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Iraq the country of death and terror
by Hammorabi (reposted)
Monday Oct 16th, 2006 7:04 AM
This is Iraq the most dangerous place to live in for the last years especially after 2003.

Every single day there are at least 100 people killed and more wounded in Iraq and every day pass is a day of blood, horror and killing.
No day pass in Iraq without discovering many bodies of an unknown people after being tortured and mutilated. The horror includes assassinations, kidnapping, mass murdering, expulsions, car bombs, suicidal attacks, attacks by rockets and other weapons, and so many other crimes that no one is able to count.

Today a group of criminals wearing police uniform forced their way into an office belong to a new Iraqi TV channel and killed 10 (all those inside) including the manager. Iraq is the most dangerous place for journalists.

Hundreds of doctors and intellectuals have been killed after kidnapping or simply assassinated. There are families burnt completely inside their homes with their children. Women kidnapped, raped and decapitated. No single week pass without bodies discovered in the rivers. It becomes usual scene to see headless bodies or decapitated heads or mutilated flesh and bones in the street of Baghdad and other cities, towns and villages. Some of these bodies are used by the criminals as bombs putting explosive inside them which lead to farther causalities when people tried to remove and burry them. This prevented many people of doing so therefore it is not an unusual to find astray dogs eating these bodies.

Few days ago a group of terrorists forced their way into the Samawa hospital and killed three women and decapitated a newborn baby inside the hospital.

There are areas especially in Diyala and the mountain of Hemreen (the area between Baqwoba and Khanaqeen) are under the control of the terror groups. Even areas in Baghdad are under the law of the different militias and armed groups. They enforce their law on people by terror, threatening and intimidations. Once Iraq was though under dictatorship but there was advances and progress with freedom for women as an example. The best example of backwardness now is that women can not go for work with out intimidation by the terrorist groups and some killed simply because of their look or hair or clothes. Many hairdressers, CD shops, and other related forced to close and some of these shops have been demolished by explosives, burnt or attacked by rockets.

Many Iraqis fled the country simply to avoid death or after kidnapped and released or due to threats. Most of those are intellectuals, engineers, doctors and others. Those who stayed after threat have been assassinated like the X-dean of the College of Medicine of Baghdad who was killed two weeks ago.

by Healing Iraq (reposted)
Monday Oct 16th, 2006 7:05 AM

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Human Cost of the War in Iraq 

I urge you to carefully read the study first. Very few people seem to have actually done so.

In comparison, the much-criticised Iraq Body Count relies only on media reports (mostly Western and often by conflating 2 different sources) for their maximum body count of 48,639 civilians. I have said and will say again that the media reports only a tiny fraction of deaths in the country, usually the victims of car bombings or other significant violent events.

The collaborative study by the John Hopkins University, The School of Medicine at the Mustansiriya University, and the MIT Center for International Studies, pubished in The Lancet, is not the same. It is not an actual body count. This is an estimate of the total number of excess deaths over the last 3 years.

It uses cluster samples (uniform groups of samples in a specific geographical areas) as opposed to simple random samples. This is usually much more cost-effective and easier and in this case it’s, unfortunately, the only available method to get an estimate.

Simply put, the methods used by the study are valid, but in Iraq’s case, where the level of violence is not consistent throughout the country, I feel that the study should have been done differently. 654,965 excess civilian deaths is an absurd number. My personal guesstimate would be half that number, but the total count is not the point now.

Take a look at the incidence of reported deaths from violence across the country over the last 3 years. (My map, with data compiled from news stories.)

Death incidents in Iraq as reported by the media
And compare it to population density across the country. (CIA map.)

Population density in Iraq
The survey used 48 cluster samples from 16 governorates (a total of 1,849 households) and extrapolated the findings across the whole country based on the total population. I may be wrong, but I think this is problematic and can be misleading since the level of violence in, say, the Muthanna or the Erbil governorates is hardly even close to that of Baghdad, Diyala or Anbar. The results would have probably been much more accurate if the samples were selected solely from the areas I’ve depicted above in the map, and then to project the findings to the actual population of these areas. This makes more sense to me, but then I have a limited grasp on statistics and I stress that I may be wrong.

Now lets move on to reactions to the study.

