Meditation Focus #108: Fostering Peace on Earth
What follows is the 108th Meditation Focus suggested for the 2 weeks beginning Sunday, April 11, 2004.
FOSTERING PEACE ON EARTH
2. Meditation times
3. Suggested Guided Visualization
4. Peace Watch for several countries: Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Chechnya (not an exhaustive list)
One year after the invasion of Iraq by British-American forces under the flimsy pretext of disarming Saddam Hussein of his most dangerous weapons, the situation is gradually worsening for the illegal occupiers whose crude disregard for any human rights and the lives of millions of Iraqis has now pitted nearly the whole population against its "liberators". Not only at least 10,000 civilians have been killed during the invasion and its immediate aftermath, not to mention approximately 40,000 Iraqi soldiers slaughtered as well as countless people who were wounded during the same period, but a vast number of people have also been exposed to cancer-causing depleted uranium and have seen their living conditions significantly worsen under the new military regime imposed upon them. The open and violent rebellion this past week of extremist religious elements now appears to gather a growing support amongst the disgruntled populace and despite repeated promises by the Bush Administration of a complete transfer of power on June 30 to a so-called "sovereign" government, the situation now clearly indicates that the torments endured by millions of Iraqis and the daily slaughter of innocent children, women and men is set to continue for years to come. It is clear that unless a majority of Americans has a profound and massive change of heart, as they did by the end of the Vietnam war, and stop supporting or ignoring the criminal military activities of their government, the Pentagon and the private, corporate interests it serves definitely intend to stay indefinitely in Iraq as its current construction of fourteen permanent military bases in Iraq demonstrates.
Meanwhile other armed conflicts are continuing unabated as in the Palestinian occupied territories, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Sudan, or flaring up again as in Sri Lanka, or risk igniting as in North Korea, which clearly indicates that the blatant disregard for all international conventions pertaining to the legitimacy and conduct of a war and the respect of human rights as an occupying military force repeatedly demonstrated over the years by successive U.S. governments, and especially in Iraq by the current administration, is setting the tone and opening the door for others to follow in their steps, thus imperiling peace and countless human lives around the world and preventing a strong sustained focus on tackling the real global threats to our common future represented by environmental destruction, human impoverishment and global starvation because of imminent oil shortages and the failure by most governments to develop massively available alternate sources of clean energy.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following one, to contribute in fostering Peace on Earth and reinvigorating the efforts by all peace-loving people and organizations to contribute in shifting the priorities of their governments towards meeting the essential needs of all humans for living a peaceful, secure life in a balanced or restored environment, with enough food on the table and sufficient social services to ensure a healthy lifestyle for themselves, their children and all generations to come. Let us never lose hope and faith that goodwill, compassion and benevolence will indeed prevail in the near future and Peace, Love and Harmony will ultimately prevail on Earth, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus108.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. SUGGESTED GUIDED VISUALIZATION
You may also use the following suggested visualization as a complement to this Meditation Focus to contribute in empowering the vision of Peace on Earth.
Visualization for Peace
A Visualization for all those on the Path of Peace
Let us visualize the Divine Guardians of the Living Godhead and the Angelic Forces of the Universe sending Light down upon the countries of the Middle East.
A sign of Peace is created with a large eye that becomes a vortex through which the myriad of Light rays enter from the heavens as a sign of conjunction between Heaven and the Earth, connecting the faces of children with the faces of the Guardians of the Heavens.
The mind set of the rulers and princes of the earth is changed from war by the Light and the words of the Beatitudes that come streaking across the sky, Blessed are the Peacemakers.
We see above the planetary tumult, our petitions for Peace being offered to YOU, O DIVINE ONE, so that YOU can send down the Archangel Michael who is recognized by Christians, Jews, and Moslems alike to come into the midst of the circle of Doves and set foot on the soil of the Middle East to hold all negativity at bay. And Michael, the Archangel, is joined by Gabriel and Raphael who are sent by the Most High to deliver us from war by creating a vast wall of Light, protecting the lame and the sick and the children of the Middle East with the words: May Peace Prevail on Earth.
We also visualize around the people of all the cities of the earth arcs of Light sent down from the Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods of Light to the rulers in Pyongyang, North Korea, to change their thought-forms of war to thought-forms of Peace. We visualize great rays of Light being sent down upon all of Korea and the countries of the East, and we feel brotherhood and sisterhood for each other pulsating a sacred heart intersecting with the image of a Dove.
O DIVINE ONE, let the energy of the Doves influence the leaders of military strategy on all sides of the Earth so that humanity can seek a non-violent path. Let us stretch our thought-forms of Love and Peace to be one with the Divine and let us feel the essence of this Divine Interconnection.
May we each come to the realization that we share a higher destiny and a Spiritual Body whose nature is pure Light, where the divinities and their realms want to commune with us no matter who we are, pouring forth rays of Light with the nature of Wisdom and Love.
Finally, we visualize the people in areas of conflict absorbing the Light, and beginning to comprehend the five immeasurable virtues for our five Spiritual Bodies. These virtues are the Body of Clear Knowledge, the Body of Unity, Invariable Longsuffering, the Perfect Knowledge of Wisdom and Limitless Love, and the Clear Essence of a Self-manifestation of the Divine that comes into the human dimension.
And now we understand the Peace that Passes All Human Understanding!
