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Re: [casi] Iraq: Stop Counting Civilian Dead

Dear Casi

I could understand why the American minister of health for Iraq is reluctant
to release the figure of the civilian casualties. He might have been an
Iraqi passport holder, many many years ago, but he is now an American
citizen and he might not want his country, America, to look so ugly!

What I do not understand is the stand of Dr. Nazar Shabandar. This
gentleman was an important director at Saddam's ministry of health for more
years than I care to remember. He was demoted more than a year ago on
corruption charges along with many ministry employees. Having been
"rehabilitated now", he probably wanted to show his new masters how
faithful he is.

The Minister's secretary said "I have no knowledge of a civilian war
survey even being started by the Ministry of Health, much less stopping
it,"!  Incredible the American ministry of health for Iraq does not want to
know how many Iraqis died. Simply stated no ONE at the IGC or CPA cares or
want to know about the crimes committed against the innocent Iraqi

The American minister of health for Iraq might be in fact one of those who
advocated the continuation of sanctions, that killed 1.5 million Iraqis. He
lived with his family in the US. He did not see the effects of the sanctions
or the war. He much rather see no evil, hear no evil, and say no evil. The
three monkeys principle is the best way not alienate any one.

Apparently those with Iraqi names and foreign passports wanted to "liberate"
themselves from homesickness at any human and material cost and they don't
care counting. I hate to disappoint them we are counting


Baghdad, occupied Iraq

----- Original Message -----
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 11:32 AM
Subject: [casi] Iraq: Stop Counting Civilian Dead

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Iraq's Health Ministry Ordered To Stop Counting Civilian Dead

Wednesday December 10, 2003

Baghdad, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of
civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to
release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The
Associated Press on Wednesday.

The health minister, Dr. Khodeir Abbas, denied in an email that he had
anything to do with the order, saying he didn't even know about the study.

Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry's statistics department, said
the order was relayed to her by the ministry's director of planning, Dr.
Nazar Shabandar, who said it came on behalf of Abbas. She said the U.S.-led
Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also wanted
the counting to stop.

"We have stopped the collection of this information because our minister
didn't agree with it," she said, adding: "The CPA doesn't want this to be

Abbas, whose secretary said he was out of the country, sent an email denying
the charge.

"I have no knowledge of a civilian war casualty survey even being started by
the Ministry of Health, much less stopping it," he wrote. "The CPA did not
direct me to stop any such survey either."

"Plain and simple, this is false information," he added.

Despite Abbas' comments, the health ministry's civilian death toll count had
been reported by news media as early as August, and the count was widely
anticipated by human rights organizations. The ministry issued a preliminary
figure of 1,764 deaths during the summer.

Shabandar's office said he was attending a conference in Egypt and wouldn't
return for two weeks. A spokesman for the CPA said it had nothing to add to
Abbas' response, which came after the CPA reached him by telephone.

The U.S. and British militaries don't count civilian casualties from their
wars, saying only that they try to minimize civilian deaths.

A major investigation of Iraq's wartime civilian casualties was compiled by
The Associated Press, which documented the deaths of 3,240 civilians between
March 20 and April 20. That investigation, conducted in May and June,
surveyed about half of Iraq's hospitals, and reported that the real number
of civilian deaths was sure to be much higher.

The Health Ministry's count, based on records of all hospitals, promised to
be more complete.

Saddam Hussein's regime fell April 9, and President Bush  declared major
combat operations over on May 1.

The ministry began its survey at the end of July, when shaky nationwide
communication links began to improve. It sent letters to all hospitals and
clinics in Iraq, asking them to send back details of civilians killed or
wounded in the war.

Many hospitals responded with statistics, Mohsen said, but last month
Shabander summoned her and told her that Abbas wanted the count halted. He
also told her not to release the partial information she had already
collected, she said.

"He told me, `You should move far away from this subject,"' Mohsen said. "I
don't know why."

Abbas, the minister, said he had nothing to do with the order, and suggested
the study wouldn't be feasible anyway.

"It would be almost impossible to conduct such a survey, because hospitals
cannot distinguish between deaths that resulted from the coalition's efforts
in the war, common crime among Iraqis, or deaths resulting from Saddam's
brutal regime," he wrote.

Mohsen insisted that despite communications that remain poor and incomplete
record-keeping by some hospitals, the statistics she received indicated that
a significant count could have been completed.

"I could do it if the CPA and our minister agree that I can," she said in an
interview in English.

Under Saddam's government, the ministry counted 1,196 civilian deaths during
the war, but was forced to stop as U.S. and British forces overran southern
Iraqi cities. Over the summer, the ministry compiled more figures that had
been sent in previously, reaching a total of 1,764.

But officials said those numbers account for only a small number of the
hospitals in Iraq, and none provided statistics through the end of the war.

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in the war is well documented. The
Pentagon says 115 American military personnel were killed in combat from the
start of the war to May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over,
and 195 since.

Iraq kept meticulous records of its soldiers killed in action but never
released them publicly. Military doctors have said the Iraqi military kept
"perfect" records, but burned them as the war wound down.

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