Saturday, February 2, 2013

Solidarity with the People of Iraq

Solidarity with the Arab People [link]
* Petition for release of birth defect data [link]
* Right to Heal Initiative [link]
* Iraqi workers need good laws now! [link] (Petition published 2013-11-14)
* The long road towards ILO–compliant Labour and Trade Union Laws in Iraq [link]
* War Crimes and Civilian Massacres by the USA Military in Iraq (2006) [link]

"War-related deaths near 500,000 in Iraq: study"
2013-10-15 from "AFP" newswire:
 Nearly half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, according to an academic study published in the United States on Tuesday.
 That toll is far higher than the nearly 115,000 violent civilian deaths reported by the British-based group Iraq Body Count, which bases its tally on media reports, hospital and morgue records, and official and non-governmental accounts.
 The latest estimate by university researchers in the United States, Canada and Baghdad in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Health covers not only violent deaths but other avoidable deaths linked to the invasion, insurgencies and subsequent social breakdown.
 It also differs from some previous counts by spanning a longer period of time and by using randomized surveys of households across Iraq to project a nationwide death toll from 2003 to mid 2011.
 Violence caused most of the deaths, but about a third were indirectly linked to the war, and these deaths have been left out of previous counts, said lead author Amy Hagopian, a public health researcher at the University of Washington.
 Those included situations when a pregnant woman encountered difficult labor but could not leave the house due to fighting, or when a person drank contaminated water, or when a patient could not get treated at a hospital because staff was overwhelmed with war casualties.
 "These are all indirect deaths, and they are significant," Hagopian told AFP.
 The aim of the study was to provide a truer picture of the suffering caused by war, and hopefully to make governments think twice about the harm that would come from an invasion, she said.
 "I think it is important that people understand the consequences of launching wars on public health, on how people live. This country is forever changed."
 The research team from the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University and Mustansiriya University conducted the work on a volunteer basis using pooled internal resources instead of seeking outside funds.
 Their tally was compiled by asking adults living in 2,000 randomly selected households in 100 geographic clusters across Iraq if family members had died, when and why.
 Researchers used the survey data, which was completed by 1,960 of those chosen, to calculate the death rate before the war and after. When multiplied by the whole population, they returned a number that represented "excess deaths."
 Researchers estimated there were 405,000 excess Iraqi deaths attributable to the war through mid-2011.
 They also attempted to account for deaths missed because families had fled the country, and estimated 55,805 total deaths, bringing the total to nearly 461,000.
 About 70 percent of Iraq deaths from 2003-2011 were violent in nature, with most caused by gunshots, followed by car bombs and other explosions, said the study.
 Coalition forces were blamed for 35 percent of violent deaths; militias were blamed for 32 percent. The rest were either unknown (21 percent), criminals (11 percent) or Iraqi forces (one percent).
 Heart conditions were the most common cause of non-violent death from 2003-2011 -- indicating a key role of stress in war-related deaths -- followed by chronic illness and cancer.
 In a perspective article accompanying the PLoS Medicine study, Salman Rawaf, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at Imperial College London, said the latest research would likely be called into question, as have other estimates before it, with most "perceived as being politically motivated, deliberately either over-reporting or suppressing the number of deaths."
 "This estimate carries substantial uncertainty, and undoubtedly the methodology and findings of this latest study will be controversial and debated," he wrote.
 However, the attempt to quantify the catastrophe created by war is "valuable" in the context of understanding the health consequences of war, he said.
 "Living in Iraq today is no longer about how many have died, but how future deaths should be prevented."

