The Acts of the Democracies
Years : ALL
Topic : Massacre
67 Items Selected
Israeli soldiers kill 10 people, mainly women and children in the village of Sharafat in Jordan.
In Israel 75 Palestinians are killed in Kibya, an Arab village near the Jordanian border. The attack involves 700 Israeli soldiers using mortars, machine guns, rifles and explosives against civilians. 42 houses are blown up as well as the school and mosque. A United Nations report states that "the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside, until their homes were blown up over them".
The attack was authorised by Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion and planned by Ariel Sharon (who would later be Prime Minister), leader of Unit 101.
Father Ralph Gorman, editor of the Sign, National Catholic Magazine of the USA writes:
"Terror was a political weapon of the Nazis. But the Nazis never used terror in a more cold-blooded and wanton manner than the Israelis in the massacre of Kibya. Women and children as well as men were murdered deliberately, systematically, and in cold blood."
Israel attacks the Gaza Strip, in Egypt.
The UK, France and USA impose economic sanctions on Egypt. Israel invades Egypt taking the Gaza Strip. This is supported by the UK and France, who bomb Egypt from the air.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces massacre 275 people in a refugee camp at Khan Younis. Another 60 people die in Gaza City after the city centre is shelled.
All of the invaders are eventually forced to withdraw by United Nations pressure after 18,000 Egyptians had died. The USA becomes the dominant power in the Middle East after this time and proposes international control of the canal.
Israeli Frontier Guards arrive at the village at 4:45 pm and inform the Mukhtar (village council leader) that the curfew in the village was from that day onwards to be observed from 5:00 pm instead of 6:00 pm, and that the inhabitants were required to stay at home from that time.
The Mukhtar informs the soldiers that some villagers were working outside the village and would not know about the change in the curfew. The soldiers tell him that they would take care of that.
The people in the village comply with the curfew. Meanwhile the guards post themselves at the village gates. As the villagers return, unaware of the new curfew times, they are shot at by the soldiers. The wounded are then finished off. The victims include men, women and children.
|49 Palestinians are massacred in the Arab village of Kafr Qassim near the Jewish village of Betah Tekfa by Israeli Frontier
The USA supports Israel politically, militarilly and economically.
"What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred for us? For eight years now they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived."
Over 70 people are killed in Sharpville, South Africa while demonstrating against the pass laws. These laws require non-Whites to carry documentation or else face imprisonment.
The African National Congress (ANC), an organisation seeking a multi-racial state with universal voting rights, is banned in South Africa.
White supremacy gains in strength in southern Africa.
Lists of over 5,000 suspects are passed to the government by the USA embassy in Jakarta. The UK also aids the slaughter, directing operations from Singapore. The UK ambassador, Andrew Gilchrist states that: "a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change."
General Suharto slowly takes power in the chaos. Business concessions are made to Western companies. Roland Challis (the BBC's South East Asia correspondent) admits that "getting British companies and the World Bank back in there was part of the deal".
Less than a year later Michael Stewart, the UK Foreign Secretary, would report that the economic situation in Indonesia promised: "great potential opportunities for British exporters... I think we ought to take an active part and try to secure a slice of the cake ourselves".
The West does not report much of what happens or its own involvement in the slaughter. These events are the background to the USA made film, The Year of Living Dangerously.
The Indonesian writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer describes the scene: "Usually the corpses were no longer recognisable as human. Headless. Stomachs torn open. The smell was unimaginable. To make sure they didn't sink, the carcuses were deliberately tied to, or impaled upon, bamboo stakes."
Many Palestinians are now refugees in these and other neighbouring countries while their homes and villages in Israel are destroyed and converted to kibutz (communial villages). Meanwhile, Israel encourages Jewish immigration to change the demography of the region.
Israel continues to receive admiring and uncritical support from the West, especially the USA. The Western media reports events from the Israeli point of view. Young tourists to Israel are encouraged to work in the kibutz.
Israeli forces raid the village of Al-Sammou destroying 125 houses, the village clinic and school. 18 people are killed.
More than 200 civilians are blown up with grenades, bayoneted and shot. Several young girls are raped before being killed. The killings take four hours including a lunch break next to a pile of corpses. The only American casualty is a soldier who shoots himself in the foot. Some of the victims had been mutilated by having "C Company" carved onto their chests.
One woman, Truong Thi Le, survives under the bodies of her relatives, including nine children. She tells her story to a journalist:
"It was 6 o'clock in the morning. Suddenly this helicopter was manoeuvring above the house, then we saw soldiers come across the fields. They ordered all the families out and told us to march towards the ditch. If we walked too slowly, they prodded us with their guns. We came to an assembly point and huddled together; then they shot us one by one. I saw a little boat and used it cover my son, and dead bodies fell down on me. I kept telling my son, who was six years old, 'Please don't cry. They will hear us if you do.'"
"When the Americans had finished and walked away, I waited, then stood up with my boy; I felt I was walking in the sky; I didn't have any kind of feelings. I was covered in blood and pieces of human brain, which smelt terrible. On the way back we had to walk in the field because the pathway was covered with bodies; I saw a mother die here, children there. They even killed the ox and buffaloes. When we reached our home, it was burned down. It was only then I realised a bullet [had] passed right through me, but I was still alive; I was alive."
One of the soldiers later states:
"You didn't have to look for people to kill, they were just there. I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I just lost all sense of direction."
Although there are over 600 reporters in Vietnam and the massacre becomes known to them, it takes over a year for the story to be published. It eventually appears on the cover of the USA magazine, Newsweek with the headline "An American Tragedy".
Several years later, there is a court martial but most of the perpetrators of the massacre are never punished and those that are receive short sentences.
My Lai lies in Quang Ngai Province. The USA had declared this area a free fire zone (meaning that they could shoot at anything that moved). When My Lai was attacked, 70% of all villages and hamlets in the province had already been razed.
|Over 200 civilians are killed by USA soldiers in the village of My Lai. The media held the story for months before it became public knowledge. Colin Powell, later in the USA government, was involved in the cover-up.|
There are now half a million USA troops in Vietnam. Civilians are being killed at the rate of 50,000 every year. There is so much destruction in South Vietnam that one soldier says of a town in the Mekong Delta: "we had to destroy it to save it"!
Civilians living in houses made of straw and tin are bombed by USA B-52 bombers. Many are attacked with napalm. This is a substance made from benzene, polystyrene and gasoline that catches fire and sticks to flesh. The victim is either burned to death or suffocated by lack of oxygen.
One terrified little girl is photographed running naked after her village has been attacked with napalm. Images like this put pressure on the USA and it agrees to stop bombing North Vietnam.
Children running after a napalm attack. The girl in the centre has had her clothes and part of her skin burnt off.
This photograph showed the people of the USA what their government was doing in Vietnam and helped turn public opinion.
In the elections, a political party representing East Pakistanis wins the free elections but is denied power by the ruling West Pakistanis. The West Pakistan army invades East Pakistan killing over 2,500,000 people. The army uses mass rape as an instrument of terror against civilians.
Western countries had funded Pakistan's military and the country was an ally of the USA. East Pakistan becomes independent as Bangladesh.
The USA, France and UK veto a United Nations resolution critical of South Africa's attempts to impose the apartheid system in Namibia.
Death squads continue to be active in El Salvador, a country backed and financed by the USA. Many victims are decapitated and the heads left in different areas from the body to be seen by passers by. Thousands are kidnapped and tortured. Aid workers and priests are killed. Within a few years over 70,000 people will have died.
One of the best known victims is Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Gald�mez, Archbishop of San Salvador. He is assassinated while celebrating mass on 24 March 1980 in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital, San Salvador. He had become an outspoken critic of human rights violations and a leading human rights defender. In March 1980 he had written to the President of the USA asking the USA not to provide military assistance to El Salvador which might be used to perpetrate human rights violations. He is killed shortly afterwards. USA aid to El Salvador is $523 million in 1980.
Roberto D'Aubuisson, who had studied unconventional warfare in the USA, states: "... Jesuit priests are the worst scum of all". It is believed that he is behind the White Warriors Union, whose slogan is "Be patriotic - kill a priest".
The USA made film Salvador shows events during this period.
The head of El Salvador's armed forces, Jose Guillermo Garcia, and his successor, General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, both later retire to live in the USA (Florida). In 2002, both would be ordered to pay compensation to their victims by a USA court.
A USA advisor to the battalion that committed the massacre states:
"You try to dry those areas up. You know you're not going to be able to work with the civilian population up there, you're never going to get a permanent base there. So you just decide to kill everybody. That'll scare everybody else out of the zone. It's done more out of frustration than anything else."
Ricardo Castro, a soldier in the army who later defected and admitted his part in killings tells this story about Mozaran Province:
"They had two towns of about 300 people each, and they were interrogating them to see what they knew. Since I...knew something about interrogations, he said he might want me to help. The Major told me that after the interrogation, they were going to kill them all."
