OWFI Report: Hawijah in Crisis and the Legacy of US Bases

 In late August, The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq released a damning exposé about major environmental and human harm being caused by a US military base in the Iraqi town of Hawija (30 miles south of Kirkuk.)lkjlkj

Their vitally important report , entitled U.S. Army Base Transforms the Town of Hawijah (30 miles south of Kirkuk) into a Crisis Zone: Hundreds of Paralyzed Children and Teenagers with Cancer, describes how “in a town of 109,000 people there is a generation of children who are suffering from Poliomyelitis paralysis and cases of brain damage or atrophy. 412 of these children and teenagers are registered patients in the health clinic, whereas the actual numbers exceed 600 cases of child disability. Cancer is also spreading like an epidemic among all age groups but especially among teenagers, who await their death as the Iraqi and U.S. governments make no efforts to provide treatment or medication. The U.S. government is responsible for the radiation and the unleashing of their arsenal to practice with live ammunition and explosives in a field that was merely one and a half kilometers away from a residential neighborhood and with no wall or a fence to prevent civilians, children, and shepherds from entering.” The full report is translated below by Yasmeen Hanoosh, along with a framing editorial by prominent Basra-based writer, visual artist and women’ rights activist Evan al-Darraji. (Both original Arabic texts can be accessed here, on al-Darraji’s blog.)kjkj

Falah Alwan of the progressive and very active Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq wrote a piece publicizing the report and the delegation visit to Hawija organized by OWFI and attended by members of FWCUI, upon which the report is based. As Alwan writes: “There are hundreds of people with illnesses, including cancer. People cannot afford proper medical treatment; FWCUI and OWFI are demanding that the weapons testing stops, that the site is cleaned up and that people are given access to the medical treatment they need.”lkj

Multiple Methods, One Murder

Evan Al-Darraji

August 26, 2011

Since the dawn of humanity approximately 5000 years ago, Iraqis have been the object of death’s harvest, be it through wars, revolutions, or genocides, among other methods of termination that have been committed against us as I laid out succinctly in my previous article, “Iraq: Carnivores and Vampires Nation!”

Sometimes the reaper was one of us, and at other times a hateful aggressor or someone coveting our land. All the same, the death toll that the soul reapers have recorded has soared horrifically in recent years, that is, since the fall of the previous regime in 2003 and the American-Safavi invasion headed by our subservient agent-leaders who employed an array of methods and tactics to terminate us and break our unity. They started with blunt war and heavy munitions such as missiles, bombs, and explosives most of which violated the treaties and protocols on the prohibition of the use of biological and chemical weapons whose impact continues on the soil, air, and water, and consequently destroys organic matter including humans and result in illnesses, deformities, and death. Such elements include white phosphorus, napalm, and depleted uranium which were used by the U.S. Army and its allies in the war against Iraq with the excuse of toppling the regime. They denied having used these elements despite tests and traces that prove it, in addition to the confessions of their allies. Added to this list are the mass murders and individual assassinations, booby traps, and armed attacks by terrorists and organized militia that fill the country, in support of this faction or that.

Today, one of the civilian humanitarian organizations, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), presented a report it prepared: U.S. Army Base Transforms the Town of Hawijah (30 miles south of Kirkuk) into a Crisis Zone: Hundreds of Paralyzed Children and Teenagers with Cancer

Through a critical survey, the report established that “in a town of 109,000 people there is a generation of children who are suffering from Poliomyelitis paralysis and cases of brain damage or atrophy. 412 of these children and teenagers are registered patients in the health clinic, whereas the actual numbers exceed 600 cases of child disability. Cancer is also spreading like an epidemic among all age groups but especially among teenagers, who await their death as the Iraqi and U.S. governments make no efforts to provide treatment or medication. The U.S. government is responsible for the radiation and the unleashing of their arsenal to practice with live ammunition and explosives in a field that was merely one and a half kilometers away from a residential neighborhood and with no wall or a fence to prevent civilians, children, and shepherds from entering.” (1)

Today we place in your hands this report based on the surveys that the organization conducted on August 13-16, 20ll.  It includes the ages of the afflicted persons, whose ages range from infants to 19 years old. They are suffering from a variety of tumors and deformities that threaten their lives without finding adequate treatment or healthcare. They mostly come from poor and needy families who can barely find enough to eat! Hundreds of thousands are suffering. Hundreds of thousands are facing the threat of this awful death as if there was a genocidal conspiracy against these innocent people.

The strange thing is that the U.S. continues to claim that its war on Iraq was ‘clean’!! Can you call a brutal war that has caused murder, destruction, and displacement ‘clean’?  They deny it, despite all the evidence against them, a fact that only reveals their lies and violations of international treaties and protocols such as the Geneva Protocol of 1925 that prohibits the use of bacteriological methods of warfare, in addition to asphyxiating and poisonous gases, among other weapons.  It was signed by twenty-nine countries, yet the United States was conspicuously opposed to it. Moreover, in December 1966, the United Nations General Assembly issued a resolution that dictated the need to adhere strictly to the aforementioned protocol. During the 1960s, Britain made the effort to disarm its biological weapons and received broad support for these efforts, especially from the Soviet Union. Likewise, in 1969 former President of the United States Richard Nixon announced the country’s disapproval of the use of biological weapons, and ordered the destruction of the country’s reserves.

