Meditation Focus #109
Restoring Peace in Burundi
What follows is the 109th Meditation Focus suggested for the 2 weeks beginning Sunday, April 25, 2004.
RESTORING PEACE IN BURUNDI
2. Meditation times
3. Suggested Guided Visualization
4. Peace Watch for Iraq
5. Other Upcoming Global Spiritual Events
There is right now a unique opportunity for peace in Burundi, a country that has been plagued by ongoing fighting for over 10 years. Thousands of refugees have seeped back into the central African country since October, when Burundi's Tutsi-dominated government signed an agreement with the main Hutu rebel group to end the decade-long conflict. Numbers are swelling by the day as hopes rise for a lasting peace. The war began in 1993 when minority Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country's first democratically elected president, a Hutu. Minority Tutsis have controlled the government, economy and military for most of Burundi's history since independence in 1962. In a surprise announcement on Wednesday April 21, the National Liberation Forces said they would stop mounting unprovoked attacks on the army. The government and the army immediately welcomed the move and made a parallel pledge. All other armed Hutu groups who took part in the civil war that has killed more than 300,000 people (in a country of 6.5 million) since 1993 have reached peace agreements with the government, and Wednesday's announcement by the F.N.L. suggested that it was finally also ready to hold peace talks. In November, Burundi's largest rebel group, the Forces for the Defense of Democracy, joined the government, bringing peace to all but one of Burundi's 17 provinces. If all the rebels finally agree to negotiate a peace deal with the government, the crucial parliamentary and local elections are more likely to take place as scheduled before the end of October. However, government soldiers and Burundian rebels clashed again outside the capital of this Central African country Friday, thus highlighting the fragility of the truce.
Nearly one million Burundians have been displaced by the civil war, most of them to poverty-stricken Tanzania which shelters about 350,000 refugees in U.N. camps under the care of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The International Crisis Group think-tank says at least another 300,000 Burundians are dispersed across Tanzania. Tens of thousands more have taken refuge in other countries while about 280,000 people are displaced in Burundi itself. The UNHCR says it is gearing up to repatriate up to 150,000 Burundian refugees, all Hutus, from Tanzania this year. Conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus led to the genocide in Burundi's neighbour Rwanda in 1994 and then spilled over into the vast territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo and spread throughout the region. Tensions between Hutus and Tutsis, and the broader lack of democracy that allows them to fester, is at the heart of much of the chaos and bloodshed in central Africa.
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 restoring Peace in Burundi and ensuring that all displaced people will now be able to return home and have again a normal, peaceful life without the threat of any more ethnic bloodshed. May this budding peace be a harbinger for a permanent end to all armed conflicts throughout Africa and signal the beginning of a new era of true brotherhood across all ethnic, religious and cultural lines, thus creating the conditions for lasting peace in Africa and around the world, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus109.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. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of 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.
Rebels and Army Clash in Burundi, Ending Truce
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
UJUMBURA, Burundi, April 22 - Fighting broke out Thursday between Burundi's last active rebel group and government forces, rebel and army sources said, just a day after both sides said they would cease unprovoked attacks.
Each side blamed the other for starting the fighting, and it was not immediately clear whether it was a result of poor communications or of rogue rebel elements.
"The army attacked us,'' said Pasteur Habimana, spokesman for the rebel National Liberation Forces, known as the F.N.L., which are the initials of its name in French.
But Adolphe Manirakiaza, a spokesman for the army, said: "It was the F.N.L. that violated the cease-fire they declared. They attacked one of our supply patrols.''
In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, the National Liberation Forces said they would stop mounting unprovoked attacks on the army. The government and the army immediately welcomed the move and made a parallel pledge.
The clash on Thursday broke out in Burima, about 20 miles southeast of the capital, in rural Bujumbura Province. No details of casualties were immediately available.
All other armed Hutu groups who took part in the civil war that has killed more than 300,000 people since 1993 have reached peace agreements with the government, and Wednesday's announcement by the F.N.L. suggested that it was finally ready to hold peace talks.
