July 24, 2004
The Shrieks of Children
BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
William Rivers Pitt recently published an article on the Truthout website taking the US media to task for their failure to report the most disturbing story of the Iraq war: the imprisonment and torture of Iraqi children by the US Military. We should applaud the courage of journalists like Pitt and Seymour Hersh, not to mention whistleblowers such as Spec. Joseph Darby and Sgt. Samuel Provance who have faced military intimidation and litigation because of their efforts to expose the cover-up. Pitt writes:
"Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who first broke the story of torture at Abu Ghraib, recently spoke at an ACLU convention. He has seen the pictures and the videotapes the American media has not yet shown. 'The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking,' said Hersh. 'And this is your government at war.'"
Hersh is correct that the sound of children screaming is indeed the sound of our government, nay, ANY government at war. War brings death and terror to the most vulnerable people in the world (such as children), who have no Kevlar vests, helmets, or protective plating for their Humvees to keep them safe from the horrors of unbridled violence.
Let us not forget, however, that the most unreported story of the war against Iraq is still the thirteen-year war of destruction wrought by the nefarious campaign of infrastructure-bombing and economic sanctions, which condemned over 550,000 Iraqi children under the age of five to endure slow deaths from water-borne diseases and lack of basic medications. While the UNICEF studies, which documented these deaths, collect dust on the shelves of media and government officials everywhere, some analysts are busy rewriting the tale of this atrocity, claiming now that sanctions had been effective in containing Saddam.
The Iraqi children's cries have not yet been heard, and if the political forces of the US State "Sanction and War" Departments of the Bush/Clinton/Bush regimes have anything to say about it, they never will be heard. We cannot continue to ignore the screams and the barely audible, dying sighs of these children. These sounds of war come to us on the frequency of our war tax dollars, our choice of political leaders and our culture's complacent, hyper consumption of oil. Iraqis and others around the world are watching to see how average US citizens will confront the policies that have led to so much suffering of innocents. We urgently need actions to dramatize our nonviolent resistance, including war tax refusal, civil disobedience and sustainable living campaigns. Those children still have something to say to us; we must not allow their cries to be drowned out by the sound of silence.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
John Farrell is a co-coordinator with Voices in the Wilderness in Chicago. Since his travel to Iraq in August of 2003, where he developed friendships with ordinary Iraqis and did grassroots advocacy for human rights, John has been speaking and writing to convey in some small way the experiences of ordinary Iraqis today under US military and economic occupation.
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