Editor’s Note: This statement is written by Steve Baggarly, one of the Blackwater Seven recently sentenced in North Carolina for staging a die-in on the property of Blackwater Security. The protesters were re-enacting the Nisoor Square massacre which had just occurred in Baghdad. This is his sentencing statement that he made available after appearing in court to be charged.
By Steve Baggarly
A joint study released in October 2006 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad estimated Iraqi casualties from the March 2003 US invasion to July 2006 at 655,000.
Using internationally accepted methods for determining casualties in war zones, and with 90% of interviewees presenting death certificates, the study found that about 2.5% of Iraq’s population died as a consequence of the war up to that point. It estimated that over 1/3 of those were killed by US violence. During that time, Iraq suffered the equivalent of 17 Virginia Tech massacres per day.
The US invasion created the climate of violence and abuse against all of Iraq’s people which the occupation sustains daily. The past 18 months the violence has continued. It stands to reason that several times the number of fatalities have been wounded, orphaned, widowed, blinded, raped, terrorized, tortured, or driven mad by the war. Add to that some 4.2 million Iraqi refugees and one gets a picture of an entire nation being destroyed, its people killed, maimed, and forced out, its children targeted and traumatized.
In Nisoor Square Mohammed Hafiz was driving four children when Blackwater mercenaries riddled the car with bullets. His 10 year old son Ali was shot in the head. Mohammed had to gather up pieces of the child’s skull and brains for the burial. During one point in the massacre Blackwater operatives concentrated fire on a passenger bus. A small boy fled the bus in terror and was shot down as was his mother who ran after him.
The Nisoor Square massacre is the Iraq war in microcosm. As the rubble of World War II still smoldered, French philosopher Albert Camus wrote, "What the world expects of Christians is to get out of their abstractions and stand face to face with the bloody mess that is our history today. Christians must speak out and utter their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never a single doubt, can arise in the heart of even the simplest person."
On October 20th we tried to speak out clearly by reenacting the Nisoor Square massacre on Blackwater’s front doorstep. We tried to vividly depict for the American people that the Nisoor Square massacre and the vast suffering our nation has heaped on Iraq is no abstraction. We also hoped to condemn the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq as an illegal war of aggression under International Law and to expose US law and courts as complicit in their execution.
Indeed, US law has immunized Blackwater, both in Iraq and at home, allowing it unrestricted license to kill and a five year reign of terror. For starters, under
Nuremburg Principles VI and VII the Nisoor Square massacre and the shooting of hundreds if not thousands of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater are crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what makes for an orderly and peaceable world, while, in fact, US law and courts stand idly by while the US military and private armies like Blackwater have killed, maimed, brutalized, and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In the end US courts trample International Law, as well as God’s law of love for all people, by rubber-stamping every US war and military intervention, invasion, incursion, occupation, police action, and special forces operation coming out of the Pentagon-and they are many and constant. Our courts even protect our world’s largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction despite international treaties and laws that declare them illegal and demand their disarmament.
US courts make sure that if our weapons of mass destruction are one day used to destroy the planet and all life on it, to undo all of God’s creation, that it will be perfectly legal. So, what are we to do when the laws of the land are murderous? Laws everywhere that protect militarism in all its guises are a scourge upon the earth and its people. On October 20th we hoped to join those around the world who are opposing the forces of death by breaking such laws.
We hoped to add our voices to the global outcry for Blackwater to leave Iraq immediately. Blackwater and the entire US military presence in Iraq need to be repatriated today and tonight we must begin massive reparations to an entire people we are destroying. There is blood on all of our hands, we are all enmeshed in the structures of militarism, we all participate in such atrocities through our votes, our dutiful payment of taxes and our silence.
We must repent, disarm, and redistribute the planet’s wealth. We must stop heaping corpses upon the altar of national security and instead worship God who resides in its victims.
As an aside, judge, I won’t cooperate with a sentence of community service as I feel that our action at Blackwater was a community service, and neither will I pay any fines as I believe that everything belongs to God and thus try to render as little to Caesar as possible.
-Steve lives in voluntary poverty caring for homeless and hungry people while opposing militarism and war as part of his religious beliefs. (Source: This article was first made available through the Liberty Underground news service; to join the list send an email to libertyuv@hotmail, with "join" for a subject)