Iraq Death Toll in Third Year of Occupation is Highest Yet

Iraq Death Toll in Third Year of Occupation is Highest Yet

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The civilian death toll has risen inexorably for the entire duration

of the US-led military presence in Iraq following the initial

invasion. That is the grim reality uncovered by ongoing tracking of

media reports by the Iraq Body Count project (IBC).

Figures released by IBC today [March 9th], updated by statistics for the year

2005 from the main Baghdad morgue, show that the total number of

civilians reported killed has risen year-on-year since May 1st 2003

(the date that President Bush announced &ldquomajor combat operations have

ended”):

  • 6,331 from 1st May 2003 to the first anniversary of the invasion,

    19th March 2004 (324 days: Year 1)

  • 11,312 from 20th March 2004 to 19th March 2005 (365 days: Year 2)
  • 12,617 from 20th March 2005 to 1st March 2006 (346 days: Year 3).
  • In terms of average violent deaths per day this represents:

  • 20 per day in Year 1
  • 31 per day in Year 2 and
  • 36 per day in Year 3
  • The IBC figure for Year 3 includes no deaths from March 2006,

    excludes the bulk of killings which followed the 22nd February

    bombing of a major Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra, and lacks Baghdad

    morgue data for January and February this year. If January and

    February 2006 are excluded as being clearly incomplete, then the

    daily death rate for the remaining part of Year 3 rises to 40 (11,480

    deaths over 287 days = 40 per day). However even before Year 3 has

    ended, and with incomplete data for its final months, the number of

    civilians reported killed is already higher than for all of Year 2

    (12,617 vs. 11,312).

    Although what has been described as 'sectarian violence' undoubtedly

    contributes to a growing proportion of deaths, the last year's total

    includes 370 known civilian deaths from military action by US-led

    forces and 2,231 from anti-occupation activity against coalition and

    Iraqi government targets. The post-invasion increase in criminal

    activity remains an important concern, but the majority of media

    reports do not allow a clear identification of the perpetrators or

    their motives. The &ldquounknown agents” who did most of the killing could

    fall into any of the categories above, as well as other types of

    'terrorist.' Reports also indicate that the past year has seen an

    increasing number of extra-judicial executions.

    Speaking from London, Iraq Body Count cofounder John Sloboda said,

    &ldquoToday's figures are an indictment of three years of occupation,

    which continues to make the lives of ordinary Iraqis worse, not

    better. Talk of civil war is a convenient way for the US and Iraqi

    authorities to mask the real and continuing core of this conflict,

    which is between an incompetent and brutal occupying power on the one

    hand and a nationalist insurgency fuelled by grief, anger, and

    humiliation on the other. This conflict is proof that violence begets

    more violence. The initial act that sparked this cycle of violence is

    the illegal US-led invasion of March and April 2003 which resulted in

    7,312 civilian deaths and 17,298 injured in a mere 42 days. The

    insurgency will remain strong so long as the US military remains in

    Iraq, and ordinary Iraqi people will have more death and destruction

    to look forward to.”

    Iraq Body Count cofounder Hamit Dardagan added: &ldquoIn September 2003,

    after our first major review of civil insecurity in Iraq informed by

    data from the Baghdad morgue, we noted that:

    'The US may be effective at waging war but the descent of Iraq's

    capital city into lawlessness under US occupation shows that it is

    incompetent at maintaining public order and providing security for

    the civilian population. The US has toppled Saddam and discovered

    that it won’t be discovering any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    So why is it still there? And if the US military can't ensure the

    safety of Iraqi civilians and itself poses a danger to them, what is

    its role in that country?'

    &ldquoThe question still stands, and Iraqis are still being killed in

    increasing numbers. How many more must die before the architects of

    the 'military solution' for Iraq realise that the only sure way to

    reduce violence is to stop inflicting it?”



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