2013-09-04 []:
Yanar Mohammed, President and co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) [], released this statement and urgent call to action in response to the thousands of Iraqi children born with serious birth defects caused by the humanitarian crisis created by the US military when they withdrew, and is calling for accountability, reparations and responsibility by the US Government.
Dear Friends in the global women’s movement, human rights groups, and political activists,
Thousands of Iraqi children who are less than 10 years in age have birth defects of the same kinds. Some young Iraqi mothers have more than one disabled child, especially if they live in the hot zones of battles with the US troops, or around the US military bases.
Our fact-finding mission in 2011 found more than 350 children and babies with the same defects in the town of Hawija. After we publicized the news, other Hawija families contacted us, and the number has gone to over 600-disabled children- all limbs are paralyzed and the brains underdeveloped.
Medical reports show a similar number of birth defects in the southern city of Basra, but with an opening in the heart. While more recent statistics show that city as suffering from epidemic numbers of cancer.
We in the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq are in dismay because the US military have dumped all nuclear and chemical material in Iraq, leaving thousands of children in inhumane situations with no life support for them or for their mothers. Neither is the Iraqi government expressing any desire to compensate the victims of contaminated areas in Iraq.
The US invasion ended in 2011 and the military withdrew, leaving big parts of Iraq contaminated, full of humanitarian crises, and moreover, the US administration did not express any regret for having devastated lives of a considerable part of the Iraqi population.
We demand the Right To Heal for the Iraqi people from all the wrongdoings of the US invasion of Iraq.
We know that the American people were not supportive of this war, and we heard voices of solidarity and support from freedom loving friends in the US. It is for that reason that we responded to the Call of the Center of Constitutional Rights and the Iraq Veterans of War to raise charges against the US government for their wrongdoings in Iraq and also against the Iraq veterans of war.
The CCR filed the complaint at the Inter American Commission for Human Rights to demand a hearing. We are currently waiting for their response for the complaint and we need to show them that the world supports us in demanding the following:
1. US government’s being held accountable for the war on Iraq
2. US government’s responsibility towards paying reparations for the Iraqi children with birth defects besides other victims of war
3. US government’s responsibility for the well-being of the Iraq veterans of war
Please help support our claim at the IACHR and lend us your signature on the petition, which our friends in the IVAW have thankfully prepared on the links listed below.
We need you to stand by us, and if we succeed, it may be one step towards a future with more peace and less wars.
Please do not delay your signature…it will take one minute, but will improve lives of thousands of Iraqi children.
In Solidarity, Yanar Mohammed, president of Organization of Women’s freedom in Iraq []
We need your help:
1) We are asking individuals and organizations to sign on to a letter to the IACHR to demonstrate support for our IACHR hearing request. View the letter below.
If you are representing an organization that will sign on to the letter to the IACHR please email
If you are an individual that would like to sign on, click here: []
Translations of the sign-on letter are available in Arabic and Spanish here: []
2) Please share our recently released short video Demanding the Right to Heal: US Veterans and Iraqis Unite. You can join the conversation on Twitter by using the #RighttoHeal hashtag.
Thank you for supporting the Right to Heal!

2013-05-03 Breaking News from Iraq from "US Labor against the War":
Hearing on criminal complaint against Hassan Juma'a postponed for the 4th time!
The case has been postponed again until the 19th of May.
The judge said that the South Oil Company [SOC] lawyer had failed to present any evidence or witnesses to support the criminal complaint filed against Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions. The SOC lawyer stated that the Ministry of Oil had not provided the information that the company requested after the last postponement. The lawyer said that the SOC had sent someone to Baghdad to obtain it, but still had not received a response.
The judge said that he will give the SOC one last chance until May 19th.
The judge confirmed that based on everything he had seen concerning Hassan’s involvement in worker demonstrations, that these demonstrations were peaceful and were motivated by a list of demands about workers rights - and that the right to engage in such demonstrations is granted under the Iraqi constitution.
He said that if no new facts or information is provided by the SOC by the 19th, he might dismiss the case.
Hassan Juma'a said he has a very positive feeling about it , and thinks that the international solidarity campaign has contributed to the positive attitude of the judge.
We'll have to wait until the 19th to celebrate any victory!
Rather than relax, now is the time to turn up on the heat on the Iraqi government, not only to dimiss the charges but also to enact the long overdue labor law that will guarantee to all Iraqi workers, both public and private, internationally recognized rights to organize and bargain free from government interference, harassment or repression.
The neo-liberal assault on worker rights is global. The multinational corporations seeking to suppress the Iraqi labor movement are the same corporations seeking to cripple unions and undermine the conditions of workers in every country.
The struggle for labor and human rights in Iraq is part of a universal struggle. A victory for the Iraqi labor movement strengthens labor movements around the world.

