Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Civilian causalities, or shall we just call them mistakes.

“The Americans burst into our house pointed a gun at my 3 year old daughters head and shot her.”

"AH" a 23 years old double amputee sits in her wheelchair in her bedroom at the Zeda Hotel in Amman, Jordan. She is sponsored by MSF and is receiving prosthetic therapy.

I met AH who is a double amputee at the Zeda Hotel, she is sponsored by MSF and is receiving prosthetic treatment. AH wanted desperately to tell me her story but her father did not want her to go through this again. He told me that their story has been published many times, on TV and nothing has ever come of it, they have received no compensation or justice. AH would not give up and finally we got her fathers consent.

This is horrifying incident took place at noon in 2004 in Ambar. The American Marines had surrounded their neighborhood, the loudspeakers telling the residents not to come out of their homes. Amals family, her father, mother, 3 sisters, 2 brothers and baby girl were sitting in the living room eating lunch. They saw a tank in their backyard, it started to shoot at their home. Then 2 soldiers burst into their home, (both in their early 30’s which shows that these were not young 20 year old inexperienced soldiers, one white, one black.) They were only 2 meters away when they shot Amals daughter in the head.

“I was holding her in my arms, her head burst open and even parts hit the ceiling, then the soldiers threw 2 grenades and left,” says Amal, her eyes blank.

Suddenly, jeeps, tanks, and a helicopter surrounded their home. The family went to the kitchen, the father took his white scarf and through the opened window waved it to the helicopter above. He said it was so close he could see the soldiers inside. It made no difference, 2 missiles were shot and fell near the kitchen doorway. “AH” mother and 9-year-old sister were killed. The rest of the “living” family members were seriously injured, one brother sustained 2 broken and smashed legs, AH lost both her legs, miraculously only the father sustained minimal injuries. Alone AH’s father began moving his families’ bodies out of the house.
Many American Marines entered the house again, they saw the dead bodies and put them in black bags, put the wounded into the helicopter and took them to the medical base. Then they threw grenades and bombed the house to the ground. They said it was a case of misinformation, the official army response was, “it was a mistake, an accident.” In fact it was another cover-up, just like in Haditha. But at least those soldiers were charged, the case became known and maybe even the family members who survived were compensated. For this family there has not been any justice whatsoever.

For the next years AH’s father has sought compensation from the Americans, they have received nothing. “We live only day by day, we can not plan anything for the future, now we want only treatment, we have given up on the Americans, only MSF have helped us,” says the father of AH. He went on to tell me what he said to an American General he met at the American medical base.

“It would be an honor to kill you. If an Iraqi came to America and an entire family of civilians, Bush himself would hold the gun and shoot him.”

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