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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

Democracy and Human Rights? Not in evidence in Iraq

by Lily Hamourtziadou

24 Sep 2006

'Iraq is in a state of primal anarchy', writes Patrick Cockburn in the Independent 22 September 2006. Everyone is at war with everyone else, on a level that even the UN has revealed is worse than when Saddam Hussein was in power. A UN report revealed this week that the number of Iraqi citizens killed in July and August this year was 6,599, a record-high number. Nowak, the UN's chief anti-torture campaigner, pointed out the vulnerability of today's Iraqis, who have more than a dictator to fear: ''you have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias' (Times 21 August).

This week was no exception. Or perhaps it was. The number of violent deaths reported has been shockingly high: around 680 civilians were blown up, gunned down, tortured, buried in mass graves, many unclaimed and unidentified.

Monday 18 September: in the bloodiest attacks, 23 were killed in Tal Afar by a suicide bomber, and another 25 at a market in Mosul. In a Baquba 4 members of a Shiite family were shot dead as they fled their home, after receiving death threats. One of them was a child. By late night, 18 bodies were found. Altogether around 90 civilians were killed on this day.

On Tuesday 19 September Faris Egab, director of the Al-Adheem district in Kirkuk, was assassinated with his assistant, while explosions in Sharqat kill 21 people. More than 30 dead bodies are found scattered around the country.

A very disturbing incident makes the news: British forces arrest a senior official at Shahed Sadr office in Basra. Habeeb al-Ibadi is arrested after his home is surrounded at night, and taken to a British base. His body is sent to his family in the morning. This was done by British forces, at a British military base; a man under arrest was murdered, his body brazenly returned to his family. Wasn't this the sort of thing dictators were accused of?

On Wednesday 20 September Karbala Health Dept receives 112 unidentified and unclaimed bodies for burial. More 'fresh' bodies are found and over 30 are killed, one of them a 6-year-old boy. In the day's worst attack, another bombing in a market in Tal Afar killes 22 people. Between Tuesday and Wednesday 48 dead bodies are gathered from the streets.

On Thursday 21 September the main target is policemen; about 2 dozen of them are killed in attacks around the country. A further 38 bodies are found dumped, and a 5-year-old boy is killed when rockets hit his home.

Friday 22 September: Al Sharqiyah reports that 30 bodies are discovered buried in Kirkuk. Dozens more -48 is the highest reported- are found around the country, while 9 men abducted from a wedding dinner the night before (3 of them brothers) are found tortured and murdered. Sunni mosques and homes are attacked, resulting in 5 deaths, incidents that will give rise to the deadliest attacks of this week.

Meanwhile, on Friday evening an American contractor is killed by a rocket which struck Basra Palace, a British compound. This death is not the most significant factor; what is significant is the revelation, following this incident, that the palace (Saddam Hussein's marble palace, now a British compound housing troops and diplomatic missions from Britain, the US and allies) is regularly targeted with rockets and mortars. British military spokesman Major Charlie Burbridge says that the three bases in the city are usually struck 'two nights in three' by volleys of rockets or mortars.
It is interesting that the 'liberators' of Iraq are attacked two nights in three by those they have liberated. One might get the impression they were not so welcome.

Ramadan begins on Saturday 23 September, and those who had predicted a rise in violence during Ramadan are sadly proven right. Nearly 100 people die on this day, and the first attack of the day is the deadliest: 38 Shiites, mainly women, are blown up in Sadr City while queuing to buy cooking fuel. This is a reprisal killing for the attacks on Sunni mosques and homes the previous evening. Bodies are pulled from the Tigris, 9 severed heads are found in boxes, and 34 more bodies are picked up in Mahmudiya. It sounds like the plot of a horror film, but it is millions of people's reality.

Sunday 24 September: the killings continue and more dead bodies are found. Moreover, a Sunni militant group 'Ansar al-Sunni' posts on the internet photos of ID cards of 4 Indians and 3 Pakistanis, claiming they were among 10 Asian Shia Muslims they killed in Iraq as they headed for Syria.

This was a week in Iraq, where in 2003 George W Bush and Tony Blair promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights. On Friday demonstrators in Tikrit demanded the return of Saddam Hussein to power. They probably figured things couldn't get any worse.