The Guardian June 11, 2003


Iraq: Silent crimes

by Felicity Arbuthnot

In the increasingly surreal world of Iraq, where those deemed "most wanted" 
by the US are pictured on a pack of playing cards and given silly nicknames 
in a mindset that most of us grew put of in kindergarten school  Dr Germ 
or Dr Anthrax  the case of the arrest of Dr Huda Ammash, aka Dr Anthrax, 
is especially disturbing.

Dr Ammash, a graduate of the University of Missouri and of Texas 
University, is an internationally respected environmental biologist.

Since the 1991 Gulf War she has devoted much of her expertise to studying 
the health effects of the toxic and radioactive depleted uranium (DU) 
weapons used by the US and Britain and the other environmental impacts of 
the war, on both the civilian population of the region and on Iraqi and 
allied soldiers suffering from "Gulf war syndrome".

She is a fellow of the Islamic Academy of Science and has served as both 
Dean of the College of Education for Women at the University of Baghdad and 
Dean of the College of Science.

She has spoken widely internationally on the dangers of depleted uranium.

At a major international conference in Manchester three years ago, she and 
an expert from Hiroshima drew stark comparisons between the radiation-
linked cancers and birth defects both in Iraq and Japan.

Her publications include Impact of Gulf War Pollution in the Spread of 
Infections Diseases in Iraq, published by Soli Al Mondo, Rome, in 1999 
and Electronic, Chemical and Microbial Pollution Resulting from War and 
Embargo and its Impacts on the Environment and Health, in the 
Journal of the Iraqi Academy of Science in 1997.

She also contributed a chapter to Iraq Under Siege  the Deadly Impact 
of Sanctions and War (Pluto Press, UK and South End Press, US) which 
was reprinted and updated in February.

Ammash addressed "Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War and Sanctions" in a book 
about which one reviewer commented: "A brilliant book, which exposes the 
grim reality behind the US new world order and British 'ethical foreign 
policy' "

She also drew attention to the illegality in international law of the use 
of weapons whose effects continue to kill and pollute long after the war is 
over  DU weapons remain toxic and radioactive for four-and-a-half billion 
years.

Contributers to Iraq Under Siege include Robert Fisk, John Pilger, 
Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Ali Abunimah and former UN Under Secretary 
General and UN co-ordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday.

The whole is a devastating condemnation of pollution, politics towards 
Iraq, resultant infant mortality, dodgy dealings at the UN  all in all a 
shameful, shoddy US-British-driven policy.

Their respective government policy-makers must have been less than happy.

South End Press have no doubt about the reason for Dr Ammash's detention 
and are "outraged at the US extra-legal detention of Dr Ammash and its 
plans to interrogate her".

Co-publisher Alexander Dwinell demands that "she be released immediately".

Dwinell says starkly: "The US government is trying to silence Dr Ammash's 
outspoken criticism of the US role in causing cancers and other illnesses 
in Iraq through its use of biological hazardous weapons such as radioactive 
depleted uranium".

Deeply concerning is that those arrested by the US are being "disappeared" 
with absolutely no accountability, even more totally than those in 
Guantanamo Bay.

Ironically, that is exactly what happened under Iraq's previous regime.

League of Arab Lawyers President Sabah Al Mukhtar, whose practice 
frequently acts for governments  including, on occasion, that of Kuwait -
- is incandescent.

"From A to Z this is illegal. From the occupation to the detentions. To 
target, detain, disappear without any charge being made public, with no 
legal representation, with no magistrate, public prosecutor, proper state 
representative having made the decision.

"For the US army in Doha to issue a list of nationals in another country  
it is unlawful, unlawful, unlawful."

With the ghost of McCarthy walking tall in the White House, Dr Strangelove 
stalking the Pentagon and Machiavelli's descendants apparently running US 
foreign policy, the future looks bleak for Iraq, democracy and the 
disappeared.

Ironically, many Iraqis are already saying that it was better under Saddam.

Regime change anyone?

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