Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily / Inter Press Service – 2006-12-16 23:12:39
FALLUJAH (December 14, 2006) — Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another US military raid at Fallujah General Hospital. The raid followed a roadside bombing Dec. 7 where four Iraqi policemen were killed and two civilians injured. The injured were taken to Fallujah General Hospital.
Shortly after this attack, a US Marine who was on a patrol in the city was wounded by a gunshot.
“US soldiers replied to the source of fire then headed straight to the general hospital across the (Euphrates) river hoping that they had shot and injured the sniper,” an eyewitness told IPS.
“American soldiers seem to have some imagination to think wounded fighters might go to that so-called hospital,” a retired surgeon told IPS. “We know that they do not trust that place because of the continuous raids by the US, and lack of everything in that hospital.” The hospital is functioning at minimal capacity due to lack of medicines and equipment, the surgeon said.
Eyewitnesses at Fallujah General Hospital said US soldiers raided the hospital “as if it were a military target.”
“We panicked at the way they entered, kicking open doors and blasting locked ones,” a nurse told IPS. “A doctor tried to tell them he had keys for the locked doors, but they pointed their guns to his face. Then they told us to go out of the building and they kept us under guard in the garden until the early hours of next morning.”
The nurse said the soldiers “would not even allow us to get some blankets to keep us warm; the temperature was below five degrees centigrade.” Doctors and medical staff were arrested and insulted, and some were called terrorists, witnesses said. The hospital was then closed, and could no longer offer even minimal treatment.
“We are used to that kind of behaviour from American soldiers,” a hospital employee told IPS. “This was the third time I was in handcuffs with my face down. They have been more vicious with medical staff than others because they consider us the first supporters of those they call terrorists.”
The US military said that Marines from Regimental Combat Team 5 entered Fallujah General Hospital in order to search for fighters after two Marines were wounded the previous day in the city.
Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, spokesperson for the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, told reporters: “Coalition forces searched the hospital to ensure that it continues to be a safe place for the citizens of Fallujah to receive the medical treatment they deserve.”
This hospital has been raided many times before, particularly in the US military assault on the city April and November 2004.
Two years back, on Dec 13, 2004, IPS reported that the US military was impeding Iraqi health workers around and inside Fallujah, and was deliberately targeting ambulances. In November 2005 IPS reported that the US military had raided two hospitals in Ramadi.
Many Iraqi doctors have been arrested by US forces for various periods of time on suspicion of “supporting terrorism” in Iraq. Many have fled the country for fear of repeated arrests or even killings by US soldiers or sectarian militia death squads.
The independent Iraq Medical Association announced last month that of the 34,000 Iraqi physicians registered prior to 2003, over half have fled the country, and that at least 2,000 have been killed.
Article 12 of the first Geneva Convention states: “(Combatants) who are sick and wounded… shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict in whose power they may be…” The article goes on to state that “any attempts on their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited…”
Article 24 of the first Geneva Convention states: “Medical personnel exclusively engaged in… transport or treatment of the wounded or sick…(and) staff exclusively engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments…shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.”
Under the fourth Geneva Convention, Article 18 reads: “Civilian hospitals organised to care to the wounded and sick, infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
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© 2006 Dahr Jamail. www.darhJamail.com
Posted in accordance with title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Iraq Aid Agency ‘Attacked’ by US
BAGHDAD (December 16, 2006) — The Iraqi Red Crescent, the country’s biggest humanitarian organisation, has accused United States troops of attacking its offices and vehicles. The organisation’s vice-president said attacks by US-led forces were the biggest problem it faced.
The Red Crescent, which has a staff of 1,000 and 200,000 volunteers, is the only Iraqi aid group working across the country’s 18 provinces.
The US military said it was checking the allegations.
Jamal al-Karbouli, Vice-President of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said the latest incident occurred last week in the central city of Falluja. “We had our offices attacked by American forces. They detained the volunteers and staff for more than two hours,” Mr Karbouli said.
He added that two Red Crescent cars had been burned. Mr Karbouli was speaking at a meeting of international Red Cross organisations in Geneva.
He went on to give other examples of alleged US harassment, including attacks on the organisation’s headquarters in Baghdad over the past three years.
“Four to five times they have attacked the headquarters, they break doors and windows, just to see. And they didn’t find anything and they left,” he said.
A US military spokesman told Reuters news agency that American troops did not damage sites when searching for insurgents. “Coalition forces strive to ensure they are respectful when they conduct interaction with the local population,” Lt Col Christopher Garver said.
Posted in accodance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.