Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Citizens for Fair Legislation
For Immediate Release
September 22, 2004

The U.S. will be giving 5,000 smart bombs to Israel , costing the
American taxpayer $319 million; funding to pay for these weapons will
come from U.S. military welfare to Israel .
*In the past three years Israel has repeatedly dropped one-ton bombs in
civilian residential areas of the Palestinian territories.  The illegal
use of these weapons has resulted in the mass killing of hundreds of
Palestinians.  In July of 2002, the Israeli occupation forces dropped a
one-ton bomb into an apartment building to kill a single person.  That
attack on a residential building resulted in dozens of casualties-most
of the dead were children.

*The U.S. knows Israel is using American weapons in violation of AECA
agreements between both countries. The AECA agreements stipulate that
Israel must not use such weapons in civilian territories, yet Israel
consistently uses these weapons in densely populated areas and the U.S.
has never even reprimanded Israel for doing so.  Instead each year we
continue to give Israel more welfare, which in turn is used to kill
more Palestinians. Ask your representatives to demand that Israel stop
violating international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, the
Geneva Conventions and binding agreements with this country.  Ask your
representatives to demand that Israel conform to the tenets of a
civilized democracy and to stop acting like a regime run amok.

*Remind your representatives that you are paying close attention to the
events in that region and you are horrified that over 3,300
Palestinians have been killed (most of whom were children) with
American weapons. Giving these bombs to Israel is akin to giving them a
green light to continue targeting Palestinian civilians and children. 

*Tell your representatives Democratic and Republican alike that
unfettered U.S. support for Israeli war crimes will affect how you vote
in the next election. For the sake of domestic security you expect that
your elected officials stop supporting the Israeli regime.  Supporting
Israeli crimes only puts more American lives in peril as it fuels anger
and hatred.  Ask your representatives what we as American citizens are
gaining from our relationship with Israel .

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WHITE HOUSE FAX: 202-456-2461
Citizens for Fair Legislation is a grassroots organization committed to
encouraging a fair domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the
US/Arab world.
To learn more about John Kerry and his anti-human rights position on
Palestinians, click here:


Intensified Israeli Plans to Expel Palestinian Citizens from Jerusalem

Intensified Israeli Plans to Expel Palestinian Citizens from Jerusalem
September 22, 2004

The apartheid wall in Jerusalem is taking on new dimensions, as
Israel plans to continue to "offer services" in the affected east
Jerusalem neighborhoods. This comes in contradiction to a report
published last week that revealed Jerusalem municipal plans to drive
out the Palestinian inhabitants of the city.
According to estimates from Al Quds, a Palestinian daily newspaper,
60,000 inhabitants in the neighborhoods of Qalandia, Kufur Aqab,
Shufat, Abu Dis and Dahiyat al Barid, will face travel restrictions.
Hence, the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality announced plans to
establish a new coordinating office in order to facilitate the
movement of Jerusalem residency card holders.

The plan also includes creating 11 "gates" for the residents of
these neighborhoods, which includes the paving of five new roads
that will offer greater access. After the completion of the wall,
the Israeli Civil Administration will allegedly be implementing the
first phase of providing services to those neighborhoods; however,
no budgets have been announced to date, which casts doubt on the
veracity of such plans ever being implemented.

These plans may be a cover for the previous week's announcement that
the Jerusalem Municipality is planning to push many of east
Jerusalem 's inhabitants out of the city boundaries. The most
threatened residents will be those in the Old City of Jerusalem,
whom Israel is planning to pay off, according to Issa Samandar of
the Palestinian Land Defense Committee, who warned of this imminent
danger facing east Jerusalem at press conference last Thursday.
Israel will most likely use the exodus of Palestinians from the city
to strip them of their residency rights there, hence, denying them
any further access to their places of work, study and worship.