Let us therefore affirm and meditate each day upon the Song of Creation with these thoughts. May Peace Prevail in our Souls. May Peace Prevail in the Family of the Universe and from the Light Bodies that emanate from the Most High God and His House of Many Mansions.
J.J. Hurtak, Ph.D.
Taken from http://www.keysofenoch.org/html/peace.html
4. PEACE WATCH FOR SEVERAL COUNTRIES
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
Here are some of the latest developments in several countries. Please keep these situations in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well as on the entire planet.
U.S. Preparing Long Iraq Drive to Quell Unrest
WASHINGTON, April 10 American commanders are preparing for a prolonged campaign to quell the twin uprisings in Iraq, issuing orders to attack any members of a rebellious Shiite militia in southern cities relentlessly while moving methodically to squeeze Sunni fighters west of Baghdad until they lay down their arms.
Officials in Baghdad and at the Pentagon said the military was prepared, if no peaceful solution materializes, to use two distinct sets of tactics to counter what they viewed as two different insurgencies both of them dangerous and complex situations on difficult urban battlefields.
One campaign would entail retaking cities around Baghdad, if necessary block by block against an entrenched Sunni foe. The other would involve a series of short, sharp, local strikes at small, elusive bands of Shiite militia in southern cities, continuing until the militia was wiped out. Even as commanders offered a cease-fire to Sunnis in Falluja, allowing Iraqis to try to find a peaceful solution, and postponed any assault on Shiites in Najaf and elsewhere during religious holidays, they prepared for campaigns against foes who showed unexpected discipline and ferocity this week.
"We are on a war footing," said a senior military officer in Baghdad.
President Bush, in his weekly radio address, made clear on Saturday that the battle could last for weeks, after a week in which fighting in Iraq took the lives of 46 American soldiers, several allied soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis. "This week in Iraq, our coalition forces have faced challenges, and taken the fight to the enemy," the president said, without mentioning the exceptionally high rate of casualties. "And our offensive will continue in the weeks ahead."
Senior Pentagon officials and military officers reaffirmed their decision to "confront head-on and defeat" the militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric leading an insurrection across southern Iraq.
A senior Pentagon official conceded that the conflict with Mr. Sadr's militia had been thrust upon the Americans at an inopportune time, just as they were trying to knit together a broad-based government to establish Iraqi sovereignty on June 30. "Attacking the Sadr militia was not an option anybody wanted," one senior Pentagon official said. "Now we have to go out and do it." CLIP
April 6, 2004
Sorrows of Empire
Mercenaries and Occupiers
By C.G. ESTABROOK
The killing and mutilation of four Americans in Iraq were played to shock television audiences at home -- "too terrible to show." The attack added four more to the more than 50,000 deaths in Iraq that we're responsible for during the Bush administration. (The Clinton administration was responsible for many more.) American officials replied with immediate threats of revenge attacks, and have now sealed off Fallujah. Apparently this is what the White House meant when it "vowed [according to the New York Times] that the United States would finish its peacekeeping mission in Iraq despite the grisly attacks on civilian contractors."
The Republican administration's putative opponents immediately agreed: Democratic presidential candidate Kerry said that we are "united in our resolve that these enemies will not prevail"; Democratic House leader Pelosi said, "We're not going to run out of town"; and "maverick" Senator McCain, asked whether he could see the United States withdrawing from Iraq, replied, "I cannot."
These "contractors," the Times explained elsewhere, were from Blackwater USA, "a private military firm that provides an array of services once performed solely by military personnel. The company trains soldiers in counterterrorism and urban warfare. It also provides the American government with soldiers for hire: former Green Berets, Army Rangers and Navy Seals. In February it started training former Chilean commandos -- some of whom served under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet -- for future service in Iraq."
"Blackwater has about 400 ... armed commandos" in Iraq, said the Washington Post: it, not the military, guards US proconsul L. Paul Bremer. Blackwater "has contracts as well with the departments of Defense, State and Transportation. The company also did work in Afghanistan ... Blackwater is in Moyock, N.C., just across the Virginia border, and U.S. law enforcement and military personnel frequently use its 6,000-acre site for weapons training ... [it was also] paid $13 million between April 2002 and June 2003 for security training of Navy personnel. The firm's president and training director, and Blackwater Security Consulting's director, are veteran Navy SEALs. The name Blackwater alludes to covert missions undertaken by elite divers at night."
The men killed in Fallujah were in short American mercenaries, being paid $1,000 a day -- one wonders, for what? Were their "contracts" of the Mafia sort? Were they part of an American death squad, contributing to the pacification of Iraq as the American Phoenix program once in did in Vietnam, by arranging literally tens of thousands of mob-style hits?
There is evidence that the killing of these mercenaries was not random, and that it was done in retaliation for the American-sponsored assassination of the head of Hamas (which killed eight people and wounded twenty-four others), ordered by the Israeli government. (As Juan Cole pointed out, "He could have easily been arrested, and had been in the 1990s, but he was incinerated in a piece of state terror instead.") The US patron and the Israeli client seem to be following the same policies of occupation, with similar results.
Of course the US has no intention of withdrawing from Iraq, regardless of who's elected president this fall. On the contrary, the establishment of US military bases throughout what the Pentagon calls the Greater Middle East is an essential part of the permanent US government strategy to control world energy resources as the way to control our economic rivals, principally Europe and northeast Asia. (Massive support for a militarized Israel as our "stationary aircraft carrier" is another.)
