On November 7, 2006, Salee, a nine-year-old girl, was playing outside her home with her brother, cousin and some friends. US jets circled overhead. Then they fired three missiles, apparently at passenger vehicles. One missile detonated near the children, scattering Salee’s brother and best friend across the ground and taking both of her legs. Her four-year-old cousin’s foot and ankle were so badly mangled that they had to be amputated. After the assault, the family rushed to a makeshift clinic near Hasswa. There were no bandages, pain medications, antibiotics — nothing to treat children with massive injuries. Night was coming on and driver was found to take them to Fallujah. The city had recently experienced massive destruction during the April and November 2004 sieges in which chemical weapons (white phosphorus weapons banned for use against civilian populations, commonly known as “Whiskey Pete” and “Shake and Bake” in the parlance of America’s uniformed killers) and depleted uranium munitions were used. It was past the curfew imposed by occupying forces, and they were denied entry to the city for nearly an hour. Finally someone with a heart ignored the American curfew and permitted the family to enter the city. They rushed to Fallujah General Hospital.
The hospital, which had been commandeered by US forces during the assault in violation of international law, was still extremely short of supplies. People were forced to purchase medications on the black market and store them in their rooms. Salee urgently needed powerful antibiotics to stem infection and save her life. She also needed blood transfusions to replace the large quantity of blood she’d lost. The hospital had no antibiotics, but as word spread through the hospital that injured children had just arrived, patients began giving doctors their stored supplies. But there was another problem: Salee needed type B blood, and the hospital didn’t have any. The city was under curfew and people were often shot to death by snipers if they left their homes during curfew. Despite this menace by an occupying force, within thirty minutes four car loads full of men arrived at the hospital. They asked to see Salee’s father.
“We’re here for your daughter. We all have type B blood.”
That’s real heroism. They risked their lives to save the children. Dahr Jamail told this story at a joint book release in New York for his book, Beyond the Green Zone and Jeremy Skahill’s Blackwater. Dahr was in Fallujah during the first siege in April 2004 (Abdul Hakeem was injured in that brutal siege). So who were the terrorists? The men who saved her life, or the men who blew her legs off? The Good Samaritans, or the Snipers?
No More Victims brought Salee to Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, where doctors amputated a section of her leg and fitted her with double prostheses. Brave New Films helped fund Salee’s travel and care with their Mother’s Day for Peace Campaign. They created this video (2007) chronicling the origins of today’s merchandizing pseudo-holiday:
A large team of local volunteers banded together to make sure Salee got the care she needed. By the time she returned home after her first round of treatment, Salee had become a household name in the Upstate. Through Salee, millions of Americans learned something about the human costs of American militarism. Thanks to the generosity of Shriners Hospital and the hard work of community organizers in Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC, Salee at last received the medical care she so urgently needed. She was able to return to school for the first time since the air strike and can walk without the aid of crutches:
After Salee returned home, organizers in Greenville (SC) and Asheville (NC) raised funds for her second trip to the States. A high school group from Carmel sold bracelets to help Salee. No More Victims brought Salee back to Greenville for follow up prosthetic care in 2009 and again in 2011. We are grateful to the many groups and individuals who helped make Salee’s treatment possible. We believe that this form of citizen activism and solidarity is crucial at a time when the United States is using the threat of terrorism as a pretext to commit aggression around the world and dismantle the Bill of Rights and the rule of law here at home.
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