News Release

Iraq Occupation: Huge Problems

EMAN AHMED KHAMMAS
Khammas is co-director of the newly founded Occupation Watch Center in Iraq. She said today: “We are all happy that Saddam Hussein is gone, but we continue to pay a very high price with our lives, our health and our country. The security situation here is hell, I don’t know how else to describe it. The occupation force is starting to use the same procedures, the same methods we suffered under Saddam Hussein — people are asking ‘What’s the difference, is this what we suffered so much for?’ We are already exhausted mentally and bodily — the sanctions, the wars, the occupation…. Bremer’s ‘governing council’ has become a joke among the people of Iraq — the members have been handpicked by him while representatives of many major parties were left out…. We want the people who waged this war on our country to be tried in international courts and our country to be compensated for all that has been done to us.”

MEDEA BENJAMIN
Benjamin is the founding director of Global Exchange, an international human rights group. She said today: “In the midst of worsening conditions in Iraq, American anti-war groups have launched an unprecedented project, the Occupation Watch Center, which opened its doors in Baghdad two weeks ago. The Center’s mission is to enable ordinary Iraqis to inform people around the world about conditions under the U.S. occupation.” Just back from Iraq, three U.S.-based peace workers are reporting on Occupation Watch’s operations at a news conference in New York on July 22.
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JAMES JENNINGS
President of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization based in Atlanta, Jennings has just returned from his third trip to Iraq this year. Jennings was in Iraq before, during and after the bombing. He said today: “Several of the claims Paul Bremer recently made are quite the opposite of what our three health, education, and cultural resources teams observed in Baghdad and the vicinity over the past several weeks. Our team undertook a ‘street attitudes survey’ — where I personally interviewed about a hundred Iraqis from all walks of life — and discovered that it is not accurate to claim, as Bremer does, that the coalition has ‘the support of the vast majority of Iraqis.’ At best, people are suspending judgment — and getting impatient in the process. Meanwhile, we observed that robbery, rape, car-jacking and murder are rife; electricity and telephones work intermittently; clean water is not available to most of the population; the currency is worthless; and there are no jobs. Inflation is rampant, gasoline may require a three-day wait in line, and cooking gas costs 100 times what it used to. Unexploded missiles and cluster munitions litter the country, with 800 unexploded ordnance sites in Baghdad alone…. It’s hard to see how Washington can succeed by just plopping down a mini-State Department in Saddam’s palace — a sort of Foggy Bottom by the Tigris.”
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ANAS SHALLAL
Founder of Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives, Shallal is in touch with relatives in Iraq. He said today: “After the invasion, even those who were opposed to the war were hopeful — after all, Saddam Hussein had fallen with relatively little damage and people seemed to think ‘let’s give this a chance.’ Now people are telling me that it’s becoming increasingly more oppressive and more like an occupation than a liberation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Norman Solomon, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167