Two children wear masks and signs with casualty numbers to highlight the plight of the Iraqis. (Photo: Yana Kunichoff / t r u t h o u t)
Two days before the seventh anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, more than a thousand antiwar protesters marched Thursday in downtown Chicago to chants of "Obama, don't lie to me. Bombs don't bring democracy!" and "Money for jobs and education, not for wars and occupation!" The rally is one of many antiwar events being held across the country in places ranging from New York to Utah to Georgia to protest the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have given everything as veterans, as citizens, as people," Eugene Cherry, a former combat medic in Iraq and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, told the rally. "The only way to support the troops is to bring them home. It is not their mission."
According to then-President George W. Bush, who led the push for the US invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, it was a war of liberation. But according to the Iraqi refugees, parents of soldiers serving abroad, war veterans of US wars both old and new and advocates from more than 80 veterans' advocacy organizations, among others present at the march on Thursday, the war in Iraq is a war of occupation.
Fatma Hindi addresses the antiwar rally.
The Bush administration justified the invasion by telling the American public that Saddam Hussein, then-dictator of Iraq, was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and helped plan the 9/11 attacks. To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found by either the US military or an independent United Nations investigation, but the war has claimed the lives 4,300 US soldiers, physically and psychologically damaged hundreds of thousands more and cost US taxpayers $700 billion. Current estimates for Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion stand at more than half a million.
There are 98,000 troops in Iraq, and there is expected to be a drawdown to 50,000 before September.
For Fatma Hindi, a former professor of journalism at the University of Baghdad and now an Iraqi refugee working with the Refugee Center for Hope in Chicago, the show of support at the march left her speechless.