(Iraqi children with birth defects-file photo)
by Felicity Arbuthnot, source
… war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.
— Howard Zinn, 1922-2010
On July 22 two babies were born – in different worlds. Prince George Alexander Louis, son of Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, arrived in the £5,000 a night Lindo Wing of London’s St. Mary’s Hospital, weighing a super healthy 8lbs 6 oz.
According to the hospital’s website:
The Lindo Wing offers private en suite rooms, designed to provide you with comfort and privacy during your stay. Deluxe rooms or a suite are available on request. Each room has a satellite TV with major international channels, a radio, a safe, a bedside phone and a fridge. You and your visitors can access the internet and … a daily newspaper is delivered to your room each morning throughout your stay. Toiletries are also provided.
Also on hand is a “Comprehensive wine list, should you wish to enjoy a glass of champagne and toast your baby’s arrival.”
Moments away, are also some of the world’s finest medical facilities and specialists, in the event of complications.
To mark the birth, the band of the Scots Guards played at Buckingham Palace, the fountains in Central London’s Trafalgar Square were lit with blue lights for six days and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Honourable Artillery Company staged a forty-one gun royal salute. At least, breaking the habits of the centuries, and recent decades, this time they didn’t kill anyone.
On the same day, a universe away, in Fallujah, Iraq – poisoned by weapons armed with uranium, chemically and radiologically toxic, and white phosphorous, a chemical weapon, and other so far unidentified “exotic weapons” – baby Humam was born in a city relentlessly bombarded in 1991 and again in two further criminal, inhuman US decimations in 2004.
Humam was born with Retrognathia, a congenital heart disease, Omphalocele and Polydactly of upper and lower limbs. Omphalocele is an abnormality that develops as the the foetus is forming. Some of the abdominal organs protrude through an opening in the abdominal muscles in the area of the umbilical cord. Polydactly is the manifestation of extra digits on the hands or feet, in Humam’s case, both.
Humam translates as “Brave, noble, generous.”
Dr Chris Busby, whose appointments have included sitting on the UK Ministry of Defence Oversight Committee on Depleted Uranium, and is a visiting Professor in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster, has made extensive studies in Fallujah. He tested parents of “children with congenital anomalies and measured the concentration of 52 elements in the hair of the mothers and fathers. We also looked at the surface soil, river water and drinking water. We used a very powerful (mass spectroscopy) technique called ICPMS … the only substance we found that could explain the high levels of genetic damage was the radioactive element uranium.”
Much has rightly been made of the use of depleted uranium (DU) in Iraq in 1991 and the subsequent decade-plus illegal bombing of the country by the US and UK, then the 2003 and subsequent onslaughts, but, says Busby:
Astonishingly, it was not depleted uranium. It was slightly enriched uranium, the kind that is used in nuclear reactors or atomic bombs. We found it in the hair and also in the soil. We concentrated the soil chemically so there could be no mistake. Results showed slightly enriched uranium – manmade.
This enriched uranium was found in Fallujah’s “soil, water and in the hair of parents whose children had anomalies.”
Relating to the near Dresden-like bombardment of November 2004, Busby is convinced of a connection between cancers, deformities and the uranium weapons:
“Uranium is excreted into hair and hair grows at a known rate: one centimeter per month. We obtained very long hair samples … and measured the uranium along the lengths of the hair, which gave us historic levels back as far as 2005. In one woman, whose hair was 80 centimeters, the uranium concentration went up toward the tip of the hair, showing very high exposures in the past (and) “the uranium was manmade, it was enriched uranium”.
Busby believes “… these results prove the existence of a new secret uranium weapon. We have found some US patents for thermobaric and directed charge warheads which employ uranium … to increase their effect …”
His team also “investigated bomb craters in Lebanon in 2006 after the Israeli attacks and found one which was radioactive and containing enriched uranium. We found enriched uranium in car air filters from Lebanon and also from Gaza. Others have found evidence of its use in Afghanistan and possibly also in the Balkans …an astonishing discovery with many global implications.”
Dr Busby claims that:
It is clear that the military has a secret uranium weapon of some sort. It causes widespread and terrifying genetic defects, causing cancer and birth anomalies and poisoning the gene pool of whole populations. This is a war crime and must be properly investigated.
This material … is slowly contaminating the whole planet. It is poisoning the human gene pool, leading to increases in cancer, congenital anomalies, miscarriages and infertility … It has probably been employed in Libya, so we must wait and see what levels of cancer and congenital disease appears there.” (Emphasis mine.)
Further, Dr Busby’s report, compiled with Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, found infant mortality in Fallujah in 80 of every thousand births. In neighbouring Jordan it is 17.
Robert Fisk describes a visit to Fallujah General Hospital last year:
The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi’s administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest … a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia … a dead baby with just one leg and a head four times the size of its body.
One British trained obstetrician somehow raised funds for a £79,000 scanner for detection of congenital abnormalities. Why, she asked, would Iraqi’s Ministry of Health not hold a full investigation into Fallujah’s birth defect epidemic?
Answer: surely because the cause would be weapons used by the US – to whom the government of Iraq owe their positions and their mega money accumulating enterprises.
(Ironically the Ministry of Health under Saddam Hussein moved mountains, under the uniquely difficult circumstances of the embargo, to collect statistics from throughout the country and to press the relevant world bodies for widespread investigation into the cancers and abnormalities, to no avail.)
