May 10, 2009

The country that cried 'terrorist' was looking in the mirror once again

Here we go again. Accusing the victim. Killing, torturing, lying . . .  

How can we believe any reports from the military any more. When the US commits an atrocity or an injustice, whether it's intentional or by accident, we deny it until there are photos, videos, or "credible" eye witnesses.

Soldiers who have been involved in combat in occupied countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, are familiar with incidents like the one below at least once during their tour. Many of us have had our lives changed by the experience, but not nearly as much as the victims and their families. 

Hopefully we are able to share our energy of understanding and compassion with the soldiers and their families as well as the victims in these countries as we work to bring about an end to this cycling of death and destruction. We can learn from the men and women who have organized their compassion into action and have refused to take part in Bush's - and now Obama's - wars and occupations. 

We have heard some of the stories from the men and women who have returned from places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and have learned the truth that the government tries to hide.

Let's share the burden of our soldiers and help them and their families when they are faced with the choice between going AWOL or continuing to participate in the illegal wars and occupations. Many have been there again and again and refuse to participate any more. 

It's time to work to have our communities welcome the resisters and release the ones in the prisons. 

It's past time to work to connect the poverty and lack of services and opportunities available to those of us in need because of our misguided national priorities.

It's past time to close prisons like Guantanamo and Bagram AFB in Afghanistan.

It's past time to ground the drones.

It's past time to remove all our military and private armies from Iraq and Afghanistan.

We could go on and on about the obvious things we should do right away, but we need to stop murdering boys like Omar Musa Salih

U.S. soldiers, attacked, kill a 12-year-old Iraqi boy
by Ali Abass and Jack Dolan / McClatchy Newspapers

MOSUL, Iraq - American soldiers opened fire and killed a 12-year-old boy after a grenade hit their convoy in Mosul on Thursday.

"We have every reason to believe that insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtably placing the children in harm's way," a U.S. spokesman wrote in an email on Saturday.

But eyewitnesses said the boy, identified as Omar Musa Salih, was standing by the side of the road selling fruit juice - a common practice in Iraq - had nothing to do with the attack.

A friend, Ahmed Jassim, 15, said he was selling cans of Pepsi nearby when he heard the grenade explode. He dove behind a parked car, then heard the roar of machine gun fire. "When the shooting was over and the patrol went away, I stood and I saw Omar on the ground covered with blood," Jassim said.

Another witness, Ahmed IzAldeen, 56, said he saw the person who threw the grenade. It wasn't the boy, but a man in his twenties, he said. IzAldeen said he saw the man standing behind a truck holding the grenade as the American patrol approached.

Military officials said they're sure the boy was part of the assault on the convoy. "Coalition forces fired on two of three individuals positively identified as involved in the attack, killing one, who they later discovered was a 12-year -old boy," the email said.

Mosul, in the north, is among Iraq's most violent cities. On Saturday, gunmen killed an off-duty police officer and wounded three civilians at a market in the city center, and a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded a civilian in eastern Mosul.

An American military statement on Friday said the 12-year old's shooting is still under investigation.

Some local officials, however, are already citing it as an example of the need for a prompt withdrawal of American troops to reduce tension in the city.

"When attacked, the Americans just open fire, whether on the gunman or just randomly," said Usama Al Nujaifi, a member of Parliament from Mosul. "The American presence in the cities is wrong, we urged them to stay outside from the beginning."

American combat forces are supposed to pull out of all cities by June 30 under an agreement signed last year that hands security over to Iraqi forces. But the two sides have discussed pushing back the deadline, especially in the most violent cities, such as Mosul.

Friends of the Salih family said he was the oldest of 6 children. He quit school in the first grade, when her was six or seven years old.

He was well-known in the Ras Al-Jadda neighborhood, where the attack took place.
(McClatchy special correspondent Hussein Kadhim contributed to this report.)

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