In Iraq, Another Occupation Day

As the United States celebrated its independence this weekend, Iraq celebrated another week under foreign occupation. So I thought it useful to look at Thomas Jefferson’s case against England’s King George III and compare it with the Iraqi case against our own President George II.

Below are some of the complaints leveled against King George III of England on July 4, 1776.

“Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.”

The United States military has quartered 138,000 troops in Iraq for more than two years and refuses to set a timetable for withdrawal.

“Protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.”

A year ago, the British medical journal The Lancet reported 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the American invasion and occupation. But American soldiers who kill Iraqis are exempt from trial in Iraqi courts. Under U.S. military policy, the families of Iraqi civilians killed “accidentally” by the U.S. military are entitled to $2,500 in compensation, but such compensation is rarely doled out.

“Depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.”

The Pentagon estimates there are currently 11,500 “security detainees” in Iraq – more than 3,500 of them at Abu Ghraib. The U.S. military has hired Parsons Corporation of Los Angeles to build two additional prisons with the hope of increasing the capacity of U.S. prisons in Iraq by 10,000 more. None of the Iraqis detained in these prisons have access to a lawyer or public trail. Their cases come up before a closed military panel once every six months for review. No charges are ever filed.

“Transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.”

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Iraq doesn’t really have a coast, but many of its towns and cities have been destroyed. In Fallujah, Tal-Afar, and al-Qaim, U.S. bombing campaigns against insurgents have been so strong that whole sections of town have been destroyed, with the majority of casualties women, children, and the elderly. In Fallujah, the United States military destroyed at least 36,000 homes, 8,400 shops, 60 nurseries and schools, and 65 religious sites. A huge refugee camp still holds most of the residents. Iraq’s deputy health minister says hundreds of families are stranded in the desert outside al-Qaim. Last week, he told a daily newspaper from the United Arab Emirates that U.S. and Iraqi forces have banned ambulances and humanitarian aid from entering al-Qaim, and most of the refugees are suffering from a shortage of food, water, and medicine.

“He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”

Foreign mercenaries make up the third-largest “coalition partner” in Iraq after the United States and Britain. Many of them are former agents of since-overthrown police states like Pinochet’s Chile and apartheid South Africa. These mercenaries guard contractors working for international firms such as Halliburton and Bechtel who bring in foreigners to do work while millions of Iraqis sit unemployed in their homes without electricity.

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

On June 23, 83 members of Iraq’s newly elected National Assembly signed a petition calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. One of the parliamentarians, Jawad Bulani, told the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that the demand for withdrawal “had begun as soon as the National Assembly was formed, and it is a legitimate right of the Iraqis to get their sovereignty in conformity with UN Security Council resolutions, which gave the National Assembly and the Iraqi government the right to impose an agreement on foreign troops if they were to remain on Iraqi territory.”

Another member of the Assembly, Abdul-Rahman al-Neeimi, told the paper that American forces “have used all possible means in order to provoke sectarian strife in Iraq, but have failed thanks to God.” He concluded by saying, “We tell the occupation forces: Hands off the Iraqi people and let us heal our wounds by our own means."

Read more by Aaron Glantz