Suggested Twitter message: Demand Iraq drop charges against union leader, end persecution of activists. Sign the petition: []

Free Hassan - Solidarity with Iraqi Workers
by Jonathan Levin, Videographer-Editor, Michael Zweig, Narrator, U.S. Labor Against the War
uploaded 2013-04-24 []:
Hassan Juma'a Awad, president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, faces three years in jail and heavy fines for organizing workers in the Iraqi oil fields. They oppose privatization of Iraqi oil and demand fair treatment and respect at work. Meet Hassan in this short video and act in international solidarity as requested in the final screens.

2013-04-02 "Drop the Charges Against Iraqi Oil Union Leader! Iraqi Oil Union President Faces Criminal Charges Repression Against Unions  and Workers Escalates"
from "US Labor against the War" []:
Send a message to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki!
Despite all the talk about fostering democracy and human rights in Iraq, workers there continue to be denied the right to freely organize trade unions and negotiate over the terms of their labor - just as they were under Saddam Hussein. 
In the last two years, repression against unions has escalated.  A wave of peaceful strikes has recently swept Iraq as workers seek to redress grievances and assert their rights.  The response of the Al Maliki government has been to crack down on discontent with disciplinary action against union activists, and even criminal complaints against union leaders.
Recently the Ministry of Oil lodged a criminal complaint against Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (Hassan Juma'a was one of six Iraqi union leaders who toured the U.S. in 2005), claiming he was responsible for strikes in the oil industry. 
If convicted, he could face stiff fines and five years in prison. He has been ordered to appear in court on April 7th to respond to charges leveled against him.
Persecution of union leaders for exercising rights promised by Iraq's constitution and protected under international treaty must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.
Labor organizations across the U.S., including the AFL-CIO, and around the world have responded by signing a letter to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki demanding that all charges against Hassan Juma'a be immediately withdrawn and that persecution of Iraqi workers peacefully exercising their rights must cease. 
They further demand that the Iraqi government promptly enact a basic labor and trade union law that guarantees the right of workers to organize and join unions of their choosing free from government interference and harassment, and that both public and private employers be required to negotiate over the terms and conditions of employment with the unions chosen by their employees.
No government that denies these basic labor and human rights can claim to be a democracy. 
The U.S. and other governments ought to freeze economic aid to Iraq until these and other basic human rights are respected.
U.S. Labor Against the War calls on its affiliates, members and supporters in unions and allied social justice organizations to sign this petition supporting the rights of Iraq's workers and solidarity with Hassan Juma'a and other union activists who are being persecuted by the government for exercising their rights.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION and ask others to sign too [], text of petition:
Mr. Nouri Al Maliki, Prime Minister, Baghdad-Iraq
We strenuously protest repressive measures being taken by your government against peaceful workers acting collectively to seek redress for their grievances against the South Oil Company and in other Iraqi workplaces.
We demand that all punitive and retaliatory measures, including disciplinary actions, forced transfers, fines and criminal complaints against workers engaged in peaceful collective action be immediately rescinded.
We demand that criminal actions being taken against Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, and any other union leaders be unconditionally withdrawn and that retaliation for their activities on behalf of other workers cease immediately.
Iraq must honor obligations created by its own Constitution and International Labor Organization Conventions to which it is signatory. Workers must be allowed to freely organize in unions of their choosing and those organizations should be recognized by employers. Both public and private sector workers should be allowed to engage in good faith bargaining with their employers over the terms and conditions of employment without interference by the government. The right of workers to strike or otherwise withhold their labor must be recognized and fully respected.
Iraq cannot claim to be a democratic society if it fails to respect these basic labor and human rights.
Respectfully yours, [your name]

