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General News    H2'ed 10/21/12

The Silence of the Guilty

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Message Ross Caputi

Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah, Iraq have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives almost no attention in the United States.

 

Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, Fallujans have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects, and infant mortality in their city. Dr. Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied." 

In the years following the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movement in and out of Fallujah was monitored by the occupying forces , which made it nearly impossible for Fallujans to get word out about their nascent health crisis.

 

One of the first attempts to report on the crisis was at the 7 th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the form of the report, Prohibited weapons Crisis: The effects of pollution on the public health in Fallujah by Dr. Muhamad Al-Darraji. This report was largely ignored. It wasn't until the first major study on the health crisis was published in 2010 that the issue received mainstream media attention in the UK and Europe.

 

Although the suffering in Fallujah received some coverage and sympathy in Europe, the topic has been met with cold silence in the US. Here it has received minimal media attention, the US government has refused to acknowledge anything but "official" studies of the health crisis, and the American public remains largely oblivious to the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.

 

The report presented at the 7th session of the Human Rights Council gave anecdotal evidence gathered at the Fallujah General Hospital. It included a stomach-turning collection of pictures of babies born with scaly skin, missing and deformed limbs, and horrifying tumors.

 

Two years later, Dr. Busby and his team of researchers sought to verify the claims in this report. What they found was that in addition to shocking increases in pediatric cancers, there had also been an 18% reduction in male births. Such a finding is a well-known indication of genetic damage. The authors concluded that "[t]hese results support the many reports of congenital illness and birth defects in Fallujah and suggest that there is evidence of genetic stress which appeared around 2004, one year before the effects began to show."


In a follow up study , in which Dr. Busby was a co-author, hair, soil, and water samples were taken from Fallujah and tested for the presence of heavy metals. The researchers expected to find depleted uranium in the environmental samples. It is well known that the US used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and Iraqis, at least, are well aware of the increases in cancers and infant mortality rates in the city of Basrah, which was heavily bombarded during Desert Storm. However, what the researchers found was not depleted uranium, but man-made, slightly enriched uranium. 


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Ross Caputi is a student, a veteran, and an activist. He participated in the 2nd siege of Fallujah as a Marine, but his experiences there compelled him to join the anti-war movement. Today he is the Director of the Justice For Fallujah Project and (more...)
 
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The Silence of the Guilty