Samandar, however, is confident that these Israeli plans will not
prevail, because people understand fully well what Israel is trying
to do and will not stand for it. Israel has always had ambitions to
completely control Jerusalem , and in 1991, all covert attempts to do
so, suddenly became a reality with the onset of the Gulf War.
Curfews were imposed and checkpoints were erected; hence,
restrictions of movement began, which gradually worsened to the
conditions they are today.

Settlements surrounding Jerusalem have also been part of the plan to
deny any natural growth and expansion for east Jerusalem
neighborhoods. While these settlements have expanded to
unprecedented size, nearby Palestinian areas face immense
difficulties in obtaining building permits to house ever-expanding
families. Palestinians then resort to building without permits, and
live in perpetual fear of seeing their homes being demolished by
Israeli bulldozers.

While the route of the apartheid wall will allegedly enable some
east Jerusalem residents to retain their rights in the city, many
Jerusalem District villages will not be so "fortunate". The wall
will completely isolate villages such as Bido, not only from
Jerusalem itself, but also from the surrounding villages. This is
catastrophic for these villages, as Bido has been central to their
livelihood, their children's schooling and immediate access to basic
health care.

Monday, September 20, 2004

After Abu Ghraib

After Abu Ghraib: "I Hate Them"
FM: John
With the kidnappers and beheaders of Americans in Iraq making their proclaimed demand the release of Iraqi women in American prisons, the testimony of an Iraqi woman who has been there is relevant.

Huda Alazawi was one of the few women held in solitary in the notorious Iraqi prison. Following her release, she talks for the first time to Luke Harding about her ordeal

Monday September 20, 2004
It began with a phone call. In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant. He was working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad well known for its hostility towards the US occupation. His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know her, had to give him $10,000. If she failed to pay up, he would write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would arrest her.

"It was clearly blackmail," Alazawi says, speaking in the Baghdad office of her trading company. "We knew that if we gave in, there would be other demands." The informant was as good as his word. In November 2003, he wrote a report that prompted US soldiers to interrogate Alazawi's brother, Ali, and her older sister, Nahla, now 45. Wearing a balaclava, he also led several raids with US soldiers on the families' antique-filled Baghdad properties.

On December 23, the Americans arrested another of Alazawi's brothers, Ayad, 44. It was at this point that she decided to confront the Americans directly. She marched into the US base in Adhamiya, one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. "A US captain told me to come back with my two other brothers. He said we could talk after that." On Christmas Eve she returned with her brothers, Ali and Mu'taz. "I waited for four hours. An American captain finally interrogated me. After 10 minutes he announced that I was under arrest." Like thousands of other Iraqis detained by the Americans since last year's invasion, Alazawi was about to experience the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror".

"They handcuffed me and blindfolded me and put a piece of white cloth over my eyes. They bundled me into a Humvee and took me to a place inside the palace. I was dumped in a room with a single wooden chair. It was extremely cold. After five hours they brought my sister in. I couldn't see anything but I could recognise her from her crying."

Alazawi says that US guards left her sitting on the chair overnight, and that the next day they took her to a room known by detainees as "the torturing place". "The US officer told us: 'If you don't confess we will torture you. So you have to confess.' My hands were handcuffed. They took off my boots and stood me in the mud with my face against the wall. I could hear women and men shouting and weeping. I recognised one of the cries as my brother Mu'taz. I wanted to see what was going on so I tried to move the cloth from my eyes. When I did, I fainted."

Like most Iraqi women, Alazawi is reluctant to talk about what she saw but says that her brother Mu'taz was brutally sexually assaulted. Then it was her turn to be interrogated. "The informant and an American officer were both in the room. The informant started talking. He said, 'You are the lady who funds your brothers to attack the Americans.' I speak some English so I replied: 'He is a liar.' The American officer then hit me on both cheeks. I fell to the ground.

