7 reported wounded, Monday 26 dead and 44 wounded, Tuesday 27 dead and 42 wounded, Wednesday 13 dead and 38 wounded, Thursday 31 dead and 75 wounded, Friday 4 dead and 7 wounded and Saturday 11 dead and 27 wounded. That's 136 reported dead and 230 reported injured for last week.

Camp Ashraf remains under assault. Friday 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.

And Cindy Sheehan posted the International People's Declaration of Peace which includes:

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.

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