24 years ago a heinous crime took place at Al-Amiriyyah bomb shelter (Iraq, Baghdad), which has forever become etched into the memory of Iraqis worldwide. The site of the massacre, known to American military personnel as Al-Firdos C3 bunker, is where 403 to 500 innocent Iraqis, 142 of whom were children, were slain in cold blood. One eye-witness recalled what he saw with his own eyes: “Women, children, and the elderly burnt like black coal, families wiped out, screams echoing around what remained of the shelter’s walls”. Iraq’s health minister, Abdel Salam Mohamed Saeed, described the precision bombing as a well-planned and intended crime.
TODAY, as the world celebrates a day of love and adoration, the thick of the pain borne out from this massacre continues to loom large. The incident was no friendly fire accident, but rather a premeditated massacre for which Iraqis paid the heaviest price.
America was quick to counter allegations against it, at the time claiming, contrary to the reality, that it believed the site was not a bomb shelter but a military command center. However, the facts run counter to America’s defenses, since no prior warning was given to those seeking refuge at the bomb shelter. US military forces first struck with missiles, and later intensified attacks with use of laser-guided smart bombs.
IRAQIS across the globe continue to mourn the lives martyred 24 years ago yesterday in a crime widely remembered as “Al-Fajr Al-hazeen” – a dawn of sadness. Not only did the event deny families their loved ones. The shock waves prompted by this insidious crime continue to ripple well beyond Iraq and the generation who bore witness to this and similar atrocities.
“The incident was no friendly fire accident, but rather a premeditated massacre”
Sana, an engineer by trade, who loved life was killed cradling her young daughter tightly in her arms. Her sister, a pharmacist, and a then newly wedded bride, and another sister who was happily engaged, also met a similar fate. The gold Sana wore was the only thing from which her charred body could be identified. Another individual whose entire family was wiped out, also suffered severe psychological trauma.
Al-Amiriyya refuge site has become a symbol of death and treachery for Iraqi society at large, as an event that ruptured the cultural and spiritual fabric of life. The shelter was transformed and remains to be a memorial in commemoration of every single life lost in this dark chapter of Iraqi history. The faces of those killed adorn the walls of the shelter where civilians fled in hope of surviving America shelling spree.
Today’s holiday of love will forever remain another person’s day of betrayal, sorrow, and sadness in memory of this ugly crime.