Castro was, however, reassigned and did not participate. Later, his pro-government mother told him:
"You know, son, these guerrillas, they invent the wildest lies. They say that in December, 600 civilians were killed in Morazan."
Carlos Antonio Gomez Montano, a paratrooper stationed at Ilopango Air Force Base sees 8 USA advisers (Green Berets) watching two "torture classes" during which a 17 year old boy and a 13 year old girl are tortured. Montano's unit and the Green Berets are joined by Salvadoran Air Force Commander Rafael Bustillo and other Salvadoran officers during these two sessions. A Salvadoran officer tells the assembled soldiers:
"[Watching] will make you feel more like a man. [Do] not feel pity [for] anyone [but only] hate for those who are enemies of our country.''
The Commission on Human Rights of El Salvador reports of indiscriminate bombing of unarmed civilians and the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
According to G H Jansen, correspondent to the UK magazine, The Economist, Israeli forces would surround a town or city "so swiftly that civilian inhabitants were trapped inside and then to pound them from land, sea and air." Robert Fisk, journalist for the UK newspaper, The Independent, observes that the Israelis bombard residential areas with "50 shells at a time.. slaughtering everyone within a 500 yard [460m] radius of the explosions".
During the invasion, over 17,500 people are killed, many of them Lebanese civilians. Beruit is placed under a two month siege, in an attempt to evict Palestinians. The city is attacked with hundreds of cluster bombs (which shred flesh), phosphorus bombs (which are designed to create fires and produce untreatable burns on flesh) and vacuum bombs (which ignite aviation fuel, creating such pressure that buildings implode).
An entire apartment building in Beirut is destroyed by Israeli aircraft in an attempt to kill Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders. More than 100 people are killed but the Palestinian leadership had left.
The embassy of the USSR is seized for two days in violation of diplomatic rules. A hospital is bombed killing hundreds of patients. Eight of the nine orphanages in Beirut are destroyed by cluster and phosphorus bombs despite being clearly marked and despite Israeli assurances that they would be spared according to a report by Elain Carey writing in the USA magazine, Christian Science Monitor (4 August 1982).
Chris Giannou, a Canadian surgeon working in a Palestinian hospital testified to the USA Congress that he witnessed "total, utter devastation of residential areas, and the blind, savage indiscriminate destruction of refugee camps by simultaneous shelling and carpet bombing from aircraft, gunboats, tanks and artillery".
The city of Sidon is bombed killing over 2,000 civilians. According to Olof Rydbeck of the United Nations Refugee Agency, 32 years work had been destroyed with virtually all schools and clinics for the refugees "wiped out".
Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners are executed by the Israelis and secretly buried in Sidon. Torture is used including severe beatings, attacks by dogs on leashes, the use of air rifles (intense pain but not usually fatal), humiliation and allowing prisoners to go thirsty. Similar techniques would be used by the USA on Iraqi prisoners in 2004.
Palestinian leaders are eventually forced to leave, escorted out of Beirut by USA troops to Tunis (in Tunisia). The USA envoy, Philip Habib, promises that the Palestinian civilians left behind would be protected by the international community and Israeli forces would not be allowed to enter Beirut.
A few days later, the Phalangists (a Lebanese Christian militia) massacre over 2,750 Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila (in the suburbs of Beirut). Most of the victims are women, old men and children. Many girls (as young as 6) and women are raped by soldiers. During the three day massacre, Israeli troops look on and assist by sealing the camp perimeters and illuminating the camps at night. Bulldozers (supplied by the Israelis) are used to dig mass graves for bodies. A number of houses are also bulldozed to cover up the bodies of the victims.
One of the first journalists to enter the camps writes:
"The corpses of the Palestinians had been thrown among the rubble that remained of the Shatila camp. It was impossible to know exactly how many victims there were, but there had to be more than 1,000 dead. Some of the men who had been executed had been lined up in front of a wall, and bulldozers had been used in an attempt to bury the bodies and cover up the aftermath of the massacre. But the hands and feet of the victims protruded from the debris."
Another journalist (Loren Jenkins) from the USA's Washington Post describes the scene at the camps:
"The scene at the Chatila camp when foreign observers entered Saturday morning was like a nightmare. Women wailed over the deaths of loved ones, bodies began to swell under the hot sun, and the streets were littered with thousands of spent cartridges. Houses had been dynamited and bulldozed into rubble, many with the inhabitants still inside. Groups of bodies lay before bullet-pocked walls where they appeared to have been executed. Others were strewn in alleys and streets, apparently shot as they tried to escape. Each little dirt alley through the deserted buildings, where Palestinians have lived since fleeing Palestine when Israel was created in 1948, told its own horror story."
Two American journalists, Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone, later give this account to an international enquiry:
"When we entered Sabra and Chatila on Saturday, September 18, 1982, the final day of the killing, we saw bodies everywhere. We photographed victims that had been mutilated with axes and knives. Only a few of the people we photographed had been machine-gunned. Others had their heads smashed, their eyes removed, their throats cut, skin was stripped from their bodies, limbs were severed, some people were eviscerated. The terrorists also found time to plunder Palestinian property as well as books, manuscripts and other cultural material from the Palestinian Research Center in Beirut."
A 13 year old Palestinian girl who survived relates her story to a Lebanese officer:
"We stayed in the shelter until really late on Thursday night, but then I decided to leave with my girl friend because we couldn't breathe anymore. Then all of a sudden we saw people raising white flags and handkerchiefs and coming toward the kata'ib saying, 'We're for peace and harmony.' And they killed them right then and there. The women were screaming, moaning and begging [for mercy]. As for me, I ran back to our house and got into the bathtub. I saw them leading our neighbors away and shooting them. I tried to stand up at the window to look outside, but one of the kata'ib fighters saw me and shot at me. So I went back to the bathtub and stayed there for five hours. When I came out, they grabbed me and threw me down with everybody else. One of them asked me if I was Palestinian, and I said yes. My nine-month-old nephew was beside me, and he was crying and screaming so much that one of the men got angry, so he shot him. I burst into tears and told him that this baby had been all the family I had left. That made him all the more angry, and he took the baby and tore him in two."
In 2001, evidence would be unearthed that many survivors of the original massacre are taken away by Israeli troops to a football (soccer) stadium. Many are executed and buried in the tunnels under the pitch. The stadium would later be rebuilt.
The United Nations General Assembly condemns the massacre and declares it to be an act of genocide. The vote is 147 to 2 (Israel and the USA). The world condemns Israel and 400,000 of its own citizens join a Peace Now demonstration in Tel Aviv.
For the Arab world, the words Sabra and Chatila resonate all the injustices of this conflict. Israel, on the other hand, continues to receive massive military and financial aid from the USA as well as political and media support. In 2002, the anniversary of a terrorist attack on New York is marked in the UK with 2 minute silences in offices and work places as well as television programs about the victims. Less than a week later the 20th anniversary of the Sabra-Chatila Massacre is completely ignored by the West's media, as is the entire invasion.
Between 1982 and 1983, six separate United Nations resolutions condemning the Israeli invasion of Lebanon are vetoed by the USA. In addition, the USA refuses to invoke its own laws prohibiting Israeli use of American weapons except in self-defense.
According to Mordechai Bar-on, an education officer in the Israeli military, the aim of the invasion was "to deal a crushing blow to the national aspirations of the Palestinians and to their very existence as a nation endevouring to define itself and gain the right to self-determination".
|The Sabra and Chatila massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon by militia allied and supported by Israel. The military incursion into Lebanon was planned and led by Ariel Sharon. USA vetoed six separate United Nations resolutions between 1982 and 1983 condemning Israel's invasion of Lebanon. In 2002 the USA referred to Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace".|
According to Witness for Peace, nearly 400 indigenous people, most of them women and children, have been murdered in the area of the Chixoy Dam in a series of massacres since 1980. The people had opposed the resettlement necessary to make way for the dam.
The dam project is financed by the World Bank, which states in a memo that it did not know that the residents of the resettlement community of Rio Negro had been massacred prior to approval of a second loan for the Chixoy Dam. The memo does not address the question of why the World Bank continues lending to a government it knows is carrying out a "scorched earth" policy.
The USA and UK veto two United Nations resolutions concerning South Africa and apartheid: these were voted by 121 to 2 and 146 to 2.
After World War I, France and the UK divided up large areas of the Middle East between them. The Kurds were forgotten and ended up being distributed between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria with no homeland of their own.
The Kurds had been oppressed throughout the whole history of the modern Turkish state. Even their language was banned until the 1990s and they are referred to as Mountain Turks.
|After World War I, France and the UK divided up large areas of the Middle East between them. The Kurds were forgotten and
ended up being distributed between several countries (Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria) with no homeland of their own.|
This is a map of historical Kurdistan.
|The Turkish army has killed thousands of its Kurdish population, clearing hundreds of villages over a 20 year period. Turkey is a NATO country with USA military bases so very little of this genocide is reported in the West.|
A report from Amnesty International states:
"According to survivors, some of the most common forms of torture were electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns and having gas squirted into the eyes. Sometimes, the torturers would place the exhaust pipe of a vehicle in their victim's mouth, then start the engine. Some detainees were placed in a room with decomposing bodies, other suspended by their hands or feet, others bound hand and foot. Two other common techniques consisted of gripping the victim's head between two small sticks joined by cords, which were twisted progressively, and leaving the detainees to starve."
