Iraq: five years and counting

It’s an old media trick (and Rageh Omaar’s already done it on ITV earlier this week), but it works – so today I’m starting off with ‘Iraq In Numbers’.

To quote Amnesty’s (well-titled) ‘Carnage and despair’ report, the figures tell a story of … well, carnage and despair in Iraq during the last five years. So here are a few numbers:

93: the number of wounds on the tortured body of Basra hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, tortured to death in UK military custody

Zero: the number of people found responsible for Baha Mousa’s death

150,000: a minimum figure for the number of civilians killed in the first three years after the 2003 invasion alone (some estimates approach one million across the five-year period)

60,000: the number of people currently held – most without charge – by the Multinational Forces (23,900) and the Iraqi authorities (35,000)

80: age of the oldest detainee

10: age of the youngest detainee

255: the number of women murdered in so-called “honour” killings just in Kurdistan in the first six months of 2007 (195 burnt to death). (Check out today’s excellent piece by women’s expert Nadje Al-Ali by the way).

Four million: the number of people forced out of their homes (15% of the country’s entire pre-invasion population)

3,991: the number of US soldiers killed

175: the number of UK soldiers killed

Ok, you get the picture. Carnage and despair is about right and the UK media has left Heather Mills alone for a day and gone big on covering Iraq for the ‘fifth anniversary’.

Today’s highlights include another big survey in the Guardian (ripping of my numbers approach: can’t see this on the site but it’s in the paper), the FT doing a suitably sober assessment of the massive untapped oil reserves in Iraq (remember the ‘war for oil’ slogans of yesteryear?), and the BBC’s defence correspondent Paul Woods doing a gloomy Today piece (after the 8.10) about the British forces and Basra. Oh, and yesterday’s article from Jonathan Steele and Suzanne Goldenberg has been circulating around some of the blogs – worth catching up with.

I know that mere numbers themselves don’t do justice to the human suffering that Iraq has produced in this last five years – but they’re still startling none the less and they do paint a picture of the sheer scale of things in the country.

On a refugee angle, along with other refugee and human rights organisations, Amnesty has written to Messrs Brown, Bush and Al-Maliki this week to demand more help for the millions of Iraqis forced out of their homes in the violence.

So, from carnage to crackdown. Take action for detained and at-risk Tibetan monks. One of them is only 15. Will the Chinese treat him kindly?

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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