Consequently the US is building the world's largest embassy eventually to be staffed by 3,000 people in Baghdad. The CIA station in that city is already the largest in the world, larger even than the CIA operation in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War. The ring of American bases (described in Chalmers Johnson's new book, Sorrows of Empire) includes those in Uzbekistan, whose ruler is famous for boiling his opponents alive; as a monster, he compares favorably with our former client in the region, Saddam Hussein.
This policy is in the interest of the economic elites who dominate both US political parties, but it's obviously not in the interest of the people of the region, nor of the people of the United States. That's why the Bush administration (and every other administration) has to lie about what we're doing in Iraq, and about the "war on terrorism," to the only group it actually fears -- the American populace.
C.G. Estabrook teaches at the University of Illinois and writes the weekly News from Neptune column. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Naomi Klein
April 6, 2004
BAGHDAD -- I heard the sound of freedom yesterday in Baghdad's Firdos Square, the famous plaza where the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled one year ago. It sounds like machine-gun fire.
On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by coalition forces, opened fire on demonstrators here, forcing the emergency evacuation of the nearby Sheraton and Palestine hotels. As demonstrators returned to their homes in the poor neighborhood of Sadr City, the U.S. army followed with tanks and helicopters. As night fell, there were unconfirmed reports of dozens of casualties. In Najaf, the day was equally bloody: 19 demonstrators dead, more than 150 injured.
But make no mistake: This is not the "civil war" that Washington has been predicting will break out between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Rather, it is a war provoked by the U.S. occupation authority and waged by its forces against the growing number of Shiites who support Muqtada al-Sadr.
Mr. al-Sadr is the younger, more radical rival of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, portrayed by his adoring supporters as a kind of cross between Ayatollah Khomaini and Che Guevara. He blames the U.S. for attacks on civilians, compares U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer to Saddam Hussein, aligns himself with Hamas and Hezbollah and has called for a jihad against the controversial interim constitution. His Iraq might look a lot like Iran.
And it's a message with a market. With Ayatollah al-Sistani concentrating on lobbying the United Nations rather than on confronting the U.S.-led occupation in the streets, many Shiites are growing restless, and are turning to the more militant tactics preached by Mr. al-Sadr. Some have joined the Mahdi, Muqtada's black-clad army, which claims hundreds of thousands of members.
At first, Mr. Bremer responded to Mr. al-Sadr's growing strength by ignoring him; now he is attempting to provoke him into all-out battle.
The trouble began when Mr. Bremer closed down Mr. al-Sadr's newspaper last week, sparking a wave of peaceful demonstrations. On Saturday, Mr. Bremer raised the stakes further by sending coalition forces to surround Mr. al-Sadr's house near Najaf and arrest his communications officer.
Predictably, the arrest sparked immediate demonstrations in Baghdad, which the Iraqi army responded to by opening fire and allegedly killing three people. It was these deaths that provoked yesterday's bloody demonstrations.
At the end of the day on Sunday, Mr. al-Sadr issued a statement calling on his supporters to stop staging demonstrations "because your enemy prefers terrorism and detests that way of expressing opinion" and instead urged them to employ unnamed "other ways" to resist the occupation, a statement many interpret as a call to arms.
On the surface, this chain of events is mystifying. With the so-called Sunni triangle in flames after the gruesome Fallujah attacks, why is Mr. Bremer pushing the comparatively calm Shia south into battle? Here's one possible answer: Washington has given up on its plans to hand over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, and is now creating the chaos it needs to declare the handover impossible.
A continued occupation will be bad news for George Bush on the campaign trail, but not as bad as if the handover happens and the country erupts, an increasingly likely scenario given the widespread rejection of the legitimacy of the interim constitution and the U.S.-appointed government.
It's a plan that might make sense in meetings in Washington, but here in Baghdad it looks like pure madness. By sending the new Iraqi army to fire on the people it is supposed to be protecting, Mr. Bremer has destroyed what slim hope it had of gaining credibility with an already highly mistrustful population. On Sunday, before storming the unarmed demonstrators, the soldiers could be seen pulling on ski masks, so they wouldn't be recognized when they returned to their neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Mr. al-Sadr is having his hero status amplified by the hour.
As the June 30 "handover" approaches, Paul Bremer has unveiled a slew of new tricks to hold on to power long after "sovereignty" has been declared.
Some recent highlights: At the end of March, building on his Order 39 of last September, Bremer passed yet another law further opening up Iraq's economy to foreign ownership, a law that Iraq's next government is prohibited from changing under the terms of the interim constitution. Bremer also announced the establishment of several independent regulators, which will drastically reduce the power of Iraqi government ministries. For instance, the Financial Times reports that "officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority said the regulator would prevent communications minister Haider al-Abadi, a thorn in the side of the coalition, from carrying out his threat to cancel licenses the coalition awarded to foreign-managed consortia to operate three mobile networks and the national broadcaster."
The CPA has also confirmed that after June 30, the $18.4 billion the US government is spending on reconstruction will be administered by the US Embassy in Iraq. The money will be spent over five years and will fundamentally redesign Iraq's most basic infrastructure, including its electricity, water, oil and communications sectors, as well as its courts and police. Iraq's future governments will have no say in the construction of these core sectors of Iraqi society. Retired Rear Adm. David Nash, who heads the Project Management Office, which administers the funds, describes the $18.4 billion as "a gift from the American people to the people of Iraq." He appears to have forgotten the part about gifts being something you actually give up. And in the same eventful week, US engineers began construction on fourteen "enduring bases" in Iraq, capable of housing the 110,000 soldiers who will be posted here for at least two more years. Even though the bases are being built with no mandate from an Iraqi government, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations in Iraq, called them "a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East."