Alazawi says that American guards then made her stand with her face against the wall for 12 hours, from noon until midnight . Afterwards they returned her to her cell. "The cell had no ceiling. It was raining. At midnight they threw something at my sister's feet. It was my brother Ayad. He was bleeding from his legs, knees and forehead. I told my sister: 'Find out if he's still breathing.' She said: 'No. Nothing.' I started crying. The next day they took away his body."

The US military later issued a death certificate, seen by the Guardian, citing the cause of death as "cardiac arrest of unknown etiology". The American doctor who signed the certificate did not print his name, and his signature is illegible. The body was returned to the family four months later, on April 3, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal broke. The family took photographs of the body, also seen by the Guardian, which revealed extensive bruising to the chest and arms, and a severe head wound above the left eye.

After Ayad's body had been taken away, Alazawi says that she and 18 other Iraqi detainees were put in a minibus inside the military compound. "The Americans told us: 'Nobody is going to sleep tonight.' They played scary music continuously with loud voices. As soon as someone fell asleep they started beating on the door. It was Christmas. They kept us there for three days. Many of the US soldiers were drunk."

Finally, after a US guard broke her shoulder as she left the lavatory, Alazawi and her surviving siblings were transferred - first to a police academy in Baghdad's interior ministry and then, on January 4, 2004, to Abu Ghraib prison.

Alazawi, who has a 20-year-old daughter, Farah, and a four-year-old granddaughter, Safat, spent the next 156 days in solitary confinement. Along with five other Iraqi women, she was held in Abu Ghraib's infamous "hard site" - the prison block inside the compound where photographs of American guards sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners had been taken two months previously. The women were kept in the upstairs cellblock; male detainees regarded as "difficult" were held downstairs. The vast majority of inmates lived in a series of open tents surrounded by razor wire and US guard posts.

In her first weeks at Abu Ghraib, before the US military launched its internal investigation into prisoner abuse, torture was commonplace, she says. "The guards used wild dogs. I saw one of the guards allow his dog to bite a 14-year-old boy on the leg. The boy's name was Adil. Other guards frequently beat the men. I could see the blood running from their noses. They would also take them for compulsory cold showers even though it was January and February. From the very beginning, it was mental and psychological war."

Alazawi is reticent about the question of sexual abuse of Iraqi women but says that neither she nor any of the other women in Abu Ghraib at the time were sexually assaulted by US guards. In his subsequent report into the scandal, however, Major General Antonio Taquba found that at least one US military policemen had raped a female inmate inside Abu Ghraib; a letter smuggled out of the prison by a woman known only as "Noor", containing allegations of rape, was found to be entirely accurate. Other witnesses interviewed by the Guardian have said that US guards "repeatedly" raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was held in the block last year. They also said that guards made several of the women inmates parade naked in front of male prisoners.

Alazawi says that she was held in a two-metre-square cell, initially with no bed and a bucket for a toilet. For the first three weeks she was entirely "mute" after being told that talking was forbidden. The US guards gave her only one book, a Koran. She managed to steal a pen, and recorded incidents of abuse, with dates, in its margins. During her first few months in custody, the US soldiers were brutal, petty and tyrannous, she says.

"Because I could speak a bit of English I was given the job of emptying the rubbish. There was never enough food and one day I came across an old woman who had collapsed from hunger. The Americans were always eating lots of hot food. I found some in a packet in a bin and gave it to her. They caught me and threw me in a one-metre-square punishment cell. They then poured cold water on me for four hours." She wrote the date down in her Koran: February 24, 2004 .

For the first four months, apart from frequent interrogations, she was not allowed out of the block. Alazawi says she was repeatedly asked whether she was in the Resistance and whether she had fired rockets at US soldiers (she is 5ft 3in tall). "It became a running joke. The other women began to nickname me the Queen of the RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. The American interrogators were entirely ignorant and knew nothing about Iraqi people. The vast majority of people there were innocent."

