The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] The Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq. c/o Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4, UK. Tel: (0161) 286 7950 E-mail: MCR_Coalition@yahoo.co.uk Felicity Arbouthnot is a free-lance journalist and a regular visitor to Iraq. Felicity was also the reasearcher for John Pilgers powerfull documentry "Paying the Price - killing the children of Iraq" and this is the speech that was given by Felicity to "The Silent Holocaust" National conference which was hosted and sponsered by the Fire Brigade Union. in 1998 “I will start by giving you one example which illustrates the problems that the people are suffering and the parsimony of some of the organisations that are supposed to be helping alleviate the suffering. At one time the European Union supplied Iraq with a large consignment of powered milk which is absolutely vital in Iraq because most Iraqi women are too undernourished to breast feed their babies. When the powdered milk was tested, it was revealed to be highly radio-active and not fit for consumption. “Before the Gulf War, Iraq imported 70 per cent of all her needs. This extended to pharmaceuticals and the supply and servicing of items such as incubators, X-ray machines etc. Iraq was dependent on imports to maintain its livestock industry; poultry production dropped after the war to 18% of its previous levels. Before the war the access to clean water was 93% and the access to high quality health care was about 92%. UNESCO even said that Iraq was one of the only countries in the world where, even if you were born in absolute poverty with illiterate parents you could come out of the education system either a brain surgeon, archaeologist or whatever you wished to become. So it is important to bear in mind that this was a very developed country. The embargo has resulted in the collapse of the health service. Shortages in medical supplies have resulted in patients who either do not wake up from an anaesthetic for about two and a half days or come-to during the operation. This has been going on for about two and a half years. “I want to say something about the effects from the huge amount of radio activity that was released into the country from the shells and missiles during the war. The radio activity came from the depleted uranium that was used to coat the missiles and shells. It was released in the form of dust after firing. The UK Atomic Energy Authority told me that if there were 50 tons of this dust left in the country it would result in 500,000 extra cancer deaths by the end of the century. The UKAEA told the government about this in 1990. It is now estimated that there are between 700 and 900 tons of this material in Iraq. The results are that Iraqi hospitals are over-flowing with children with cancer and this dust will remain active for 4,500 million years. You can now go into any hospital in Iraq and see people with the most appalling cancers and, of course, there is nothing to treat these people with. When I was in Iraq doctors told me that just ten months after the war they were reporting the appearance of birth defects that they had only previously seen in text books of examples taken from the pacific islands after the nuclear tests that took place there in the 1950s. They said that increases in hydrocephalus, cleft palate, deformed or missing limbs, webbed fingers and webbed toes had all been noted. All these symptoms can be seen in those cases of Gulf War syndrome. If governments were prepared to put proper money into funding an independent scientific survey they would see that this is really the unique nightmare of the vanquished and the victor being equally effected. “One of the most pernicious things is that, under the ‘dual-use’ heading, anti-cancer drugs are banned from being imported into Iraq. The logic being that medicines for radio therapy, because they have minute amounts of radio active properties, may have a military application. The theory is that Iraq will somehow obtain millions of these pills and devise a way of making a nuclear weapon - which is technologically impossible. In the same way, even pencils cannot be imported by Iraq, as they contain graphite. So far no one has been able to find out the military application of other banned products such as lipstick, deodorant, sanitary towels, shroud material and medical gauze, i.e. bandages. “One thing that any visitor to Iraq notes is the way ‘black’ souvenirs in the form of expended shell, bomb or rocket parts are collected. They are every where. They litter the towns and countryside. Children in particular collect them and play with them. Of course, this is a prime route for children to become exposed to radiation. When I latched onto this risk, early in 1993 I arranged to see someone very senior in the ministry of health [in Iraq] to voice my concerns. I explained to this man the risks that Iraqi children were putting themselves to. This very autocratic man, who had seemingly got intimidation down to a fine art; suddenly, all his bombasticness went, he dropped his eyes and said to me, ‘We are very, very afraid’. Sometime after that I went to a ward in a hospital. There I saw young cancer patients of 3 and 5 unable to move as any movement would cause excruciating pain. The smallest, who’s eyes were full of tears and who was making murmuring noises and who had taught himself not to cry as he knew that the shaking of his crying would rock his body further and cause even greater paid. As I walked out of the ward, unable to stand up due to the shame, I stopped by the bed of the 5 year old who was in exactly the same condition. I put my hand towards him and he immediately grabbed my hand seeing that perhaps I was someone slightly different. He looked at me in the universal way children look trying to see a look of affection. In that moment I decided that somehow I would try and make the difference and perhaps, in my own small way, help remove the sanctions. “Not only are the children of Iraq very sick but psychologists report that the children are the most traumatised they have ever come across. They have not only been bombed three times but they have no toys to play with and their schools are empty of even the most basic learning materials. Frequently children will faint at school and it will be discovered that it is because the children will not be eating that week as families, to survive, eat in rotation. One third of Iraqi children are characterised as having stunted growth. Some of the materials denied children are ping-pong balls and children's bicycles and adults are having to have operations such as amputations and caesarean sections without anaesthetics. I also want to say something about the situation in Britain and the political brain-washing that has been done to the press. This was illustrated by the cynical way the press treated George Galloway when he brought the young Iraqi girl with leukaemia here for treatment. He had raised the money for her treatment himself and he was very proud that he had been able to show the world that sick Iraqi children are just like sick children anywhere in the world. The vitriol, the wall to wall, solid vitriol, the lack of compassion was extended even to the children, even at five year olds. I want to finish by telling you about another child I who became a friend. His name was Jassim and his main wish was to be a poet. The first time I met Jassim he was lying on a bed in a hospital ward without any sheets or bedding, just lying, staring with his beautiful dark eyes, as he did not have the energy to move. He had left school and had been selling cigarettes in the street to support his parents. When I entered the ward he suddenly came alive and sat up after hearing this different language being spoken. Jassim had several writings and poems by his bed and he showed me one called the ‘Identity Card'. He had got the idea from a poem of the same name by a famous poet called Darlish. But Jassims poem was different. It talked about the struggle to survive on the streets in Iraq. I told him I worked as a journalist, that I would get the poem published outside Iraq and, when I returned, I would bring a newspaper with it in for him to see. Several months later a friend of mine took back a newspaper with Jasims poem printed in it. When my friend came back from Iraq I asked if Jassim was pleased to see his poem printed. Unfortunately he had died three days prior to the person arriving in Iraq. --------------------------------- Do You Yahoo!? Get personalised at My Yahoo!. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk