On the detention of Dr. Huda S. Ammash

by Alexander Dwinell | http://www.casi.org.uk | 7 May 2003

The U.S. publishers of Dr. Huda S. Ammash assert that there may be political motivations for her detention on Monday, May 5 in Baghdad by the U.S. military on allegations that she oversaw Iraq's purported development of biological weapons. Dr. Ammash, Dean of Baghdad University, is the author of "Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War, and Sanctions," a peer reviewed research paper published in _Iraq Under Siege_ (South End Press, 2002) an anthology that examined the effects of the Gulf War and sanctions on Iraq.

United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) spokesperson Hiro Ueki has confirmed to South End Press that based on earlier research "UNMOVIC did not single Dr. Ammash out for interviews because UNMOVIC did not have clear evidence to link Dr. Ammash to BW [biological weapons] programs" when visiting Baghdad University on January 13th, 2003

"We are outraged at the U.S.'s extra-legal detention of Dr. Ammash and its plans to interrogate her. We demand that Dr. Ammash be released immediately," said co-publisher Alexander Dwinell. "The U.S. government is trying to silence Dr. Ammash's outspoken criticism of the U.S. role in causing cancers and other illnesses in Iraq through its own use of biologically hazardous weapons such as radioactive depleted uranium."

Dr. Ammash, an environmental biologist and professor at Baghdad University, received her . from the University of Missouri. She has earned international respect for her publications, particularly her documentation of the rise in cancers among Iraqi children and war veterans since the Gulf War. In _Iraq Under Siege_ she writes: "Iraqi death rates have increased significantly, with cancer representing a significant cause of mortality, especially in the south and among children."

When visited in Baghdad by a group of NGO representatives and former UN officials in January 2003, Dr. Ammash stated: "People here bear every respect for Western people and Western civilization. We respect your technological accomplishments and your values. Yet hatred is being manufactured by some to engineer a clash of civilizations."

Dr. Ammash's other publications include: "Impact of Gulf War Pollution in the Spread of Infectious Diseases in Iraq," (Soli Al-Mondo, Rome, 1999), and "Electromagnetic, Chemical, and Microbial Pollution Resulting from War and Embargo, and Its Impact on the Environment and Health," (Journal of the [Iraqi] Academy of Science, 1997). South End Press 7 Brookline Street #1, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 547-4002 Fax: (617) 547-1333

Conference given by miss Huda Saleh Mehdi Amash for the International Peace Mission april 2002. The academician and politician Huda Saleh Mehdi Amash on the 'arms inspections' http://www.irak.be/ned/missies/ConferenceHuda.htm

"They raised 280.000 questions about our instruments of laboratory and it was necessary to answer until the last "

"We are proud of being able to introduce a lady to you who is at the same time important a scientist and a great politician." In this way, Doctor Al Hashimi of Iraqi Association for friendship, peace and solidarity introduced the conference of Mrs. Huda Saleh Mehdi Amash on tuesday april 16 for the European peace delegation. This young woman, member of the regional command of the socialist and Arabic Baath party will make honor to her reputation. A literal report.

Noted by Kris Merckx

Thank you for having taken the long and painful trip to arrive here. This gives to the Iraqi people courage in his fight against the criminal embargo which is imposed in an illegal way on all the nation. The embargo is a double crime because it prevents us from taking adequate measures against the consequences of the depleted uranium (DU) in the weapons used by the United States. Notice, that they used them while our tanks were not in Kuwait but retreating on the Iraqi territory. They shot more than one million balls containing depleted uranium. Different balls qualibres: 120 mm, 35 mm and 25 mm. 80% of the touched tanks are still in the south. You can go to see them, but we do not want you to be confronted with this danger.

During the explosion of the balls, uranium oxide is formed, a white powder which does not dissolve in water. This is why it remains in the environment. It can be inhaled, passes through the lungs in the blood circulation until it reaches the bones or the kidneys. Where it will remain definitively. It diffuses radioactive rays inside the body there. The radiation will only decrease by half after more than 4000 million years (the 'half-life time'). This represents more than the duration of existence of our planet. [1]

An Iraqi team showed for the first time in 1993 the use of depleted uranium. Previously the United States denied the existence of such projectiles. Then, they have, with the assistance of German scientists, pretended that the level of pollution is not harmful. Another Iraqi team, thereafter, showed the contamination of animals and plants. Thus pollution enters the food chain. The next answer of the Americans was: 'There will only be a prove if you isolate uranium from contaminated tissue of the body'. Eh well, a Canadian doctor, Harry Sherma of the University of Waterloo, showed the presence of depleted uranium in the urine of 30 veterans of the Gulf War. They secrete on average 2 micrograms per ml of urine per day, and this 8 years after the War of the Gulf. You can imagine the consequences of the daily exposure to the radiation which causes cancer and which affects the immune system too. You will note the great incidence (= presence) of cancers and other diseases around the city of the south, Bassora, where the war prevailed.