After the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April, Alazawi was allowed to exercise in the scrubby yard outside for 10 minutes a day. She got a bed. She was also assigned a new female guard, "Mrs Palmer", who helped the women with their English and in turn tried to learn Arabic. In May, Major General Geoffrey Miller, assigned to Abu Ghraib by Washington in the aftermath of the torture scandal, escorted a large group of journalists around the prison for the first time. The previous night, Alazawi says, US guards evacuated all the juveniles and male detainees from her cellblock, leaving only her and a handful of other women upstairs.

"Mrs Palmer told us that during the inspection we had to lie quietly on our beds. She said that if we behaved we would be allowed to spend more time out of our cells in the sun. The following day General Miller turned up with a huge number of journalists. I heard him telling them that some of the people kept in here were murderers. I shouted out: 'We are not the killers. You are the killers. This is our country. You have invaded it.' After that they didn't let me out of my cell for an entire month. A US officer came to me and said: 'Because of you we have all been punished'."

Alazawi says she was unimpressed by Miller. "It was obvious he liked having his photo taken," she says. Over the next few weeks, the US military began releasing hundreds of Abu Ghraib detainees as part of a damage limitation exercise. Alazawi and her sister were moved from their cells to a tent. Three generals also came to interview her and asked her to describe what had happened to Ayad, her brother. They did not, however, offer an apology. The other women were gradually released, including her sister. Finally, on July 19, a helicopter took Alazawi to Al Taji, a military base just north of Baghdad .

"After eight months in prison they suddenly treated me like a queen. It was weird," she says. "They offered me some Pepsi. I could take a shower. There was air conditioning. There were four female soldiers to look after me. The doctor came to see me four times in 24 hours. They made me sign a piece of paper promising not to leave the country. And then I was free."

A US military spokesman said that Alazawi was known to him, but disputed her claim to have been held in solitary for 157 days:"She and her sister, which [sic] were the last two females we detained at Abu Ghraib, were separated from the male detainees in keeping with the cultural sensitivities." He added, "The fact that abuses occurred isn't really news any more. We know they did and those who are accused are being prosecuted for it."

Now Alazawi is trying to piece her life back together. She is back at work in Baghdad , where she runs businesses importing foreign cars and electrical goods, surrounded by respectful staff who bring endless cups of sweet Iraqi coffee. Business appears to be flourishing. Friends of the family in Arab dish-dash - many of whom come from Iraq 's Sunni elite - drop in and exchange gossip on her white leather sofas. But after her release, her millionaire husband announced that he was divorcing her.

"For a woman in an eastern society to spend months in US custody is very difficult," she says. Several of the other former women detainees in Abu Ghraib are believed to have disappeared; others have husbands who have also disowned them. Alazawi's surviving brothers, Ali - prisoner number 156215 - and Mu'taz - 156216 - are still inside Abu Ghraib. The US military continues to detain them and 2,400 other prisoners without charge or legal access, in contravention of the Geneva Convention. Alazawi says that she has hired lawyers to pursue the Iraqi informant whom she blames for her brother's death.

All the other women detainees, meanwhile, have refused to talk about their ordeal; she is the first to give testimony. As Iraq lurches from disaster to disaster, from kidnapping to suicide bombing, from insurgency towards civil war, from death to death, what does she think of the Americans now? "I hate them," she says.

We Refuse

We Refuse
In honour of Haggai Matar , Matan Kaminer , Noam Bahat , Shimri Tzameret , and Adam Maor who was released on Monday September 20th, 2004

after having served some two years in military and civilian prisons for refusing to fight in the Israeli occupation army.
We will not maim, we will not kill

It's against our faith, it's against our will

We will stay true to our life's vocation

We will not fight in an army of occupation

Whether you free us or bind us in chains

Our conscience is clear and our resolve remains
We seek not glory, we seek not fame
And refuse that atrocities be done in our name
We will continue to stand for what's true and what's right
But in the occupation army we refuse to fight
Although today we are released from our cell
An entire nation is living in hell
Let Palestinians live free on their land
For this we will struggle, for this we will stand