July 19, 2006
Stop the Killing of Iraqi Civilians
The human rights office of the U.N. Assistant Mission for Iraq- UNAMI– reported yesterday that more than 14,000 civilians had been killed during the first half of this year, including more than 3,000 in June. The death toll for the past month averaged more than 100 civilians a day.The report describes an increase in lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation.
Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said. Evidence suggests militants also have begun to target homosexuals, the report said.
According to an article in the Washington Post, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, vowed is administration will do everything possible to tackle violence and foster reconciliation among Iraqis. His efforts to bridge the divisions among Iraq’s religious, ethnic and political groups rests on his national reconciliation initiative.
[This initiative is] “the only bridge and crossing point through which we can reach the safe shore that unites the sons of the Iraqi people, ends the violent situation, provides stability and puts an end to all discriminatory ideas, whether of sect, political party or race,” al-Maliki said.
A lot of rightwingers are posting that these numbers are completely off and the UN only wants to turn more Americans against the war efforts in Iraq (many Americans didn’t support the US occupation of Iraq before these numbers were released). I won’t bother tracking back to their stories, but conservative blogs say these civilian deaths are not ‘collateral damage’ and 90% of the reported 3,000 actually died from natural causes. They don’t say were they get that figure. 90%? So 2,700 Iraqis died naturally? Pretty weak argument. Hint: If you die a couple of days later because shrapnel tore the insides of your stomach–that’s still war related, not a natural cause.
Meanwhile, U.N. special representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, told reporters “we hope there will be no civil war in Iraq, although the reality right now is that there is a very high degree of violence.”
***Saree Makdisi, a comparative literature professor at UCLA wrote an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times about Israel in Lebanon. I hope you are able to access it.