The rebel declaration was welcomed in Burundi as major step forward in efforts to end the conflict and conclude a reconciliation process, including elections later this year.
"The rebels' pledge will boost the current peace process by allowing a total end to the war across the country," said Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, a former president of Burundi.
The current government, where power is shared between the large Hutu majority and the traditionally dominant Tutsi minority, said Tuesday that if "the F.N.L. stopped fighting, that would mean the war stopped straight away in Burundi."
In November, Burundi's largest rebel group, the Forces for the Defense of Democracy, joined the government, bringing peace to all but one of Burundi's 17 provinces.
If all the rebels finally agree to negotiate a peace deal with the government, the crucial parliamentary and local elections are more likely to take place as scheduled before the end of October.
Amnesty International's recommendations on the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces
21 Apr 2004
Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed grave concern about the war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses perpetrated against the civilian population by all parties to the conflict in Burundi. These have included widespread and systematic killings, torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction and forcible recruitment, including of children under the age of 18 years.
We have called on the international community, including the United Nations (UN), to place the protection of the civilian population at the centre of its efforts to resolve the political, security, human rights and humanitarian crises in Burundi.
Amnesty International believes that any UN peacekeeping initiative for Burundi must contribute towards ending and preventing further war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses. We are, therefore, making the following recommendations. CLIP
21 Apr 2004
Peace hopes bring Burundi's refugees streaming home
By David Lewis
KIBONDO, Tanzania, April 21 (Reuters) - In the early morning light, Bernard Jacob and his wife squeezed nine years of their lives into a few sacks and a holdall.
Leaving their mud huts in the sprawling Nduta camp in western Tanzania, the Burundian refugees joined others weighed down with bags, wooden benches, animals and the odd bicycle to board U.N. trucks bound for Burundi.
Thousands of refugees have seeped back into the central African country since October, when Burundi's Tutsi-dominated government signed an agreement with the main Hutu rebel group to end a decade-long conflict that has killed some 300,000 people in a country of 6.5 million.
Numbers are swelling by the day as hopes rise for a lasting peace.
"Life has been tough here for a while, but we think that maybe peace has finally come to our homes. This is what we are hearing and why we are going home," said 40-year-old Jacob as he looked round, making sure his wife and seven children had got on the right truck.
Nearly one million Burundians have been displaced by the civil war, most of them to poverty-stricken Tanzania which shelters about 350,000 refugees in U.N. camps under the care of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
REFUGEES OUTSTAY THEIR WELCOME
The International Crisis Group think-tank says at least another 300,000 Burundians are dispersed across Tanzania. Tens of thousands more have taken refuge in other countries while about 280,000 people are displaced in Burundi itself.
The UNHCR says it is gearing up to repatriate up to 150,000 Burundian refugees, all Hutus, from Tanzania this year. Returning from a visit to Burundi in April, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane said he had been impressed by much improved security in the country.
"UNHCR will never permit you to be pushed back to Burundi, but we will also never prevent anyone who wishes to return voluntarily from so doing," he told refugees.
Despite these reassurances, many refugees feel that they have outstayed their welcome in Tanzania. The government's patience has worn thin in recent years as it struggles to cope with the influx of refugees among its own people, most of whom struggle to survive on less than $1 a day.
Blamed for damaging the environment and polluting precious water sources, refugees sheltering in Tanzania have been subjected to tight restrictions on their movements. The refugees used to be allowed to venture out within a four km (2.5-mile) radius of the camps to farm small plots, but in 2003 that right was withdrawn.
"The restrictions made life difficult and we don't like living in the camps," said Jacob, who used to be a farmer in Buteze, eastern Burundi. "They say that since the ceasefire, things have calmed down. I think it is now worth going home to see."
Peace may be on the horizon across the border, but violent clashes continue on the outskirts of the capital Bujumbura where soldiers of the Tutsi-controlled army are still battling Hutu rebels who have refused to join Burundi's power-sharing government.
Previous Burundian returnees have been forced to flee back into Tanzania at the onset of more ethnic fighting.
