Remembering the Dead on Memorial Day
In Memory of One Million Iraqi Dead
In 2006, the Lancet did a scientific study in which they estimated that the number of Iraqis who have died since the beginning of the US occupation in 2003 was greater than 600,000 people. This figure included the results of sectarian violence, revenge killings, suicide bombings and deaths at the hands of soldiers and occupying forces. That number alone is a staggering figure, but now, only two years later the estimate of dead has increased to almost one million. On this Memorial Day, as we gather to remember our loved ones who have died in war let us include the men, women and children who have died in Iraq.
In a recent survey conducted in Iraq by Opinion Research Business it was found that twenty percent of Iraqi households had at least one family member who had died in their family as a result of the conflict, rather than due to natural occurrences. In addition to the grief and loss caused by these deaths, many Iraqi households have also lost their primary source of support as men have been killed, recruited into militias, imprisoned or have fled Iraq. Now is the time to call for an international war crimes tribunal against the Bush administration for crimes against humanity.
The West does not receive much information about real conditions on the ground in Iraq. Ever since the beginning of the occupation, news and information has been heavily censored and as a result the actual conditions of the Iraqi people is difficult to gauge. The Pentagon has stopped counting the numbers of civilians killed in battle operations and does not keep track of individuals killed as a result of sectarian violence, suicide bombings, revenge killings or disappearances.
What we do know about Iraq is terrifying. Iraq is a country that is occupied by nearly three hundred thousands soldiers and private contractors. Two million Iraqis have fled the country, seeking asylum in neighboring countries since the war began. At least 42,000 Iraqi men have been detained in military prisons operated by the United States under suspicion of being insurgents. We do not know how many of those men have been release, how many have been tortured and how many have died. Normal law does not exist in Iraq. The military can enter any household at any time for any reason. Men can be detained on the street and held in custody without notice to extended family. Private security contractors are given a license to kill with immunity.
One million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of this occupation. On this Memorial Day, let us remember the dead. Regardless of whether they were killed in the line of duty or are victims of war, each one has a name, a mother, a history, and an identity. These men, women and children did not deserve what was done in the name of freedom and democracy. Only we have the power to stop this senseless violence. We must call on Congress to bring the troops home now, and in November we must sweep out the Bush administration and every member of the House and Senate who voted for war.
Saddam Hussein was brought before a court and tried for the massacres that he committed, yet there has been no such human rights tribunal to try President Bush for crimes against humanity. Bush continues to insist on the righteousness of his cause, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. The President be must called to account for his reckless decision which has destroyed an entire nation and resulted in so much death and suffering. On this Memorial Day, let us learn from the lessons of the past and make choices that will insure peace and justice for future generations.
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