The US occupation authority has also found a sneaky way to maintain control over Iraq's armed forces. Bremer has issued an executive order stating that even after the interim Iraqi government has been established, the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lieut. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. In order to pull this off, Washington is relying on a legalistic reading of a clause in UN Security Council Resolution 1511, which puts US forces in charge of Iraq's security until "the completion of the political process" in Iraq. Since the "political process" in Iraq is never-ending, so, it seems, is US military control.
Fierce street battles continued to rage in Falluja with resistance fighters putting up stiff opposition to US occupation forces trying to gain control of the restive town. Hospital sources said at least 45 Iraqis were killed and 90 injured in attacks on the besieged town on Wednesday. Among the casualties were a family sitting in a car parked behind the Abd al-Aziz al-Samarai mosque when it was bombed by a US airplane.
Another 53 Iraqis died in attacks overnight on Tuesday in the town which was sealed off on Sunday by US forces. Twenty-five of those killed were from a single family. "More than 200 Iraqis, including women and children, have been injured in the past 24 hours," said Aljazeera correspondent in Falluja, Ahmad Mansur.
American forces initially said those killed in Wednesday's attack on the mosque were fighters taking refuge. But a marine officer was later forced to admit that US forces had failed to find any bodies.
"When we hit that building I thought we had killed all the bad guys, but when we went in they didn't find any bad guys in the building," Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne told reporters. Instead, he speculated the insurgents may have fled after a Cobra helicopter gunship fired a Hellfire missile at the mosque, and before an aircraft dropped a laser-guided bomb.
The bomb hit the minaret of the mosque and ploughed a hole through the building, shattering windows and leaving the mosque badly damaged. A US marine was also shot dead near the mosque in the fighting.
Fighting is spreading across Iraq"The situation is getting worse," he said. "An ambulance carrying casualties was attacked on its way to the medical centre. The American forces closed the road leading to the city's hospital and everybody walking in the streets of Falluja is now becoming a target. US forces have evacuated factories in the industrial area and asked workers not to come back for a day or two.
Earlier, speaking live from a rooftop, Mansur said the town's hospital was struggling to cope with the rising casualties. "They are attacking residential neighbourhoods," he said as US warplanes swooped over the area and fired rockets. Intense gunfire could be heard from the streets. "The residents of Falluja are asking 'where is the Iraqi Governing Council?'," said the visibily shaken correspondent. "They are asking why the Iraqis are not protecting them."
Plea for help
"Residents of Falluja call on the Arab world to intervene and lift the siege on this town of 300,000. They ask where are the Arab leaders in this time?" he said before throwing himself to the ground as a plane flew overhead. Earlier on Wednesday, all the city's mosques called for a jihad against occupation forces.
A statement purportedly from insurgents claimed they had shot down three US helicopters, destroyed two jeeps and two armored vehicles.
Aljazeera's correspondent quoted witnesses as saying that a US helicopter had been shot down and a tank set on fire. They also said they were still in control of the city and had put US forces to flight, but Byrne said marines advancing from the south had reached the centre of Falluja. The claim could not be verified.
An Aljazeera crew, including cameramen Layf Muftaq and Hasan Walid, sound engineer Sayf al-Din and correspondent Hamid Hadid, are the only media personnel inside the town.
US forces besieged the town after last week's ambush in which four security guards were killed and their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets.
Photos from Falluja, Aljazeera news crew inside the town (07, April 2004)
WARNING: Graphic, heart-wrenching pictures!
Doctor reveals Falluja's horror toll
09 April 2004
At least 450 Iraqis have been killed and more than 1000 others wounded in fighting in the city of Falluja this week, says a doctor who runs the city's main hospital. Dr Rafi Hayad, the director of the main hospital supplied the figures to the Reuters news agency. The agency has given no explanation of how Hayad reached his figures or how they vary with other revealed casualty tolls.
US Marines launched a major mission last weekend to confront guerrillas in Falluja.
US occupation forces have bombed the Iraqi town of Falluja, belying administrator Paul Bremer's announcement that his forces were suspending military operations there.
"As of noon today coalition forces have initiated a unilateral suspension of offensive operations in Falluja," Paul Bremer told reporters on Friday. But, the US-led occupation's deputy director of operations, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, denied the reports of a ceasefire.
Minutes after Bremer's announcement, US forces carried out a fresh offensive on Falluja bombing the town from the air. Scores of residents were injured in the attack, reported our correspondent. "There is no brokered agreement for a ceasefire in Falluja," Kimmitt told AFP. "There is no agreement between the rebels and the coalition forces."
Earlier, the Iraqi Governing Council member Mohsin Abd al-Hameed in a statement on behalf of his Iraqi Islamic party to Aljazeera said military action in Falluja would end for a period of 24 hours. Upon commitment to a ceasefire by the occupation forces and Iraqi resistance fighters the ceasefire would continue, the statement said.
The Islamic party political bureau would send a delegation to hold talks with prominent figures in the town, the statement said. Aljazeera, meanwhile, has learnt that during negotiations to end the military offensive, US forces imposed many conditions including getting the Aljazeera crew out of the town.
