Friday, June 02, 2006

UFPJ Action Alert!

'We Have a Haditha Every Day'

As horrible as the November 2005 massacre in Haditha was, it appears to be the tip of the iceberg. Today's news brings reports of another alleged mass killing of civilians by U.S. troops in Iraq, including a 6-month-old baby, last March.

While the details of that incident remain murky, the story of Haditha has now been told in chilling detail by numerous respected sources. In a several-hour-long rampage, a group of U.S. Marines shot 24 Iraqi civilians execution-style, at close range -- among them a 77-year-old amputee confined to a wheelchair and seven children ranging in age from 1 to 15. A 41-year-old woman was killed while trying to shield the youngest baby with her body.

U.S. soldiers shot these innocent people. But ultimately, it was U.S. policy that killed them. We need to be sure that all of those responsible for these deaths are held accountable -- not just the individual Marines who snapped and committed terrible atrocities, but every politician from Congress to the White House who has supported this indefensible war.

We need to keep the public dialogue going about Haditha, the war, and political accountability. We encourage you to call into the talk shows on your local radio stations and to write letters to the editors of your local newspapers. (Click here to find contact information for your local media outlets.) See our talking points for more detailed ideas about how to frame the issue.

We must also bring the truth of this tragedy home to our communities. The Iraqi victims of this war have too often been faceless, nameless, invisible. With the Haditha massacre, we know the names and ages of the 24 victims, and we know how they died: Presenting this publicly is a powerful way to dramatize the horrors of this war.

We have posted a list of the names, ages, and genders of the Haditha victims, as well as individual posters you can download representing each of the 24, on our website. We encourage you to hold public events in your community using this information.

Some ideas:

  • Have 24 people stand vigil in a high-profile location, each holding a sign with details about one of the Haditha victims. To make the event especially powerful, try to find people whose ages correspond with those who were killed.
  • You can highlight the number of deaths by holding a 24-minute or 24-hour vigil in your community.
  • If you already hold a weekly vigil, you can re-frame your next gathering along these lines. If you don't have a regular vigil in your community yet, this is an occasion to start one. To be most effective, events should be held sometime during this coming week.
  • Make sure to post your event on our website calendar, and let your local media know that it is happening. A sample press release will soon be available on our website.
  • Whatever you do, please send reports of your events to

Some will ask why we are focusing so specifically on these deaths, when so many thousands of others have needlessly died, including nearly 2,500 U.S. soldiers.

The reason is this: This war is wrong not just because U.S. soldiers are dying, or because the Bush Administration lied to us, or even because we so desperately need the close to $300 billion spent on the war to rebuild the Gulf Coast and to address the rest of our country's neglected needs.

We need to end the war now, because we are killing innocent human beings every single day. Every day that we keep our soldiers in Iraq, we are putting them in atrocity-producing situations. Though U.S. Congressmember John Murtha called it "the worst rampage by service members in the Iraq war," Haditha, just like the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, isn't remarkable because of what happened there on November 19, 2005, but because it happens to be one of the few horrific incidents we've forced ourselves to look at.

As Muhanned Jasim, an Iraqi merchant, quoted by Molly Ivins in her June 1 column, said, "We have a Haditha every day."

We must end the war in Iraq, and bring all the troops home -- NOW.

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