Even if Jacob and others like him achieve a safe passage home, they face a far from rosy future in a country ranked the world's third least developed, where education and health services have been devastated by war.
LAND ISSUE COULD BE EXPLOSIVE
"When they come back in numbers, that puts pressure on our services," said Hilaire Nikobasa, a government official in Ruyigi, an eastern province of Burundi to which many refugees are flocking.
"We have packed classrooms, a shortage of teachers and materials and healthcare will also be a problem," he added. Land could also be an explosive issue.
Many refugees who fled were farmers. They left behind their land and many will want to reclaim it if, as has often been the case, their homesteads have been seized by landless Burundians.
Piled high, the white U.N. trucks retrace the same bumpy roads that the escaping refugees had wearily trudged along years before. Children crane their heads to watch the lush green hills of Burundi roll by. For some it is the first time they have seen their country.
For now, there are no fears about the future, just joy at the prospect of coming home.
22 April, 2004
Burundi rebels declare ceasefire
The remaining rebel movement fighting the government in Burundi has declared a unilateral ceasefire, raising hopes of an end to a decade of civil war. The National Liberation Forces (FNL) made the announcement following a meeting in Tanzania.
The FNL said it would immediately cease hostilities and engage in military action only if its forces were attacked by the government. The government welcomed the move, though the FNL has not agreed to talks.
About 300,000 people have been killed during the conflict between ethnic Hutu rebels and an army dominated by the Tutsi minority.
An FNL spokesman, Pasteur Habimana, claimed the government was guilty of continuing human rights abuses.
He told the BBC it would be up to the international community to judge whether the rebels should agree to join the government.
The BBC's Robert Walker in Kigali says despite the FNL's declaration of an end to hostilities, deep mistrust remains between the government and the rebels, and analysts say there is still a long way to go before any lasting peace deal can be struck.
In the past, the FNL said it would only negotiate with the Tutsi leadership of the army who, it claims, hold the real power in Burundi.
But the FNL has found itself increasingly isolated since the power-sharing agreement late last year between the government and the larger Hutu rebel group, the Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD).
22 April, 2004
High stakes for Burundi ceasefire
By Mark Doyle
BBC World Affairs correspondent
The announcement by a hardline rebel group in Burundi that it will stop fighting is significant and highlights ethnic and political splits that have torn apart the entire central African region for over a decade.
The rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (or FNL) is an ethnic Hutu formation that has been fighting the Tutsi-dominated army in Burundi.
Conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus led to the genocide in Burundi's neighbour Rwanda in 1994 and then spilled over into the vast territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo and spread throughout the region.
Tensions between Hutus and Tutsis, and the broader lack of democracy that allows them to fester, is at the heart of much of the chaos and bloodshed in central Africa.
It was entirely appropriate that the first substantial figure to try to resolve the ethnic war in Burundi, in the mid 1990s, was Nelson Mandela.
The Tutsi-dominated Burundi army has held an apartheid-like grip on the country for generations.
Following pro-democracy pressure, elections were held in 1993 and a moderate Hutu, Melchior Ndadaye, won power.
But he was promptly assassinated by Tutsi soldiers, the Tutsi military grip resumed and a major Hutu rebellion began.
South African peacekeepers sent by Mandela are in place in Burundi, and will now be working to turn the promise by the Hutu rebels to stop fighting into a reality on the ground.
The stakes are extremely high.
Rwanda, which borders Burundi, is still reeling from the genocide 10 years ago in which extremist Hutus tried to wipe out all Rwandan Tutsis; only this month, for example, there was a serious clash between Rwandan Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army.
And the war in the vast territory of the Congo over the last decade was also sparked by tensions between Tutsis and Hutus.
26 February, 2004
Country profile: Burundi
Since independence in 1961 Burundi has been plagued by tension between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority and has been the scene of one of Africa's most intractable conflicts.
In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and a parliament dominated by the Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu) party.
But within months Ndadaye had been assassinated, setting the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed.
In early 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president. But he was killed in April alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali.