This regime is supported, trained and financed by France and the USA.
Gareth Evans, the Australian foreign minister supports Indonesia by describing the killings as "an aberration, not an act of state policy". The UK government and media describe the killings as an "incident" and go on to declare that it was "wrong to suggest that the widespread abuses of human rights persist in East Timor."
Bishop Carlos Belo, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, describes the massacre:
"This was no incident; it was a real massacre. It was well prepared. It was a deliberate operation to teach us a lesson... After the first massacre there were more killings [of the wounded]. Some of the killings happened near my house. When I visited the hospital... on the day of the first massacre... there were hundreds of wounded. When I came back the next day there were only 90. Witnesses have told me that the killing of the wounded began at 8 0'clock that night, and that most deaths occurred between two and three in the morning... when the lights suddenly went out in the city. And now we have the problem of justice because the families are still waiting for the bodies of their children. And we don't know where they are buried."
A newspaper in the USA, the Sunday New York Times has a headline declaring: "Colonialism's back -- and not a moment too soon." (18 April).
The article, written by Paul Johnson, charges that "some countries are just not fit to govern themselves," and argues that the poorest nations of the southern hemisphere should be forced to submit to formal "recolonisation" for a period of about 50 to 100 years. Johnson, who refers to developing countries as the "third world" and to industrialised nations as "the civilised powers," is writing about the USA military presence in Somalia - something which numerous other writers have compared to a return of formal colonisation.
Alex de Wall and Rakiya Omaar of African Rights in London (UK), are among them: "'Operation Restore Hope' represents an important strategic precedent for the way in which the USA, and to a lesser extent the European countries, use the United Nations to have their way with the world," the two human rights activists write the Spring 1993 edition of Covert Action Information Bulletin, a publication by opponents of underhanded actions against people in the Southern Hemisphere. They continue:
"Limits placed on Western access are warded off with charges of narcotics trade, international terrorism, and nuclear and chemical weapon proliferation. The potential disruption posed by unstable nations with no powerful central government is more problematic. In this context, philanthropic imperialism, spearheaded by ostensibly independent human aid agencies, can play an important strategic role. It can legitimise intervention taken for wholly different motives, for example, to win human rights credentials back home for electoral purposes, to safeguard military budgets, or to act against a perceived threat of Islamic fundamentalism. All these motives figures in the case of 'Operation Restore Hope.' Above all, Somalia was an easy and timely test for this new weapon in the arsenal of international control."
In the Kurdish region, the government fails to investigate the assassinations of 165 people by assailants using death squad tactics. Among those killed are journalists, teachers, doctors, human rights activists and political leaders; many suspect government complicity in the killings.
For women detainees, threats of rape are often compounded by police taunts that rape will deprive women of their virginity and honor, prevent them from marrying and cause them to be ostracized by their families and communities. Police emphasis on virginity in the harassment and abuse of female detainees also has led them to use the threat or performance of forced virginity exams to harass, humiliate, intimidate, frighten, punish and torture women detainees.
A year earlier, a 43 year old Kurdish woman and her 19 year old daughter were arrested while they were attending a funeral in Diyarbakir. They were tortured and interrogated about how they knew the man who had been buried. According to the daughter:
"They constantly threatened to take me for virginity control and then to rape me when and if they found out I wasn't a virgin."
The Kurdish village of Ormanii in eastern Turkey is attacked by Turkish troops. 7 villagers (including a child) are forced to lie in the snow for over 8 hours before being taken to a nearby Army base. After several days in freezing temperatures in a room exposed to the weather, 5 of the villagers develop frostbite and gangrene. One villager eventually dies, and 4, including the child, have their feet amputated.
The villages of Eeken, Gwara and Kenwigbara are devastated by the Nigerian military who massacre over 1000 people and make 20,000 people homeless. The market village of Kaa is attacked with grenades, mortar shells and automatic weapons. 247 people are killed and all the villagers forced to flee. The primary and secondary schools in the village are destroyed.
At Port Harcourt 53 Ogoni men, women and children are massacred and all buildings demolished.
|In Ntarama 5000 people are killed in six hours.|
|Three war orphans.|
|War orphans in Nyamata. Many were babies when their parents died;|
others were abandoned after their mothers were raped.
One USA-born settler, Dr Baruch Goldstein, kills 29 Palestinians at prayer in a mosque in Hebron with an army assault rifle. Israeli occupation forces stand by during the massacre and delay the arrival of ambulances. Goldstein is killed. At his memorial service, Rabbi Yaacov Perin states that "one million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail."
After the killings, the Israelis impose a five week curfew on the 1 million inhabitants of the West Bank during which 76 more Palestinians are killed, mostly stone throwing children.
At this point, Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank began attacking Israeli military and civilian targets using suicide bombers, 27 years after the occupation of their land began.
|Since the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, hundreds of
illegal settlements (the blue triangles) have been built in violation of the Geneva Conventions and United Nations resolutions. The USA has vetoed
many United Nations resolutions condemning these settlements and has financed their building.|
This is a 2002 map. The number of settlements (actually they are better described as "colonies") has continued to increase even after the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s.
In Tunceli province only 18 villages remain intact out of over 60 after a military operation against Kurds. Men are kidnapped by Turkish security forces to act as porters. Troops, backed by helicopters, destroy the villages of Buzlutepe and Bilekli by aerial bombardment, burning and shell fire, killing 6 persons. The soldiers then burn down a number of other villages in the area.
Village guards are used to spy on and control Kurdish villages. In one incident village guards attack the village of Kutlu killing 6 people including a 78 year old man and several children.
Two Turkish fighter-bombers drop 4 large bombs on the village of Ku Konar. The bombs are dropped after a helicopter overflight. Two of the bombs land directly in the middle of the village, killing 24 people, including 12 children.
More than 100 Greek school children in Istanbul are denied access to Turkish universities even though they have passed the relevant examinations.
The government of Turkey uses an ancient Greek Orthodox church (Haghia Eirene) in Istanbul as a stage of a beauty contest insulting millions of Orthodox Christians around the world. The Church was built in the 6th Century AD, was later converted to a mosque, and finally transformed to a museum in 1923. It is a World Heritage Site protected by UNESCO.
A report by Amnesty International estimates that over 20,000 people have been killed in Colombia between 1986 and 1994, mainly by the USA backed military and its paramilitary allies: "not in the 'drug wars' but for political reasons". Many of the victims are trade unionists, human rights activists and leaders of legal opposition movements. The report concludes that:
"USA supplied military equipment, ostensibly delivered for use against narcotics traffickers, was being used by the Colombian military to commit these abuses in the name of 'counterinsurgency'."
In 1999, 743kg of cocaine would be found in a Colombian Air Force cargo plane landing in the USA.
Yashar Kemal, (author of 36 books and a perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature) is charged with violating anti-terrorism laws in Turkey. The charges stem from an article about the oppression of the Kurds in Turkey written for a German magazine, Der Spiegel.
Because Turkey is a NATO country and has USA bases, Western criticism is muted. The USA provides 80% of Turkey's arms.
Since 1989, over 70,600 people remain in prison without trial. The number of displaced persons exceeds 100,000.
In violation of USA law, helicopters paid for by the aid, attack local communities with machine guns, rockets and bombs. Paramilitaries trained by the USA CIA carry out massacres and torture opponents.
American companies, under North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) plans, want indigenous peoples' land to grow cash crops for export rather than food and access to oil and minerals. Riordan Roett, a consultant for Chase Manhatten Bank in New York (USA) writes:
"[The Mexican government] will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy... [and] will need to consider carefully whether or not to allow opposition victories if fairly won at the ballot box".
The parliament of Israel approves the building of more settlements (colonies) on Palestinian land against the wishes of the local people and in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations.
1000 Shan people are expelled from their village to make way for a golf course. Since 1988, some 5 million people have been forcibly removed from their homes and exiled in "satellite towns" as part of the drive to make the country a haven for tourism. A million of these have been moved from the capital, Rangoon.
The United Nations Commission for Human Rights reports that the following violations were common in Burma:
"Torture, summary and arbitrary executions, forced labour, abuse of women, politically motivated arrests and detention, forced displacement, important restrictions on the freedoms of expression and association, and oppression of ethnic and religious minorities."
Amnesty International states:
"Conditions in labour camps are so harsh that hundreds of prisoners have died as a result. In the largest detention facility at least 800 political prisoners are being held. Military... personnel regularly interrogate prisoners to the point of unconsciousness. Even the possession of almost any reading material is punishable... Elderly and sick people and even handicapped people are placed in leg irons and forced to work."
