'THESE HEINOUS ACTS BEYOND DESCRIPTION - THE RAPE AND MURDER OF 14 YEAR OLD IRAQI ABEER QASSIM HAMZA - 12 MCH 2006'
World Events of Significance
Rape and Murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza - 14 yrs old
[ TVOTW Insert - ABOVE - Abeer's home and the room where she was raped, shot to death and burned. ]
Bloody Reality of the U.S. Occupation
14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza lived with her family a few miles north of the Iraqi town of Mahmoudiya.1 She told her mother that U.S. soldiers would leer at her and try to make passes at her when she had to pass by the checkpoint near their house. The soldiers knew where Abeer lived-they had visited the house. The Washington Post reported in a July 3 article that Abeer's mother was worried for her child's safety and arranged to have Abeer sent to a neighbor's house, where she hoped her daughter would be out of danger.
But this didn't keep Abeer safe.
According to an FBI affidavit posted at the website FindLaw.com, four U.S. soldiers had been planning and talking about what they would do to Abeer. According to a July 1 Associated Press article, they spent almost a week planning the assault. On March 12, 2006, these soldiers went drinking and then changed out of their uniforms into dark clothes. One soldier covered his face with a t-shirt. In the afternoon, they burst into Abeer's house, armed with AK-47s.
According to the affidavit, Steven Green, a private in the Army, took Abeer's family -- her mother, Fikhriya Taha; her father, Qassim Hamza; and her 5-year-old sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza -- into a bedroom and killed them. He came out, blood on his clothes, bragging about what he'd just done. Then he and another soldier took turns raping Abeer. When they were done, they shot and killed her. Then they set fire to her body.
When they got back to the checkpoint, with bloody clothes, they told the soldier guarding the checkpoint to keep his mouth shut. They burned their clothes, and then went back to manning the checkpoint, where women and girls passed by every day.
The July 1 Associated Press article reported that the rape and murders had been blamed on sectarian infighting between various factions in Iraq. According to Sydney's Daily Telegraph, the truth began to come out more than two months later, after two of the soldiers in Green's unit were killed in an attack and other soldiers said they thought it might have been in response to the rape and murders in Mahmoudiya.
On July 3, Steven Green was charged with rape and murder, and could get the death penalty if convicted. Green is no longer in the military. Unrelated to the rape and murders, Green had been discharged for what the military calls a 'personality disorder'"
On July 9, the Associated Press reported that four other soldiers, all who are still on active duty, were charged with participating in the attack, and another was charged with knowing about the attack and failing to report it. It is not clear if any of those charged were Green's commanding officers.
The question is not whether this is the only rape or assault that U.S. soldiers have committed on Iraqi women or men, or female soldiers in the Army. The only question is-how many? And how many have been covered up?
Throughout the history of the United States, everywhere U.S. soldiers have waged wars or occupations, or been stationed, local women have been treated as the victims and spoils of war. From the bloody frontier wars that began this country, where U.S. soldiers made trophies and souvenirs from the mutilated body parts of Native American women, to the rings of brothels and strip clubs surrounding every U.S. overseas base, to the rapes of women in places like the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan, where U.S. soldiers are often immune from prosecution by those country's laws. And this ugly legacy of the U.S. military is alive and well today in Iraq.
Rape and sexual assault are not just openly tolerated in the U.S. occupation of Iraq-they are encouraged. Look at what happened in Abu Ghraib. Men being forced to masturbate and pose naked. The rapes and sexual assaults of women, men, and children. All captured on thousands of photos depicting smiling soldiers. Soldiers testified that they were doing these things to "soften up" the prisoners for interrogation.
In an environment where a woman has every reason not to report a rape, it is impossible to know how many women have been raped and abused by U.S. soldiers. Many times women are blamed, shamed and punished for being raped. Woman who are raped know that they could be accused of "staining the family honor" and severely punished, even killed, especially in areas that follow a strict interpretation of Islamic law. (Sharia, or a strict interpretation of the Koran, condemns women to death for being raped-for engaging in the crime of having "sex outside of marriage.")
