Who says bloggers don't do real journalism? German blogger Genosse Tabu has posted interviews with two Iraqi eyewitnesses to the US military's "liberation" of Fallujah in December 2004. Americans have read reports about the brave soldiers who rescued the city from the "terrorists", making Fallujah safe for democracy. We were told that voting on January 30 went smoothly in Fallujah, and that life is now returning to normal. For the most part, we were not told much about the hundreds of non-combatant Iraqis who were killed or severely wounded in the operation - "collateral damage". We were not told that the city has been flattened by incessant bombing from US warplanes. We were not told that only a fraction of the citizens have been able to return to their city.
Tabu interviewed an Iraqi refugee worker and a medical doctor. I translated the section from Dr. Mohammad Haded about the how the hospital in Fallujah was destroyed:
The US Army (note: Dr. Haded doesn't distinguish between the US Marines and the Army in the interrview) occupied the hospital in Fallujah where i was working. Troops from the airborne division attacked doctors who were performing operations. The soldiers forced them to lie on the ground, and they bound their hands behind them. The doctors were lying there for hours. Other hospital personnel negotiated with the army. They were told that they would untie the doctors if they agreed to cooperate by identifying "terrorists". The doctors agreed; after they were untied they underwent hours of interrogation.
The soldiers spent the day and night turning the place upside-down, but failed to find any "terrorists". In the process they destroyed valuable medical equipment. Afterwords the hospital could no longer be used. We then worked out an agreement that we could evacuate the patients. A team of doctors stayed behind to try to prevent further destruction to the euipment in the hospital. We were able to set up an emergency clinic where we brought many of the wounded - but we had no surgeons.
Two days later the US Army bombed the clinic. Even those who were evacuating the wounded were bombed, as well as ambulances that were clearly marked as such. One hospital was directly targeted by US tanks. We received calls from people who couldn't reach a hospital. We gave them instructions over the phone the best we could about how to treat the wounds. Many had wounds that became infected because they were unable to get proper treament.
That's how it went for six days. On the seventh day I went to the soldiers to inform them that I wanted to gather civilians in a mosque so they could get some basic care. As they came toward the mosque they were fired upon by sharpshooters. About two hundred people came; I personally took about fifty people to the mosque, thereby rescuing them from the army. We had no medical supplies, so could do little to help the severely wounded.... We buried seventeen people at the mosque, including women and children...
It is unlikely that the true story of Fallujah will ever be told in the US. The US press has abdicated its journalistic responsibility and stays in the heavily protected Green Zone in Baghdad, rehashing Pentagon press releases. For the most part, Americans have shown little interest in learning about what is really happening in Iraq, and are happy to be told that we are "building democracy" and "fighting terrorism". Blogs are now the only consistently reliable source of information; Juan Cole's Informed Comment stands out as the most comprehensive.