Another Hutu, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed president in October 1994. But within months, the mainly Tutsi Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking off a new wave of ethnic violence.
In 1996 Pierre Buyoya seized power in a coup. He co-opted Frodebu into the government, but inter-party talks failed to agree on crucial issues.
A ceasefire signed in 2002 and a power-sharing government - agreed at talks brokered by Nelson Mandela - failed to end the fighting. Another South African-brokered power-sharing deal was signed in 2003, giving officers' posts and ministerial positions to the main rebel group.
Population: 6.8 million (UN, 2003)
Major languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili
Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 40 years (men), 41 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Burundi franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
GNI per capita: US $100 (World Bank, 2001)
Burundi rebels want to be heard (April 22)
Bujumbura - Burundi's last remaining rebel group on Thursday demanded a chance to make their case to the international community about why they took arms before they will agree to enter into peace talks with the Central African nation's government.
Burundi Clashes Continue Despite Truce (April 24)
BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) - Government soldiers and Burundian rebels clashed outside the capital of this Central African country Friday, one day after each side pledged not to attack the other, officials said. There were no immediate reports of casualties from Mutambu, a village on the outskirts of Bujumbura, deputy army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said. He confirmed the fighting began Thursday. ''They set an ambush for our soldiers, who were taking food to a military post,'' he said. Pasteur Habimana, a spokesman for the National Liberation Forces, said the army attacked a rebel position and withdrew Friday afternoon. Leaders of the group, which is the last remaining Burundian rebel organization, pledged at a meeting in neighboring Tanzania on Thursday to stop offensive operations. The Hutu-led National Liberation Forces is the last rebel group in Burundi, after the other agreed to join a power-sharing government last year. (...) More than 9,000 fighters are expected to report to the camp.
GREAT LAKES: Kigali denies massing troops on Burundi border
KIGALI, 22 Apr 2004 (IRIN) - A senior military official denied on Thursday reports that Rwanda had massed troops on its border with Burundi in anticipation of an attack by Hutu rebels based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). (...) Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC reported from the capital, Kinshasa, that a company of mostly South African UN troops (120 to 140 soldiers) and three military observers began investigations on Tuesday into the reports that the Hutu militia, known as the Forces democratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda, were making incursions into Rwanda.
4. PEACE WATCH FOR IRAQ
Here are some of the latest developments in the Iraq. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.
Bush faces tough choice with Fallujah
David E. Sanger And Thom Shanker, New York Times
April 25, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Facing one of the grimmest choices of the Iraq war, President Bush and his national security and military advisers are expected to decide this weekend whether to order an invasion of Fallujah, even if a battle there runs the risk of sparking uprisings in the city and perhaps elsewhere around Iraq.
After declaring Friday evening in Florida that "America will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers," Bush flew to Camp David for the weekend, where administration officials said he planned consultations in a videoconference with the military commanders who are keeping the city under siege. But in interviews, administration and senior military officials portrayed Bush's choices as dismal.
"It's clear you can't leave a few thousand insurgents there to terrorize the city and shoot at us," one senior official involved in the discussions said on Saturday. "The question now is whether there is a way to go in with the most minimal casualties possible."
The chief of the U.S. occupation authority, Paul Bremer, visited Fallujah on Saturday with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq, to consult with front-line commanders. They appeared to be making a last-ditch effort for a negotiated settlement, officials said.
But in Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has expressed strong doubts that the Fallujah political and business figures the Americans are talking with hold any sway over the insurgents.
On Saturday, as a sandstorm swept across a sprawling former Iraqi army base near Fallujah, Marine commanders were getting assignments for potential targets, studying maps and planning lines of attack for a battle that they expect could come in the next few days. The Marines have encircled the city, awaiting Bush's decision.
But the city, a sandy mix of wide boulevards and back alleys along the Euphrates River west of Baghdad, poses what military officials say is an immensely complicated and dangerous urban combat terrain.
