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A Country Torn Apart (Hot Topic)

Iraq War Tragedies

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#1 Shaun

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 11:56 PM

The sun slowly settles on the horizon and in the last glimmers of the fading
sunlight Meskalamdug holds the writing implement and slowly, with great
care, presses the tool into the wet clay. With the last of the light it is
done, Meskalamdug makes his final mark, the story he has spent a quarter of
his life carefully entrusting to the clay is finished at last, it only
remains for the tablet to be fired in the morning and his thoughts and
dreams will be preserved for eternity. He stands up stretches, yawns, gets
off his stool and heads toward his sleeping place, before sleeping he smiles
briefly.

In the years ahead the people of Ur are enchanted by the story that
Meskalamdug has given their city. It survives through the long ages, through
wars, great and small, through the leadership of tyrants and heroes, through
the first decline of Sumer, the Akkadian kingdom, the time of Sargon, and
the rise of Sumeria again, the Cassite dynasty, the Mitani and the Assyrian
empire. The story written in a language now unknown, Meskalamdug long lost to the
past, continues on locked into the tablets it was written on. It is the
time of Alexander, in the distant west the Roman people flourish,
then the Persians fall at the hands of the Muslims, the Abassid Caliphate comes
and goes, it survives the Mongol invasion now buried in the depths of a long forgotten
city, the Ottoman Empire rises, then is broken apart with the end of the First World War
and a new nation is founded, the Second World war passes...

Then one day a team of archeologists make a discovery, first they come
across the remnants of a town deserted many centuries in the past and after
many long months of excavation, in one part of the town they find a
storehouse that contains hundreds of stone tablets. They are carefully
catalogued, packed and taken to the museum where they wait for someone to
take them from their packaging to begin to process of unlocking their
secrets. The story of Meskalamdug awaits, it has waited for five thousand years, it
can wait a little longer.

But now we shall never know what Meskalamdug had to tell us, for the tablets
which had travelled so far across the ages to meet us now lie in shattered
ruins across the vault of the museum in Baghdad, his words are lost to us
forever along with the words of countless others, their work crushed to dust
under the feet of barbarians.

To see inside the museum today is to look upon a scene of utter devastation,
it is as if it had been hit by a hurricane or perhaps a tornado, in hall after hall
it is the same, display cabinet after display cabinet smashed and emptied of
their contents, there is broken glass everywhere along with empty and broken
wooden crates. Entire galleries echo hollowly, their contents gone, the rooms now
just forlorn looking shells. What wasn't taken by the looters has either been defaced
or smashed. Statue after statue and figurine after figurine are strewn, broken apart
on the gallery floors. The degree of devastation is the same in the vaults which had
been locked to prevent thieves from gaining access, but someone with a key had
opened them. Within them lying scattered across the floor are an array of artifacts,
smashed to pieces, probably beyond the ability of the most skilled conservator to
restore. There is not one gallery, not one vault, not one room that has not received
a visit by the looters.

There is really no way to know how much of the collection has been lost or destroyed,
all of the museum's records have been burned, the museum staff have given an estimate
that approximately 170,000 items have been taken. The staff are distraught  at the
destruction that has been wrought.

The curator of the museum said that a large part of the cultural identity of a country is
tied up in its history and artifacts and in the destruction of those artifacts Iraq itself
has been destroyed. Some of the most famous artifacts to be lost are the 4000 year
old silver harp from Ur, the Sumerian vase from Uruk and the Akkadian bronze statue
of Bastiki.

Yesterday ITN news managed to get the Curator of the Baghdad museum in contact
with his counterpart at the London museum, via their satellite phone, to give
them an initial assessment of the damage that's been done, some of the most
important artifacts in the world have been lost, perhaps for all time and
even worse now that there has been some time to look at what has been taken
the Curator's assessment is that the items were stolen to order, there are a
number of copies of artefacts (which are currenly on loan to other museums)
that were left completely untouched. Donny George, director of research and studies
points to some glass cutters as proof that the mob attack was a cover for a much
more organised operation.

The Curator of the London Museum said that they will be making every effort
to arrange for the interception of any items from the Baghdad museum before
they can reach the hands of private collectors but there is no way that they
can assure that every item can be recovered, the scale of the disaster makes
it simply impossible.

There's also something unsavoury that's come to light which has a disconcerting bearing on
what has happened to the antiquities in Iraq: http://www.sundayherald.com/print32895
i
The pattern of devastation is not only limited to Baghdad, but is spread
throughout the country. It's known that priceless artefacts from the museum
at Mosul have also been stolen and its Islamic Library has been ravaged by
fire, the University at Basra has been set alight and the thousands of
archeologically important sites across the country remain unprotected.

