25 years ago today a tragedy took place: The U.S. bombing of the Amiriyah Shleter in Baghdad. To mark this day, and look towards a world where such violence is not possible, we join members of the Iraqi Transnational Collective in spreading the following reflection, art, analysis and action.
Commemorating Al Amiriyah: Zeena Al Jawad on CKUT's The Groundbreakers
Art & Diplomacy: Lessons for Humanity on Diplomantiq
Demo at the U.S. Embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands - Happening Now
Images below by Hussein Abul Ma'ali & Suad al-Attar
For more on what took place that day, and what Iraqis around the world are doing to resist erasure and foreground perseverance, see excerpts from a piece by Amnah Almukhtar, published yesterday on the blog of the Center for Constitutional Rights:
'On the morning of February 13, 1991, just before dawn, U.S. planes dropped two 2,000-pound “smart bombs” on a civilian shelter in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 400 civilians. The Pentagon was fully aware that the facility had been used as a civilian shelter during the Iran-Iraq War and never made any announcements indicating that they considered the shelter’s protected status to have ended. The tragedy of Al Amiriyah resulted in the largest loss of civilian lives to occur in one incident over the course of the First Gulf War, a U.S.-led military response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Brutal sanctions sponsored by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations followed the war and remained in place for over a decade, blocking the entrance of medicine, food, school supplies, and other essentials into Iraq. [ . . . ]
What happened at Al Amiriyah is part of a decades-long policy which continues to plague Iraq today and is perpetuated by a multitude of forces, from the Iraqi government to regional and international powers as well as militias and organized violent groups, all of whom perpetuate similar narratives about the use of civilians as human shields so as to absolve themselves of responsibility for their destructive and divisive attacks. Notwithstanding the decades of war and death, Iraqi civil society continues to persevere.
It is that perseverance, the determination to continue asserting our humanity and demanding our rights in the face of oppression, the display of “strength in the face of fighter jets,” that links the struggles of marginalized communities everywhere, from Palestine to Syria to Baltimore to Iraq, where feminists, labor organizers, environmentalists, and protest movement leaders are building movements and fighting multiple forces of oppression.
Today, the Iraqi Transnational Collective (ITC), an international grassroots collective of Iraqi activists working towards an equal and just Iraq free of oppression, is commemorating the tragedy of the Amiriyah Shelter on its twenty-fifth anniversary. The ITC views this commemoration as one piece of its broader effort to be in touch with Iraq’s resilient history and ongoing struggles, struggles fought by Iraqis who ask not to be victimized but to be remembered and recognized for their strength through community organizing, collective action, cultural preservation, art, and yearning for a just and better Iraq and world.
Join the ITC in this effort by sharing its Amiriyah Resource Toolkit and using it to organize events and/or actions in your area, as well as spreading the word through social media. You can follow the ITC’s Amiriyah commemoration, as well as their future projects, on Facebook and Twitter. The ITC will be using the hashtags: #AlAmiriyah25 #RememberingAlAmiriyah #ملجأ_العامرية'
Want to learn more about Iraqi popular struggle?
Check out Ali Issa's Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq and WRL's complimentary Study and Organizing Guide for popular education workshops to do in your community!