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Stories from Fallujah
Dahr Jamail Reporting
the stories that will continue to emerge from the rubble of Fallujah for years.
No, for generations…
condition of anonymity, the doctor sits with me in a hotel room in Amman, where
he is now a refugee. He’d spoken about what he saw in Fallujah in the UK, and
now is under threat by the US military if he returns to Iraq.
speaking about what happened in Fallujah during both sieges in order to raise
awareness, and the Americans raided my house three times,” he says, talking so
fast I can barely keep up. He is driven to tell what he’s witnessed, and as a
doctor working inside Fallujah, he has video and photographic proof of all that
he tells me.
Fallujah with a British medical and humanitarian convoy at the end of December,
and stayed until the end of January,” he explains, “But I was in Fallujah before
that to work with people and see what their needs were, so I was in there since
the beginning of December.”
When I ask
him to explain what he saw when he first entered Fallujah in December he says it
was like a tsunami struck the city.
surrounded by refugee camps where people are living in tents and old cars,” he
explains, “It reminded me of Palestinian refugees. I saw children coughing
because of the cold, and there are no medicines. Most everyone left their houses
with nothing, and no money, so how can they live depending only on humanitarian
says that in one refugee camp in the northern area of Fallujah there were 1,200
students living in seven tents.
caused by this siege is so much worse than the first one, which I witnessed
first hand,” he says, and then tells me he’ll use one story as an
“One story is of
a young girl who is 16 years old,” he says of one of the testimonies he video
taped recently, “She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who
were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with
her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the
soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying
The girl managed
to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes
“They beat her
two sisters, then shot them in the head,” he said. After this her brother was
enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead.
hiding after the soldiers left and stayed with her sisters because they were
bleeding, but still alive. She was too afraid to call for help because she
feared the soldiers would come back and kill her as well. She stayed for three
days, with no water and no food. Eventually one of the American snipers saw her
and took her to the hospital,” he added before reminding me again that he had
all of her testimony documented on film.
He briefly told
me of another story he documented of a mother who was in her home during the
siege. “On the fifth day of the siege her home was bombed, and the roof fell on
her son, cutting his legs off,” he says while using his hands to make cutting
motions on his legs, “For hours she couldn’t go outside because they announced
that anyone going in the street would be shot. So all she could do was wrap his
legs and watch him die before her eyes.”
He pauses for a
few deep breaths, then continues, “All I can say is that Fallujah is like it was
struck by a tsunami. There weren’t many families in there after the siege, but
they had absolutely nothing. The suffering was beyond what you can imagine. When
the Americans finally let us in people were fighting just for a blanket.”
“One of my
colleagues, Dr. Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in
the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the seige. They
entered the theater room when they were working on a patient…he was there
because he’s an anesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, beat the
doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die.”
story has already been reported in the Arab media.
The doctor tells
me of the bombing of the Hay Nazal clinic during the first week of the siege.
contained all the foreign aid and medical instruments we had. All the US
military commanders knew this, because we told them about it so they wouldn’t
bomb it. But this was one of the clinics bombed, and in the first week of the
siege they bombed it two times.”
He then adds, “Of
course they targeted all our ambulances and doctors. Everyone knows
The doctor tells
me he and some other doctors are trying to sue the US military for the following
incident, for which he has the testimonial evidence on tape.
It is a
story I was told by several refugees in Baghdad as well…at the end of last
November while the siege was still in progress. “During the second week of
the siege they entered and announced that all the families have to leave their
homes and meet at an intersection in the street while carrying a white flag.
They gave them 72 hours to leave and after that they would be considered an
enemy,” he says.
this story with video-a family of 12, including a relative and his oldest child
who was 7 years old. They heard this instruction, so they left with all their
food and money they could carry, and white flags. When they reached the
intersection where the families were accumulating, they heard someone shouting
‘Now!’ in English, and shooting started everywhere.”
The family was
all carrying white flags, as instructed, according to the young man who gave his
testimony. Yet he watched his mother and father shot by snipers-his mother in
the head and his father shot in the heart. His two aunts were shot, then his
brother was shot in the neck. The man stated that when he raised himself from
the ground to shout for help, he was shot in the side.
“After some hours
he raised his arm for help and they shot his arm,” continues the doctor, “So
after awhile he raised his hand and they shot his hand.”
year-old boy of the family was standing over the bodies of his parents, crying,
and he too was then shot.
raised up was shot,” adds the doctor, then added again that he had photographs
of the dead as well as photos of the gunshot wounds of the survivors.
“Once it grew
dark some of them along with this man who spoke with me, with his child and
sister-in-law and sister managed to crawl away after it got dark. They crawled
to a building and stayed for 8 days. They had one cup of water and gave it to
the child. They used cooking oil to put on their wounds which were of course
infected, and found some roots and dates to eat.”
here. His eyes look around the room as cars pass by outside on wet streets…water
hissing under their tires.
He left Fallujah
at the end of January, so I ask him what it was like when he left
25% of the people have returned, but there are still no doctors. The hatred now
of Fallujans against every American is incredible, and you cannot blame them.
The humiliation at the checkpoints is only making people even angrier,” he tells
me. “I’ve been there, and I saw that anyone who even turns their head
is threatened and hit by both American and Iraqi soldiers alike…one man did
this, and when the Iraqi soldier tried to humiliate him, the man took a gun of a
nearby soldier and killed two ING, so then of course he was
The doctor tells
me they are keeping people in the line for several hours at a time, in addition
to the US military making propaganda films of the situation.
“And I’ve seen
them use the media-and on January 2nd at the north checkpoint in the north part
of Fallujah, they were giving people $200 per family to return to Fallujah so
they can film them in the line…when actually, at that time, nobody was returning
to Fallujah,” he says. It reminds me of the story my colleague told me of what
he saw in January. At that time a CNN crew was escorted in by the military to
film street cleaners that were brought in as props, and soldiers handing out
candy to children.
understand the hatred that has been caused…it has gotten more difficult for
Iraqis, including myself, to make the distinction between the American
government and the American people,” he tells me.
His story is like
“My cousin was a
poor man in Fallujah,” he explains, “He walked from his house to work and back,
while living with his wife and five daughters. In July of 2003, American
soldiers entered his house and woke them all up. They drug them into the main
room of the house, and executed my cousin in front of his family. Then they
then holds up his hands and asks, “Now, how are these people going to feel about
Dahr Jamail. Reprinted with the author's
Posted February 11,
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