Iraq Body Count urgently needs your support to keep track of casualties - help us with a donation now


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


by Lily Hamourtziadou

21 Dec 2008

‘The families of three men who were killed last week during a search of a grain warehouse want to press charges against American soldiers under the terms of a new security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.

The security document protects American soldiers so long as they're on U.S. bases or on missions, so it's unlikely that the families can base their claims on it, though they plan to press their case with the help of international lawyers.’ (McClatchy, 22 December)

The men killed in the raid were Assad Cheloob Sabor, Heider Sattar Manshad and Hussein Hashim, according to the Ministry of Trade. Their blood smeared the sleeping bags, walls and floors of the bedroom they were resting in at the storage site, where they were shot dead at about 5:10 a.m.

Assad, Heider and Hussein have become the latest victims to fall under the might of a powerful army that fears no prosecution, a powerful country that fears no accountability. The US and its soldiers are both immune from prosecution over the killing of innocents.

The guards were killed on the 17th. The following day, another man was gunned down by US troops, simply for driving too close to their patrol (US troops require all Iraqi vehicles to keep a distance of 100 metres from their patrols and fire on cars that come too close). Just two days later, on the 20th, the mighty army struck again, this time killing a deputy prosecutor as he drove along the highway in Babil. His name was Hashim Rashid.

Altogether 81 civilians were killed last week, one of them a child of 13. The victims included 7 members of a Yazidi family killed in their home on Monday, an Iraqi smuggler killed by Iranian forces on Tuesday, 7 corpses found in a mass grave on Wednesday, a woman activist stabbed and beheaded on Thursday, and 7 heads found in an abandoned house on Friday.

And while the perpetrators of those killings will be punished, if and when they are caught, the killers of the guards, the prosecutor and the driver that just drove too close will never be arrested and tried for their crimes. As prisons and detention centres fill up all over Iraq, as thousands of Iraqi men and women languish inside the overcrowded jails for months, years, without charge, the Americans know that they will never have to face the torture, the humiliation and the injustice of captivity. They will never even have to face the consequences of their actions. Just as their families, safe and sound back home, are not losing children to bombs, are not shot at by foreign soldiers in the streets of New York, Chicago, Miami, don’t have their homes raided, their members arrested and held indefinitely.

In 2008 alone, the ‘safest’ year since the invasion, with just over 9,000 Iraqi civilians killed, American forces have killed 50-60 civilians a month. Their deaths will go unpunished, like those of thousands of others before them.