Dr Samira Allani talks of “the increased frequency (of congenital abnormalities) that is alarming.” Congenital heart defects, a research paper she has written states, had reached “unprecedented numbers” by 2010. Still births and premature births also continue in an upward spiral.
Fallujah lacks even laboratory equipment to facilitate the treatment of foetal infections which are curable.
But this is an Iraq-wide phenomenon, ongoing since the 1991 bombings and simply multiply escalating.
In the southern holy city of Najav, Dr Sundus Nsaif says:
After the start of the Iraq war, rates of cancer, leukemia and birth defects rose dramatically in Najaf. The areas affected by American attacks saw the biggest increases … When you visit the hospital here you see that cancer is more common than the flu.
Dr Nsaif comments on an active push by the government not to talk about the issue, speculating the reason is perhaps in an effort not to embarrass coalition forces. Never mind embarrassment. The implications for claims for compensation could be a world first in the potential size of damages, wherever these weapons have been used.
In Basra it is reported that birth defects increased 17 fold in under a decade after the 2003 invasion and, as Fallujah, over half of all babies conceived since are “born with heart defects.”
“The Pentagon and the UN estimate that US and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor-piercing shells” made of depleted uranium during attacks in Iraq in just two months, March and April 2003. Enriched uranium is not mentioned, of course. That added to the up to 900 tonnes in 1991, the subsequent illegal bombings and the bombardments including Fallujah, March 2003-December 2011, when the US forces slunk out of their killing fields under cover of darkness.
The warning after 1991 by none other than the UK Atomic Energy Agency must never be forgotten: “If fifty tonnes of the residual (depleted uranium) dust is left in the region, there will be an estimated half million cancer deaths by the end of the century” (2000). The further horror of enriched uranium was not, seemingly, a known factor then.
There is surely a vast cover up on the effects of these weapons. As Mozhgan Savabieasfahani has written:
The joint (World Health Organisation) and Iraqi Ministry of Health Report on cancers and birth defect in Iraq was originally due to be released in November 2012. It has been delayed repeatedly and now has no release date whatsoever.
He writes, “The back-breaking burden of cancers and birth defects continues to weigh heavily on the Iraqi people”, in an article which draws attention to the fact that 54 eminent academics from a number of countries have written to the WHO demanding the release of the Report.
He adds that in November 2006, “The British Medical Journal published an article entitled “WHO suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium, expert says”. It suggested that earlier WHO reports were compromised by the omission of a full account of depleted uranium genotoxicity.
“Additionally, recent revelations by Hans von Sponeck, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, suggest that WHO may be susceptible to pressure from its member states.
“Mr. von Sponeck has said that ‘The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.’”
Further, adding fuel to radioactive fire, there are reports that the latest WHO Report does not even touch on depleted uranium (yet alone enriched.) We will have to wait and see – and wait and wait … The WHO, of course, is an arm of the UN, so read US.
One of the first people arrested in Iraq on the asinine US playing cards of the “most wanted” in 2003, was Dr Huda Ammash. Dean of Baghdad University, and internationally renowned environmental biologist, who earned her PhD at the University of Missouri.
She extensively researched and wrote papers on the effects of DU and other pollutants after the 1991 war and cited the International Treaties outlawing such weapons and stressed depleted uranium weapons not being “depleted” but a “radioactive waste”, all in minutely detailed, careful, hard hitting, scientific, incontrovertible fact. “DU is radiologically and chemically toxic to humans and other forms of life.” She was way ahead in what she had detected.
Her contribution to the widely acclaimed Iraq Under Siege – the Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War (Pluto Press, 2000, updated 2003) was a wake-up call on the environmental Armageddon wrought on Iraq by the toxic weapons of 1991.
Her introduction read:
The Gulf war ended in 1991, but the massive destruction linked to it continues. An unprecedented catastrophe resulting from a mixture of toxic, radiological, chemical and electromagnetic exposure is still causing substantial consequences to health and the environment …. much of Iraq has been turned into a polluted and radioactive environment.
The highly publicized book surely made her a marked woman. She was one of the first arrests of the Iraq invasion, dubbed “Dr Anthrax” in US disinformation, remaining in US custody until November 2005.
Robert Fisk, in his graphic article, cited above, writes: “This is too much. These photographs are too awful … They simply cannot be published.” He cites the pain of the parents, many who wanted to talk to him and the world to know.
The facts, the pictures, should be on the front page of news outlets across the globe until these obscene weapons are outlawed. Iraq’s plight is being, and will be, replicated wherever they have been and are again used.
They are the new Hiroshimas and Nagasakis, with the genetic burden loaded on future generations for possibly millennia.
If the WHO Report ever comes out, it will anyway be no good to baby Humam and uncounted others.
The birth was “very emotional” said Prince William’s wife, Catherine, of that of Prince George Alexander Louis. Imagine being Humam’s mother, or any mother in Iraq, who has no idea what horrors her precious offspring may present with.
The little Prince is to be feted from the day of his birth onwards – uncounted children of Iraq and wherever these weapons have been used, are fated from the day of theirs.
Ironically the Prince’s father and uncle, Prince Harry, both belong to the UK armed forces, with America, partners in crime in these horrors.
• See also “Pentagon admits used white phosphorous against Iraqis in Fallujah“