The National  Library and Archives in Baghdad which contain priceless documents
from the Ottoman Empire along with many other unique and incredibly valuable books
has been razed along with the Library of Quorans at the Ministry of Religion, thousands
of years of history has been erased, yet another grievous loss to our heritage and yet
again the Americans did nothing.

In the past week there has been more damage done to the world's cultural
heritage than has taken place over the entirety of the last century, while
not ratified by the US and UK both countries have violated numerous articles
of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event
of Armed Conflict (1954). During the Second World War the Nazis removed
countless museum collections and works of art, however they were packed
carefully and inventories were kept which made their return much easier once
the war was over, even more ironically when Iraq invaded Kuwait they were
condemned for entering the Kuwait museum but they packed everything
professionally, kept inventories of the items taken and informed UNESCO that
the museum collection had been taken to Baghdad for safekeeping.

Despite pleas for the Coalition to do something, the calls coming from many
quarters inside and outside of Iraq, despite warning after warning after warning
about what would happen, no preparations were made, the Coalition's response
to the breakdown of law and order was described as 'Shockingly inadequate' by
Amnesty International. Even now they are still standing idly by while looters carry
out their heinous acts. It has not gone unnoticed that while the troops did nothing
to protect the people, their homes, shops, hospitals and culture from the looters,
2 platoons, a tank and several lighter vehicles had been assigned to protect the
Ministry of Oil which is a source of a great deal of anger amongst the population
of Baghdad.

Archeologist Muayyed Said al-Damergi said that US tanks were standing at the
gates of the museum when the looters broke in a few yards away, but the US
troops did nothing.and he went on to say that when he approached the tank
crew manning the first tank in the column and asked for help he was told
that they had no instructions to interfere.

Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, head of the General Directorate of Antiquities in Iraq
said he was promised help by US officers when he visited their HQ at the
Palestine Hotel, but so far no help has materialised.. Secretary Powell's
comments in regards to preserving Iraq's culture carry absolutely no
credibility whatsoever in Baghdad.

The desperate humanitarian situation across the country and the rapidly
worsening security situation is another source of anger, in Saddam City
(now renamed Sadr city) there is complete anarchy at night with roving
gangs shooting at people indiscriminately, which again is a situation that
is being repeated across the country (Tikrit in particular being extraordinarily
dangerous). There are daily protests by a small number of Iraqis taking place
outside the Palestine Hotel where the foreign media are based, they're
expressing their anger at the inability of the US troops to restore order
and provide basic services. If the US doesn't act quickly the growing
anti-US sentiment may spiral out of control.

Kirkuk is a tinderbox with widespread violence and looting and the Kurds are
continuing to expel Arabs from their homes in the city and in the
surrounding villages. There is also widespread fighting between Kurds and
Arabs in Mosul, around sixty people have been killed so far and two or
possibly three hundred people wounded in the fighting.

The story that is starting to come out from Basra at this point almost entirely
contradicts what the British were saying during the seige and assault on the city.
When the use of human shields by the Iraqi troops is mentioned the questioner
is greeted by confused stares, yes, they say, the Fedayeen were in the city and
the people were afraid of them, but the population learned to stay out of the
way of the Fedayeen and the Fedayeen stayed out of the way of the population.
There is also a great deal of anger and resentment there at what is seen as the
use of overexcessive force by the coalition, the humanitarian crisis and the
continuing problems in controlling the wildly criminal element that is terrorising the city.

In failing to prevent the looting and in failing to establish the rule of
law the Coalition is in breach of section 4 of the Geneva Convention

Specifically:

"Article 18. Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and
sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object
of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties
to the conflict."

"Article. 20. Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and
administration of civilian hospitals, including the personnel engaged in the
search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick
civilians, the infirm and maternity cases shall be respected and protected."

"Article 27. Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to
respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their
religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They
shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially
against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and
public curiosity."

"Article 50. The Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national
and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions
devoted to the care and education of children."

"Article 55. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the
Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of
the population;"

And

"Article 56. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the public
Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the
cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital
establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied
territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the
prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of
contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall
be allowed to carry out their duties."

In removing a regime the Coalition has shattered a nation, as with the
destruction in the Baghdad museum it remains to be seen whether something
can be salvaged from the remnants. So far it has been a dismal start. With
the largest Shia group refusing to attend the Coalition sponsored meeting in
An-Nasiriyah, the continuing humanitarian crisis, the security problems
including rivalries between various religious and political factions which could erupt
into civil war, the formation of anti-US resistance groups, the
declaration of Jihad against the Coalition by Iraq's Shi'ite authority Mohammad
Mahdi al-Khalisi,with questions over the candidates the US is proposing will run
the country and the deep suspicions surrounding the motives of the US, a long,
difficult, dangerous and fractious road lies ahead.