While administration officials say they would like to carry out a precise attack on an estimated 2,000 hard-core Sunni Muslim insurgents, military officials say there is no way guided missiles or pinpoint bombing can do this job. Instead, the military is planning swift raids by Marine riflemen -- backed by helicopters and gunships -- aimed at the insurgents' leaders and their gunmen, while encouraging others in the city to evacuate or stay under cover.
For Bush, struggling through the most casualty-ridden month in Iraq since the war began 13 months ago, the kind of operation now being contemplated is hardly the sort of painful choice his administration anticipated nearly a year after he declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein's government.
The president and his advisers, officials familiar with the deliberations said, are keenly aware that if the operation to rout out the insurgents kills many civilians -- or simply appears to when reports are broadcast on Arab networks -- it could prompt uprisings elsewhere around Iraq, including Baghdad and even some Shiite strongholds where tolerance of the U.S. occupation has worn thin.
In Washington, officials still describe the fear of uprisings in Iraq as a theory, one they say may be overblown. But it clearly has Bush and his advisers deeply concerned. They have only 10 weeks to form an interim government, and it will be May, officials say, before the U.N. envoy charged to put together such a government, Lakhdar Brahimi, will return to Iraq to try to fill its posts. Brahimi's efforts, officials concede, could be made far more difficult if the Fallujah confrontation goes badly.
It was this growing concern, officials say, that led Bremer, who is to leave Iraq in 10 weeks after handing sovereignty over to Iraqis, to warn on Friday that "Iraq faces a choice." His message was that the country was in danger of losing its best chance to establish a democratic government.
"If you do not defend your beloved country, it will not be saved," he said, using a starkly grimmer tone than his usual upbeat messages about how life is coming back to normal in Iraq.
On the outskirts of Fallujah on Saturday, hundreds of people were still trying to get back to their homes despite the apparent threat of imminent attack, but soldiers and Marines at the checkpoints turned them back and allowed no one in.
Hundreds of other people were fleeing the city. The rule was that only families were being allowed out. At several points, young military-age men were seen grabbing protesting children by the hand to make their way out past the checkpoints.
The U.S. military surrounding Fallujah -- and, indeed, all across Iraq -- took quiet and nearly invisible steps to prepare for an attack that increasingly seemed inevitable to commanders.
On Friday, the senior Marine Corps general with troops at Fallujah made clear that the clock was ticking on a settlement there short of armed intervention. The officer, Lt. Gen. James Conway, said insurgents had "days, not weeks" to surrender their weapons or face attack.
Behind the scenes, senior U.S. officials reached out to members of the Iraqi Governing Council, some of whom had publicly criticized the initial combat missions to pacify Fallujah after violence flared two weeks ago. The goal of the talks, Pentagon and military officials said, was to guarantee their support for an offensive to quell the insurgency in Fallujah should all other attempts to pacify the town fail.
A final information campaign also was being prepared, senior officials said. Just before a coalition offensive into Fallujah, messages would be broadcast into the town urging all noncombatants to leave the city and seek refuge in designated areas where food, water, medicine and shelter would be provided by the U.S. military.
War Crimes in Fallujah
By Dahr Jamail
Freelance Journalist Iraq
On April 17th I attended a press conference at the Ministry of Health, held by the US-appointed Iraqi Minister of Health, Khodair Abbas. While his main reason for holding the press conference was to stave off criticism of not doing enough to assist (medically) the besieged and suffering residents of Fallujah, he vehemently stated his anger about the intentional targeting of ambulances by US snipers.
Not only did he acknowledge that this was occurring, but that he himself had pressed the Iraqi Governing Council and Paul Bremer for an explanation as to why these human rights violations are occurring. After all, the intentional targeting of ambulances is a direct violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
He said that the US military had accused mujahedeen in Fallujah of using ambulances for fighting, and that is why they were firing on them. Perhaps there is some truth in this, but at the same time, ambulances that are being used legitimately are being targeted as well, and innocents are dying. Three humanitarian relief workers, two of which are Westerners, rode in an ambulance that received 5 sniper rounds through it.