Slave and forced labour is used to restore the Burma's infrastructure. The moat around the royal palace in Mandalay is excavated by chain gangs of labourers guarded by troops. Many of the criminals in the gangs are political prisoners, sentenced to long terms for "crimes" such as being elected to parliament, calling for democracy, speaking to foreign journalists, or communicating with the United Nations.
Various UK companies, like British Airways and Orient Express, organise expensive tours to Burma describing the country as "unspoilt" and "the ultimate in luxury".
Joe Cummings, the writer of the Australian guide books, Lonely Planet, considers that "human rights abuses have decreased in the face of increased tourism".
70% of the profits from Burma's tourist industry leave the country.
India had taken over 65% of Kashmir against the wishes of the population in 1947. It has consistently denied the people a vote on the future of the state.
This government had been financed by the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia and is supported by the democratically elected government of Pakistan. Support from the West will only wane when permission to build an oil pipeline is not forthcoming.
Two USA embassies in Africa are bombed with hundreds of casualties. The USA blames Islamic terrorists and bombs Afghanistan with cruise missiles. The missiles overfly Pakistan without permission, an illegal act under international law.
When asked on USA television why so much terrorist action is directed against the USA, Richard Haas, a foreign policy advisor, replies: "Well, the answer is it's not anything we're simply doing. It is who we are. It's the fact that we're the most powerful country in the world. It's the fact that we're a secular country... It is simply who we are and it is our existence that really bothers them."
The USA president Bill Clinton answers the same question with: "Americans are targets of terrorism, in part, because we act to advance peace and democracy and because we stand united against terrorism."
A USA diplomat quoted in the USA newspaper, Los Angeles Times (4 August 1996) had a different view of events: "This is an insane instance of the chickens coming home to roost. You can't plug billions of dollars into an anti-Communist jihad, accept participation from all over the world and ignore the consequences. But we did. Our objectives weren't peace and grooviness in Afghanistan. Our objective was killing Commies and getting the Russians out."
50 are killed in Drenicë, 46 in Skënderaj (including 11 children), and 15 in the villages of Likoshan and Qirez.
Mashood Abiola, the winner of the 1994 annulled elections dies in prison after 4 years in solitary confinement. His physician had been denied access to him. His wife, who had campaigned for his release despite harassment and imprisonment, was shot dead by government gunmen in 1996.
In the Niger Delta, entire villages are are burned and villagers killed. People are tortured by being made to sit in the open under the hot sun and drink their own urine.
This is an oil producing region run by UK oil companies with concessions from the Western backed military government.
The Historical Clarification Commission, headed by Christian Tomuschat (a German lawyer and human rights expert) made the following observations:
"The Guatemalan army was involved in most of the atrocities committed, and was blamed for 93% of all massacres, tortures, disappearances, and killings during the civil war. It carried out 626 massacres during a scorched-earth counter-insurgency campaign in the early 1980's. The USA CIA sponsored human rights violations and USA government policy until the mid 1980's helped perpetuate the conflict."
Tomuschat accused the CIA of "directly and indirectly" sponsoring "illegal state operations" during the armed conflict.
The total number of dead and disappeared is far higher than previously thought, more than 200,000 people, mostly Mayan peasants, with large numbers of children and women. Special brutality was directed against women, especially Mayan, "who were tortured, raped and murdered."
Guerrillas of the Guatemala National Revolutionary Unit were blamed for committing 32 massacres, or 3% of all abuses.
He concluded that "Until the mid 1980s, the [USA] government and USA private companies exercised pressure to maintain the country's archaic and unjust socioeconomic structure."
The USA ambassador to Guatemala, Donald J. Planty, criticised the Commission's findings for implicating the USA. The USA president, Bill Clinton, admits that USA support of repressive forces in Guatemala "was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake"; no apology or compensation was forthcoming however.
Russia also crushes independence movements in Dagestan. This area has 70% of Russia's shoreline to the oil producing Caspian Sea and the only all-weather port, Makhachkala.
The USA refuses to stop World Bank loans to Russia. European countries fail to act.
Serbian troops enter villages and systematically burn homes, loot businesses, expel civilians, and kill those suspected of participating in separatist movements, including women and children. Often, bodies would be removed and buried in Serbia where seven mass graves would be discovered in 2001.
Rape and sexual violence are also components of the campaign used to terrorise the civilian population, extort money from families, and push people to flee their homes. Human Rights Watch documents 96 cases of rape and sexual assault in Kosovo.
The USA and UK bomb Kosovo and Serbia under a NATO umbrella. One NATO member, Turkey, threatens to veto the action until the USA gave assurances that Turkey's treatment of the Kurds would not be punished in a similar way.
The bombing lasts for 78 days and kills many civilians as residential areas are targeted in Belgrade. The residence of the president, Slobodan Milosevic, is attacked in an apparent assassination attempt. The USA declares that the bombing is for humanitarian purposes but, in one answer, the USA president Bill Clinton states:
"If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key....That's what this Kosovo thing is all about."
Although NATO states that the bombing of civilian targets is accidental, a statement by Lieutenant General Michael Short contradicts this:
"If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next twenty years, I think you begin to ask, 'Hey, Slobo, what's all this about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?'"
Short tells the USA newspaper, New York Times, that he "hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade". NATO spokesman, Jamie Shea adds: "If President Milosevic really wants all of his population to have water and electricity all he has to do is accept NATO's five conditions and we will stop the campaign".
One major building in Belgrade containing political parties, television and radio stations as well as a hundred private companies is bombed. Before the attack, NATO planners had estimated 250 civilian casualties and up to 100 government workers.
Over 1,100 cluster bombs are dropped over Yugoslavia each carrying 202 bomblets. The bomblets explode sending out metal shrapnel that can slice through metal. The failure rate of the bomblets (over 5%) means that over 11,000 bomblets fail to explode, becoming in effect land mines waiting to be touched. Many children, drawn to the bright yellow colour of the bomblets become victims after returning to their villages. One doctor states: "neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as these caused by cluster bombs. They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It's awful."
97 bomblets are later recovered from the Adriatic Sea after several Italian fishermen are killed.
The USA is one of the few countries not to sign a treaty banning the use of land mines which comes into force on 1 March: Treaty Banning the Use, Production, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personel Landmines.
The USA refuses to interfere until public pressure forces President Clinton to tell Indonesia to withdraw. They comply immediately.
The UK continues to sell heavy arms to the Indonesian military throughout this period.
The USA government of George W Bush gives $43 million to the Taliban in May.
An enquiry links this massacre (and another massacre in Santo Domingo in 1998) to security forces protecting oil operations of the USA company, Occidental Petroleum (OXY). Three American pilots working for AirScan, a USA security firm contracted by OXY to protect oil operations, provide key strategic information to the security forces.
OXY is drilling on the ancestral homeland of the U'wa - an indigenous community of 5000. OXY call on the military and riot police to break up a non-violent road blockade of the road leading to OXY's drill site. Three indigenous children die in the attack and scores were seriously injured. The U'wa continue to call for the end of USA military aid to Colombia and the cancellation of OXY's project.
OXY pays $1 for every barrel of oil produced, which goes directly to the military. 25% of Colombian soldiers are devoted to protecting foreign oil installations.
One human rights group states:
"There is a pattern of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where demonstrators are unarmed and pose no threat of death or serious injury to the security forces or to others."
In one such attack, the Israeli Air Force kills 8 people, including two children and two journalists, wounding 15 others, including a human rights defender, as they shoot two missiles from a USA made Apache helicopter against the Palestinian Centre for Information in Nablus. This is a city that is officially being run by the Palestinian Authority. The 2 children are Ashraf Khader, aged 6, and Bilal Khader, aged 11, who are killed as they played outside, while their mother visits a clinic in the same building.
In Ramalah, Israeli jets fire a missile into a busy street to assassinate an activist, killing several people including two children. In Salfit, two policemen, Dia Nabil Mahmoud (19) and Abdul Ashour (22) are disarmed by Israeli soldiers, told to lie on the ground, and fatally shot at close range. Israeli bulldozers demolish 35 houses in Khan Younis making 345 people homeless.
The USA continues to finance Israel to the tune of $1,800 million per year. Since 1967 Israel has received $92,000 million in aid from the USA. In June the Israeli air force announces the purchase of 50 F-16 jets at a cost of $2,000 million, financed largely through American military aid. Shortly after, these F-16s are used to bomb Palestinian civilian targets.
The USA has repeatedly blamed the Palestinians for the violence of the past year, even though Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other reputable human rights groups have noted that the bulk of the violence has come from Israeli occupation forces and settlers.
The USA has also blamed the Palestinians for not compromising further in peace talks, even though they have already ceded 78% of historic Palestine to the Israelis in the Oslo Agreement of 1993. The Palestinians now simply demand that the Israelis withdraw their troops and colonists only from lands seized in the 1967, which Israel is already required to do under international law.