2013-01-25 "ICSSI Supports Popular Protests in Iraq"
statement from "Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)" [] [] []:

Demanding an End to Corruption, Sectarian Conflict and Injustice Across Iraq, for more than four weeks, protesters have taken to the streets and public squares demanding an end to corruption and sectarianism, and provision of essential services, along with mounting calls for comprehensive reform of the judicial system. While some news reports attempt to downplay the significance of the protests, labeling them as Sunni opposition to al- Maliki’s Shiite government, the protesters’ demands have widespread support in many places and from Iraqi citizens of many ethnic and sectarian backgrounds. As the demonstrations have grown and spread, so has a spirit of national unity. The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative [ICSSI] supports all the demonstrators who are working to build an Iraq free from corruption, ethnic and sectarian conflict, and injustice. In all cases, freedom of expression and the freedom to organize peaceful demonstrations are human rights that must be guaranteed.
The protesters have made 13 demands. Three explicitly reject sectarianism, calling instead for an end to agitating divisions and hostilities among religious and ethnic groups, the opportunity to work based upon professional qualifications (not quotas), and return of religious properties to their rightful owners. The protesters are also asking the UN to conduct a census in Iraq, which is essential for assessing people’s needs for crucial services – water, electricity, schools and healthcare. Building upon this demand, the protesters are calling upon the government to finally provide these services, especially in areas that have so far been neglected by the state. Widely heard from demonstrators in all parts of the nation – from Wasit in the east, to Ramadi in the west, to Mosul in the north – are demands for an end to the administrative, legal, and financial corruption that has discredited government at all levels.
The protesters’ seven remaining demands all stem from judicial abuses that have multiplied as a result of the Justice and Accountability Law and Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, especially Clause 4, which have be used to target political dissidents. Protesters are demanding repeal of these laws, the immediate release of those who have been unjustly detained, approval of an amnesty law for innocent detainees and the cancellation of all unfair rulings against them. They are also seeking a halt to the formation of new Iraqi military commands in the governorates that are managed by al-Maliki’s office and make arrests based upon information from his supporters in Baghdad. In addition, protesters want an end to all house raids carried out on the basis of information obtained from secret informers and without legal search warrants. In light of the terrific repression that dissidents face today in Iraq, protesters are also demanding an end to use of the death penalty. Finally, the demonstrators are outraged by the treatment that detainees, especially in police custody and on military bases, have experienced. Torture is widespread. Women prisoners have been raped. Protesters are insisting that all government officials and members of the army or security units who committed crimes against detainees must be held accountable.
Some Iraqis are still debating how far judicial reform should go; many continue to believe the government propaganda that the Justice and Accountability Law and the anti-terrorism law are necessary to keep Iraq safe. But as the crackdown on dissidents and protesters escalates, more and more people are questioning the government’s practices. Members of the ICSSI hope that these ongoing debates about the system of justice will lead to the dialogue and reforms that are needed to build a society that serves the needs and interests of all Iraqis.