This is the fifth time in only two months that the murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops has come to light. Reuters news service published a timeline of 18 major incidents in three years: In March 2006, U.S. soldiers killed eight people, including a teenage boy, when they raided a home. In February 2006, a U.S. soldier killed an unarmed man in Ramadi and two other soldiers placed an AK-47 by the body, to make it seem that they had just shot an "insurgent" (a tactic taken straight from cops in the United States when they murder people and plant a "throw-down gun.") National Public Radio reported on June 21 that seven U.S. soldiers killed a 52-year-old disabled man by dragging him into a ditch and shooting him, then throwing a shovel and an AK-47 by his body to make it seem he had been caught in the act of digging a roadside bomb. (See "Chronology: U.S. troops and civilian complaints in Iraq").
then, once again, even after five incidents reported in two months-the
official chorus comes out like a sick refrain: "These were bad
This is the nature of the U.S. occupation. And the unofficial policies of rape and murder are designed to break the spirit of the Iraqi people. The U.S. is enforcing a hated and brutal occupation on the people of Iraq. And an indispensable part of this is inculcating soldiers with a colonial mentality that treats the Iraqi people as subhuman and considers their lives worth nothing. Rapes, massacres, and brutal torture are inevitable when you have such a mentality, encouraged and backed from the highest levels of the military and up to the White House.
What does it mean when a senior official in the 4th Infantry Division of the Army says: "The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I'm about to introduce them to it." (From Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, quoted in Andrew Bacevich's review in the London Review of Books, June 6.) Or take the lyrics of a song called "Haji girl," written by a U.S. Marine, which celebrates the killing of Iraqis:
I hid behind the TV
And what does it mean that Marines in training chant: Blood makes the grass grow, Marines make the blood flow.
Add the blood of 14-year-old Abeer. Add her family to the hundred thousand who have been killed by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. This is the true nature of the U.S. military.
How many more Abeers? How many more Abu Ghraibs, Ramadis and Hadithas?
This bloody war, this murderous occupation must be stopped.
AND ALSO THIS EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT:
RAPED: Shocking Eyewitness Testimony Of US Rape, Murder In Iraq
Written by By Muhammad Abu Nasr
Monday, 03 July 2006
Mafkarat al-Islam has published a disturbing report on the rape and murder case in March that the American military have now been compelled to investigate. The report noted that the number of rapes of Iraqi women committed by US occupation troops is already legion and continues to climb. Both Mafkatate Al-Islam and JUS have repeatedly reported that many women have been victimized within Abu Ghurayb and the other prisons; while many others have fallen prey to the rapists in American uniform who prowl the large prison that is occupied Iraq. In addition, there have be numerous reports that the wives and daughters of Iraqi women are being used to "soften up" detainees however this has fallen on deaf ears for the past the three years.
But there is one case of rape that has come to the surface in recent days, which stands out for a savagery and brutality that goes beyond all bounds.
On an afternoon in March 2006, a force of 10 to 15 American troops raided the home of Qasim Hamzah Rashid al-Janabi, who was born in 1970 and who worked as a guard at a state-owned potato storehouse. Al-Janabi lived with his wife, Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, and their four children - 'Abir (born 1991), Hadil (born 1999), Muhammad (1998), and Ahmad (1996).
The Americans took Qasim, his wife, and their daughter Hadil and put them in one room of their house. The boys Ahmad and Muhammad were at school at the time the Americans invaded the home about 2pm. The Americans shot Qasim, his wife, and their daughter in that room. They pumped four bullets into Qasim's head and five bullets in to Fakhriyah's abdomen and lower abdomen. Hadil was shot in the head and shoulder. [ TVOTW Video Insert - 5 year old girl ]
After that, the Americans took 'Abir into the next room and surrounded her in one corner of the house. There they stripped her, and then the 10 Americans took turns raping her. They then struck her on the head with a sharp instrument, according to the forensic medical report, knocking her unconscious and smothered her with a cushion until she was dead. Then they set fire to her body.
The neighbor of the martyred family told the correspondent for Mafkarat al-Isla the following:
"At 2pm a force of Americans raided the home of the martyr Qasim, God rest his soul. They surrounded him and I heard the sound of gunfire. Then the gunfire fell silent. An hour later I saw clouds of smoke rising from the room and then the occupation troops came quickly out of the house. They surrounded the area together with Shi'i 'Iraqi National Guard' forces, and they told us that terrorists from al-Qa'idah had entered the house and killed them all. They wouldn't let any of us into the house. But I told one of the 'National Guard' soldiers that I was their neighbor and that I wanted to see them so that I could tell al-Hajj Abu al-Qasim the news about his son and his son's family, so one of the soldiers agreed to let me enter.
