On 8 November 2004, the US -- with British assistance -- launched a massive assault against the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Hundreds of civilians were killed, tens of thousands of people forced to flee their homes, and white phosphorus -- a substance that burns down to the bone -- used as a weapon.
“I cannot forgive the American crimes when they bombed my town. An entire family made up of 18 members, which used to live nearby, was killed.” Fallujah teacher Ishraq Shakir Mohammadi (BBC, 22 August 2006). The original US codename for the assault -- “Thanksgiving Massacre” -- turned out to be all too accurate. Fallujah was placed under a strict night-time shoot-to-kill curfew, male refugees were prevented from leaving the combat zone, and US aircraft attacked the city with more than 500 bombs and missiles.
Over 700 bodies -- including more than 500 women and children -- were subsequently recovered from the rubble in just 9 of the city's 27 neighbourhoods, and the US State Department later estimated that 50% of Fallujah's housing had been severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable.
Since then the US has continued to attack other towns and cities in Iraq--for example: Qaim, Haditha, Karabila, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdadi, Haqlaniya, Barwana and Tal Afar -- whilst Fallujah's devastation has continued to generate rage and hatred both inside and outside Iraq.
Thus, in the video released by al Qaeda on 6 July 2006, the British suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer -- who killed seven other people when he blew himself up on a tube that had just left Liverpool Street station -- explicitly cited the UK's support for “the genocide of ... innocent Muslims in Fallujah” as part of the reason for his actions.
Likewise, the December 2004 prediction by Ali Fadhil -- whose Channel 4 documentary about the aftermath of the November 2004 attack won an award from Amnesty International -- that “by completely destroying this Sunni city, with the help of a mostly Shia National Guard, the US military has fanned the seeds of a civil war that is definitely coming,” has proven all too accurate.
Today, as the Independent's Middle East Correspondent Patrick Cockburn has observed, “[e]nding [the occupation] is essential if this war is to be brought to an end”.
The “No More Fallujahs” month of action against war and occupation begins on 6 October at Housmans Bookshop with the book launch of Don't Shoot the Clowns by Jo Wilding, eyewitness to the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. It continues with a public meeting on 13 October, an Iraq film screening with Jo Wilding at the Curzon, Soho on 15 October, and nonviolent direct action workshops on 8 and 28 October. A peace journey from Britain's military nerve centre at Northwood will also take place on 28 October and a 24-hour “unauthorised” peace camp will start at 12 noon in Parliament Square on Sunday 29 October (see listings on p12).