For more details on the chaotic situation in Iraq (36 pages of selected news), please review
"The Empire of Darkness Series #8: All Hell Breaking Loose!" (posted April/08/2004) at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2004/EmpireDarkness8.htm
Blix: Iraq Worse Off Now Than With Saddam
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP)--Iraq is worse off now, after the U.S.-led invasion, than it was under Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix told a Danish newspaper Tuesday. "What's positive is that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out the score, the negatives weigh more,'' the former chief U.N. weapons inspector was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Jyllands Posten. ``That accounts for the many casualties during the war and the many people who still die because of the terrorism the war has nourished,'' he said. "The war has liberated the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great.'' Blix, whose inspection team didn't make any significant weapons finds during months of searching Iraq before the war, has sharply criticized the United States and Britain for their invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein's regime. The primary reason given for the invasion was to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction. None were found during or after the invasion. The former Swedish foreign minister currently heads a newly created Stockholm-based independent commission on weapons of mass destruction
Living by the Fence
The November 2003 study by the Uranium Medical Research Committee (UMRC) said: "Witnesses living next to the airport report 3,000 civilians were incinerated by one morning's attack from aerial bursts of thermobaric and fuel air bombs.
50+ U.S. CITIES HOLDING EMERGENCY IRAQ PROTESTS
WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- Opponents of the war in Iraq are gathering in cities across the United States over the Easter weekend in response to a call to action to protest the war. The anti-war ANSWER Coalition has issued a call for "emergency local demonstrations" nationwide to protest the war in Iraq, call for the return of U.S. troops from Iraq, and a call for money for healthcare and education, not the war. ANSWER is an acronym for "Act Now to Stop War and Racism." CLIP
For details of the demonstrations taking place across the country, go to
Check also the Guardian's full coverage Iraq at
Some of titles there include on April 10:
'We have to fight to a safe haven - but they are all under attack' (April 10)
· UK security guard killed as contractors attacked
· Six more westerners taken hostage by rebels
· Death toll in besieged city of Falluja rises to 450
(...) On the first anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the country was in the grip of mayhem and insurgency, Mr Bloss was one of at least a dozen people to die at the hands of insurgents across the country yesterday. An international hostage crisis was deepening, meanwhile, with the seizure by Sunni insurgents outside Baghdad of up to six more hostages. CLIP
Protestors demand deal on hostages but leader stands firm (April 10)
Prime minister Junichiro Koizumi faces political nightmare.
10.04.04: Nine killed in US convoy as Shia militias fight on
10.04.04: Sunni and Shia unite against common enemy
10.04.04: Homecoming of US troops is halted as crisis deepens
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Iraq Body Count (Civilian Deaths Pass 10,000)
Iraqis in exile and fear (19 March 2004)
In many Arab cities it is easy to meet Iraqis released from the US Camp Cropper detention centre at Baghdad airport, but few of them are willing to speak about their experiences. In Dubai and Damascus Aljazeera.net met Iraqis released from US custody and asked them why they are so unwilling to talk about what has happened to them. They say they are fearful that the US and/or its Iraqi allies will harm their families in Iraq. And the former detainees' release was conditional on them keeping quiet and not being involved in any activity deemed to be anti-US. Criticising US occupation forces or members of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) is an anti-US act in post-war Iraq. (...) The rights group Amnesty International issued a report on Thursday reviewing the state of human rights a year after the occupation of Iraq. The report said US-led forces in Iraq are using the climate of violence a year after the war began to justify violating human rights they should uphold. More than 10,000 Iraqi civilians were thought to have been killed in the war and ensuing insecurity, the rights group said, although no precise figures were available. Thousands of Iraqis are held by US forces without charges as "suspected terrorists" or "security" detainees, the report added.Families of those killed have nothing but their personal grief and to find a way to accept their destiny. While families of those in custody are helplessly standing in front of Abu Ghraib prison awaiting any news from inside the notorious facility. Iraqi courts are forbidden to hear cases against foreign troops or officials in Iraq, by order of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, Amnesty said.
Iraq: All parties should protect civilians -- impartial, independent investigations needed
8 April 2004 -- Amnesty International today called on Coalition forces and armed insurgents in Iraq to do everything possible to protect civilians caught up in escalating fighting in cities across the country. "The loss of life in Iraq in recent days is tragic and unacceptable. The parties to the conflict must immediately take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Iraq as required by international humanitarian law," said Amnesty International. "There must be independent and impartial investigations into serious violations, including any unlawful killing of civilians, and those responsible should be brought to justice in line with international law." As the Occupying Powers, Coalition forces have primary responsibility for ensuring the safety and welfare of the Iraqi population. Armed groups must also respect fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. In recent days, intensified fighting between Coalition forces and armed groups and individuals opposed to occupation has led to the deaths of dozens of civilians in cities including Baghdad, Falluja, Ramadi, 'Amara, Karbala, Kut, and Nassirya. According to reports, at least 200 Iraqis and over 30 Coalition soldiers have been killed. Dozens of those killed appear to have been civilians. CLIP
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Undermining security: violations of human dignity, the rule of law and the National Security Strategy in "war on terror" detentions (9 April 2004 )
"The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere" - United States National Security Strategy, September 2002 -- On 6 March 2003, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan told a special meeting of the Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee that: "Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism - not privileges to be sacrificed at a time of tension."(1) Three weeks later, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "States which demonstrate a high degree of respect for human rights are likeliest to contribute to international security and well-being."(2) Amnesty International agrees. The road to security does not bypass human rights. Rather, respect for human rights should be a central plank of any government's security strategy. Contempt for internationally agreed human rights principles breeds resentment and fuels divisions within and between countries. By flouting fundamental principles of international law, the US administration's detention policies in the so-called "war on terror" risk making the world a less secure place. When any state, let alone a country as powerful as the USA, adopts a selective or contemptuous approach to international standards, the integrity of those standards is eroded. Why should any other state not then claim for itself the prerogative to adhere to only those portions of international human rights law which suit its purposes? CLIP
Full coverage on Iraq
Fallujah Atrocity and Genesis of Hate By Robert Fisk (April 4, 2004) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5990.htm
The following comment by Angie Carlson email@example.com> on this article above was received through "Boudewijn Wegerif" firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Of course [the killing of the four 'mercenaries'] was an atrocious and barbaric action.They were actions of a people themselves barbarized over many, many decades.
- Notable, however, is, that not one American news account, (and I've read and have seen a variety) reminded their U.S. readers, that Fallujah was that Iraqi city where the U.S. invaders squandered any goodwill at the outset, not to mention the more recent violent home raids, with theft of money by some troops and barbed wiring of whole neighborhoods, and other very oppressive containment tactics. You may recall, that the U.S. military initially set up their Fallujah command and control base at a school, thus making it impossible for Iraqi children to attend that school.Several hundred nonviolent protesters, mostly parents, gathered and demanded the troops vacate the school. To which the troops responded with a hail of bullets, slaughtering at least 17 men, women and children and wounding 200. - This on several international news broadcasts of various nations and in various interviews: Iraqis want to know why the atrocities committed against the American mercenaries were any more 'barbaric and inexcusable', than those committed against their nation, their thousands every single day, and for over 13 years, with many more to follow, until their nation is once again free of foreign invaders and their cynical schemes.They want to know why it is not newsworthy and why no equal hue and cry about the cluster bombs of shock and awe which blew off the limbs of whole families and maimed thousands more for life and killed countless more. They want to know why no pity and anger for the depleted uranium poisoned nation. I heard no answers to those questions from even one U.S. or other allied spokesperson. Has the U.S. military become totally daft on its high horse of an imagined moral mandate, that it forgets the atrocities of My Lai, the Pheinix program of unspeakable torture of Vietnamese civilians, or of the training of sadistic killers in countless third world nations, the wholly unlawful detention and mistreatment of the Guantanamo prisoners, some of them mere kids?And now, Iraq?
- Did it matter at all, or where those victims of previous imperial adventures, like the Iraqis today, simply 'lesser' people, just savages to be Westernized for Western economic interests, their suffering and blood not worthy of any outcry in the hyped up popular media.
- There's a war in Iraq...is there not? The Iraqi people did not chose it or volunteer their lives for it. Those one time special forces and until their death, highly paid mercenary guards, knew the score.They chose their jobs in a place where occupying Westerners are viewed with hate and fear.Very dangerous jobs, for which they were highly paid: anywhere from 600 to 3,000 dollars a day, depending on experience. Mercenary guard pay now makes for 20% of the Iraq budget. In fact, a British report recently revealed that many U.S. and British special force men, were quitting the military to enter the lucrative guard business. The Iraqi citizenry don't love the invaders and their facilitators, anymore than they did Saddam, because they know the 'liberating' bombardment of their cities and infrastructure into a state of massive dilapidation, and the 'liberating' massacre and/or detention of thousands of their numbers, had nothing to do with liberating their poor nation from the tyranny of dictatorship, or spreading genuine democracy, whatever that hazy word means. They know it is about controlling their national wealth: oil The Iraqi people have spent their whole lives in the school of very hard knocks, without the luxury of unlimited credit and its 'wealth effect' to dim their judgement and they intend to let their invaders share their misery, until they vacate the place.
- Here at home, the gauge on the hypocrisometer and no less the ignorantometer, is way off the mark and a bit nauseating.
From atrocities to routine humiliation: Nightmare in occupied Iraq
August 22, 2003 - NICOLE COLSON reports on the terrible reality of Washingtons brutal occupation of Iraq.
"WHY ARE you taking my son?" That was the desperate question that Abdullah Ghani asked U.S. soldiers as they abducted his 11-year-old son Sufian. Sufian was snatched, along with his uncle and a neighbor, as they drove home to a Baghdad suburb one evening in June.
U.S. soldiers believed that Sufians uncle had shot at them, so they stopped the car and made the three passengers--including the boy--lie face down on the ground for three hours. Then, Sufian and the two adults had hoods put over their heads and their hands bound with plastic handcuffs. And they were shipped off to a U.S. detention center.
"Don't worry," a U.S. sergeant told Sufians father. "As he's a child, we'll send him back in a couple of days. But Sufian wound up in the now notorious Camp Cropper prison near Baghdads airport.
What were conditions like for the 11-year-old? Another boy detained in the same camp recently described it to Britains Guardian newspaper: "We were in a tent for 150 people. We only got [six and a half gallons] of water a day for everyone, which means about a cupful per person, in temperatures of over [100 degrees]. There was a small ditch in the open for a toilet, which meant you were naked in front of everybody. There was no shower. We slept on the sand."
After eight terrible days, Sufian was transported to a detention center for women and juveniles. But the nightmare wasnt over. When Sufians father brought an order for Sufians release issued by a U.S.-approved Iraqi judge, he was told by military police that orders from Iraqi judges had no legal authority. In all, the 11-year-old spent 24 days imprisoned by the U.S. before he was finally released.
