"We nonviolently oppose the
reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative
Statement on Fallujah ñ April
In the aftermath of the ambush, killing, and grisly
desecration of four American civilian security contractors in Fallujah on March
31 by an angry mob, U.S. military officers promised a "precise"
response whose aim was to bring those responsible for the crimes to justice.
Gen. Mark Kimmitt said on April 1: "We will respond. We are not going to
do a pell-mell rush into the city. It's going to be deliberate, it will be
precise and it will be overwhelming. We will not rush in to make things
London's Daily Telegraph reported on April 2, however, that behind the
20-mile-long 15-foot concrete wall that encloses Baghdad's "Green
Zone," American civilian contractors were of a different mind. Speaking
on an air-conditioned shuttle bus, one angry American civilian told reporter
David Blair: "Let's just go in and level the town. Let's tell them to
get their women and children out and then go in and level it. Why are these
Iraqis protesting against us? They are the ones who are killing us, not the
other way round." Another American civilian said that reconstruction in
Fallujah should be "thrown into reverse."
The same state of mind is reported to be common among
the marines besieging Fallujah. On April 13, Newsday said that many of them anticipate a bloody battle for
the city, and 1st Lt. Frank Dillbeck said: "At this point,
there seem to be few options other than to get innocents out and level it, wipe
it clear off the map."
Subsequent events demonstrate conclusively that desire
for revenge upon an entire population that amounts to collective punishment has
prevailed over the desire for a precise response grounded in a principle of
justice based upon individual responsibility.
We protest. Revenge killing is wrong. Collective
punishment is wrong.
Revenge is generally, in the mind of the perpetrator,
a sort of rough justice. The ancient principle of the lex talionis, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth," which was embodied in the code of Hammurabi, king of Babylonia
some 3,760 years ago, was an early step in the development of the rule of law.
But present U.S. policy cannot be justified even by this primitive principle.
It is a return to a barbaric standard ñ 100 eyes for 1 eye ñ that violates the internationally
recognized principles of proportionality and discrimination in attacks. In the
name of defending civilization, democracy, and the rule of law, U.S. forces are
doing the opposite in Fallujah. They are contributing to a regression of
In a period of five days in early April, according to
many independently confirmed reports based on hospital records in Fallujah,
operation "Vigilant Resolve" resulted in the deaths of many hundreds
of innocent civilians, including about one hundred children under the age of
Outrage at these American actions have inflamed Iraq.
Even pro-American members of the U.S.-appointed Provisional Governing Council
denounced the measures as unjustifiable collective punishment, illegal under
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits "collective
penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism."
Many reputable observers, including the American Friends Service Committee and
Christian Peacemaker Teams, consider that the events of early April in Fallujah
constituted a massacre.
Now the U.S. appears to be on the verge of going even
further in the same direction. For days U.S. military officers and Coalition
officials have warned that time is running out for Fallujah. In today's New
York Times, the senior Marine Corps
general in Iraq, Lt.Gen. James T. Conway, is quoted as saying: "We will
take this city. . . . There are X number of days left. In that period of time,
we need to see some distinctive cooperation on the part of the Iraqis inside
the city to disarm. If that doesn't happen, it's inevitable that we'll go in
and attack these people."
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no
prospect that the inhabitants of Fallujah will prostrate themselves before the
United States marines besieging their city, which they see as an unjust occupying
It is clear that further death and destruction in
Fallujah will serve the interests neither of Americans, nor Iraqis. The only
logic that can be invoked to justify the inevitable slaughter of innocents is
that of making an example of Fallujah. But this is collective punishment. It
is not a policy that accords with fundamental American values. It is
ineffective. It is futile. It is stupid. It is self-defeating. It is
prohibited. And it is wrong.
We oppose the "taking" of Fallujah.
"We nonviolently oppose
the reliance on unilateral military actions