The Embargo blocks the fight against cancers of uranium. Anti-oxidants like the vitamins E, A, C and the betacarotene can protect people against cancers. But the embargo did not enable us to protect ourselves by these vitamins, present in healthy food. The famous program ' Oil for food' (OFF where the authorized sale of a quantity limited of oil in order to be able to buy food and drugs) brings to Iraq neither enough of food, nor enough drugs. This term was deliberately used to manipulate the international opinion, to give the impression that the Iraqi people would have from now on to eat.

Food that is given us consisted only of flour and yeast to make bread, sugar, oil.. But for us, food before the war meant also: meat, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, poultry... But we could not any more get these products, and thus people of the south diffuse the contamination. I met an American woman working in a humans rights organisation. She did not know that the program OFF allowed us neither drugs nor a complete food, although she had worked herself for the UN. I said to her: 'Just read the MOU, the memorandum of understanding on the OFF-program and you will see.'

Chemotherapy is not sufficiently available. Some of the cancerous patients reacted well to new cytostatic [ 2 ] Texor or Texotir (French mark). Their tumours decreased.... after having received some amounts thanks to the efforts of friends like you. But the reserve became scare, the tumours reappeared and the patients died.

The use of weapons of depleted uranium is not prohibited explicitly. But there is a general prohibition on weapons which cause 'extensive damage and of long duration'. This is here certainly the case. As to 'long duration': the radiation decreases only with half that in 4,5 billion years. And do the cause 'extensive damage'? Certainly because it continues to cause cancers during all these years to millions of people.

The United States want to get rid of the old resolution of the United Nations

They now seek old and new reasons to attack Iraq. The only true reason is that Iraq said NO to the new imperialism, but also because we want to defend our sovereignty and our freedom. The hidden intention of the United States is that they want to obtain a new resolution of the United Nations. Indeed, the resolution of 1991 accepted by the UN and Iraq was completely implemented by Iraq. It is time now that UN lift the sanctions.

The resolution, precisely in article 14, mentions that if Iraq destroys its weapons of massive destruction, these latter must also disappear from all Middle East, therefore also in Israel. Time to carry out also this article has come. Especially as the international pressure to do that grows.

For this reason the E.U. want to attack again Iraq. And they seek all kinds of pretexts: Iraq should support terrorism, should still produce weapons of massive destruction, prohibit the access of arms-inspectors... One pretext follows the other, that they don't have in fact anything solid. And indeed, for any the reasons given there exists neither an indication nor a proof.

Pilot-terrorists trained in a No-fly-zone?!

We oppose terrorism. In 1980 we were ourselves victims, when in the university a grenade was launched towards our actual vice-prime-minister, Tariq Aziz. It burst among the students and made several deaths. And how could we give money to the terrorists? All the money that we receive for the sale of oil must pass through a French bank. The sanctions do not allow that foreign currencies are traded by the Iraqi banks. So, the groups supporting terrorists can not purchase those funds here. The no-fly-zones imposed on us in the north and the south of our country makes the schooling of these terrorist pilots impossible, even if we would like to do so. In opposition to what occurs in the banks of the US and other big Western banks, laundry of black or criminal money is impossible in our country. As the international airline companies can not use our airports, hijackers can't do anything here. The US don't have any proof, but in more there isn't any logic in their charges.

Weapons of massive destruction? We are not even able any more to make analyses of stool!

Then the second reason. They say that 'the regime' -so they call our government in a despising way- develops weapons of destruction massive. We cannot even receive a letter of 20 grams coming from Great Britain or the US, because that is prohibited. We cannot receive the instruments necessary to pass an auditive test to a child, or to make a stooltest in a child having diarrhoea because there could be "a double use " (= to make biological weapons etc of them), but nevertheless we would be capable to manufacture weapons of massive destruction! In fact any import falls under the control of commission 661 from the UN charged to supervise the application of the sanctions. These weapons of massive destruction are very expensive and require a very sophisticated technology. If not, more of half of the world could manufacture some and would have already done it, even very poor countries like Congo, Niger...

'Arms inspections '... at the universities.

Then there would be our attitude vis--vis the arms inspections. I was personally confronted with this. I teach microbiology to the students of the 3rd year of medicine who have, like everywhere in the world, this subject in that year. As academicians we have nothing to do with the production of weapons. What you call 'campus', we call it 'sacred place', as for a church or a mosque. The Iraqi law prohibited even a traffic policeman the access to the campus, but the inspectors of weapons wanted to come there and they came there. Let us make a rapid calculation now together.

There are 8 universities which have each one of the 6 faculties concerned: exact sciences, medicine, the veterinary medicine, engineers, agronomy and pharmacology. That made 8 x 6 = 48

Each one of these faculties has 3 departments: chemistry, physics and biochemistry. Therefore 48 x 3 = 144.