This is what passes for "democracy" in U.S.-occupied Iraq. Yet in some ways, Sufian was one of the lucky ones. He could have ended up like Haded abd al-Kerim, a 13-year-old girl who was shot to death by U.S. troops--along with her father and two older siblings--because her parents car was stopped at a checkpoint in Baghdad when the soldiers guarding it panicked at the sound of nearby gunfire.
Or Sufian could have been like the 12-year-old boy that U.S. troops shot in the face last week during a demonstration in Sadr City, a slum in northeast Baghdad. The demonstration was provoked when a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter tried to tear down an Islamic banner from the top of a telecommunications tower.
Thousands of angry residents poured into the streets in protest--and U.S. troops opened fire on the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding several more. The whole incident was so outrageous that even the U.S. military--which almost never admits an error--was forced to apologize. "What occurred was a mistake and was not directed against the people of Sadr City," said Lt. Col. Christopher Hoffman in a letter distributed to residents. But it wasnt a "mistake." Like the string of atrocities and routine humiliations that Iraqis have suffered since their "liberation," it was a direct consequence of an occupation that has nothing to do with "democracy" or "freedom"--and everything to do with U.S. imperial domination and the theft of Iraqi oil. CLIP
B) NORTH KOREA
North Korea says standoff with US at "brink of nuclear war"
09 April 2004
SEOUL : North Korea said Friday the standoff over its atomic ambitions was on the brink of nuclear war as US Vice President Dick Cheney headed to the region for talks with key Asian allies.
The Stalinist state's official news agency accused Washington of "driving the military situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war" with plans for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. Cheney is expected in Tokyo on Saturday on the first leg of an Asian tour that also takes him to China and South Korea.
North Korea described six-party talks held in Beijing in February as "fruitless," their harshest assessment so far of the meeting that brought together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
"The US demand that the DPRK (North Korea) scrap its nuclear programme first is the main obstacle in the way of solving the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US," the Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary.
"It is a well-known fact that the second round of the six-way talks held in Beijing last February proved fruitless due to the US demand that the DPRK dismantle its nuclear program first." Washington is demanding the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of North Korea's nuclear prorgammes, both plutonium and enriched uranium schemes, before it will offer concessions to the impoverished state.
Pyongyang denies having a uranium programme and has said it will freeze its plutonium weapons programme in return for simultaneous rewards from Washington. A new round of six-party talks is expected before the end of June while working parties are supposed to be set up to resolve address contentious issues.
South Korea's foreign ministry said all participating countries were ready for working level talks apart from North korea, which has yet to give the go ahead. In the commentary the North Korean news agency said Pyongyang had no choice but to boost its nuclear weapons drive in the face of US intransigence and its "moves to put the strategy of pre-emptive nuclear attack into practice."
Cheney's trip to Asia has been overshadowed by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq where insurgents are threatening to kill three Japanese hostages unless Tokyo pulls out troops from the war-torn region. Seven South Koreans were released earlier Friday after also falling into the hands of insurgents.
North Korea willing to give up all nuclear facilities
Japan, US, SKorea to discuss NKorea next week
US can deter any North Korean attack, says US military commander in SKorea
N.Korea slams planned US air defence deployment as preparation for war
South Korea says North Korea must clarify nuclear freeze offer
Full coverage on North Korea
Sudan, Rebels Agree Darfur Truce (April 8)
(Reuters) - Sudan and two rebel groups agreed to a 45-day cease-fire on Thursday and access for relief groups in the western Darfur region, where the U.N. has repeatedly warned of a possible humanitarian disaster. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told Reuters the three parties, meeting in Chad, also agreed to hold more talks in two weeks on the conflict, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur.