2010-07-23 "US War Crimes: Cancer Rate in Fallujah Worse than Hiroshima" by Tom Eley []:
The Iraqi city of Fallujah continues to suffer the ghastly consequences of a US military onslaught in late 2004.
According to the authors of a new study, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” the people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by US atomic bomb strikes in 1945.
The epidemiological study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health (IJERPH), also finds the prevalence of these conditions in Fallujah to be many times greater than in nearby nations.
The assault on Fallujah, a city located 43 miles west of Baghdad, was one of the most horrific war crimes of our time. After the population resisted the US-led occupation of Iraq—a war of neo-colonial plunder launched on the basis of lies—Washington determined to make an example of the largely Sunni city. This is called “exemplary” or “collective” punishment and is, according to the laws of war, illegal.
The new public health study of the city now all but proves what has long been suspected: that a high proportion of the weaponry used in the assault contained depleted uranium, a radioactive substance used in shells to increase their effectiveness.
In a study of 711 houses and 4,843 individuals carried out in January and February 2010, authors Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan, Entesar Ariabi and a team of researchers found that the cancer rate had increased fourfold since before the US attack five years ago, and that the forms of cancer in Fallujah are similar to those found among the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, who were exposed to intense fallout radiation.
In Fallujah the rate of leukemia is 38 times higher, the childhood cancer rate is 12 times higher, and breast cancer is 10 times more common than in populations in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. Heightened levels of adult lymphoma and brain tumors were also reported. At 80 deaths out of every 1,000 births, the infant mortality rate in Fallujah is more than five times higher than in Egypt and Jordan, and eight times higher than in Kuwait.
Strikingly, after 2005 the proportion of girls born in Fallujah has increased sharply. In normal populations, 1050 boys are born for every 1000 girls. But among those born in Fallujah in the four years after the US assault, the ratio was reduced to 860 boys for every 1000 female births. This alteration is similar to gender ratios found in Hiroshima after the US atomic attack of 1945.
The most likely reason for the change in the sex ratio, according to the researchers, is the impact of a major mutagenic event—likely the use of depleted uranium in US weapons. While boys have one X-chromosome, girls have a redundant X-chromosome and can therefore absorb the loss of one chromosome through genetic damage.
“This is an extraordinary and alarming result,” said Busby, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Ulster and director of scientific research for Green Audit, an independent environmental research group. “To produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened. We need urgently to find out what the agent was. Although many suspect uranium, we cannot be certain without further research and independent analysis of samples from the area.”
Busby told an Italian television news station, RAI 24, that the “extraordinary” increase in radiation-related maladies in Fallujah is higher than that found in the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the US atomic strikes of 1945. “My guess is that this was caused by depleted uranium,” he said. “They must be connected.”
The US military uses depleted uranium, also known as spent nuclear fuel, in armor-piercing shells and bullets because it is twice as dense as lead. Once these shells hit their target, however, as much as 40 percent of the uranium is released in the form of tiny particles in the area of the explosion. It can remain there for years, easily entering the human bloodstream, where it lodges itself in lymph glands and attacks the DNA produced in the sperm and eggs of affected adults, causing, in turn, serious birth defects in the next generation.
The research is the first systematic scientific substantiation of a body of evidence showing a sharp increase in infant mortality, birth defects, and cancer in Fallujah.
In October of 2009, several Iraqi and British doctors wrote a letter to the United Nations demanding an inquiry into the proliferation of radiation-related sickness in the city:
“Young women in Fallujah in Iraq are terrified of having children because of the increasing number of babies born grotesquely deformed, with no heads, two heads, a single eye in their foreheads, scaly bodies or missing limbs. In addition, young children in Fallujah are now experiencing hideous cancers and leukemias.…
“In September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 newborn babies, 24 percent of whom were dead within the first seven days, a staggering 75 percent of the dead babies were classified as deformed.…
“Doctors in Fallujah have specifically pointed out that not only are they witnessing unprecedented numbers of birth defects, but premature births have also considerably increased after 2003. But what is more alarming is that doctors in Fallujah have said, ‘a significant number of babies that do survive begin to develop severe disabilities at a later stage.’” (See: “Sharp rise in birth defects in Iraqi city destroyed by US military”)
