MADRE, An International Women’s Human Rights Organization
DECEMBER 10, 2004
9:09 AM
CONTACT: MADRE, An International Women’s Human Rights Organization 
Yifat Susskind, Associate Director
Human Rights Day 2004: Women's Organization Accuses U.S. of War Crimes in Iraq
NEW YORK, NY -- December 10 -- MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, issued the following statement on the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“There is no water, no food, no medicine, no electricity and no fuel . . . the children of Fallujah are dying and the people are eating flour.”

-Fardous al-Ubaidi, head of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. (San Diego Union Tribune, 1/12/04)

“From our viewpoint, this is very, very successful.”

-General Richard B. Myers Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (The Today Show, 11/11/04)

December 10 marks the fifty-sixth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a groundbreaking international agreement created to avoid a reoccurrence of Nazi crimes against humanity. If US soldiers in Fallujah were given copies of the Declaration, they would see that they are being ordered to commit some of the very crimes that the Declaration and successive human rights instruments were intended to prevent.

Since November 7, the US has been trying to conquer the Iraqi city of Fallujah from insurgents who have controlled the city since April. US soldiers have forced fleeing Fallujan families back into the bombing zone—a war crime (1); in one case shooting dead a family of five as they tried to escape across the Euphrates River. (2) Amnesty International estimates that about half of Fallujah’s 300,000 residents managed to flee before the attack. (3) But tens of thousands more are caught inside the burning city, where more than 70% of homes and shops have been bombed to the ground.(4) History teaches that the majority of those who stay behind in combat zones are women caring for those too vulnerable to flee—children, the elderly, the sick and the wounded.

By mid-November, the International Red Cross was estimating that at least 800 civilians had been killed in Fallujah. (5) Pentagon spokespeople conveniently count all dead Iraqis as insurgents and refuse to record the number of civilians killed or wounded. Yet images of the smashed city reveal that “precision bombing” is only a public relations term. In fact, the cluster bombs, air strikes and long-distance tank fire favored by the US have caused indiscriminate destruction—a war crime. (6) Then there’s the very deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure—also a war crime (7) which began with the takeover of Fallujah General Hospital on November 7. According to the military, the hospital was targeted because it was a “center of propaganda”, that spread rumors of civilian casualties during last April’s assault. (8) During the siege, patients were rounded up and ordered to lie on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs—another war crime. (9, 10) Two days later, the US bombed Fallujah’s Central Health Center—a war crime (11)—killing 20 nurses and doctors and an uncounted number of patients. (12) There is also mounting evidence that the US is using banned weapons— napalm, phosphorous bombs and depleted uranium—in Fallujah—a war crime. (13, 14)

In a show of Washington’s “moral values” the US military has refused to allow emergency aid to be brought into Fallujah—a war crime. (15,16) And the US has also refused to allow doctors to evacuate wounded people to hospitals outside the city—also a war crime. (17, 18) Independent journalists who have tried to cover Fallujah have been detained and shot at by US forces—a war crime. (19) A US Order issued in March 2004 gives the US-installed Iraqi government sweeping powers to control the media. (20) Prime Minister Allawi recently issued a letter telling news media to “stick to the government line on the US-led offensive in Fallujah or face legal action.” (21)

Media repression and a compliant mainstream press has left us with little corroborated information about the plight of families trapped in Fallujah. We do know that the first thing US forces did was to cut off the water supply—a war crime. (22, 23) For over a month since then, women and their families have been trapped in their houses by curfews and US snipers, without food, water, medical care, or electricity. (24) In Fallujah, as elsewhere, war against civilians means war against women, who, as society’s primary caretakers, struggle to ensure their families’ survival in the face of bombing, dehydration, starvation and infectious disease. US forces have left Fallujah’s women and their families to face this scourge without providing electricity, sewage or other necessary services—also a war crime. (25, 26)

Despite the growing food crisis, US troops have distributed very little food aid, although ABC reported on one distribution point where soldiers handed out Frosted Flakes and bagel chips. (27) A recent statement by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Bellon, head of the Marine regiment stationed in downtown Fallujah, underscores the callous mindset that would offer American snacks to starving Iraqis. Bellon contends that the US has failed to win “respect” from Iraqis because it has communicated weakness by asking, "What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff].” (28) Iraqis, according to Bellon, "want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.”

Back to the Future

What will the US do with the people of Fallujah once the city is “pacified”? Marine officials have announced plans to create “military-style” work battalions brigades to require all Fallujan men to help rebuild their city once US troops have finished destroying it. (29) And the entire population will be sent to “citizen processing centers" where a database of their identities will be compiled through DNA testing and retina scans. People will then be issued residency badges that they will be forced to wear at all times.


1. See Articles 35, 49 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 48, 51 and 57 of the First Protocol.

2. The New York Times, 11/13/04; ABC News, 11/14/04.

3. Amnesty International, 11/12/04.

4 United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, 11/10/04

5. InterPress Service, 11/16/04

6. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 35, 51 and 85 of the First Protocol.

7. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 35, 51 and 85 of the First Protocol.

8. The New York Times, 11/8/04

9. Articles 16, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 19 and 22 of the First Geneva Convention.

10. San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8/04.

11. Articles 16, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 19 and 22 of the First Geneva Convention.

12. The Nation, 12/13/04.

13. Article 23 1907 Hague Convention; Article 35 Fourth Geneva Convention.

14. Interpress Service, 11/26/04.

15. Article 23 and Articles 59-61 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 70 First Protocol.

16. United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, 11/10/04; The Washington Post, 11/16/04.

17. Article 20 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; Article 15 First Protocol.

18. United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, 11/30/04.

19. Article 79 of the First Protocol.

20. Interpress Service, Nov 18, 2004.

21.Interpress Service, 12/18/04.

22. Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 51 and 54 of the First Protocol.

23. The Nation, 12/13/04.

24., 11/10/04.

25. Articles 55 and 56 Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 69 First Protocol.

26. ABC News Online, 12/3/04.

27. ABC News Online, 12/3/04.

28. Boston Globe, 12/5/04.

29. Boston Globe, 12/5/04; The New York Times, 12/1/04.