"So I went into the house and found in the first room the late Qasim and his wife and Hadil. Their bodies were swimming in blood. Their blood had spewed out of their bodies with such force that it had flowed out from under the door of the room. I turned them over but there was no response; their lives were already gone."
neighbor continued his account:
"Then I went into 'Abir's room. Fire was coming out of her. Her head and her chest were on fire. She had been put in a pitiful position; they had lifted her white gown to her neck and torn her bra. Blood was flowing from between her legs even though she had died a quarter of an hour earlier, and in spite of the intensity of the fire in the room. She had died, may God rest her soul. I knew her from the first instant. I knew she had been raped since she had been turned on her face and the lower part of her body was raised while her hands and feet had been tied.
By God, I couldn't control myself and broke into tears over her, but I quickly extinguished the fire burning from her head and chest. The fire had burned up her breasts, the hair on her head, and the flesh on her face. I covered her privates with a piece of cloth, God rest her soul. And at that moment, I thought to myself that if I go out talking and threatening, that they would arrest me, so I took control of myself and resolved to leave the house calmly so that I could be a witness to tell the story of this tragedy."
"After three hours the [American] occupation troops surrounded the house and told the people of the area that the family had been killed by terrorists because they were Shi'ah. Nobody in town believed that story because Abu 'Abir was known as one of the best people of the city, one of the noblest, and not Shi'i, but a Sunni monotheist. Everyone doubted their story and so after the sunset prayers the occupation troops took the four bodies away to the American base. Then the next day they handed them over to the al-Mahmudiyah government hospital and told the hospital administration that terrorists had killed the family. That morning I went with relatives of the deceased to the hospital. We received the bodies and buried them, may God have mercy on them."
"Then we decided that we must not be silent so we asked the mujahideen to respond as quickly as possible. They responded with 30 attacks on the occupation in two days, bringing down more than 40 American soldiers. But our blood was still not cooled, so we decided to go to al-'Arabiyah satellite TV to tell them the story since it is a station that broadcasts in Iraq. But al-'Arabiyah paid no attention to us and said we were liars. They told us that their policy was to rely on official announcements issued by the American army, and that they were not able to get into a story over which they had no power. This was told to us by the al-'Arabiyah correspondent Ahmad as-Salih. So we went to local newspapers and they slammed the doors in our faces because we are Sunnis and the rape victim was a Sunni girl. But the Resistance fighters told us that God does not allow the blood of any Muslim to be lost, and they told us to patiently persevere and we would see such a punishment for the blood of 'Abir and her family, for the violation of the honor of our sister, a punishment that would make people's hair stand on end.
"I personally wasn't surprised that Umm 'Abir ['Abir's mother] came to me on 9 March 2006 and asked that 'Abir be allowed to spend the night with my daughters. She was afraid because of the way the occupation troops looked at her when she went out to feed the cows. I agreed to that because there was an occupation forces' command post just 15 meters from Qasim's house, God rest his soul. But frankly I thought it unlikely that anything would happen to the girl because she was only something like 16 and she was just a little girl. But I agreed and she spent one night at our place and then went back to her home in the morning. We had no idea that the occupation troops would carry out their crime in broad daylight.
"The neighbor concluded: "The occupation troops came last Friday - that is, one day before the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent visited the scene of the crime - and asked the people of the area to exhume the body of 'Abir to conduct tests on it. And they also asked me to provide eyewitness testimony and I will go anywhere to make sure that justice is served."
JUSone reporter Ashraf Al-Iraqi contributed to this report.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Men rape because they feel entitled to help themselves to a woman's body and because they think they can get away with it. Rape can be stopped by making sure that they don't, by women defending themselves-violently, if necessary.
So I was taught by a woman who had herself been raped and who humbled me with her grasp of the painful truths of sexual violence.
I thought of her when I learned of the evil gang rape of 14-year old Abeer Qasim Hamza, by infantrymen from the 101st Airborne Division, around 2 pm on March 12, 2006, in her home at Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
As is now widely known, having raped Abeer, these men killed her and set fire to her body. They also killed her 5 -year old sister, Hadeel, and their father and mother, Qassim Hamza and Fikhriya Taha. A neighbour (Janabi) describes the scene as he walked into Abeer's room:
Fire was coming out of her. Her head and her chest were on fire. She had been put in a pitiful position; they had lifted her white gown to her neck and torn her bra. Blood was flowing from between her legs even though she had died a quarter of an hour earlier, and in spite of the intensity of the fire in the room. She had died, may God rest her soul. I knew her from the first instant. I knew she had been raped since she had been turned on her face and the lower part of her body was raised while her hands and feet had been tied.