Since 1967 some 8,500 Palestinian homes have been demolished, 1,200 of these since the Oslo Agreement (with 5,000 people made homeless, including 2,000 children). Israel demolishes Palestinian homes on the slightest provocation, often allowing a family only 15 minutes to take what they can carry before bulldozing their property. Palestinian stone throwing against heavily armed Israeli soldiers can lead to demolition.
Israel's confinement of 800,000 people in the Gaza Strip, jammed into an area surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, and of over 1 million in the West Bank, all of whose entrances and exits are controlled by Israel, has few parallels in the annals of colonialism.
Israel forcibly controls all the water resources of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel utilises more than 85% of the water resources, thus leaving the Palestinian population with a mere 15% for survival. In Hebron, where a Jewish settler population was planted in and around the city, it is estimated that 70% of the water in Hebron goes to 8,500 settlers and 30% goes to the city's 250,000 Palestinian inhabitants. In the Gaza Strip, 3,000 to 4,000 settlers use 75% of the available ground water while around one million Palestinians use less than 25%.
Western reporting of the conflict has a tendency to depict Palestinian victims as nameless numbers killed. Israeli victims are named, pictured and their families interviewed. A new crop of words begins to appear in the Western media:
In December Israel police briefly detain Sari Nusseibeh, a senior political representative of the Palestinian Authority, along with several of his colleagues, after he had invited guests, including foreign diplomats, to a hotel in Jerusalem for a party to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Uzi Landau, the Internal Security Minister for Israel, calls the reception a "terror-related" activity.
Yasser Arafat (the elected Chairman of the Palestinian Authority) is banned by Israel from his annual visit to Bethlehem over Christmas. Earlier Israeli forces had destroyed Arafat's helicopters and the runway at Gaza airport and had banned him from leaving the country.
Little of the terror in Nigeria is reported in the West; the Nigerian government has given oil concessions to Western companies.
Israel demolishes 60 Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip after four Israeli soldiers are killed. 93 families of about 600 people are left homeless. This collective punishment of a population violates the Genevea Conventions. The demolitions go ahead in spite of appeals from relatives of the dead soldiers. The Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz describes the action as a war crime and: "destruction on a systematic collective and indiscriminate level against Palestinians, whoever they may be. As far as is known, the only sin of most of them - perhaps even all of them - was the place where they lived."
Few reports of this action or its aftermath appear in Western media.
Israeli forces attack The Voice of Palestine radio station. Also destroyed are a number of properties funded by the European Union: irrigation schemes, a school building program, the airport in Gaza, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, and a sea port. Chris Patten, the European Union Foreign Affairs Commissioner asks: "[Does] it really contribute to security if everything we try to support with EU assistance is destroyed." Many institutions of Palestinian statehood are destroyed including the ministries of health and education.
The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is put effectively under house arrest by the presence of Israeli military forces near his residence. His compound is then attacked forcing Arafat into one windowless room. Israel refuses permission for Arafat to go to an Arab Summit in Beirut. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, declares Arafat "an enemy of the world" and states that he regrets that "we did not liquidate" Arafat during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The USA ignores the comments which are condemned by European leaders. Saeb Ereket, a Palestinian cabinet minister responds: "I think these remarks reflect what has been always said - that Sharon is trying to finish what he began in 1982. And for prime ministers to announce openly their gangster intentions is a reflection of what kind of government we're dealing with."
Hundreds of reservist soldiers from Israel sign a petition refusing to serve in the occupied territories. The petition says that the occupation of Palestinian land is "corrupting the entire Israeli society". Soldiers had been issued with orders in the occupied territories that "had nothing to do with the security of our country [and had] the sole purpose of perpetuating our control [over the Palestinians]. We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people". Lieutenant Ishai Sagi adds: "Everything that we do in there [the occupied territories]... all the horrors, all the tearing down of houses and trees, all the roadblocks, everything - is just for one purpose, the settlers, who I believe are illegally there. So I believe that the orders I got were illegal, and I won't do that again."
In late February, a 22 year old Palestinian woman, Maysoun Hayek, begins experiencing the labour pains for her first child. Her husband, Mohammed, decides to drive his wife the 19km from their village Zeita (in the West Bank) to the nearest large town, Nablus. On the previous night a pregnant woman had been shot and injured by Israeli soldiers on the same road. Travelling at night on that road is dangerous but the woman's labour pains are too strong to wait until morning. Mohammed's father, Abdullah, decides to travel with them in the hope that a car containing an old man would be spared any trouble. The party leaves at 1:30 am and arrives at Nablus where the car is stopped at an Israeli checkpoint. The solders search the car and pat the woman's stomach. Five minutes later, the car comes under fire from Israeli troops stationed on a hillside. Mohammad is killed after 25 bullets penetrate his body. The old man, Abdullah, is hit in the chest and back; doctors say he may be permanently paralysed. At the hospital, Maysoun gives birth to a daughter, Fida. These people are Palestinians travelling from a Palestinian village to a Palestinian town. Many Palestinians have been killed travelling past Israeli checkpoints, some dying on their way to hospital.
In the same week an Israeli woman gives birth after being shot by terrorists. The Western media concentrate on her story and ignore the story of the two Palestinian women.
In March, Israeli forces kill an Italian photographer, Raffaele Ciriello, reporting for Corriere della Sera from the West Bank city of Ramallah. He is killed when soldiers in a tank open fire on him with a heavy machine gun. On the same day, a clearly marked television car is also attacked. Egyptian journalist, Tareq Abdel Jaber, is saved by his flak jacket after Israeli soldiers fire five shots at his vehicle.
Foreign journalists say that they are routinely fired at by Israeli forces. In another incident the Israeli army fires for 15 minutes into a hotel used by journalists in Ramallah. Seven shots are fired at a camera belonging to the USA ABC Network. A taxi carrying USA and UK journalists is fired at. According to Reporters Without Borders, 40 journalists have been injured in the previous two years of reporting in the occupied territories, mostly by Israeli forces.
By the end of March, Amnesty International reports that more than 1000 Palestinians had been killed. "Israeli security services have killed Palestinians, including more than 200 children, unlawfully, by shelling and bombing residential areas, random or targeted shooting, especially near checkpoints and borders, by extrajudicial executions and during demonstrations."
Palestinians begin to attack Israeli civilians with suicide bombers. Even so, Amnesty International comments: "These actions are shocking. Yet they can never justify the human rights violations and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions which, over the past 18 months, have been committed daily, hourly, even every minute, by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians. Israeli forces have consistently carried out killings when no lives were in danger."
In early April, Israeli tanks fire at a group of unarmed peace demonstrators (including many foreigners) in Bethlehem. A Jewish woman from the UK, Jo Bird, is among the people shot at: "I feared for my life, for sure. The soldiers carried on firing at us for 10 minutes... It opened my eyes to the brutality of the Israeli occupation".
The UK BBC reporter Orla Guerin is fired at and forced to abandon her vehicle. Another UK television station, Channel 4, reports that USA CIA operatives (who did not want to be filmed) were allowed to pass into the area under Israeli military control.
In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, USA-made F-16 warplanes drop large bombs on residential areas; one lands 200m from a United Nations school where 3000 children are studying. Helicopters fire heavy calibre machine guns at Palestinian police and civilians. 38 people are killed in a 12 hour period. On the ground, Israeli tanks shunt Palestinian ambulances off the street in violation of the protection afforded to rescue workers by the Geneva Convention.
Dr Ahmed Soubeih becomes the fourth doctor to be killed in one week of Israeli action. He had informed Israeli military authorities of his trip to a neighbouring hospital to get supplies for his patients. After being shot at, he again spoke to the Israelis who assured him of his safety. He was killed by a volley of bullets from an Israeli tank a few minutes later.
Red Cross workers describe ambulances and hospitals being attacked by Israeli forces, medical attention being denied to casualties, and bodies lying unburied. Israeli Arabs and Jews attempting to take food to Palestinian families under siege are tear-gassed by Israeli soldiers.
16 Palestinians (including 5 children) are killed in the Gaza village of Kouza.
Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposes a plan whereby the Arab world would recognise Israel diplomatically in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights occupied in 1967. Palestinian refugees would have the right to return (or compensation) and the settlements (colonies) would have to be evacuated. Both Israel and the USA ignore the plan.
An article in the USA magazine, USA Today talks of the "transfer" or "resettlement" of Arabs to Jordan to solve the "Palestinian problem". This is ethnic cleansing which would be a war crime. The question of whether Jewish settlers (colonists) should be transferred off illegally occupied Arab land is not mentioned.
In mid April, Israeli forces invade Palestinian territory. The USA takes time to condemn the invasion while European and Arab populations demonstrate against it. Arab leaders query why the USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell, takes over a week to reach the region (travelling slowly via Europe and other Middle East countries) while the invasion rages. In 15 days over 400 Palestinians are killed and 1,500 injured; many are children. The USA criticises the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, even though he is besieged in his offices with a few aids and no electricity. Two weeks previously, the USA had sold 24 Black Hawk helicopters to Israel worth $211 million and paid for by the USA. This fact is hardly mentioned in the Western media.
