As I have traveled around the US on speaking tour organized by the women’s peace group CODEPINK, I realize how support for the war in Iraq has eroded—even among former supporters. George Bush, seeing his approval rating plummeting to below 40%, is worried and has launched a PR offensive to shore up support. In his recent speeches, he has complained that violent images on TV have undermined public support. So when the US military launched a massive air and ground assault on towns near Samarra, dubbed Operation Swarmer, the Pentagon barred even imbedded reporters. The American public was told that Operation Swarmer was a successful example of US and Iraqi forces working together to wipe out insurgents, but they saw nothing of the effects of the assault on the ground.
But while the public is fed rosy propaganda, the reality is far more gruesome. Take, for example, the operation in Isshaqi, a small village near Samarra. At 1:30am on Tuesday, March 21, the American troops, accompanied by helicopters , raided the modest rural home of a primary school teacher, Faiz Mratt. According to his neighbor Mohammad Al-Majma, the 27-year-old school teacher, his wife, their three children, his sister, her three children, his father and a woman who was visiting them were all arrested, tied, and beaten, and then the American troops opened fire on the family. “After they executed them, the troops put explosives in the house and blew it up,” said Mohammad, crying. “They killed even the farm animals”
Faiz’s surviving sister was devastated. “They killed my mother, Torkiya Majid, who was 90 years old,” she cried. “They killed Faiz’s three children: Hawra, 4, Aysha 2, and Hussam, who was only 4 months old. They killed my sister Faiza, who was also a schoolteacher, and her children Osama 6, and Asmaa, 5.”
Aziz Khalil, 30, and his fiancée Nidhal Mohammad, 23, who were to be married on Thursday, were also killed. All told, the operation to kill “insurgents” left six children and four women dead.
Unfortunately, we Iraqis have many more examples of US forces killing innocent civilians. The US public might not see or hear about them, but we do. It pains us to see our people killed, abused, tortured, and these actions fuel the insurgency.
A portion of the US public might still think the US is bringing democracy to Iraq. If they only saw the bodies of the dead children, if they only heard the wailing of the mothers, if they only saw the anger in eyes of the survivors, they would call for an end to this horror.
Eman Ahmad Khamas is a human rights advocate who has documented abuses by the occupation forces. She is a member of Women’s Will, and traveling the around the U.S. on a month-long speaking tour organized by CODEPINK and Global Exchange.