100,000 dead in Iraq:
A crime against humanity
The British medical journal The Lancet has published the first scientific study of the human cost of the war on Iraq. The study has found that at least 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the US, backed by Britain and Australia, launched their invasion in March last year. The revelation of this horrifying body count confirms that the leaders of those countries — George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard — have committed a crime against humanity. More than half the dead are women and children, mostly killed by coalition air strikes. The US is now preparing to perpetrate more death and carnage with major assaults on the cities of Falluja and Ramadi following the US elections, which will add to the growing civilian death toll. The study was carried out by public health experts from the US and Iraq with a survey of 1000 households in 33 randomly selected neighbourhoods around the country. The Lancet called the research "a remarkable piece of work by a courageous team of scientists". One member of the survey team was Les Roberts, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins University in the US state of Maryland. "Making conservative assumptions, we think about 100,000 excess deaths or more happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq", he said. Official estimates have persistently placed the number of dead at around 10,000. The researchers were savagely critical of the policy of the occupying forces of refusing to count Iraqi casualties ("We don't do body counts", said the then head of the US forces, General Tommy Franks). The suspicious purpose behind this policy, that it was to cover up the number of civilian deaths, has now been tragically confirmed. The scientists also point out that the Geneva Convention requires occupying forces to protect the civilian population and expressed concern that more than half the deaths were of women and children. In Britain, the figures drew a furious response. Clare Short, the former cabinet minister who resigned over Blair's decision to go to war, said, "It is really horrifying. How many more lives are to be taken? It is no wonder, given this tragic death toll, that the resistance to the occupation is growing. "Tony Blair talks simplistically about it getting better in Iraq. These figures prove it is just an illusion." Labour Against the War spokesperson Alan Simpson, remarked, "At some point, the slaughter of civilians in the name of peace has to become a crime of war. This is not a matter of indifference but criminality. These figures are horrific — it is a scandal that the world remains silent." Taking the worn out line that the "removal of Saddam Hussein" was a "great benefit to future generations of Iraqi people", Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill responded to the findings by saying, "Unfortunately there will always be some civilian casualties."