The Pentagon responded to this report by asserting that there were no studies to prove any proliferation of deformities or other maladies associated with US military actions. “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues,” a Defense Department spokesman told the BBC in March. There have been no studies, however, in large part because Washington and its puppet Baghdad regime have blocked them.
According to the authors of “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah,” the Iraqi authorities attempted to scuttle their survey. “[S]hortly after the questionnaire survey was completed, Iraqi TV reportedly broadcast that a questionnaire survey was being carried out by terrorists and that anyone who was answering or administering the questionnaire could be arrested,” the study reports.
The history of the atrocity committed by American imperialism against the people of Fallujah began on April 28, 2003, when US Army soldiers fired indiscriminately into a crowd of about 200 residents protesting the conversion of a local school into a US military base. Seventeen were killed in the unprovoked attack, and two days later American soldiers fired on a protest against the murders, killing two more.
This intensified popular anger, and Fallujah became a center of the Sunni resistance against the occupation—and US reprisals. On March 31, 2004, an angry crowd stopped a convoy of the private security firm Blackwater USA, responsible for its own share of war crimes. Four Blackwater mercenaries were dragged from their vehicles, beaten, burned, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
The US military then promised it would pacify the city, with one unnamed officer saying it would be turned into “a killing field,” but Operation Vigilant Resolve, involving thousands of Marines, ended in the abandonment of the siege by the US military in May, 2004. The victory of Fallujah’s residents against overwhelming military superiority was celebrated throughout Iraq and watched all over the world.
The Pentagon delivered its response in November 2004. The city was surrounded, and all those left inside were declared to be enemy combatants and fair game for the most heavily equipped killing machine in world history. The Associated Press reported that men attempting to flee the city with their families were turned back into the slaughterhouse.
In the attack, the US made heavy use of the chemical agent white phosphorus. Ostensibly used only for illuminating battlefields, white phosphorus causes terrible and often fatal wounds, burning its way through building material and clothing before eating away skin and then bone. The chemical was also used to suck the oxygen out of buildings where civilians were hiding.
Washington’s desire for revenge against the population is indicated by the fact that the US military reported about the same number of “gunmen” killed (1,400) as those taken alive as prisoners (1,300-1,500). In one instance, NBC News captured video footage of a US soldier executing a wounded and helpless Iraqi man. A Navy investigation later found the Marine had been acting in self-defense.
Fifty-one US soldiers died in 10 days of combat. The true number of city residents who were killed is not known. The city’s population before the attack was estimated to be between 425,000 and 600,000. The current population is believed to be between 250,000 and 300,000. Tens of thousands, mostly women and children, fled in advance of the attack. Half of the city’s building were destroyed, most of these reduced to rubble.
Like much of Iraq, Fallujah remains in ruins. According to a recent report from IRIN, a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Fallujah still has no functioning sewage system six years after the attack. “Waste pours onto the streets and seeps into drinking water supplies,” the report notes. “Abdul-Sattar Kadhum al-Nawaf, director of Fallujah general hospital, said the sewage problem had taken its toll on residents’ health. They were increasingly affected by diarrhea, tuberculosis, typhoid and other communicable diseases.”
The savagery of the US assault shocked the world, and added the name Fallujah to an infamous list that includes My Lai, Sabra-Shatila, Guérnica, Nanking, Lidice, and Wounded Knee.
But unlike those other massacres, the crime against Fallujah did not end when the bullets were no longer fired or the bombs stopped falling.
The US military’s decision to heavily deploy depleted uranium, all but proven by “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah,” was a wanton act of brutality, poisoning an entire generation of children not yet born in 2004.
The Fallujah study is timely, with the US now preparing a major escalation of the violence in Afghanistan. The former head of US Afghanistan operations, General Stanley McChrystal, was replaced last month after a media campaign, assisted by a Rolling Stone magazine feature, accused him, among other things, of tying the hands of US soldiers in their response to Afghan insurgents.
McChrystal was replaced by General David Petraeus, formerly head of the US Central Command. Petraeus has outlined new rules of engagement designed to allow for the use of disproportionate force against suspected militants.
Petraeus, in turn, was replaced at Central Command by General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who played a key planning role in the US assault on Fallujah in 2004. Mattis revels in killing, telling a public gathering in 2005 “it’s fun to shoot some people…. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot.”

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