Jo Wilding, a British activist, was one of these. She said, I was in an ambulance trying to reach a pregnant woman in Fallujah and US marines tried to shoot us. You can tell the difference between the marines and the mujahedeen by the shape of their rounded helmets and bulky flack jackets. Mujahedeens wear scarves around their heads and civilian clothes.
She said they also shot at the ambulance she was riding in: I could see the red tracer bullets as they passed us from where the US soldiers were. There was no other fighting going on. Our ambulance returned to the clinic with a new bullet hole in it.
The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) has filed a formal complaint against the US military for intentionally firing upon ambulances in Fallujah. While the US military has accused the IRC of delivering weapons into Fallujah, the IRC denies this charge while stating that some people have forged their logo in order to use vehicles posing as those providing aid to deliver weapons into the embattled city.
Why are they not allowing ambulances into Fallujah?
Three families of refugees from the besieged city of Fallujah who are seeking refuge in Al-Adhamiya, Baghdad , stated recently that the conditions in Fallujah are a horrible disaster.
One of the refugees, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that US snipers continued to take their toll on the civilians inside the city. There were so many snipers, anyone leaving their house was killed, he said.
Abdul Aziz, the 15 year-old son of Abu Muher, stated, I saw two of my neighbors shot by US snipers when I went outside one time. Most times, we were too afraid even to look out of our windows.
The stench from the dead bodies in parts of the city is unbearable.
Another refugee, speaking on condition of anonymity, angrily stated, This is the way the Americans are freeing Iraq ? America s freedom is killing Iraqis. Fallujah is becoming another Palestine . How long will we have to live like this?
The neighbor of Abu Muher, Abdel Salam, said, Sunday when we left the city, we saw an ambulance from the UA Emirates turned around from the main checkpoint by the Americans. Why are they not allowing ambulances into Fallujah?
Khalid Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Islamic Party inside Fallujah, stated that on April 21st the US military broke the cease fire by invading Julan and the Industrial area of Fallujah. He added, This is a disaster! Only a few people can get to the main hospital because the Americans are controlling it. Snipers are firing into Julan and killing so many civilians.
He sadly reported, We have at least 700 dead from the fighting
so many of them are children and women. The stench from the dead bodies in parts of the city is unbearable.
At Yarmouk Hospital , a lead doctor said that he is outraged by the situation in Fallujah, which he calls a massacre, The Americans shot at some of our doctors who were traveling to Fallujah to provide aid. One of our doctors was injured when a missile struck his vehicle. I have also been told by my doctors in Fallujah that the Americans are shooting ambulances there, as well as at the main hospital there.
He continued, One of my doctors in Fallujah asked the Americans there if he could remove a wounded patient from the city. The soldier wouldnt let him move the victim, and said, We have dead soldiers here too. This is a war zone. The doctor wasnt allowed to remove the wounded man, and he died. So many doctors and ambulances have been turned back from checkpoints there.
This same doctor reported that he saw American soldiers killing women and children, as well as shooting ambulances in Fallujah.
Dahr Jamail is an American freelance journalist based in Iraq .
Marines Urge Weapons Handover in Fallujah (April 22)
FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. Marines warned guerrillas in this violence-wracked city Thursday that they have only days to hand over their heavy weapons or face a possible American attack. So far the insurgents have turned in mainly dud rockets, rusty mortar shells and grenades labeled "inert." Lt. Gen. James Conway said the battle could be "costly" if Marines launch a new assault to uproot insurgents from Fallujah, saying foreign fighters in the city have been reinforcing their positions and have no interest in surrendering. The stark warning came two days after city leaders called on insurgents to hand over their heavy weapons in return for a U.S. pledge to hold back on plans to storm Fallujah and allow the return of families that fled the city. Now Marines have halted the return of families because of the failure to disarm and the desire to have fewer civilians in the city if fighting resumes. More than a third of Fallujah's 200,000 people fled to Baghdad and elsewhere during the fighting that began April 5. (...) The compilation of Iraqi deaths by Health Minister Khudayer Abbas since April 1 was sharply lower than a U.S. military estimate of about 1,000 insurgents killed and about half The Associated Press tally of 1,170 killed based on statements from hospital officials, police and the U.S. military. Abbas said 271 Iraqis had been killed in Fallujah since the Marine siege began on April 5. Doctors in the city had given a higher figure of 600 killed, Abbas said, because they had been pressured to do so by insurgents for political reasons. The minister said he did not know how many were civilians. An official in the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 19 percent of the dead were women and children.