In the West Bank city of Jenin the director of the hospital, Dr Ziad Ayaseh, describes a warning by Israeli forces that ambulances would be fired on if they attempt to enter the combat zone. This is confirmed by the International Red Cross. The director of the hospital in Bethlehem, Peter Qumri, is issued with similar threats. Basil Bshaarat is shot in the thigh and cannot get medical treatment for two days. He lies in his university dormitory with a towel to stop the bleeding. Palestinian ambulances are eventually allowed into the area with orders to bring out only dead bodies. Bshaarat and another man is smuggled out under three bodies: "the smell was terrible". Stopping rescue services from treating the injured is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Both the Red Cross and the World Health Organisation state that people have died because Israeli forces had stopped rescuers getting through. The International Red Crescent has two of its ambulances destroyed while they are parked in Tulkarem.
Journalists are threatened and shot at to keep them out of the invasion zone. Stun grenades are used. A French television journalist is shot in front of BBC cameras. Michael Holmes of CNN has rubber bullets fired at him. Barbara Plett of the BBC is attacked with stun grenades when part of a five car convoy: "I was not shocked at the heavy-handed approach of the Israeli army. They have a sniper outside our hotel, for Heaven's sake." The BBC reporter Jeremy Vine, is denied access to the invasion zone but enters on foot. In Rumana, he films people whose hands had been bound for two days. Others had been wounded with dumdum bullets. These break up into many fragments when entering flesh. Hundreds of wounded civilians are being treated in houses.
In Bethlehem, hundreds of people take refuge in the Church of the Nativity which is surrounded by Israeli tanks. Among those trapped is the governor of the city, Mohammed al-Madani. The Christian bell ringer at the church for 30 years, Samir Ibrahim Salman, is killed while crossing to the building. A Muslim is shot while attempting to put out a fire at the Church. Brother Mark Boyle, a 60 year old monk from the UK, is confined to the Vatican funded university where he teaches, after Israeli missiles attack the building, destroying classrooms. From his vantage point he watches Israeli soldiers surrounding the Church of the Nativity and firing from all sites, starting several fires, as well as playing sounds of screaming women and barking dogs through loud-speakers.
USA-made Apache helicopters fire missiles and rockets on residential areas. Bulldozers demolish houses in the narrow streets. Hundreds of people are killed in Jenin over a three day period. Israeli troops open fire on the house of Sami Abda, even though neighbours had warned them there were only civilians inside. His mother and brother are killed after 18 bullets are fired through the open front door. Ambulances are refused permission to enter the street so the family has to live with the bodies for 30 hours. The United Nations Commission for Refugees report that Israeli soldiers smashed medical equipment even though there was no fighting.
The refugee camp in Jenin is closed to all outsiders for two weeks. Dozens of people are killed, half of them civilians. Many houses are bulldozed without warning with people inside, including several storey buildings. An area 0.5km wide, and home to 800 people, is flattened. Survivors talk of indiscriminate killings, mass graves (one trench with over 30 bodies), bodies taken away by the military, people shot as they surrendered, grenades being thrown into houses full of people, people used as human shields (including 72 year old Rajeh Tawafshi), ambulances shot at to keep them from treating the wounded.
Many civilians are killed. Mohammed Abu Sba'a, an elderly unarmed man, is shot in the chest after attempting to persuade a bulldozer driver not to crush his house. Fadwa Jamma, a nurse in uniform, is shot dead while attempting to help a wounded man outside her house. Atiya Rumeleh calls for an ambulance after her husband is shot in the face. The Israelis stop the vehicle and send it away and he dies. Afaf Desuqi, a 52 year old woman, is killed when Israeli soldiers blow her door open. Jamal Feyed, a mentally and physically disabled man, is killed when an Israeli bulldozer crushes his house, even though relatives had told the driver of his presence. Ahmad Hamduni, a man in his 80s, is shot by soldiers at close range in his house. Faris Zeben, a 14 year old boy, is shot from a tank while out buying groceries Mohammed Hawashin (15) is shot in the face while walking home. Kemal Zughayer, a 58 year old disabled man, is shot dead in his wheelchair while wheeling himself on the road with a white flag; a tank then runs over and mangles his body.
United Nations officials are shocked at the scale of the destruction; Terje Roed-Larsen states: "Given the deplorable and unprecedented refusal to allow international relief organisations into the camps while people were slowly dying in the rubble of their wounds and thirst, the onus is on Israel to account for the missing thousands of refugees who lived in the camp until a few weeks ago. [Israel] were hiding a war crime, in fact, two war crimes: the mass killing and the denial of humanitarian relief." The Israeli vilify him for his observations.
Amnesty International calls for a full enquiry by the United Nations Security Council. Many countries support this but the USA initially resists. The International Red Cross states that the camp "looks like it has been hit by an earthquake". After being denied entry for a week, workers from the Red Cross find injured survivors in the rubble. The Jenin refugee camp was home to 14,000 people and was established in 1953. Its inhabitants were originally ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel, a fact not widely reported in the Western media.
Israel blocks a United Nations enquiry into the events in Jenin. A few months later, the general in charge of the Jenin operation, Shaul Mofaz, is appointed Israel's Defence Minister.
Dima Sinafta, a 14 year old girl is killed after being hit by tank fire while standing on her balcony in Tubas. 8 year old Ahmed Srayer is one of 11 people injured when the car he is travelling is attacked by two helicopters in Hebron.
In Ramallah a group of Palestinian policemen, including two in their mid-50s are executed in a small room. Over 1000 prisoners are taken away to unknown destinations. Some are seen blindfolded and gagged in Jewish settlements (colonies). Hakam Kanafani, manager of Jawwal, a mobile phone company, describes his offices being wrecked and looted by Israeli soldiers: "All doors were broken even though the keys were available for them to use."
The Israel newspaper Ha'aretz describes vandalism and looting perpetrated by the Israeli army in the Ministry of Culture building in Ramallah occupied by troops for a month: "In every room of the various departments - literature, film, culture for children and youth - books, disks, pamphlets and documents were piled up, soiled with urine and excrement. There are two toilets on every floor but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building. They did their business on the floors, in emptied flower pots, even in drawers they had pulled out of the desk... someone even managed to defecate into the photocopier."
70 Palestinians are killed in Nablus. The Al-Shu'bis family loses 8 members when Israeli soldiers buldoze their house while they are inside. The dead include three children, their pregnant mother and their 85 year old grandmother. Soldiers continue to demolish the house even after neighbours inform them of the presence of people inside.
A woman and two children (aged 4 and 6) are shot and killed by a tank in Jenin while gathering firewood.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, is called "a man of peace" by the USA. The USA president, George W Bush tells the Palestinians that they can have their own state only if they elect a leader acceptable to the USA and Israel.
140 people are wounded and 14 killed (including 9 children, some babies) when an Israeli F-16 warplane fires a missile into a residential area in Gaza City. The Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon describes the attack as "one of our greatest successes". The target had been a Palestinian leader accused by Israel of planning suicide bombings. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees informs Israel that "the reckless killing of civilians is absolutely prohibited, regardless of the military significance of the target being attacked." Only a week earlier, the UK government had agreed sales of electronic parts to the USA that would be used in the manufacture of F-16 warplanes for sale to Israel. European diplomats had agreed a deal to stop the suicide attacks when this incident occurred.
After demolishing the houses of several suspected militants, Israel attempts to deport their relatives as a deterrent. Amnesty International describes this as "collective punishment" and declares that "if these people have committed no crime then deporting them would be a breach of the Geneva Conventions".
Amnesty International publishes a report stating that in the first nine months of 2002, 322 children died in the conflict. Of these, 72 were Israeli children killed by Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers.
During the same period, 250 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military forces, nearly half of them under 12 years old. Israel is attacked in the report for "excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force [and] reckless shooting [in residential areas]". The report concludes that "No judicial investigation is known to have been carried out by members of the Israeli Defence Forces in the occupied territories, even in cases where Israeli government officials have stated publicly that investigations would be carried out."
In one highlighted incident, 9 children are killed with 8 adults when a 1000kg bomb is dropped on their house from a USA made F-16 jet. The dead include Dina Matar (2 months old), Ayman Matar (18 months), Mohamad Matar (3 years), Sobhi Hweiti (4), Diana Matar (5), Mohamad Hweiti (6), Ala Matar (10), Iman Shehada (15), Maryam Matar (17). The Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, describes this strike as a "great success". None of the victims is named or pictured in the Western media.
Another report, by The United Nations Children's Fund blames the Israeli army's curfews for preventing 170,000 Palestinian children from going to school in breach of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Israeli troops frequently open fire on people breaking the curfew, even children.
In Gaza, several people are killed by Israeli tank fire including 12 year old Saher al-Hout. A hospital is fired on killing a hospital worker.
In the Gaza city of Khan Younis, eight Palestinians are killed while standing outside a mosque by a missile fired by an Israeli helicopter. Over 80 people are injured including children. Although reported in Reuters, this story is unreported in the Western media.
