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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project,

Memorial Day, May 30, 2005



By Yusha (formerly Tom) Sager



Long before Fallujah became a household word in the United States, a
Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project (IWP) delegation visited Fallujah
and began the process of rebuilding one of Fallujah's water treatment

During the spring of 2002, as we were negotiating the second phase of
IWP with Life for Relief and Development (LIFE), a small water
treatment plant, Hai al-Risalah, in downtown Fallujah caught our eye,
and before long we had agreed to rebuild this plant along with the
Monsouria al-Shatt water treatment plant in rural Diyala Province.

In May 2002, the third IWP delegation visited Fallujah and surveyed
this dilapidated wreck which lacked the most basic equipment such as
chlorinators and coagulant mixers. As we broke ground for the
rebuilding of Hai al-Risalah, little did we know that Fallujah was soon
to become synonymous with Iraqi resistance to the U.S. occupation.

Over the summer, LIFE's Iraqi engineers, contractors and workers
totally rebuilt the plant, and thousands of Fallujans who previously
lacked clean water, now had clean water to drink. In the winter, a few
months before the U.S. invasion, IWP again visited Fallujah, and was
pleased to see Hai al-Risalah in good working order.

But in March, 2003, U.S. soldiers invaded Iraq, and the war which today
shows no sign of abating, took its toll on Fallujah along with every
other Iraqi city. There was minor damage to Hai al-Risalah during the
invasion; but in April an incident at a school, sparked the resistance
to the occupation in Fallujah.

The people of Fallujah were peacefully assembled in front of a school
where U.S. soldiers were quartered. They asked the soldiers to leave so
that their children could resume classes. The response was brutal. The
soldiers open fired on the crowd killing 13. Fallujah was never the

Two months later, I visited Fallujah again. The city was full of
occupying soldiers and the atmosphere was tense. Nonetheless, we were
treated with the hospitality that we had become so accustomed to in
Iraq. We visited Hai al-Risalah and met with the Director of Water
Services for the entire city. We were taken to see the school where the
shooting had occurred, and to view the bullet marks on the building
across the street from the school.

This was my last trip to Iraq and Fallujah; but I think often of
Fallujah. I think of the killing of the four Blackwater Security
guards, and how the body of one of the guards was hung from a bridge in
sight of our water treatment plant. I think of the April siege of
Fallujah, during which Hai al-Risalah suffered considerable damage.
Once again IWP stepped in, and supplied the funds needed to rebuild Hai
al-Risalah for the second time.

And I also think of the complete destruction of Fallujah only 6 months
ago. Punishment of an entire city of 300,000 for resisting an illegal
occupation. We have photos now of a damaged Hai al-Risalah plant (see below), but no evaluation of the damage. Hai al-Risalah along with everything else
in the city: hospitals, clinics, government buildings, businesses,
homes - all damaged and destroyed. The Fallujah office of LIFE (see below), our
partner organization was also destroyed.

It may be a long long time before Fallujah is rebuilt, before the
hundreds of thousands of refugees can return to their homes.

And the war goes on. So much suffering, all of which could have been
avoided, if they had only listened to the millions like us, who took to
the streets demanding no war, only a month before the invasion.

"But they invaded anyway. I see nothing good that has come from this
war. Nothing - not to Fallujah, not to Iraq, not to the United States,
not to the World. It is time to end this war that should never have
been. Bring the soldiers home, and then maybe we can begin to rebuild
in earnest, and heal the wounds of war."

-Tom (Yusha) Sager

Yusha (formerly Tom) Sager,

"If ever there were a time to thumb one's nose at the U.S., it is now. It is a big dog at the end of a thick chain." --Stan Goff, (Full Spectrum Disorder, 2004)

"Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do: ... Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even." --Chalmers Johnson, (Abolish the CIA!, 5 Nov. 2004)

"Destroying cities and torturing prisoners are things you do when you are losing ... They are signals of moral bankruptcy." --William Pfaff, (IHT, 22 Dec. 2004)

"It is in the nature of election campaigns to siphon off the vitality of people imbued with a heartfelt cause..." --Howard Zinn (Harness That Anger, 2 Dec. 2004)

"History warns us that when once-powerful societies collapse, they tend to do so quickly and unexpectedly." --Jared Diamond (The Ends of the World as We Know Them, 1 Jan. 2005)



Hai al-Risalah Water Plant, formerly rebuilt by VFP's IWP & LIFE


Former offices of our partner, Life for Relief and Development