Escalating Concern over Sudan Genocide (April 8)
(...) Thousands are believed to have been killed in raids and bombing against civilians who, like their assailants, are also Muslim. Entire villages have been torched, crops burned, and livestock abducted, according to independent human rights groups, relief agencies and the UN. More than 800,000 people remain displaced within Sudan, while about 110,000 have fled across the border into neighboring Chad, one of the world's poorest countries. (...) "USAID's prediction that 100,000 civilians may soon die underscores the increasing threat of genocide in Sudan," said Committee chairman Thomas Bernstein. "If there is anything we can learn from the history of the Holocaust, and from the history of genocide since the Holocaust, it is that we cannot ignore widespread and systematic, government-sponsored attacks on civilians of specific racial and ethnic groups." Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action added, "A decade ago, the world averted its eyes as genocide unfolded in Rwanda. The U.S. had information about what was happening on the ground, but it blocked an effective response--an act for which President Clinton (news - web sites) has since apologized. Now, a campaign of ethnic cleansing is gaining momentum in Darfur, but the U.S. appears ready, once again, to turn away." Booker continued, "At what point do we ask the uncomfortable question, why does the US seem to consider it acceptable for such genocidal acts to occur in Africa?" Under the 1948 Genocide Convention, all states have an obligation to "undertake to prevent" genocide, if necessary, presumably, by military means. CLIP
Fear Runs High in West Sudan Despite Cease-fire (April 9)
KUTUM, Sudan (Reuters) - Sudan's government says it is trying to disarm Arab militias who have rampaged through west Sudan, but residents here said on Friday they still feared attacks even when gathering wood. "Young girls can't leave the camp. We are scared to send them out. They rape them. We can't send the young men out because they will kill the men," said Fatma, an African villager clutching her infant, in a camp on the edge of Kutum. Just a few miles outside the town, armed members of the Janjaweed militias, who have looted and burned African villages over the last year, watched from their camels unperturbed as a government convoy passed by. The United States on Friday welcomed Thursday's 45-day cease-fire signed by the government and two rebel groups in the west who took up arms a year ago saying Khartoum had neglected the impoverished region. "This agreement is a crucial, first step toward ending atrocities and reversing the humanitarian crisis in Darfur," said a State Department spokesman, urging the two sides to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid. President Bush called on Sudan on Wednesday to stop "atrocities" by Arab militias against black Africans in west Sudan, where the United Nations says the conflict has affected a million people. Aid workers said one of Khartoum's biggest challenges was to end the scorched-earth campaign of the lawless, mounted militias. They added that a food crisis was in the making unless the displaced felt safe enough to return to tend their land. "The question is: will the government be able to control the militias, and will they be willing to voluntarily hand their weapons over when you are dealing with such a vast area and the government has such limited resources?" said a Western aid worker in Kutum who asked not to be identified. Residents accuse the government of arming the militias to pillage African villages, a charge Khartoum dismisses. Analysts say the militias have taken on a life of their own -- looting, raping and killing at random. CLIP
Civil war fear as Afghan city falls to warlord (April 9)
Fighters loyal to one of Afghanistan's most powerful warlords have seized a major northern city from pro-government forces, raising fears that the country is sliding into civil war. The forces of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a special adviser to President Hamid Karzai, who is known for crushing his prisoners under tanks, invaded the northern province of Faryab on Wednesday, according to officials. (...) Last month there were bloody battles in the western city of Herat - previously considered the safest city in Afghanistan - between pro-government fighters and militiamen loyal to the city's warlord governor, Ismail Khan. Mr Khan's men triumphed, driving Mr Karzai's troops from the city and leaving scores of men dead. (...) "This violence has far-reaching consequences, it's very worrying," Ms Ahmed said. "In the south, the insurrection is being run by poor individuals who have not profited in the slightest from the war two years ago. "Now we're seeing powerful commanders also confronting the government. This is a far more dangerous development than anything we've seen in the south." CLIP
Darfur in Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan
Full Coverage on Sudan
Afghan Renegade Continues Advance Despite Talks (April 9)
KABUL (Reuters) - An Afghan strongman whose forces have overrun a northern province issued a stark warning to the U.S.-backed president on Friday -- fire the defense and interior ministers or your government will fail. Even as a delegation led by Deputy Defense Minister General Mohibullah met General Abdul Rashid Dostum to urge him to withdraw his fighters from Faryab province, the militia advanced further having taken the provincial capital on Thursday. Speaking to Reuters for the first time since his forces attacked Faryab on Wednesday, Dostum complained he had not been consulted about the deployment of hundreds of national army troops to the province to restore order. "I will help with the national army and I should be trusted," he said. Dostum, who has continued to angle for a top position despite losing favor since helping U.S. forces topple the Taliban in 2001, called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sack officials including Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali. "If he does not, his government will fail," he said. CLIP
THE OTHER WAR (Issue of 2004-04-12)
Why Bushs Afghanistan problem wont go away.
More in this Special Report on Afghanistan
Full Coverage on Afghanistan
E) SRI LANKA
Thousands flee Sri Lanka fighting (April 10)
Thousands of Sri Lankan civilians are fleeing homes in the east after fighting between Tamil Tiger factions, the Red Cross has said. Clashes erupted early on Friday between breakaway commander Colonel Karuna and the mainstream Tiger faction around the Verugal river. Col Karuna's forces have now retreated south from their frontline positions. The area was reported quiet on Saturday morning, with a military spokesman saying rebel forces had withdrawn. The fighting is the first between the two factions since the colonel broke away from the main Tamil Tiger structure at the start of last month.
Sri Lanka East on Edge After Rebel Factions Clash (April 10)
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's east remained volatile on Saturday with unconfirmed reports of fresh clashes between rival Tamil Tiger factions, a day after the worst fighting since a two-year truce halted the island's civil war. Officials said the death toll in Friday's violence could be triple initial reports, and thousands of frightened civilians were holed up in schools after fleeing the clashes the government said were a violation of the February 2002 cease-fire. CLIP
Full coverage on Sri Lanka
Human rights groups condemn Russian actions in Chechnya (April 8)
LONDON - Several human rights groups are condemning what they say are widespread abuses in the Russian republic of Chechnya and refugee camps in neighbouring Ingushetia. The groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say they have new evidence of rape, torture and summary execution of Chechen civilians by Russian troops. "The climate of abuse and impunity in Chechnya is now spilling over into Ingushetia and threatening stability there, too," said Anna Neistat, Moscow director for Human Rights Watch, in a statement on the organization's website. "Russia's assurances of 'normalization' in the region should no longer obscure the vision of the international community. A resolution on Chechnya and Ingushetia will send the message that these continuing abuses must stop." Russia insists that life in the breakaway republic is slowly returning to normal after several years of war. But the groups reject Moscow's line, saying the cycle of violence is escalating. "The government is using a mixed policy of threats and incentives to get the displaced persons to return (to Chechnya), with blatant disregard for their well-founded fears about security," said Neistat.
Full Coverage on Chechnya
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