In November, two Israeli children are killed by Palestinians in a Kibutz. This is extensively reported in the Western media with photographs of the victims, videos of them playing and interviews with grieving relatives. During the same month a number of Palestinian children are killed by Israeli forces in the occupied territories. These include a 2 year old boy, Nafez Mishal, and an 8 year old girl, Shaima abu Shamaaleh. Only a few newspapers in the UK report these deaths and none in the USA. No television images are broadcast. Shaima's father states "The [Israeli] army fires at our houses and calls it self defence, but they call our attacks terrorism. I am against the killing of children". Between September 2000 and October 2002, 602 Israelis and 1591 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict.
Palestinians from the West Bank village of Yanun are attacked daily by armed Israelis from the nearby illegal settlement (colony) of Itamar while harvesting their olive groves. Hani Bani Minyeh is shot dead. Two international peace activists are beaten up by the same settlers: Mary Hughes-Thompson, 68 (from UK) and James Delaplain, 74 (from USA).
|The reality of occupation of the Palestinians. Most aspects of Palestinian life (including resources like water) are controlled by Israel.|
|The West Bank city of Bethlehem under attack by Israeli forces close to the Church of the Nativity.|
|Many Palestinian civilians are killed after Israel attacked the refugee camp in Jenin in 2002. Many of the inhabitants of Jenin had been expelled from Israel in 1948.|
Iain Hook, a 54 year old United Nations relief worker is shot by an Israeli soldier in a clearly marked United Nations compound in Jenin. Israeli soldiers stop the ambulance sent to attend to the injured worker. The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the killing and the destruction of a warehouse belonging to the World Food Programme.
A vegetable market is demolished in Hebron where the Israeli army also close three police stations and two television channels. These actions are against international law but are ignored by the West.
In Gaza, Israel uses helicopter gunships, tanks and armoured vehicles in a 7 hour night attack on Gaza City. 12 Palestinians are killed and 67 injured. In mid February, Israel sends 40 tanks into the city killing 11 people including Mundur Safadi, a medic tending to a man with chest injuries. In March, Nuha al-Magadmeh, a woman who is nine months pregnant, is crushed to death when Israeli forces blow up the house next door.
In Nablus a 65 year old UK woman, Anne Gwynne, is shot at by Israeli soldiers while working as a volunteer medical worker in a Palestinian ambulance. The driver is killed by a shot in the head. Shooting at medical services violates the Geneva Convention. 61 year old Ahmad abu Zahra and his 17 year old grandson are shot dead while walking during an Israeli imposed curfew.
In Rafah a 7 year old boy is killed by Israeli army fire. A 65 year old partially deaf woman, Kamla Said, is killed in Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza when Israeli forces demolish her home while she is inside. Her stepson states: "Israeli troops were acting in a brutal way. They got us all out of the house so fast and in an aggressive manner, they gave no chance for us to see who was out and who was in".
In Bethlehem Israeli forces construct a high concrete wall across the occupied city cutting off 500 people from their work, schools and community. One resident, Amjad Awwad, is told that if a doctor is required in the night, the hospital will have to telephone the Israeli government for permission. A series of fences and walls is being built around Jerusalem to protect illegally built settlements (colonies) in the West Bank.
After elections in Israel, a coalition forms including parties calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank by force.
In March, TV film shows a Palestinian fireman, Naji Abu Jalili, being killed while putting out a fire in Jabalya by an Israeli tank shell. The shell is full of flachettes, arrow shaped pieces of metal designed to inflict mass casualties. Several people in a crowd opposite the building are also injured.
Israeli forces fire on people attempting to rescue the wounded. The wounded include Hamad Jadallah and Shams Odeh, journalists working for Reuters. The Israelis state that the man died from a booby trap in the building, a claim not supported by the film footage.
Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old citizen of the USA, is killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to protect a Palestinian house from being demolished in a refugee camp in Gaza. Another human shield, Nicholas Durie (Scotland, UK) explained "we were trying to frustrate their efforts by getting in front of the bulldozers. One of the drivers saw Rachel and drove towards her. She didn't get out of the way and he didn't stop. She was carried up with a heap of earth in the shovel of the buldozer. The driver continued working. She slipped and fell and was run over by the bulldozer. The driver saw that she had fallen, but carried her along for another 16 feet [5m]. Only then did he back off".
A senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, stated: "Rachel died doing what world governments have failed to do - protecting defenceless civilians". A few months later, her parents visit the house she was protecting with the permission of the Israeli army. A UK television documentary shows them being shot at by Israeli snipers and bulldozers 30m from the house where they are visiting.
The bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes are manufactured the USA company, Caterpillar. It is estimated that 50,000 Palestinians have been made homeless by the company's D9 armoured bulldozer.
Tom Hurndall, a 21 year old human shield from London (UK), is shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while trying to lead a group of Palestinian children away from a gun fight in Rafah. His injuries leave him in a coma. His parents, Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall, later visit the area from the UK to find out the circumstances. They are also shot at by Israeli soldiers at the Abu Khouli checkpoint while driving in a convoy organised by the UK Embassy and bearing diplomatic number plates. They had given notice of the journey on three occasions including a few minutes before the convoy arrived.
The Israeli army demolishes an apartment block in Hebron after an attack by non-residents on Israeli soldiers. Several families are left homeless. This form of collective punishment is common in the West Bank and Gaza and violates the Geneva Convention.
Two days before the USA invades Iraq, the President, George W Bush, and the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, both state that the USA is committed to a Palestinian state and publish a "road map" towards that goal. This story is publicised in all Western media. Within a day of this announcement, the Israel leader, Ariel Sharon states that he will not allow a viable, independent Palestinian state. This story is hardly reported in the West.
During the first week of the USA and UK invasion of Iraq, Israeli forces kill three children in the occupied territories: a girl aged 10 shot in a car she was travelling in; soldiers shot a 14 year old boy who had climbed onto an armoured car; a 15 year old boy who was throwing stones.
Five people are killed and 50 injured when Israeli forces fire a missile at a car in Gaza City. The bulk of the injuries occur when the jet fires at a crowd that had gathered around the damaged car.
More than 1000 men and boys are taken away at gunpoint in trucks from Tulkarem refugee camp.
In Rafah (a refugee camp in the Gaza strip), Israeli forces kill 5 Palestinians and injure over 40 when a large force is sent into the area.
In a 24 hour period, two journalists are shot dead by Israeli soldiers: In Nablus, Nazeh Darwazeh, 41, a cameraman who worked for Associated Press; in Rafah, Corporal Lior Ziv, 19, an Israeli army cameraman.
In late April, a "road map" for peace is published. The plan has been agreed by the USA, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
The plan calls for Palestinians to stop their violence but does not call on Israel to comply with UN resolutions concerning the occupation and settlements. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, calls on Palestinians to renounce the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees before he will negotiate on the plan.
The right of refugees to return to their homeland is a human right under the United Nations. The new Prime Minister of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, (himself appointed after pressure from Israel and the USA) is a refugee from 1948. He asks "Why should I drop the Right of Return of refugees. It is not my right to drop it".
22 Arab states reiterate their call for complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, in return for complete recognition of Israel. This is under-reported in the West.
James Miller, a well known UK cameraman filming a documentary, is shot dead by Israeli forces in southern Gaza. The victim was wearing a helmet marked with TV, walking slowly towards an Israeli post with a white flag, and shouting in English and Arabic that he was a journalist, according to witnesses. An ambulance is called but is not allowed through. The Israeli government states that he was shot by Palestinians. A post-mortem disproves this and several weeks later the Israelis admit culpability and promise an enquiry. In practice, the site of the shooting is bulldozed and the weapons used are not impounded for 11 weeks. Two years later all discipliary action against the accused are dropped.
The Israeli army demands that any foreign national entering the Gaza strip sign a waiver releasing the army of all responsibility for their safety.
The Israeli army occupy the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun (population 35,000) for five days. Seven Palestinians are killed including 14 year old Muhammad al-Zaneen who was helping his father paint their house. 15 houses are demolished.
As the army departs from the town, they bulldoze 6000 orange trees over 300 hectares. Since 2000, the Israelis have destroyed 70% of the town's citrus groves. One of the owners, Maher al-Shawwa (42), describes one of his trees: "I took care of it for 15 years. It produces at 15. When it is 40, I can make a profit". He estimates his loss at hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of his workers, Ibrahim Hussein (59) was asleep outside his house when the bulldozers arrived: "They fired three shots at me and told me to stay inside. I saw five bulldozers. They destroyed the farm. I have lost my salary, and so have 29 other farmers".
After pressure from the USA, the Israel Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, convinces his skeptical parliament to accept the USA-sponsored "road map" to peace: "The idea that it is possible to continue keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the Israeli economy".
In June, Israel continues its policy of targeted killings (assassinations) of Palestinian leaders. In one incident in Gaza City, an Israeli helicopter fires into a civilian area killing 7 and injuring 33. A day later, 23 people, including children, are injured. The attacks have become so common that Palestinians now leave their cars when they hear helicopters flying overhead. Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group, accuses the Israeli Prime Minister of deliberately using assassination to destroy the "road map".
