Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Government urged to stop U.S. violations in Sadr City

(Azzaman) - The Sadr City in Baghdad has been the scene of ongoing raids by U.S. occupation troops in the past weeks and its inhabitants have stage a huge sit-in in protest. The city is the largest suburban area of Baghdad and home to more than 2 million people, predominantly Shiite Muslims. The low-income neighborhood is one of the major strongholds of Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his military wing, the Mahdi Army. The U.S. says the raids are to force Sadr to disband his militias.
Mahdi Army militias have all but vanished from the city currently under the control of pro-Sadr civil servants who administer the city’s public services, schools and hospitals. Angry inhabitants have staged sit-ins and demonstrations, building a human shield that makes it difficult for the invaders to enter the city and practically cuts it off from the rest of Baghdad.
Nassar Rubaie, a Sadr deputy in parliament, has acknowledged that the protests were organized by his group and urged the government not to remain silent in the face of ‘U.S. violations.’ The impoverished city is divided into tribal blocks where tribal chiefs hold tremendous sway. The tribes have traditionally been strong supporters of Sadr and his clerical family.
Rubaie said the government was under obligation to “stop raids and bombings by U.S. troops of the sons of Sadr City and other areas in Iraq and release Iraqi detainees.” He said his group was aware of thousands of detainees held for more than two years without trial. Their families, he said, still have no idea whether they are still alive or dead. “Iraq constitution stresses that judges must be alerted within 24 hours of any arrests but what we are seeing is that U.S. troops incarcerate people for years without trial. “This is unconstitutional,” he said.

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