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[casi-analysis] Recounting Iraq's Sanctions Horror!

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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

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 

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 

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 

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

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