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U.S. Troops Open Fire On Iraqi Protesters, Again

by STEVE ARGUE Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2003 at 5:51 PM

Iraqi people are being shot dead for demanding that their school not be turned into a U.S. military base.

U.S. Troops Open Fire On Iraqi Protesters, Again


On Tuesday April 29 Al-Jazeera reported that U.S. troops had opened fire on unarmed protesters killing 15 and wounding 50 in Falluja. Reuters also reported the attack saying that according to witnesses, “U.S. troops shot dead at least 13 Iraqis during an anti-American protest in the town of Falluja overnight…. in bloodshed sure to inflame anger at the U.S. presence in Iraq.”

Falluja is 50 miles west of Baghdad.

The 100 to 500 Iraqi protesters (depending on the report) were speaking out against the takeover of a school in their town by U.S. troops.

After the shooting U.S. helicopters roared over the heads of the mourners as they tried to bury their dead. Chants erupted under the noise of the helicopters saying, “Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice to you martyrs”.

A witness who asked not to be identified was recorded as saying to AFP, “Six of those shot dead were children aged just seven or eight…. The US troops were ‘not threatened by the demonstrators,’ he added.”

While civilian eyewitnesses said protesters were unarmed, U.S. Lt. Christopher Hart claimed that two men showed up on motorcycles and began firing. Even if what Hart is saying was true, the Lieutenant’s testimony should leave any thinking person wondering why the troops would have to shoot 65 people in an attempt to get two.

U.S. forces gave a similar explanation for their political repression in Mosul where they murdered 17 Iraqi protesters and injured about 75 on April 15th. According to civilian eyewitnesses the U.S. soldiers had opened fire on unarmed protesters demonstrating against the U.S. occupation in Mosul. Yet the U.S. forces and U.S. corporate media claimed that the soldiers had opened fire in order to stop a couple armed bank robbers that had opened fire on them.

It stretches us beyond the limits of naivety to believe that it was necessary to shoot a hundred anti-occupation protesters in order to get at a couple bank robbers. Both incidents, killing a total of about 32 people, were murderous political repression, pure and simple. They are attempts to silence a population that wants control of their own country and their own oil.

Similarly the Oakland police, already famous for their racist violence against the Black community, opened fire on 600 to 700 unarmed anti-war protesters at the Port of Oakland on April 7, 2003. The police shot unarmed protesters in the face with wooden dowels and beanbag stingballs while lobbing concussion grenades at them as well. Many needed hospital treatment.

Like the occupation forces in Iraq, the hostile Oakland Police tried to claim that they had shot back at protesters in self-defense. Likewise much of the corporate media ate this story up and regurgitated it to the public. The police claimed that they were being pelted with steel bolts by protesters, yet this claim was not backed up by anyone else present. Those witnesses to the contrary included longshore workers, protesters, and a government observer for the Oakland City Council.

Oakland City Councilperson Nancy Nadel said that one of her aides monitored the protest and, “He saw a peaceful demonstration,” with nothing thrown at the police. She said that what really happened was that police had issued a dispersal order and then opened fire on the protesters two minutes later as they were trying to retreat. In addition she said of the protesters, “They had no place to move to and were being shot with wooden pellets at face level".

Nine longshore workers were injured in the attack and five of them needed hospital treatment. "Police fired at our members and at the demonstrators indiscriminately," pointed out Clarence Thomas, a member of the executive board of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 1.

Many of those present described the attack as premeditated, with police lining up and shooting the protesters without provocation. The protesters were shot not because they were throwing anything but because they were part of a successful action to stop the shipment of armaments for the war.

The protest was aimed at American President Lines and Stevedoring Services of America, two companies that are shipping armaments to Iraq. Protesters set up pickets on the docks that workers refused to cross, thus successfully, for a short period of time, accomplishing the first strike by American workers against participating in the U.S. war effort. This is something the U.S. ruling class decided to nip in the bud through the use of government violence.

Had the union responded to this attack with job actions it would have been the government and the bosses taught a lesson instead of workers and protesters.

Weighing in on the side of war and repression was Oakland Democrat Mayor Jerry Brown who, without any independent witnesses, backed the police and their version of events. As mayor, Brown is the boss of the police, and should be held responsible for the repression on April 7.

Likewise the Democrat Party has weighed in nationally as a party of war and repression with the majority in the Senate and Congress voting with the majority of Republicans for the war, as well as for the repressive Patriot Act, and most recently for an additional 63 billion dollars to fund the Anglo-American war and occupation of Iraq.

While the Iraqi people are being shot dead for demanding that their school not be turned into a U.S. military base, likewise the same U.S. government has turned its guns on American protesters trying to stop the shipment of billions of dollars in the weaponry of death that could be better spent to keep America’s schools open.




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