Reporting for Il Manifesto

Thankfully reporter and ex-hostage Giuliana Sgrena is back in Italy. While in Iraq she kept busy informing the communist readers at Il Manifesto back home about what she was hearing during her tour of duty. This controversial article was written about Fallujah:

People from Saqlawiya village, near Fallujah, told al Jazeera television, based in Qatar, that they helped bury 73 bodies of women and children completely charred, all in the same grave.

The sad story of common graves, which started at Saddam’s times, is not yet finished. Nobody could confirm if napalm bombs have been used in Falluja, but other bodies found last year after the fierce battle at Baghdad airport were also completely charred and some thought of nuclear bombs.

No independent source could verify the facts, since all the news arrived until now are those spread by journalists embedded with the American troops, who would only allow British and American media to enrol with them. But the villagers who fled in the last few days spoke of many bodies which had not been buried: it was too dangerous to collect the corpses during the battle.

She also wrote about Iraqis in prison:

10,000 prisoners are still locked in American and British prisons in Iraq. Most are Iraqis but there are also 350 foreigners. The figures were supplied by the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights, Bakhtiar Amin. These numbers are in strong contrast with the claims made some time ago by the Americans that the number of prisoners had been considerably reduced after the releases following the scandal of Abu Ghraib. Apparently the number of prisoners has been swelled by numerous arrests of the survivors of the attacks on Samarra, Falluja and Mosul. According to Minister Amin, the breakdown of the prison population is: 4,691 prisoners in Camp Bucca, near the port of Umm Qasr and 818 at Al Shuaiba (Bassura), both under British control; 3,411 are to be found at the notorious torture site Abu Ghraib;

She was sadly off a bit on this prediction…

“Whatever Bin Laden says, people have already decided not to go and vote I haven’t even registered,”. declared Mohammed, an inhabitant of Baghdad, to Reuters. “There’s no sense risking your own life to vote when it’s the Americans in any case who will choose who to put in power.”

In another article Giuliana tells the story of the abuse of a female prisoner at Abu Ghraib (I thought that I heard that there were no female prisoners by the US Command except for “Mrs. Anthrax” and “Dr. Germ” when a terrorist group demanded the release of all female prisoners):

It turned out that what had triggered the raid was a vendetta. It’s quite a complex story. The ‘information’ that had led the Americans to Mithal al Hassan’s door had been supplied by the occupants of premises that had once been home to the Ministry of Information. The said occupants had stolen some generators and the people living nearby, including Mithal, had denounced them for the theft. As a result, Mithal and her thirty-eight year old son were arrested. ‘They dragged me down five flights of stairs, still in my nightdress. I only just managed to grab hold of my baya on my way out the door,’ Mithal related. ‘They took me to Sujud Palace, which had been named after Saddam’s wife, Sajida. On the way there they pointed out to me a man in a jellaba with a bag over his head, tied to a tree. It was my son. I recognised him by his trousers. They dragged him over to where I was and took the bag off his head. He had been horribly tortured, with deep cuts to his head. Then they said to him, ‘Say goodbye to your mother.’ After that, they put the bag back on his head and tied to him to a post again.

But, the terrorists came to her rescue…

Did you know of cases of rape? ‘Yes, but I’m not going to go into that. In our society, it’s something you don’t talk about.’ How old were the women prisoners? ‘Between forty and sixty years of age.’ And what about children, how were they treated? ‘We heard them screaming. They were tortured too. Mostly dogs were set on them.’ So how did your release come about? ‘In the end, in part I think because of the pressure maintained by the resistance, they decided to release me.

Finally, in this Fallujah Story you here about the Bombing of Innocents:

“The house was completely destroyed by a missile let off by an American air plane and we have pulled out the bodies of four children, a woman and a man from under the rubble”, says Bassam Mohammed, an inhabitant of Falluja, quoted by the French agency Afp. Meanwhile, the macabre whining of the US Command’s bulletins repeated even yesterday [that] two “houses, refuge of terrorists” tied to Zarqawi, the al Qaeeda exponent, had been destroyed. But the victims are once again civilians; those few that remain in Falluja because they don’t know where else to go to.

She, then, again credits the terrorists:

Two Egyptian hostages were freed yesterday, they say, thanks to the mediation of Zarqawi’s group.

And writes that they should be included in peace talks:

According to Fattah, the conference ought to be preceded by sessions organised by the United Nations with the participation of government representatives but also by meetings of the representatives of the civil society in order that they can present their recommendations. Positions, however, that are difficult to conciliate with France’s request to let resistance groups that give up on violence participate and to put the retreat of the occupation troops on the agenda.

Update: (7:00 AM) Michelle Malkin includes this information with her thorough review of Giuliana’s rescue.

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