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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Recounting Iraq's Sanctions Horror! On the 26th and 27th January 2005, The Iraq Solidarity Campaign - in both Manchester and Liverpool, organised two public meetings called Paying the Price - Saving the Children of Iraq! to initiate a campaign to dedicate the 30th January - as a day for humanity and to honour those, alive, or no longer with us, who at often great risk to themselves, have strived to bring normality to Iraq over the years. At both events, Felicity Arbuthnot spoke about her experiances of having been to Iraq over thirty times and about what she found there in light of the UN imposed sanctions regime and also about the people whom she had the honour of meeting. Below you can read the speech that Felcity Arbuthnot gave at the meetings. I have wondered again and again, where the collective shame is, of the international community at what has happened to Iraq. Thirteen years of thegrinding misery of the most draconian embargo even implemented by the U.S./U.K. driven United Nations, without a glance at the Treaties andConventions which protect the innocent, forbid collective punishment - anddid the Security Council ever cast an eye over the U.N. Convention on theRights of the Child, to which almost every country on earth is signatury - except the United States and Sudan. With this in mind, it is worth lookingback - and also taking stock of the present humanitarian situation.'John Ross, an American journalist who became a human shield in Iraq in2003, told me the reason for his stance. He had covered the Basra Roadmassacre in 1991. He told me of the 'litter' of this horror, pepetrated twodays after the ceasefire. 'A baby's high chair, a woman's high heeled shoes- and troops spraying sports slogans on burned out vehicles with incineratedfamilies still inside them - and taking trophy photographs.' Why is anyonesurprised by torture, humiliation and bestiality at Abu Ghraib, Basra and nodoubt at numerous facilities where the disappeared are taken throughout thecountry. Two years after the Basra road, a young doctor led me round her smallpatients and carefully explained their prognosis - due to lack of virtuallyany facilities or medication - in a formerly modern, high tech hospital -almost all would die. Suddenly, her composure failed and she stoped and said'There is a hole where my heart should be.'The same year, doctors made a new diagnosis. Stratospheric inflation meantmany mothers were too malnourished to breast feed, but could not afford milkpowder for their babies. So they fed them on sugared water, or sugared blacktea. Almost all became bloated, chronicall malnourished and died. Doctorscalled them 'the sugar babies.' Cancer and birth deformities were soaring, linked to the depleted uraniumweapons -DU - used for the first time in massive quantity, which left achemically toxic and radioactive dust throughout the country - and where thewind blows. DU remains radioactive for four and a half billion years - somescientists say it will still be poisoning the planet when the sun goes out.Ironically, treatment for cancers were vetoed, invariably by the U.S, andU.K., so little Iraqis, in their irradiated land, could only suffer theagonising, detrimental effects of radation but not the therapeutic. So alarmed was the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority that they 'self-initiated' aReport to the govenment estimating that if just fifty tonnes of the residualdust remained 'in the region' there would, they estimated be an extra half amillion cancer deaths by the end of the century - ie 2000. The Pentagoneventually admitted to three hundred and fifty tonnes, whilst independent experts estimated up to nine hundred tonnes. Since the 2003 invasion,according to Dr Harry Sharma, for Emeritus Professor a the University ofWaterloo, Ontario, the Pentagon has admitted to three thousand tonnes.This was also - and remained - the most traumatised child population onearth, according to Professor Magne Raundalen, probably the world's foremostexpert on children in war zones. His interviews with eight to twelve yearolds make searing reading. 'I feel alone inside', said one. Another 'I dreamof bodies. When I pass my dead friends' houses, I can't look.' 'I can'tbelieve my friends are dead, it's not real,' said her classmate.Ten year old Luay's story stood almost alone for Raundalen who has devotedhis life to the children of conflict. Luay had joined a neighbourhood watchscheme - being small, he could creep into spaces in bombed homes which adults could not. He told Raundalen of crawling into the rubble of a home in1991, in the debris and the dark, he found, he said, 'the body of a mother.'Crawling further, he found 'the body of her baby.' He described wrigglingback and placing the baby on his mother's breast and puting her arms roundhim. 