'Testimonies from Falluja'

'Testimonies from Falluja'

"When an Iraqi man slapped an officer for using bad language, the officer hit the man, broke his arm, tied his arms and legs, and then a tank.."
By Sonia Nettnin

“Testimonies from Falluja,” is a collection of testimonies from Iraqis who experienced the U.S.-attack on Falluja in October and November 2004. Falluja October/November 2004 THIS IS LIBERATION BY THE US FORCES

Their firsthand accounts describe the aerial bombardment and video footage shows burned, blown-up bodies lying in the streets, children included, alongside destroyed buildings. U.S. mainstream media did not report this side of the war.

With explosions in the background, cameraman Isam Rashid follows the people running for their lives. Men urge the women and children to run to the school because they think they have a better chance of surviving the attack. A man calls out to a group of women: “God is the greatest.”

Although the U.S. military reports the attack began in late October, a couple of the testimonies claim that it began mid-October, the beginning of Ramadan: a holy month of fasting, prayer and reflection for Muslims.

The timing of the U.S. invasion and the heavy killing of people made one man think that the U.S. attacked Islam also.

A Sheikh of the Fallujah Mosque explains that six batteries of artillery attacked the town. During an attack on American soldiers in the street, the American soldiers shot six cars of civilians. U.S. soldiers shot at houses with people inside of them randomly. “Yes, I saw young people killed mutilated and crushed with tank treads,” he added.

Footage of U.S. soldiers on a rooftop firing and bombing buildings add to the compounding evidence of the Iraqis’ testimonies. Amid Falluja’s skyline of smoke and gun powder, the soldiers whoop and holler. The testimonies illustrate the different experiences survivors had when U.S. soldiers confronted them.

A man with verbal disabilities explains his experience. When an Iraqi man slapped an American officer for using bad language, the officer hit the man, broke his arm, tied his arms and legs, and then a tank crushed him. The man uses a staccato Arabic, and he shows his two fingers when he finishes his testimony.

Since he witnessed the murder, U.S. soldiers tied and hooded him. Then, they took 300,000 Iraqi dinars and $200 dollars from him and told him never to come back again.

Why did the U.S. attack Falluja? According to news reports, the U.S. was after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who is allegedly responsible for a list of kidnappings, beheadings, and suicide bombings; and who allegedly led the insurgence within Iraq. Moreover, the U.S. military estimated 3,000 resistance fighters were in Falluja also. They symbolized the resistance to the U.S.-led occupation and the U.S. military wanted all of them.

The aerial bombardment lasted several nights and days. The blasts were loud enough that one man’s deaf daughter began screaming from the shrapnel flying overhead. U.S. forces raided homes also. Two, young girls explain that one night U.S. soldiers with guns raided the room where sixteen members of several families slept. During the raid, they kicked people, rounded up the men, then tied up their hands, and drove off. When asked to describe U.S. soldiers, the older girl explained: “They’re not good, I don’t like them, they behave badly.”

Since the last invasion of Falluja, many of the people lost their homes. The police and national guard stole their furniture. Many people live as refugees in neighboring towns. Some of the men still alive are in prison. When the people left Fallujah, they only had their summer clothes. Now they live in tents, without heavy clothing, fuel, jobs, and the children are not in school. Women wash their clothes in plastic tubs under outdoor water faucets, along with their plastic dishes. For these laborious tasks, the women squat on the ground. “At night, the cold is unbearable,” one man said.

According to women activist, Mrs. Hana’a Ibrahim, the families not only need shelter, they need doctors, food, medicines, and money. One man holds his son who became ill since the attack on Falluja in April 2004. His son, pale and hairless, threw up on his father just before the interview. The man takes his son to the hospital, but they cannot cure him. Overall, many of the children are sick and the people feel humiliated as refugees.

Footage of Falluja on November 12, 2004 shows a desert, ghost town, with burned vehicles and houses. Corpses lie on the streets. Plumes of smoke rise to the sky.

While organ music plays in the background, people kneel on the ground, beside endless rows of graves.

“Testimonies from Falluja” is an Al Qitaf Artistic Production. Hamodi Jasim directed and produced the film; camera testimonies by Isam Rashid; music by Ahmad Jihad; editing by Hassan Al-Jaff; and the voice over is Dahr Jamail. The people testify in Arabic and Jamail narrates their testimonies in English. A portion of the funds generated will support future independent media efforts by this Iraqi team of journalists and filmmakers. DVD distribution is by PepperSpray Productions.

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