Was Wiped Out"
Göbel, Mahammad J. Haded and Mohammad Awad
10 March, 2005
International Action Center
Feb. 20-25, IAC activist John Catalinotto was in Belgium and Germany
taking part in protests against Bushs visit to Europe. On Feb.
25, he participated in a meeting where two people from Falluja, Iraq,
told of the U.S. assault on their city. Below is his translation of
an excellent interview with the two by Rüdiger Göbel of the
German daily newspaper Junge Welt, in its Feb. 26 edition.
Mahammad J. Haded and Mohammad Awad over the voting farce in Iraq after
the siege and bombardment of a city with a population of 360,000; the
mood in the U.S. Army and in the population in occupied Mesopotamia.
* The physician
Mahammad J. Haded and Mohammad Awad, director of a refugee center, were
in the besieged and bombarded Iraqi city of Falluja during the large
U.S. offensive called "Dawn" in November 2004. In the past
two weeks (Feb. 12-26) they reported to numerous meetings in Germany
on the terror they experienced.
Q: Two weeks
ago U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld left after a visit to
the occupation troops in Baghdad into his airplane and a few hours later
reached the "security conference" in Munich. How long does
an Iraqi from occupied Mesopotamia need to reach Germany?
Mahammad J. Haded:
We had to drive with a passenger car from Falluja to Baghdad and then
to the German Embassy to pick up a visa. From there out we drove a good
1,000 kilometers (625 miles) to the Jordanian capital Amman with a taxi.
With Jordan Air we continued to go to Frankfurt/Main. All in all we
were underway for three days.
Q: In the
past weeks the "elections" dominated the reports from Iraq
in the local media. In the province Anbar, where Falluja also lies,
only two percent of the eligible voters took part in the vote according
to occupation reports. How do you explain that?
elections in Iraq were important for the USA. They were of enormous
symbolic importance, but it was a vote that doesn't represent the Iraqis.
The Iraqis were rather erased as Iraqis and instead divided into Shiites,
Sunnis, Christians, in Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs, and so on. Political
parties that really work for our country did not take part only at all
in the election. Because of a lack of security they were for a postponement
of the vote. For example, the Sunnis in Mosul, Tikrit, Dijala, Anbar,
Falluja, Ramadi and large parts of Baghdad were of this opinion: one
cannot participate in the vote so long as occupation troops are in the
country. They demanded a clear schedule for their departure. The Shiite
Imam however called from the mosques for taking part and explained that
those who do not vote are unbelievers. They said to their followers
that their vote would support the demand for the departure of the Americans.
Voters and non-voters alike were united in wanting the departure of
the U.S. soldiers.
The Americans and the Iraqi interim government spoke of 14.5 million
eligible voters. In the end according to their data eight million participated.
Many Iraqis believe that at most five million co- operated - in an overall
population of 26 million.
Q: From fear
of attacks or by political conviction?
are many reasons, from lack of security up to political boycott. On
Election Day it was forbidden to drive with an automobile. One had to
thus go by foot to the election. There were notices threatening polling
stations. Many had thus actually feared participating in the election.
Many stayed away because they assumed the Americans would carry out
electoral frauds. They didn't want to be part of a farce.
Iraqis refused to cooperate out of political conviction. How can I put
my voting card into an urn, which is "protected" by an American
tank, was heard again and again. From the United Nations there were
exactly 15 elections observers in Iraq! How could they possibly get
an accurate picture of the proper voting procedures.
A widespread slogan
in Iraq was: whether you go to vote or not, in the end in any case the
occupation will win. Already before votes were counted it was clear
that the new government was set up by the past interim government. Singular
posts are only shifted and ministers switched around. That means in
the last analysis that the Iraqi people had no real voice.
had 360,000 inhabitants before the U.S. invasion. How many people still
live in that "city of the thousand mosques," which has now
been besieged and bombarded several times?
in Falluja there were only a hundred mosques. The city is today totally
ruined. Falluja is our Dresden in Iraq. [Dresden was a German civilian
city filled with refugees that was firebombed by British and U.S. planes
as World War II was ending-trans.] About 5,000 families, that is, 25,000
to 30,000 Iraqis, remained during the U.S. major offensive in November
in Falluja, the rest of the inhabitants having fled. Meanwhile some
returned. We estimate that about 20 per cent of the population of Falluja
Q:: The U.S.
army indicated at the end of December that one of every three dwellings
in Falluja had been destroyed due to the major offensive.
includes only those destroyed by bombing. Apartments and houses that
were not destroyed directly by U.S. bombs were destroyed later. Furniture
was smashed into little pieces. Besides, innumerable houses were purposefully
set on fire. Even schools and hospitals were destroyed. The Americans
moved ahead from house to house. Devastated houses were marked with
a "X ".