'So that is your worst memory' asked Raundalen. 'No, my worst memory isthe head.' Luay continued to crawl round, searching, under a coat, he found a head. He dreamed every night he said, that he was taking it from hispocket and handing it round for identification. These children, who had their childhood snatched from them, by war and embargo, are the youngadults, who now throw grenades and angle rocket propelled grenades againstthe armed invaders from the countries who took away even their right toplay, schooling, treat meals, normality. By 1995, there were mass funerals paid for by the government. The west sneered that they were propoganda. May be, but the fact remained that manypeople could no longer even afford funerals. Seven year old Yasmin died in1995. Named after the sweet scented yellow flower, she had been diagnosedwith a minor heart ailment in 1990. When the embargo - imposed on Hiroshima Day that year - is lifted, we will operate and she will be fine, her parentswere assured by doctors. But in five years, a minor problem became a majorone and she died as I walked in to the ward. 'I hope they told her beforeshe died, that she failed to comply with UN Resolutions', said a longtime,gentle friend with me, with apt, shocking fury. How dementedly delusionalwere policy makers in London and Washington believing Iraqis would throw flowers at their illegal 'crusaders'.A haunting visit was Basra, Iraq's beautiful, battered, southern city, in 1998. Dr Jenan Hussein ran out to greet me at the Paediatric and Maternity hospital, another dear friend, we hugged, the 'You remember those childrenyou write about in June - I am sorry all of them have died.' Every child, inevery ward, in a twelve storey, formerly highly specialist hospital. Theyincluded seventeen babies of premature weight who did not even have oxygen. A doctor ran towards me and photographer, Karen Robinson. Did we have aparticular blood type. I thought I did and suggested he test to make sure. No laboratory equipment. It was for a newly born who needed an exchangetransfusion, nestling in a blanket covered incubator, since the heatingstrips had been vetoed. The terror in his mother's eyes remains with mestill. In the next ward, another fledgling life flickered and went out. In amoment of insanity I was convinced I could bring him back and asked thestoic Shi'ia grandmother if I could hold him. Picking up the tiny, stillwarm being, I held him against my shoulder, strokd his back, his head andwilled him back. It was, of course, useless and defeated, I laid him back,wrapped him, hugged the family and turned away lest I cried in the face oftheir courage.As we walked from the hospital, a young soldier, turned from talking withtwo doctors. He was incandescent with rage. 'You, with your note book, you with your camera', he said to us, 'you want a story - go to the fifth floor, these doctors have been trying to save a four year old baby for three days, he just died, all he needed was oxygen ...' as he ralked, his fingertightened and tightened on the trigger of his gun. Inadequately, I tried to explain why some of us came back and back, to try and alert as many as possible to the horrors of the embargo. We were not doing as well as we should, I said, but we were desparately doing our best. The finger went on tightening. Suddenly, he dropped his gun on the ground and tears streamed down his face. He was so sorry, we were not responsible, but the children, so, so many of them, were dying. In March 2003, the invasion imminent, the sugar babies were back. Two monthold Hussein Khadum from Nasyria, would die, said Dr Ra'ad Ghazi, who hadworked for eight years at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. He had lost two babies already that day. When he had the time to think, it was of his eightmonth pregnant wife. 'DU is a weapon of mass destruction - if anything affects a child's brain , development in the first two years, survivors have a largely useless sixty five years to seventy five year, life. 'At the Mansur Hospital, Saheer, 11 and Nesreen, 13, were bleeding from the lungs. Their parents had sold all, even the tv, the bedding, to try and save them. 'What does George Bush want from us - to sacrifice our children, ourcountry .. Bush is an enemy of humanity, does he know the catastrophe of ourcountry - he is against life itself', said Nesreen's father.'Nothing we had seen or heard, could have prepared us for this particular devastation, a country reduced to a pre-industrial age for a considerabletime to come', wrote Maarti Ahtisaari in March 1991 - and it got worse. My last interview before the slaughter and carnage called 'liberation' waswith the father of ten year old Mohammed, also dying. 