Edited by Shaun, 17 April 2003 - 01:35 AM.

Shaun
Veni, vidi, vici

#2 Bad Wolf

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:10 AM

After all.  Peace is untidy.

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Shaun}}}}}}}}}}  The devastation is truly heartbreaking. :(

Lil
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#3 Neptunian

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:15 AM

Unbelievable.   :eek2:  :(  :angry:

#4 Godeskian

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:18 AM

peace,

what i was going to say doesn't belong in this thread

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#5 Kevin Street

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:31 AM

It's sickening.

Thank God none of us has the misfortune to live in Iraq, to experience horrific oppression and then this anarchic "liberation." Hopefully, things will improve. But so much has been lost.

Remember what happened there. Don't let the people who started it get away free.

Edited by Kevin Street, 17 April 2003 - 12:31 AM.

Per aspera ad astra

#6 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:31 AM

While everyone is busy blaming the coallition military for this....I suddenly had a revelation!

Is it British or american troops who are looting?

Are they rounding up arabs and forcing them to loot?

This is as fallacious as saying that a girl in a short skirt is to blame for getting raped.

Just because there is no rigid police force, it does not follow that people can break the law, or that they have no choice but to break it, they CHOOSE to loot. If all these thousands of people had a bit of respect for their countrymen, there wouldnt be a problem.
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#7 Drew

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:41 AM

decloaking

Also, there is a strong indication that much of the "looting" was done before the fall of Baghdad by Iraqi officials hoping to cash in on these priceless treasures. When they "melted away" many of these artifacts "melted away" with them. This looting may have been quite organized, so right now art dealers are on high alert in case these artifacts start hitting the market. I suspect that regular Iraq citizens don't have access to black market art dealings.

cloaking

Edited by Drew, 17 April 2003 - 12:55 AM.

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#8 Bossy

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:52 AM

It is my understanding that the Coalition forces are currently working with the Iraqi police to help restore order. This morning, I saw footage of troops assisting in the apprehention of looters at the Museum and at a bank in Baghdad.

TT also made a very good point. Exactly who is doing this looting?
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#9 Anakam

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:54 AM

Regardless of who is to blame.... what should or should not have been done, as a science student with a strong interest in cultural history, I find this disgusting.  :crazy: :glare:
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#10 Ilphi

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 12:56 AM

Quote

Talkie Toaster:
Is it British or american troops who are looting?

Are they rounding up arabs and forcing them to loot?

No, of course not.

But as noted  By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent ..

Quote

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Looters and arsonists ransacked and gutted Iraq National Library, leaving a smoldering shell Tuesday of precious books turned to ash and a nation's intellectual legacy gone up in smoke.


They also looted and burned Iraq's principal Islamic library nearby, home to priceless old Qurans; last week, thieves swept through the National Museum and stole or smashed treasures that chronicled this region's role as the "cradle of civilization."

Quote

Armored vehicles were positioned on the nearby street, manned by U.S. Marines. They did nothing to stop Tuesday's continuing trickle of looters.

While troops errected the streets surrounding the Oil ministry with barbed wire and machine gun posts, I find this a little odd.

As noted here:

Quote

Executive summary:
As soon as the city was secure: "US Marines moved quickly to protect the Iraqi oil ministry in Baghdad, surrounding the complex with razor-sharp barbed wire." and "provided a 24 hour armed guard".

The great Iraq National Museum was left unattended.



Published on Monday, April 14, 2003 by the lndependent/UK
US Blamed for Failure to Stop Sacking of Museum
by Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles and David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent

Edited by Ilphi, 17 April 2003 - 12:58 AM.

Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
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#11 Bad Wolf

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:07 AM

Save the oil, screw the artifacts.

I think it's pretty obvious where the priorities are.   :angry:
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#12 Ilphi

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:14 AM

Quote

Save the oil, screw the artifacts.

As someone who tried to remain objective in the war, and was even tilting towards supporting it at its start... once I would have dismissed this claim. Then I started to look a little closer and find some evidence to support the idea.

First, the Halliburton oil company have won the right to rebuild the oil fields. Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton in between Bush administrations.

The "interim leader" to Afghanistain was an oil company consultant. Then a former Unocal consultant was appointed as ambassador to Afghanistan. Within a few months, a deal was signed to build a pipeline across the country.

While I dont believe there is some big conspiracy going on, and trust that there are some clean motives for this war, I think there are plenty of bad eggs in it.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
The Fool - Padraic Pearse

#13 Chipper

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:19 AM

You know the really sad parts?