Marines: 11 insurgents killed in ambush in Fallujah (April 24)
(...) Some of the young Marine leaders said Saturday's successful ambush could help boost the troops' morale and steel them for a possible final assault on the city, where military leaders say between 100 and 1,000 Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters are trapped and preparing snares and defensive positions. (...) The Marines said the ambush would be a serious blow to the rebels' morale as they face the American force of nearly 5,000 Marines who now surround the city.
Civilians caught in the middle get hurt (April 23)
More Than 40 People Killed in Bloody Day for Iraq (April 24)
Five U.S. soldiers were among more than 40 people killed in a spate of attacks in Iraq on Saturday, the latest violence in the bloodiest month for U.S.-led forces since they toppled Saddam Hussein. CLIP
Number of U.S. Troops Hurt in Iraq Jumps (April 24)
WASHINGTON - The number of American troops wounded in Iraq soared in the past two weeks as the insurgency flared in south-central Iraq and in the Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad. The Pentagon announced Friday in its weekly casualty report that 3,864 troops have been wounded in action since the war began in March 2003, an increase of 595 from two weeks earlier. The U.S. military death toll as of Friday stood at 707, according to the Pentagon's count. At least 100 have been killed this month, the highest total for any month since the U.S.-led invasion began. (...) The number wounded since April 1 is approaching 900, far beyond the 200-300 wounded in most other months of the conflict. In March 291 were wounded in action. The highest monthly total before April was 413 in October 2003, according to the Pentagon's Directorate for Information Operations and Reports. The Pentagon's figures do not include troops who are injured in accidents or felled by illness.
All recent news on Fallujah
Full Coverage on Irak
5. OTHER UPCOMING GLOBAL SPIRITUAL EVENTS
- 7 Days Until Global Love Day
There are just 7 days to go for the first annual Global Love Day event for May 1, 2004. As the time rapidly approaches, we are asking each of you to consider what you plan to do this day. Remember, this is your day to simply be love. Love locally and you spread it globally. Information is available in English, Portuguese, Persian, German, Spanish, French and Italian. Please take a moment to see the Global Love Day pages at http://www.thelovefoundation.com/Global_Love_Day.htm and http://www.thelovefoundation.com
Think: Global Love Day -- Feel: Love Begins With Me -- Remember: May, 1, 2004
More details also from "Harold W. Becker" firstname.lastname@example.org>
- WESAK FESTIVAL - TUESDAY, MAY 4
The Wesak Festival, the second of the Three Major Planetary Spiritual Festivals, is celebrated globally at the Taurus full moon, occurring in 2004 on Tuesday, May 4 at 1:33 pm PDT (20:33 UT) At this time there is opportunity to align with the Enlightened Ones, the Spiritual Hierarchy Who guide our planet, help us evolve, and embody and express the Love aspect of Divine Purpose. The Wesak Festival is spiritually known to be the supreme moment in the annual cycle, when the Buddha and the Christ come together in a sacred ritual. Circulated on April 23 by "Spiritual Festivals" SpiritualFestivals@souledout.org>
- World Healing Day 2004 - on Saturday, July 17
Please check the press release at the URL above for more details, as well as all the complementary material - including an astrology reading for this day - at http://www.worldhealing.co.uk/whd/whd02.html
Visit also http://www.worldhealing.co.uk/whd to find out more.
If this e-mail has been forwarded to you and you wish to subscribe, send a blank email to email@example.com (English)
or to firstname.lastname@example.org (French)
For more information, please review the material posted by the Global Meditation Focus Group at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/focusgroup.htm
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS
BACK TO THE FOCUS GROUP WEBPAGE