One problem is that the people dismissing – or in some cases, rabidly attacking – the results of this study, including governmental officials who, arguably, have an interest in doing so, have offered no other alternative or not even a counter estimate. This is called denial. When you have no hard facts to discredit a scientific study, or worse, if you are forced to resort to absurd arguments, such as “the Iraqis are lying,” or “they interviewed insurgents,” or “the timing to publish this study was to affect American elections,” or "I don't like the results and they don't fit into my world view, therefore they have to be false," it is better for you to just shut up. From the short time I have been here, I am realising that some Americans have a hard time accepting facts that fly against their political persuasions.

Now I am aware that the study is being used here by both sides of the argument in the context of domestic American politics, and that pains me. As if it is different for Iraqis whether 50,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the war or 600,000. The bottom line is that there is a steady increase in civilian deaths, that the health system is rapidly deteriorating, and that things are clearly not going in the right direction. The people who conducted the survey should be commended for attempting to find out, with the limited methods they had available. On the other hand, the people who are attacking them come across as indifferent to the suffering of Iraqis, especially when they have made no obvious effort to provide a more accurate body count. In fact, it looks like they are reluctant to do this.

By the way, these same statistical methods were used to count civilians deaths in Darfur, but then I didn’t see anyone objecting to that.

In regard to Iraqi governmental officials, it was their responsibility to provide reliable numbers, but when the Ministry of Health and the Baghdad Medico-legal Institute (Baghdad’s main mortuary) is under the control of Sadrists, who have prohibited access to medical records and morgue counts by the press, and who have an interest in manipulating numbers for their own political agendas, I would absolutely question their criticism of this study. And by the way, most cemeteries in Iraq would not accept a body without a death certificate, unless the bodies are buried in mass graves or backyards without reporting them to health authorities (look at this to understand why), which in this case the government would regard them as ‘missing.’ While working in hospitals and health centres in Iraq, it was sometimes my responsibility (when the late-night doctor was unavailable or, in some cases, sleeping) to oversee the checking in of corpses at the hospital and to issue a death certificate indicating the cause of the death. No certificate is issued without a body, and it is required that several copies are kept. IDs of dead people are shredded at the spot and their names are removed from their family’s food ration cards. The Ministry of Health should have access to certificates issued throughout the country over the last 3 years. And both the Defense and Interior ministries have their own counts. Now why isn’t any independent body looking into that information?

The conservative count of 100 civilian deaths per day in the Baghdad area is a standard number these days.

When I spoke at the ONA conference in Washington last Saturday, I was asked whether the Western media was neglecting the good news from Iraq. I answered that it used to be that way in the early days following the war, but that now they are failing to capture how bad it really is. Western reporters are holed up in their offices in Baghdad. Even their Iraqi stringers who do most of the actual reporting are now finding it increasingly difficult to venture into certain neighbourhoods of Baghdad. What about the rest of the country? How many reporters, Western or Iraqi, are there in the Anbar governorate? Ninewa? Diyala? Salah Al-Din? Babel? Maysan?

There also seems to be a common misconception here that large parts of the country are stable. In fact, not a day goes by without political and sectarian assassinations all over the south of Iraq, particularly in Basrah and Amara, but they always go unnoticed, except in some local media outlets. The ongoing conflict between political parties and militias to control resources in holy cities and in the oil-rich region of Basrah rarely gets a nod from the media every now and then, simply because there are very few coalition casualties over there. The same with Mosul and Kirkuk, both highly volatile areas. I am yet to see some good coverage on the deadly sectarian warfare in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, which has the highest rate of unknown corpses dumped on the streets after the capital, and which was about to be announced an Islamic Emirate by the end of Ramadan. There are absolutley no numbers of civilian casualties from Anbar. There is no one to report them and the Iraqi government controls no territory there, while American troops are confined to their bases. And much, much less data from other governorates which give the impression of being 'stable.'

I have personally witnessed dozens of people killed in my neighbourhood over the last few months (15 people in the nearby vicinity of our house alone, over 4 months), and virtually none of them were mentioned in any media report while I was there. And that was in Baghdad where there is the highest density of journalists and media agencies. Don’t you think this is a common situation all over the country?