On average each department has at least 10 laboratories. Therefore 144 x 10 = 1440. Let us say that on the average they have 15 apparatuses: 8 microscopes, 3 balances etc. That gives 1440 x 15 = 21.600

For each apparatus it is necessary to fill a form as that which I show you. There are 13 questions such as: which is the name of the instrument? when was it bought? from which country was it imported? via which port? etc. At the end, 21.600 forms about the same number of apparatuses, with each 13 questions, means 21.600 x 13 = 280.800 questions.
One stupid question without answer? Prolongation of the sanctions!

We have here in Iraq the oldest university of the world, founded to the 9th century. Some instruments are thus very old. Thus we found a microscope of 1957 of which we did not know by which port it had been imported. Was This Dubai? Or Damas? We thus did not answer the question. When the plate with the mark of the refrigerator was broken or illegible - Westinghouse or Philips? - we did not answer the question. With which consequences? That towards the external world the UN-officials told: 'Iraq does not comply completely with the resolutions of the UNO' and in that way the sanctions are each 6 months prolonged. We have been supporting this during 8 years. Didn't that last enough? We find that it is urgent to examine the mechanisms of the inspections: is this effective? is this really a control?

But did Iraq give enough time to the inspectors? They wanted 6 months, we gave them 8 years! Half million of children died during this period. And did Iraq give them enough facilities? We gave them cars, their daily wages going from 1000 to 3000 dollars, and that for 1000 inspectors. All that paid by the Iraqis who suffered from hunger until death. The majority of people in the world do not know that we pay them (they take the money on our credits blocked abroad). And all that while our nation is dying from starvation.

That lasted for 8 years and half. Wasn't it time to say or 'the work is finished', or 'the mechanism is not efficient' or.. 'we are here for other thing, for instance spying'. That's the point of view of Iraq. We will not let die another half a million of children to let you do something that has nothing to do with arms inspection.

We have 104 non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Iraq. Inform the world about the problems and the sufferings which they face. These NGOs are really non-governmental and independent. They are financed by the members. They can attend congresses and workshops abroad and can invite people from abroad. They represent a whole spectrum of specialists: medical specialists (45 NGOs), economic actors, lawyers, artists, actors, basic scientists including informaticians, biologists and mathematicians. If somebody among you works in one of these sectors, that he or she contacts these NGO. They have enormous needs, help them!


Question of Dr. Stephanie De Maesschalck (Medicine for the People, Belgium)
Are there investigations and studies which show that the incidence of cancers and especially of leukaemia's increases? Because some say that uranium does not penetrate in the bonemarrow where the blood cells are formed and thus also the leukaemia's.

Miss Huda: Three weeks ago a conference was held on this subject and we will give you the accounts in two specimens. But you will go to Basorah where the majority of the cases occurred. Record simply what you will see there. And look also to what we, doctors, observe these last years, in our private clinics. Previously we had two cases of cancer per month, currently we have two of them per day, and in Basora even 6 per day. When, in the same family, 15 people are affected by cancer, I think that things are clear.
I warn you for the dangers of depleted uranium (DU). A directive of the World Health Organization (WHO) says that no test can be made with radioactive products, on an individual or a group, without the consent of the people concerned and without the control of the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA) in Vienna. We can't perform tests ourselves because the IAEA will not permit it.. Do not count on the WHO, but look at the facts. Perhaps yes, they will propose a plan of a study over 10 years, to see whether the depleted uranium plays a role. Meanwhile the nation will die of leukaemia's and other cancers.

Why wouldn't DU pass into the bone marrow? If a Canadian doctor, not an Iraqi, proved that it is still present in the urine after 8 years, why shouldn't it pass into the bone marrow? Believe me, and act now.

Question: Does the danger of depleted uranium also exist apart from the area of the south?

Miss Huda: Yes, because the particles are carried by the wind and do not stop at any border. I read in reports that the incidence of cancers increased in Koweit. But they cannot speak about it high, because of the American pressure which is very strong.
'On the base of our socialist values, we are against fundamentalism since a long time'

Question of the German journalist Rainer Rupp (Junge Welt) : We noticed that all Western consumer products are available in the stores and that ther are construction sites everywhere. It is also what the BBC showed two day ago in a report. So, you cannot pretend that Iraq is short of money?

Miss Huda: The deal ' Oil for food and medicine' excludes the arrival of the money of the oil sales in Iraq. The products in the stores belong to private people, who buy them with the money of members of the family working in Austria, Jordan, Germany, Lybia, Australia... Those buy products for you, give you money to start a trade. The State thus does not intervene there with money. The activities of construction or maintenance of buildings or roads are financed in dinars, that don't have any value out of the borders. I speak frankly with you: with our dinars you could not finance a terrorist, even for one cent. We are against terrorism because our civilization is 10.000 years old. Our ideology is in contradiction with that of the Islamic fundamentalists. It is socialist and progressive. We are not communist, but we were good friends with the Soviet Union and all the Communist Parties. From our values, we are opposed to fundamentalism for a much longer time.

Posted by: peace/justice on May 12, 03 | 11:15 am