In a 32 month period up to the end of May 2003, 762 Israelis and 2,274 Palestinians have been killed. Almost 7,500 Palestinians are held in 22 Israeli prisons, detention centres or military encampments. 1,134 homes have been demolished in the Gaza strip.
In the first half of 2003, 5000 Jewish "settlers" moved into the occupied territories bringing the total of "settlers" to 231,443. All are regarded as illegal under the Geneva Convention. During the year, Israel announces its intention to build over 600 houses in 3 West Bank "settlements".
Israel's largest human rights group, Civil Rights in Israel, accuses the government of Ariel Sharon of gross human rights violations in the occupied territories including the use of human shields.
Israel continues its construction of a "security" fence despite international criticism. The fence is being constructed entirely on occupied Palestinian land, cutting the West Bank into a series of cantons (or reservations). The United Nations estimates that the completed fence will cut off 240,000 Palestinians from their communities and leave 160,000 Palestinians in enclaves surrounded by the barrier.
The fence will cut off 16.6% of the West Bank. The Israeli army issues an order that Palestinians living between the fence and the 1967 borders must obtain special permits to travel. Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, tells the UK newspaper, The Observer, "Israel is the promised land - promised to Jews and to no-one else".
In August, Israel passes a law that forbids Palestinians who marry Israelis from living in Israel. Citizens of all other countries who marry Israelis will not be affected by the new law. Children will also be affected after the age of 12. Several international and Israeli human rights organisations declare the law to be discriminatory and anti-democratic.
In Nablus, Israeli undercover troops (disguised as vegetable merchants) break into a hospital and seize two Palestinians with whom they had a gun fight. The men were being treated in intensive care. This act is a violation of the Geneva Convention. In Gaza, Israeli helicopter gunships fire into a residential area.
In September, the Israeli parliament agrees to expel the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, from the occupied West Bank.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution urging Israel to refrain from deporting Arafat. The UK, Germany and Bulgaria abstain from the vote. During the debate 40 governments condemned Israel for its decision to "remove" Arafat.
Sana Al-Daour, a ten year old Palestinian girl, is killed when the car she is travelling in is hit by an Israeli missile fired from a helicopter. Amira Hass, a journalist for the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, quotes figures that suggest that 80% of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces have no connection to armed resistance to the occupation.
In October, Israeli forces destroy 114 houses in Gaza, killing several people including children. United Nations officials estimated that 1,240 people had been left homeless including 10 year old Yasser Abu Swelen who said "I don't have a house, a bed or schoolbooks anymore". Eye-witnesses report residents running as bulldozers advanced: "Suddenly, a bulldozer was hitting the back of my house. We were ten people. We ran away. I saw barefooted women carrying children, with hardly any clothes on. I and my family went to Kholafa al-Rashedeen mosque. The army dug holes around my house. I am in the mosque with 200 people. Our house...is partly demolished". Many people tell of the demolitions being done at night and of being given little time to take anything. Hundreds of people are forced to live in the changing rooms of the football stadium. 45 people end up in the first aid room measuring 5m square. Others end up living in ruined buildings. The Israeli army demolish three apartment blocks in Netzarim Junction (in Gaza) after clearing more than 2,000 Palestinians from their homes.
Little of these events is shown or reported in the Western media.
Many people were badly wounded after a helicopter fired a missile into a building; some had to have limbs amputated, including 11 year old Louai Barhoum. Over 50 people were injured.
A few days later, the USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the continued building of a fence by Israel on Palestinian land.
27 reservists are grounded by the Israeli air force for refusing to take part in assassinations of Palestinians.
In October, Israeli forces bomb targets in Syria. The USA refuses to condemn the action by stating that "Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defending the homeland". So, Palestinians are not allowed to fight for their homeland by attacking regions outside their (occupied) borders but Israelis are. This message does not go down well with the Arab peoples of the Middle East.
Peace Now, an Israeli peace group, declares that of the 104 settlements in Palestine, that Israel has pledged to remove, it has removed only 7, all staged for the media. Five new ones were set up.
In November, the USA complains to Israel after their soldiers destroyed a number of water wells build by a USA aid agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) for civilian use in Gaza. At the same time the USA agreed $2,000 million of military aid to Israel for 2005, an increase of $60 million over 2004.
The table below lists the casualties in this conflict for the three years up to September 2003.
|Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian attacks||552|
|Israeli civilians under 18 years old killed by Palestinian attacks||100|
|Israeli occupation soldiers killed by Palestinian attacks||246|
|Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks||2197|
|Palestinians under 18 years old killed by Israeli attacks||399|
|Palestinian children under 15 killed by Israeli attacks||200|
|Palestinians assassinated by Israeli forces||123|
|Palestinian bystanders killed by Israeli forces||84|
In mid-February it is reported that at least 17 civilians are killed in bombing raids by USA led forces in Helmand province. The Western media hardly report these continuing attacks.
In March, USA military officials admit that two Afghan prisoners captured the previous December had died under interrogation at Bagram air base. The cause of death for the two men is given as "homicide" contradicting earlier reports of death by a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism. The death certificates indicate that one of the victims (known only as Diliwar, aged 22 from the Khost region) died of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease". The other victim, Mullah Habibullah (aged 30) died from a blood clot in the lung exacerbated by a "blunt force injury".
USA officials have previously admitted using "stress and duress" on prisoners including sleep deprivation, denial of medication for battle injuries, forcing them to stand or kneel for hours on end, subjecting them to loud noises and sudden flashes of light, and engaging in culturally humiliating practices such as having them kicked by female officers. The USA claims that these practices are "humane" while groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced these practices as torture as defined by international treaty.
Human Rights Watch has also criticised the USA practice of handing over subjects to countries such as Jordan, Morocco or Egypt where torture is a normal part of the security aparatus. Legally, it says, there is no difference between using torture and "subcontracting it out". The USA continues to refuse to recognise captives as Prisoners of War subject to protection under the Geneva Convention.
In an address to his nation, the USA president George W Bush, said that Al-Qa'ida suspects would "no longer be a problem to the United States and our friends and allies". The USA continues to refuse to allow its citizens to be subject to the International Criminal Court.
On the same day as the USA invades Iraq, 1000 USA troops supported by helicopters attack a region of the Sami Ghar mountains. Hundreds of homes are searched in several villages in the district of Maruf.
The chief of USA forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General Dan McNeill, accuses the West of failing to rebuild the country as promised before it was attacked. The Prime Minister, Hamid Karzai (supported and protected by the USA), only controls the area around Kabul, the country's capital.
19 prisoners are released without charge from military detention in Guanatanamo Bay in Cuba by the USA without charge or explanation after they had been held as "battlefield detainees" for more than a year.
In Loi Karez, 40 people are killed by USA forces.
Dozens of homes are demolished by the USA backed police chief, Basir Salangi, in Kabul. The homes were in Wazir Akhbar Khan, an area wanted for the development of luxury accommodation. Buldozers flattened 13 mud brick one room houses with the families' possessions still inside. At the same time, all but four of Hamid Karzai's 32 cabinet ministers are given plots of land worth up to $170,000 in the Shir Pur district of the capital.
Ten nomads (including women and children) are killed when their tents are attacked by USA helicopters in Naubahar district. One of the survivors, Haji Lawang, complained that no USA official had been to the site of the bombing: "They had nothing to do with politics. This is a disaster. People said the Americans came here to help us build our country, but they are not. They are killing our people."
Although, little is reported about the country in the Western media, in a two month period between August and September, 300 people are killed, including civilians, aid workers and USA soldiers. Schools for girls are attacked and set on fire.
Amnesty International produces a report about the lives of Afghan women two years after the USA led invasion of the country. The report states that women continue to the victims of forced marriage (often to settle disputes), domestic violence (including honour killings), abduction and rape (often by the groups loyal to the war lords backed by the USA). Prosecutions for violence against women and virtually unknown. Women are routinely detained for adultery or asserting their rights.
The response from Western governments is muted and limited to calls for "restraint on both sides". Unlike countries on the USA axis of evil, Uzbekistan houses a USA military base. Russia (who also has a military base in the country) spoke out in support of the government.
The killings occur in the city of Andijan. International journalists and aid agencies are barred from the city for several days. One aid worker, Gulboxior Turajewa, counted 500 bodies before being chased away by guards - only three or four wore uniforms - the rest were civilians including women and children.
Witnesses describe the wounded being killed by a single shot to the head by soldiers assigned to the task.
The massacre began during a demonstration in support of 23 businessmen arested and charged with setting up an Islamic group to overthrow the government.
Western countries call for "restraint" but continue to invest in the country:
Western reporting of the events of Burma (a country backed by China) differs from similar events in Pakistan (backed by the USA):
|The rulers of the country||Junta||Government|
|The leader of the country||Military ruler||President|
|The killings||Brutal suppression||Clashes|