The rape of Abeer is not an aberration. U.S. troops have been killing and raping Iraq girls and women with impunity since their feet touched Iraq soil. The only aberration is that we got to hear about it.
We got to hear of it because this girl's rape and murder were avenged by the Mujahadeen, at the request of the family. They tortured and killed two (and perhaps three) soldiers from the same unit and this prompted two soldiers in the know to come forward. (Link)
Let us note that it was the death of Americans that troubled these men, not the rape and killing of an Iraqi girl and her family by Americans.
The U.S. military had tried to blame the atrocity on "Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area". Such ignorance-these victims were themselves Sunni. How many American caused atrocities, one wonders, have been blamed by them on "insurgents".
The U.S. military is now trying to protect its reputation by blaming this gang rape-murder on a "bad apple", Steven G. Green, who was discharged in May, we are told, because of an "anti-social personality disorder". He and four other soldiers have been charged with one count of rape and four counts of murder. (Link)
Leaving aside the fact that the entire world can see plainly enough that the problem is not a bad apple, it's the entire rotten orchard, just how one would go about detecting "anti-social personality disorder" among the bloody carnage in Iraq is anyone's guess.
The USA itself, considered as an "imagined community" manifests all the characteristics of anti-social personality disorder. Consider:
it lacks empathy for the suffering of others
The USA thinks it is entitled to invade and plunder an innocent country, rape and murder its people, and get away with it.
rape of Abeer, the rape of Iraq. The part contains the whole. An American
soldier imposes his will on an Iraqi girl. The American military imposes
its will on Iraq society. Both acts are
motivated by the same wretched morality which bestows the same feeling
Steven Green is no "bad apple". He's typical fruit of a bad society, one morally indifferent to what is being done in its name in Iraq.
Nor should he be made a scapegoat. War brutalises both sides to a conflict, albeit in different ways. Every man knows that he is capable of rape-in certain circumstances. When armed young men know they can both die tomorrow and act with impunity they are liable to rape.
This excuses them not at all. It extends responsibility to those who placed them in that hellish situation in Iraq.
If the five soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division are guilty of this crime, so too is the entire chain of command, all the way up to Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and Bush.
The U.N. is also complicit, for authorizing immunity from prosecution of American forces in Iraq, in the form of Security Council Resolution 1546.
American soldiers have been terrorizing Iraqi women from the outset. They routinely take them hostage in exchange for their husbands, brothers and sons. They are "disappeared" into unknown prisons where they are sexually assaulted and tortured.
These same soldiers have removed women's protection by the Iraq state by shattering it into militia-run fiefdoms. As Haifa Zangana argues, this has transformed all of Iraq into Abu Ghraib, "with our streets as prison corridors and homes as cells" Link.
Before the Anglo-American invasion, women had enviable rights under the Constitution. Rape was a capital offence. Now many women are afraid to leave their homes because of fear of abduction and rape.
Rape dishonours, humiliates and shames. Because of this it also silences.
Abeer's death certificate makes no mention of rape because it is a taboo subject in Iraq. "Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them." (Link)
In this context, presumably, vengeance is less attractive to a vulnerable girl or woman than prevention. In any event, whose tarnished honour, women's or their own, do men avenge?
What good does avenging a rape do its victim, dead or alive? What good does the US military investigating itself do a raped woman? What good is relying on the law for protection when rapists are beyond the law?
When you live under an occupying force that rapes and murders with impunity, when the "international community" looks the other way while your country is gang-raped, when the best your Prime Minister can do is bleat for an independent investigation, when the best your men-folk can do is avenge whatever might befall you.
This situation can go on without end. Women cannot afford to wait for an end to occupation. When there is no law, women are entitled to take it into their own hands.
In these circumstances, the best tactic women could adopt to prevent rapes, abductions and murders is to establish consequences by defending themselves violently.
They should arm themselves and kill those-American or Iraqi-who attempt to harm them, or their children, brothers and sisters.
When the risk involved in attacking women is greater, there will be fewer attacks on them.
The unimaginable terror felt by Abeer Qasim Hamza, by all accounts a beautiful child, warrants action. No more words.
Withdrawal? No. The power and morality embodied by the gang-rape of Abeer by American soldiers should not be allowed to survive.
It must be defeated.
And that will take armed women, as well as armed men.
TVOTW - ICOPO
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