Q: How many
Iraqis were killed during the U.S. offensive?
Haded: Still today
corpses are found under the rubble of destroyed houses. An unknown number
of dead people were thrown by the U.S. troops into the Euphrates River.
The U.S. army announced that 1,200 people had been killed. We ourselves
pulled out and then buried more than 700 corpses. Beyond that we cannot
give accurate data.
to U.S. military, the dead bodies are exclusively "terrorists,"
that is, resistance fighters. Civilians were unhurt. Is this your experience?
have innumerable pictures and also films, on which you can see who was
killed in Falluja. I invite everyone to come into our city and to make
their own picture of the situation. I will bring you together with children
who had to watch their parents being shot by Americans. And I will bring
you together with men who saw how their children and their wives were
There was and there
still is resistance in Iraq and also in Falluja. The resistance against
the occupation is legitimate and corresponds to international conventions.
It is not however by any means legal to bombard civilians. That is permitted
neither to the Americans nor to opponents of the occupation.
Many Iraqis are
the opinion that the attacks on civilians are not the responsibility
of the resistance, but that in the long run the Americans and the secret
services of the neighboring countries are behind them. It is similar
with Musab al-Zarkawi, with whose existence the Americans justified
the attacks on Falluja. Where is al-Zarkawi today? He is a phantom,
who manages to show up exactly where he can be used. It doesn't matter
if it is in Kirkuk, Mosul, Tikrit, Samarra, Ramadi, Baghdad or Basra
- everywhere, where there is resistance, Al-Zarkawi manages to emerge
where he is useful [to the U.S.].
Q: The major
offensive called "dawn" began at the night of Nov. 8. They
began at that time at the general hospital in Falluja. How did you experience
the USA assault?
city hospital lies in the west and is separated by the Euphrates from
the city itself. Between seven and eight in the evening, U.S. soldiers
encircled and occupied the 200-bed hospital. At the time about 30 patients
were still in the hospital. Although there was no resistance and also
no fighters were being treated, the physicians and the maintenance personnel,
altogether 22 persons employed there, were immediately arrested: We
were thrown to the ground, bound and later interrogated. We were told
we would have to vacate the hospital, patients as well as the caregivers.
Afterwards the hospital was wiped out, even the medical instruments
Q: Were resistance
fighters treated in the hospital?
the Americans. U.S. troops were inside, looked through everything and
asked us again and again where the terrorists were hiding. Ask them
how many they found and arrested. If they had found someone there from
the resistance, they would have never released us physicians again.
At the same time
as the occupation of the hospital the bombardment of the entire city
began. We could hear the detonations clearly. Even rescue cars were
attacked. First inhabitants tried to bring the wounded with their passenger
cars into a hospital. But everything that moved on the roads was fired
We finally established
a field hospital in the eastern part of Falluja. In principle it was
no more than an outpatient clinic. We gave the exact location of the
building to the Americans. Two days later it was bombed, so this emergency
station was thus lost. We finally established a second emergency-aid
clinic, which was actually not functional. We had practically nothing
there. Water and electricity were turned off, and the telephone no longer
The conditions were
catastrophic and nevertheless we operated on 25 wounded people there.
We had no medicines, however, and the wounds became infected. For all
practical purposes the patients lay in their deathbeds. Those with major
injuries were lost. In the surrounding houses we looked for volunteers
who helped us with cleaning up and to wash away the blood. My 13-year-old
son was among the helpers.
After seven days
I went to the Americans. I wanted to organize transportation for our
patients. But first I was arrested by soldiers of the Iraqi army - all
of them Shiites and Kurds. Finally I was able to speak with a responsible
person in the U.S. army. I asked him if we might bring our patients
into the hospital. First he didn't believe me, explaining that there
was nobody left in Falluja and that everyone had fled. I asked to be
allowed to drive with a car and a white flag through the roads and to
gather the remaining inhabitants in a mosque. In one hour I had collected
about 50 people from their homes, approximately ten families. Two days
later there were 200 Iraqis in the mosque. Some told me that American
soldiers had purposely fired their weapons at families, even those holding
white flag. Also in the mosque we had set up a small outpatient clinic.
In the surrounding houses we looked for medicines - nothing special,
a few tranquilizers.
Up until today U.S.
soldiers surround the central hospital. Patients must come on foot!
Whoever comes by passenger car is fired at.
Q: Why during
the bombardment had several thousand Iraqis remained in Falluja?
different reasons: Some, for example, had no relatives in Baghdad with
whom they could find accommodation. Others were ashamed to be in tents
living like refugees. Others would gladly have fled, but had no car.
