On Saturday, eight 'high value' Iraqis held without charge for over
two years by the United States were released.They included Dr Huda Ammash, a
distinguished internationally renowned, environmental biologist, Professor at
Baghdad University, whose earned her PhD at the University of Missouri. Her
father, former Iraqi Ambassador to the US, under the government of Abdul Karim
Kassem (1958-1963) was executed in a purge to stamp authority by Saddam in 1981.
In the 1990's Dr Ammash was, ironically offered a seat in the Legislature. When
Saddam offered a position to say:'No thanks, I've my career plan mapped out',
was not an option, but her academic career remained her passion and primary
Arrested by US troops, this brave, gentle woman suddenly became 'Mrs
Anthrax' and featured on America's assinine playing cards of their 'most wanted',
in the wild west, last chance saloon, Iraq became after April 2003.
Dr Ammash's crime was her numerous scientific papers on the environmental and
biological impact of sanctions and the horrific health cost of the weapons used
in the 1991 Gulf war by Britain and the US. In 'Iraq Under Siege -the Deadly
Impact of Sanctions and War' (Pluto Press, updated 2003 Ed: Anthony Arnove)
contributers included Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Howard Zinn, Denis Halliday
- and Huda Ammash. All those the US and UK Administrations love to hate most,
were under one cover and she was firmly allied with them.
Her introduction reads: '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, excacerbated by santions
.... much of Iraq has been turned into a polluted and radioactive environment.'
She refers to the International Treaties outlawing such weapons, to depleted
uranium (DU) weapons not being 'depleted' but 'radioactive waste', the all in
minutely detailed, careful, hard hitting, scientific, incontravertable fact.
'DU is radiologically and chemically toxic to humans and other forms of life.'
She details, well on the side of caution the '... terrifying total of three
hundred and twenty to three hundred and fifty tonnes of DU expended ammunition....
scattered throughout Iraq and Kuwait.' She reminds that US Army manuals warn
of the dangers, that the pollution enters the water table and thus can spread
through the entre region ravaging the lives of those - young, older and yet
unborn - not even in the conflict zone.
She writes of a less adressed subject: 'Electromagnetic pollution'. '....particularly
dangerous because it is often undetected'. In Finland near early wanring radar
systems, '..pregnancy problems, anxiety, depression, fatality, heart failures,
cardiovascular diseases, cancers ...leukaemia, eye and skin diseases ..' in
excess have been recorded,as with those who work 'in other electromagnetic environments.'
During the forty five day day war, widely deployed electronic devices '... advanced
radar systems, lazer guided missiles ...released high frequency electromagnetic
energy into the atmosphere ...' Chemical pollution included black rain, a soot
laden atmosphere and environmental pollution was added to by soil ruination
by heavy metals such as nickel and vanadium also '.. changing the components
of the ecosystem ..' producing an increase in rodents and scorpions.' Plants
died in poisoned earth and in formerly fertile land: ' .... new fields of sand
dunes were created.'
The British government were perfectly aware of Dr Ammash's non-anthrax credentials,
they gave her a visa to speak at a Conference on Iraq's environment in Manchester
in 2000, where their plants sat in their seats as the rest of the audience gave
her a standing ovation. Iraqis too were in the audience, opposed to Saddam -
many listened to her with tears in their eyes.
Huda Ammash tried to alert the world and redeem, save, her country's environment.
She might also have saved Ken Bigley. His kidnapper's demand in October 2004
was, as with Margaret Hassan, release of women prisoners - all women prisoners.The
British government said there were none, that after the depravities of Abu Ghraib
they had been released (to call this economical with the truth would be another
understatement.) The US Administration linked the demand to only Dr Ammash and
a colleague Dr Rihab Taha. Colin Powell whose country is holding all Iraq hostage,
said he didn't do deals with hostage takers - and Ken Bigley was beheaded. Even
two illegally held women might have been a life saving gesture.
Another life to be saved is Dr Ammash herself, who passionately fighting for
the environment she loved, had fallen its victim. She never mentioned the cancer
she suffers, to which she has lost both her breasts. Brave, steely, elegant,
gentle. Her treatment shames us all. Oh, and anthrax? Perhaps the US should
arrest a few scientists at their very own Fort Detrick, Maryland, the US Army's
'Medical Research Institute' - possibly the world's largest producer of weapons