'What would you say to George Bush and Tony Blair, if you could', I asked him. More tears fell inthis ancient, seemingly endlessly tear soaked land, they streamed down hiswife's face, dripping on to her immaculate, black abbaya. 'Please, just tell them - stop this slaughter of innocents', he said. This then is the Iraq we have invaded, bombed, poisoned, pounded withoutmercy, for nearly two years. We have also destroyed humanities history - Theholy cities of Najav and Kerbala, Sammara, where US troops use a thousandyear old minarette as a sniper's lair. Mosul, where Jonah is believed buriedand St Matthew at a nearby Christian monastry. Falluja, city of mosques, allbut destroyed, food and water poisoned, napal, phosphorous bombs, nail bombsand 'strange' weapons which caused bodies, reportedly, to decompose almostinstantly. Bodies were eaten by dogs - and Iraqi lives so meaningless to thetroops, those not left lying, were piled high in a potato factory. Returnees are treated like criminals - and made to wear arms bands for recognition. Perhaps they should have 'Juden' on them - Iraq, after all, resembles aconcentration camp at every level. More practical would be for the realcriminals to erect radiation signs and keep out notices round the town,while the polluter pays and clean up brigades are sent in and heftycompensation is paid.Aid worker Margaret Hassan, abducted in October and believed killed,referred to the embargo's children as 'the lost generation'. With anotheronslaught looming, she told the Independent's Robert Fisk ' Now there willbe another lost generation ...' She, with many others, Iraqis andnon-Iraqis, moved heaven and earth to bring some semblance of normality tothe abnormality of embargoed childhood. When disaster struck Margaret,Iraqis in Iraq tried desparately to find and save her. Iraqis look aftertheir own.It is in this context that Iraqis in the north west of England to create apractical tribute to those who have struggled under embargo, occupation andinvasion, risking so much.Ideas so far - and some will not be immediately feasable, given thelogistical and security problems -are twinning hospitals, cancer, paediatrics and all specialities, departmentto department. Hosting Iraqi doctors and specialists for a period to catchup on thirteen years of advancement they have been denied and sendingspecialists to Iraq to teach. Twinning schools- starting with children building bridges and writing toeach other - a pen pal initiative. Iraq's children have become isolated andsee the west as the bringer of all their fears and ills. Avoiding futureconflict lies in extending a hand and making friends.Twinning Universities and their faculties and departments.Books for Iraq, in conjunction with Lancaster University, details to follow.A relentless clean up and outlaw of depleted uranium campaign, demandingfrom MPs and relevant Organisations that Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkansare returned to their previous purity. Yes it will cost, but if the will canbe forced, the wonder of science can and must, find a way. Further, we plan to devise a simple letter, linked to posing questions toparliamentary candidates in the coming election, as to where they stand on DU, troops withdrawing from Iraq and compensation. Those who say they willtake a stand on these issue will be asked to sign the statement confirmingthis. It is time all politicians represented the will of the people, notself interest, big business and Washington. Lastly, two promises were made to mankind - the Holocaust would never happenagain. It has. One and a half million souls died of 'embargo related causes'- the children payed the biggest price. The Hiroshima Memorial inscription reads ' Rest in Peace, the mistake willnot happen again'. It has, but Iraq's, Afghanistan's and the children of theBalkans, have died 'not with a bang, but with a whimper.' On January 30th - ironically the Sunday of the sixtieth commemoration ofAuschwitz and the thirtieth anniversary of Belfast's Bloody Sunday - Iraq was promised a new start. It seems an unattainable dream, but between now and 30th January 2006, let us make at least some dreams of normality come true! Felicity Arbuthnot was the senior researcher for John Pilger's award winning documentry, Paying the Price - Killing the Children of Iraq! Join the Iraq Solidarity Campaign Today - Get Involved! Read the article "A Chamber of Horrors Near the Garden of Eden" by Andy Kershaw of the Independent. The Iraq Solidarity Campaign --------------------------------- Too much spam in your inbox? 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