The looters are Iraqis.
The US has virtually done NOTHING about this.  No, instead they protect the oil fields, let the looters run rampant.

I've seen the interviews with people on TV.  They are angry, they feel betrayed by the US because it has not provided them with water, medicine, anything.  you've got people being sent home from hospitals, left to death because EVERYTHING is gone.

It is sickening.  The human condition is sickening.  And Bush, instead of worrying about his tax cut and latest foray into the MIddle East with Syria, should be helping these people.

After all, that's why we went to Iraq.


Right?  :rolleyes:
"Courtesy is how we got civilized. The blind assertion of rights is what threatens to decivilize us. Everybody's got lots of rights that are set out legally. Responsibilities are not enumerated, for good reason, but they are set into the social fabric. Is it such a sacrifice to not be an a**hole?"

- Jenny Smith on Usenet, via Jid, via Kathy

#14 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:19 AM

How were the U.S. troops meant to defend the museum and the library without (1) violating international law by occpying defensive military positions at the museum and library, and/or (2) firing military weapons at the museum and library to wound and kill masses of unarmed Iraqi civilians engaged in looting?

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 17 April 2003 - 01:26 AM.

Blessed is the mind too small for doubt.

#15 Lover of Purple

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:29 AM

Come on everyone, let's think here. How can Iraq rebuild without an income? Protecting the Oil Ministry shows that the USA plans on the Iraqi people using their oil to get up and running. If The US wanted the oil we'd let them destroy the place and claim we have to control it because their is no government office to handle it. I wish people would stop trying to find evil in the US actions.

And what should the troops do, start shooting looters? Like that would go along way to helping the rebuilding.

I hate that they are looting mueums, that's about as low as one can get. And we don't know how mush vanished with the amazing disappearing authorities.

#16 Rov Judicata

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:36 AM

First: People are more important than artifacts. Should we shoot looters to protect a fake urn?

Second: Most of the stuff was most likely already looted by Saddam et al long before coalition troops arrived.

Third: We're not allowed to take military positions inside of libraries or museums, as I understand the Geneve Convention. That would make any defense problematic

Fourth: That oil ministry is vital to Iraq's future. Without that source of income, their quality of life will drop immensely.

Fifth: I'm heartened that the only anti-war argument left is the looting. What happened to the thousands of deaths the siege of Baghdad was supposed to cause? What happened to the draft that this war was supposed to require? What happened to the thousands of suicide bombers? What happened to the fierce resistant of the elite republican guard? What happened to the Arab world joining the fight? What happened to Israel being pulled in?

None of it materialized... and now, we're reduced to complaining about the looting of what are most likely replicas?
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#17 Bad Wolf

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:40 AM

I don't think that the issue is the coalition opening fire on looters, but on the failure to anticipate the looting in the first place (and sorry folks, I think it was an obvious potential target) and take *preventive* measures to protect it in the first place.  Measures like those taken to protect the oil.  That's the problem I have.

And Rov I'm just going to pretend I didn't just read that very flippant dismissal of the importance of these artifacts.
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#18 Lover of Purple

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:42 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Apr 16 2003, 03:29 PM, said:

I don't think that the issue is the coalition opening fire on looters, but on the failure to anticipate the looting in the first place (and sorry folks, I think it was an obvious potential target) and take *preventive* measures to protect it in the first place.  Measures like those taken to protect the oil.  That's the problem I have.

And Rov I'm just going to pretend I didn't just read that very flippant dismissal of the importance of these artifacts.
Lil,

That we can agree on! Someone should have thought about it.

#19 Bad Wolf

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:48 AM

Lover of Purple, on Apr 17 2003, 12:31 AM, said:

Una Salus Lillius, on Apr 16 2003, 03:29 PM, said:

I don't think that the issue is the coalition opening fire on looters, but on the failure to anticipate the looting in the first place (and sorry folks, I think it was an obvious potential target) and take *preventive* measures to protect it in the first place.  Measures like those taken to protect the oil.  That's the problem I have.

And Rov I'm just going to pretend I didn't just read that very flippant dismissal of the importance of these artifacts.
Lil,

That we can agree on! Someone should have thought about it.
:eek2:

We Agree?????????

;)

See my thing is that this is just more evidence of the motivations driving this thing in the first place.  WHY didn't they think of it?  Because it was so unforseeable?  Bull to that I say.  

It's like I said above, screw the artifacts, the things important to the IRAQI culture, protect the oil.  I know you disagree but to me this is just one more piece of evidence that this was never about the Iraqi people and always about the oil.

Like I said, I know we disagree on this but um, there it is, that's how I feel.

Lil
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#20 Lover of Purple

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:50 AM

Yep, we disagree on most of this, but...
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I still loves ya, Sis!!!



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