John Minto: Bucha – the Russian army’s Fallujah. Justice needed for both cities.

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Flashback to Fallujah 2003
Flashback to Fallujah 2003/2004 ... remembering the US atrocities. Image: LFile

COMMENTARY: By John Minto

The discovery of many civilian bodies lying dead in the Ukrainian city of Bucha this week has brought out more Western rhetoric of horror, disgust, anger and fury at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has renewed calls for more sanctions against Russia, more weapons to the Ukrainians and calls for Putin to be put on trial as a war criminal.

That’s a strong response to war and those responsible for starting a military invasion of a sovereign state.

Let’s shift the focus to Iraq in 2003 for a moment.

On the marches to protest against the US-UK-Australian-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 one of the chants used was “Never forget Fallujah!”.

So, for those that were too young to know, or now too old to remember, here are a few well-referenced paragraphs from Wikipedia about what happened when the US invaders attacked that city as part of an invasion of another sovereign state, Iraq.

The United States bombardment of Fallujah began in April 2003, one month after the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. In April 2003, United States forces fired on a group of demonstrators who were protesting against the US presence. US forces alleged they were fired at first, but Human Rights Watch, who visited the site of the protests, concluded that physical evidence did not corroborate US allegations and confirmed the residents’ accusations that the US forces fired indiscriminately at the crowd with no provocation.

Seventeen people were killed and 70 were wounded.

Further killings
In a later incident, US soldiers fired on protesters again; Fallujah’s mayor, Taha Bedaiwi al-Alwani, said that two people were killed and 14 wounded. Iraqi insurgents were able to claim the city a year later, before they were ousted by a siege and two assaults by US forces.

These events caused widespread destruction and a humanitarian crisis in the city and surrounding areas. As of 2004, the city was largely ruined, with 60 percent of buildings damaged or destroyed, and the population at 30–50 percent of pre-war levels.

At least one US battalion had orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not. In violation of the Geneva Convention, the city’s main hospital was closed by Marines, negating its use, and a US sniper was placed on top of the hospital’s water tower.

On November 13, 2004, a US Marine with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, was videotaped killing a wounded combatant in a mosque. The incident, which came under investigation, created controversy throughout the world.

Bucha killings in Ukraine AJ
A survivor in Bucha says some of his neighbours left their dark, cold houses that had no electricity, running water or natural gas supply to get bread or charge their mobile phones – but never came back. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot APR

The man was shot at close range after he and several other wounded insurgents had previously been left behind overnight in the mosque by the US Marines. The Marine shooting the man had been mildly injured by insurgents in the same mosque the day before.

On November 16, 2004, a Red Cross official told Inter Press Service that “at least 800 civilians” had been killed in Fallujah and indicated that “they had received several reports from refugees that the military had dropped cluster bombs in Fallujah, and used a phosphorus weapon that caused severe burns.”

On 17 May 2011, AFP reported that 21 bodies, in black bodybags marked with letters and numbers in Roman script, had been recovered from a mass grave in al-Maadhidi cemetery in the centre of the city.

Blindfolded, legs tied
Fallujah police chief Brigadier General Mahmud al-Essawi said that they had been blindfolded, their legs had been tied and they had suffered gunshot wounds. The Mayor, Adnan Husseini said that the manner of their killing, as well as the body bags, indicated that US forces had been responsible.

Both al-Essawi and Husseini agreed that the dead had been killed in 2004. The US Military declined to comment.

There were no sanctions against the US, UK and Australia, there were no US soldiers, military leaders or politicians held to account. There were no arms sent to help the Iraqis facing overwhelming odds in their fight against the US and its allies.

There were no moves to charge George Bush (US President), Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister) or John Howard (Australian Prime Minister) for war crimes before the International Criminal Court.

Yes Vladimir Putin should be on trial at the International Criminal Court, but before he appears we should have seen George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard face the same charges first.

We should never forget Bucha — but we must never forget Fallujah either. The people of both cities deserve justice at the ICC. Let’s do all we can to hold them to account.

Incidentally, US President Joe Biden was pushing hard for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003. His hypocrisy now in condemning Putin is the stuff of legends.

Republished from The Daily Blog with permission.

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