"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Rights and Duties of Man

"Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described how US warplanes bombed the Central Health Centre in which he was working at 5:30 am on November 9. The clinic had been treating many of the city's sick and wounded after US forces took over the main hospital at the start of the invasion. According to Dr. al-Jumaili, US warplanes dropped three bombs on the clinic, where approximately sixty patients--many of whom had serious injuries from US aerial bombings and attacks--were being treated.

Dr. al-Jumaili reports that thirty-five patients were killed in the airstrike, including two girls and three boys under the age of 10. In addition, he said, fifteen medics, four nurses and five health support staff were killed, among them health aides Sami Omar and Omar Mahmoud, nurses Ali Amini and Omar Ahmed, and physicians Muhammad Abbas, Hamid Rabia, Saluan al-Kubaissy and Mustafa Sheriff." - Miles Schuman, "Falluja's Health Damage", The Nation, NOv. 24, 2004.

In 1948, the United States distinguished itself as leader of the free world by signing "The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man", a declaration adopted by the members of the OAS. It was the world's first international human rights instrument of a general nature, predating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by more than six months. The guiding spirit of the document can be read from it's initial statement: "All men are born free and equal, in dignity and in rights, and, being endowed by nature with reason and conscience, they should conduct themselves as brothers one to another."

Among it's provisions:

Article I. Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his person.

Article V. Every person has the right to the protection of the law against abusive attacks upon his honor, his reputation, and his private and family life.

Article XI. Every person has the right to the preservation of his health through sanitary and social measures relating to food, clothing, housing and medical care, to the extent permitted by public and community resources.

Please read and respond to the full story with complete documentation and legal citation at http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=7966. And please consider joining with Humanitarian Law Project / International Educational Development (HLP/IED) and San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL) against the United States, along with Veterans For Peace who have endorsed the petition.

Friday, November 26, 2004

License to Kill

"In comments reported by the UN information network Irin, spokesman Muhammad al-Nuri said the Red Crescent believed more than 6,000 people may have died in the fight for Falluja." - "Aid reaches Falluja's citizens", BBC News, Nov. 27, 2004.

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin in "Foundation"

In the words of a Bush aide: "'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"- David Suskind, "Without a Doubt", New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004

Do not pile boasting upon boasting:
keep proud words far from your mouth,
for the Lord is the God of all knowledge
and the judge of all actions.

The bow of the mighty is broken,
and the weak are clothed in strength.
Those who fed well must hire themselves out, for bread;
but the hungry are hungry no longer.
The barren woman has given birth to many;
but she who had many sons is left desolate.
- 1 Samuel 2

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Medical Personnel Tied and Beaten

"The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. Medical personnel and medical establishments, transports and equipment must be spared." - International Committee of the Red Cross.

"They [Al-Jazeera] report today that Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi, a doctor who witnessed the U.S. and Iraqi National Guard raid the general hospital, said, 'We were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical instruments.'

She said the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial siege of Fallujah, and troops dragged patients from their beds and pushed them against the wall.

She continued on, "I was with a woman in labor," she said. "The umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a U.S. soldier shouted at one of the [Iraqi] National Guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life." - " Dogs Eating Bodies in the Streets of Fallujah", Dahr Jamail, Nov. 16, 2004.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Where are the Bishops?

"As hostilities continue in Falluja and elsewhere, every day seems to bring news of yet another act of utter contempt for the most basic tenet of humanity," said Pierre Kraehenbuhl, the ICRC's director of operations.

"Like any other armed conflict, this one is subject to limits, and they must be respected at all times," he added.

The Red Cross has issued a statement in which it can barely hide its anger, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva." "Red Cross hits out at Iraq abuses", BBC, Nov. 19, 2004.

"Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide." Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. #2313

Denial of Water to Iraqi Cities

"Water supplies to Tall Afar, Samarra and Fallujah were cut off during US attacks during the past two months, affecting up to 750,000 civilians. This appears to form part of a deliberate US policy of denying water to the residents of cities under attack. If so, it has been adopted without a public debate, and without consulting Coalition partners. It is a serious breach of international humanitarian law, and is deepening Iraqi opposition to the United States, other coalition members, and the Iraqi government." - "Denial of Water to Iraqi Cities", Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq, November 10, 2004. Please read the fully documented report at the following URL: http://www.casi.org.uk/briefing/041110denialofwater.pdf.

We can hear these voices in our hearts. The voices of those dying of disease from sewage-saturated waters - hearts eaten by despair, the impossible burden of fighting on in the face of blind and relentless American brutality. Ordinary people swept up into an incomprehensible fate - if you listen carefully, you can hear the cry for peace.

Where are the voices of the bishops who wrote the following in 1993: "Noncombatant Immunity: civilians may not be the object of direct attack, and military personnel must take due care to avoid and minimize indirect harm to civilians;" - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, November 17, 1993, National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Where are the voices of those who wrote in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph #2314: "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

War Crimes in Fallujah

"Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works." - Article 14 of the second protocol of the Geneva Conventions

On 16 October the Washington Post reported that:
"Electricity and water were cut off to the city [Fallujah] just as a fresh wave of strikes began Thursday night, an action that U.S. forces also took at the start of assaults on Najaf and Samarra."

"Residents of Fallujah have told the UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks that they had no food or clean water and did not have time to store enough to hold out through the impending battle. The water shortage has been confirmed by other civilians fleeing Fallujah, Fadhil Badrani, a BBC journalist in Falluja, confirmed on 8 November that the water supply has been cut off.

In light of the shortage of water and other supplies, the Red Cross has attempted
to deliver water to Fallujah. However the US has refused to allow shipments of
water into the Fallujah until it has taken control of the city." - "Denial of Water to Iraqi Cities", publication of Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq, November, 2004.

Two fundamental Catholic moral principles regarding the conduct of armed conflict are:

"1) Noncombatant Immunity: civilians may not be the object of direct attack, and military personnel must take due care to avoid and minimize indirect harm to civilians;
2) Proportionality: in the conduct of hostilities, efforts must be made to attain military objectives with no more force than is militarily necessary and to avoid disproportionate collateral damage to civilian life and property;" - "The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace", National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

In solidary with the people of Iraq, I pray that our bishops will raise their voices in protest at this blatant violation of Catholic teachings on restraint during war.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Grief and Prayer

I have been unable to post for several days while the U.S. writes another tragedy in the blood of this endlessly suffering people. Henri Nouwen reminds us that grief is a way to compassion, and grief has seized my heart in these last few days, as I sit helplessly while those acting in my name carry out a slaughter that is not only immoral, but ultimately inane. Already it is clear that the effect of this manuver has been to spark rebellions in dozens of other cities, to create a potent symbol and rallying cry for those fighting for their country.

As Americans, we often stigmatize grief as weakness. The strong should shake off grief and carry on with the battle, our culture shouts at us. But shaking off grief is often the refusal of a precious gift. In the words of Henri Nouwen, "Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world - my own included - to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears. If they can't be tears that stream from my eyes, they have to be at least tears that well up from my heart. When I consider the immense waywardness of God's children, our lust, our greed, our violence, our anger, our resentment, and when I look at them through the eyes of God's heart, I cannot but weep and cry out with grief...This grieving is praying. There are so few mourners left in this world. But grief is the discipline of the heart that sees the sin of the world, and knows itself to be the sorrowful price of freedom without which love cannot bloom. I am beginning to see that much of praying is grieving. This grief is so deep not just because the human sin is so great, but also - and more so - because the divine love is so boundless." - Nouwen, Henri. The Return of the Prodigal Son. New York: Doubleday, 1992.