However, most of those who remained simply could not imagine that the
Americans would fight with such a rage. They did not believe that the
U.S. soldiers would bomb and shoot directly at civilians and at whole
families. Fighters, yes, but unarmed people, women, children, wounded
people, old people?
Q: Were you
yourselves witnesses to a massacre?
Haded: No, I did
not see personally that the U.S. troops did such a thing. In one of
the emergency outpatient clinics, however, there were two wounded people,
about whom I inquired later with the Americans. An Iraqi soldier said
to me then, they had shot and buried the two there and then.
In arrangement with
the Americans I arranged to have a small group of volunteers from the
200 people in the mosque gather the dead bodies from the roads. An outbreak
of epidemics was threatened, and the smell of decay was terrible. These
volunteers told me later that many women and children as well as old
people were among the victims.
I had announced myself as a volunteer for the collection of corpses.
You can imagine that the dead people were lying for days and in some
cases for weeks on the roads and in dwellings. Many corpses had already
been chewed over by dogs. A remarkable number of dead people were totally
charred - we asked ourselves which weapons the Americans used there.
I saw in Falluja
with own eyes a family that had been shot by U.S. soldiers: The father
was in his mid-fifties, his three children between ten and twelve years
old. In the refugee camp a teacher told me she had been preparing a
meal, when soldiers stormed their dwelling in Falluja. Without preliminary
warning they shot her father, her husband and her brother. Then they
went right out. From fear the woman remained in the house with the dead
bodies. In the evening other soldiers came, who took her and her children
and brought them out of the city. Those are only two of many tragedies
Q: Ten of
thousands of Iraqis fled before the conquest of Falluja and until today
have not returned to the U.S.-occupied city. How are the living conditions
for these refugees?
very difficult. At first they lived in provisional accommodations, many
of them in the open air. We lacked milk for children and old people
had no medicines. From the governmental side, that is, the Iraqi interim
government of Iyad Allawi, there was practically no assistance for these
people. Let alone from the Americans. We were and are dependant on donations
of private organizations.
At the same time
there was an overwhelming, spontaneous solidarity from within the Iraqi
population. Many who had fled Falluja found accommodation with relatives
or friends. Innumerable Iraqis in Baghdad and other cities also announced
that they would accept refugees in their homes. Approximately one month
after beginning of the U.S. offensive finally the Iraqi Red Crescent
came into action and began to distribute aid.
Q: What is
the mood today in Falluja? Are rage and hate against the occupier dominating
or rather resignation and regret that there was resistance?
Haded: The population
is full of rage. People hate the Americans - Americans generally, not
only U.S. soldiers. They are occupiers, killers and terrorists. Almost
every family in Falluja has to mourn a victim; how you can expect any
other reaction there.
I say to you: Most
of the [U.S.] soldiers feel fine about shooting Iraqis. They really
believe all Iraqis are terrorists, as their government tells them. I
saw soldiers who were laughing together in their unit, as if they were
drugged. In a mosque they organized a carnival. The place of worship
was transformed into a discotheque!
Even if it doesn't
look that way at first sight, in the long run the Americans lost in
Falluja. Which does it mean if an Empire uses all its power to attack
what is a small city, without any morals, without scruples. That is
the beginning of the end.
Q: The U.S.
army offered at the end of its Falluja offensive to pay 500 dollar remuneration
for each destroyed dwelling.
is 500 dollars? That is not even enough to get rid of all the debris!
The offer is a new sort of attempt to humble us. They want to make us
into beggars. I do not want the money. We Arabs and Muslims believe
in principles: We would rather live in tents and in liberty than in
luxury and under occupation.
my opinion the occupation forces must pay an appropriate remuneration
for the physical and psychological damage, which the citizens of Falluja
suffered - after the Americans have left our city and our country.
* To our interviewees
Dr. Mahammad J.
Haded belonged to the medical staff of the Central Hospital of Falluja,
which was occupied in November 2004 by U.S. troops; in addition he works
in a small hospital in the center of the city. He was one of the few
physicians who remained during the attack on Falluja.
Mohammad F. Awad
is a civil engineer and since 2003 has been president of the City Council
of Zaqlawiya, a town nine kilometers north of Falluja. Since past year
he is also director of the refugee assistance center supported by the
Red Crescent in Zaqlawiya. He was one of the volunteers who gathered
corpses of killed inhabitants of Falluja and brought them for identification
Translation by John
Catalinotto, International Action Center, USA, who participated with
Dr. Hadad and Mr. Awad in a public meeting in Heidelberg on Feb. 25.
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