A Civilized Nation 'Teaches' Iraq Barbarism

Many historians consider Iraq as the cradle of civilization. It was in Iraq that writing was invented. It was in Iraq that the great Hammurabi’s Code of Laws was first engraved. Iraq was the birthplace of Abraham, father of the Jews and the Arabs.

The territory now called Iraq was the center of the greatest powers of the day. At other times it was conquered by Alexander the Great, ravaged by the Mongols and dominated by empires based in Persia, Turkey, Britain and now the United States.

One of the first acts of the American occupation authorities in Iraq is the destruction of the tomb of Michael Aflaq, an Arab nationalist philosopher and a founder of the Arab Baath party which ruled Iraq. This savage act was totally unwarranted and unjustified. It reminds us of the barbaric actions of the Mongols centuries ago. Regrettably this twenty first century barbarism is practiced in the name of "freedom," "democracy," "liberation" and "human rights." What makes this barbaric action even worse is that it is done by an "elected" government which tells the world that its actions are taken in the name of the American people.

I do not blame the American people for not knowing what atrocities are being committed in their name. I watch U.S. network news so I know Americans are not told what is really going on in Iraq.

During WWI (1914–1919) the British army fought military battles with the Ottoman (Turkish) armies that were stationed in Iraq. Many thousands were killed and buried in Iraq from both sides.

We have British cemeteries in Basra, Kut and in Baghdad where approximately 54,000 Commonwealth troops are buried. We have a cemetery for the Indian soldiers who fought with the British army. We also have the Turkish cemetery in Baghdad.

For over 90 years since the establishment of these cemeteries the Iraqi governments and the Iraqi people respected the sanctity of these graves. In those 90 years Baghdad expanded so much that these cemeteries became a prime property and were obstructing the full development of badly needed project. Despite this the government of Iraq respected its humanitarian obligation to protect these cemeteries.

In fact in April 2002, a year before the attack on Iraq, the Iraqi government approved the restoration of the Australian cemetery despite all the problems of the first Gulf War and the 12 years of sanctions.

Mr. Peter Francis, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said: "The (Iraqis) said that the government of Iraq attached great importance to the longstanding War Graves Agreements between it and the commission and that it was ready to provide whatever assistance the commission required to carry out its work in Iraq."

Our 7000 years of history and civilization have taught us to respect the sanctity of death and a respect to the graves of dead people irrespective whether they are natives, occupiers or enemy soldiers. These values are shared with other civilized people around the world.

Jon Lee Anderson writing in the New Yorker about a visit he had to the British cemetery in Baghdad days before the American invasion. His last paragraph was "As we were walking out of the cemetery, we passed an obelisk with the inscription ‘Here are the honoured Turkish soldiers who fell for their country in the Great War, 1914–1918.’ When I pointed this out to Khalid, he seemed confused, and I explained that the obelisk had been erected by the British to honor their enemies. He smirked. ‘So, the British have honor!’ he said, and he walked away, then turned back. ‘Maybe they will do the same for us, after they have killed us. Thank you very much.’"

I hate to disappoint my friend Khalid. The American army did not respect nor honor the Iraqi soldiers who died fighting for their country; they let them rot in the streets. The Americans did not allow the Red Cross to enter Fallujah for days after their "liberation" of the city. Dead people we left to rot in the ruins of their houses without burying them or moving them to a mortuary.

The American administrator for Iraq, Mr. L. Bremer elected to "teach" the Iraqis his set of values. He justified leveling "the tomb to earth" by his desire to "eradicate the Baath party." His barbaric action and "cowboy" mentality is strange to the civilized world and would not even be accepted in his "wild wild west." It is by any standard and for any reason a barbaric act.

June 8, 2005