The UN General Assembly also referred to its resolution number 2662 (25th session) that was made on December 7th, 1970, to take the necessary steps to remove the weapons of mass destruction such as those that use chemical and bacteriological (biological) factors from the military munitions of all countries.

What is the meaning of these treaties and resolutions? Are they mere clichés and embellishments to be added to their ‘human rights’ counterparts that are being violated in Iraq in every way? Who is responsible for demanding our most basic rights and for holding accountable those who violate it? Where is the government, and what position does it assume in defending the lives, health, and future of the citizens of Iraq in the face of multiple levels of humanitarian crises?

Whom do we hold accountable? To whom do we raise our grievances?

U.S. Army Base Transforms the Town of Hawijah (30 miles south of Kirkuk) into a Crisis Zone: Hundreds of Paralyzed Children and Teenagers with Cancer

After a delegation from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq made several visits to the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk Province between August 16-23, it was found that Hawijah and the surrounding villages in this district have become a backyard dump polluted with radiation and leftover munitions from a U.S. Army base, a fact that has caused a human tragedy denied to this day by the Iraqi and American governments. Moreover, the two governments work hard to ensure that the issue remains top secret, despite the daily tragedies borne by the residents of the area.

The number of disability and cancer cases increases in the villages that are closest to, or downwind of, the U.S. Army base, especially the villages Kabiba, Hamduniyya, Abu al-Sakhra, al-‘Atshana, and Hor al-Sufun. For example, Kabiba village has only of 1400 residents, among whom 21 cases of cancer have been identified, three of whom have died while the others await their turn in the absence of treatment and medications.

On the day of August 23rd, 2011, a delegation from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq escorted a group of journalists from satellites and international news reporters in order to expose this issue on an international level after the local authorities in Kirkuk attempted to keep it secret in collaboration with U.S. forces that called up the person who took a sand specimen to examine at the Kirkuk Health Center.

The Organization of Women’s Freedom requests forming an international committee to investigate and track down the causes behind the high levels of disability and paralysis among children and infants in the town of Hawijah. It also calls upon international humanitarian organizations to help the victims and their families who have been exposed by the Iraqi government to the most difficult living conditions such as drinking water shortages and absence of basic services, not to mention the negligence of the government to provide them with any kind of physical or psychological health care or treatment.

The Organization of Women’s Freedom also demands that the U.S. government confess its accountability toward the tragedies of tens of thousands of afflicted people from this region and who suffer from the presence of one or more disabled children within their households. Material and moral compensation for the victims and their families is one meager way in which the U.S. government could apologize for its atrocities that point to its apathy toward human life. Exposing hundreds of thousands to the radiation of live munitions, explosives, and the radiation of depleted uranium has created an afflicted generation that is unable to look after itself, and has caused suffering to tens of thousands of their family members. This is no less than a war crime or genocide against a group of innocent unarmed civilians.

The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq hopes to receive assistance from international organizations in order to achieve these goals. The experiences of the past eight years have taught us not to expect positive responses from the Iraqi or the American governments when the matter concerns humanitarian crises that they impose on the civilian public in Iraq.

Yanar Mohammed

Director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

August 23, 2011

-Delegation of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq: Majid Hamid, Coordinator; Members: Dalal Jum’a, Ahlam Hasan, Ahlam Taha, Ali al-Kindi, and some organization members in Samarra.

Satellites and accompanying media: al-Hurra, al-Fayha, al-Salam, Routers, al-Mousawa.

Local partners: Jeel Organization for Human Development, a group of Hwaija notables, and medical staff.

Translated from Arabic by Yasmeen Hanoosh

Chart showing the names and ages of disabled children and teenagers suffering from cancer in Haweeja, August 2011.

 

4 responses to “OWFI Report: Hawijah in Crisis and the Legacy of US Bases

  1. I am so sorry for what my country and its mad scientists and deranged warmakers have done to your once great society and your dear people. Have you photos of any of these deformed children and those with cancer? Would be useful in an article. Lee Loe, Grandmother for Peace

  2. I was actually at FOB McHenry and spent time in Hawijah. We never used any depleted uranium…those are for anti-armor and insurgents didn’t have tanks or armored vehicles. Regular bullets and explosives do not contain any radioactive material. The high cancer rates are probably due to Iraqis polluting their own country or the large petrochemical plant near Hawijah’s water source. I’ve never seen such pollution…and it was from Iraqis, not Americans. As for Hawijah, I’ve never been in a place with such hate…a place where kids would be beaten if they took candy we tried to hand out. The same place where “insurgents” would give kids fake grenades to show at our vehicles to prove their manhood. Their real motive was to bait US soldiers into shooting kids so they could videotape it for propaganda. If there was a hell on earth, Hawijah is a suburb.

  3. Former infantryman

    Strange…….I served at that base for 15 months right before we shut it down and there was absolutely no radiation. As for munitions “testing” 1.5 kilometers from hawijah….we were in fact only properly disposing of improvised explosives/grenades/mines used by insurgents inside their own city. At least we had the decency to relocate it to a safe distance to prevent civilian casualties.

  4. I have to agree with my veteran friends. I was at fob warrior (Kirkuk air base) outside of Kirkuk in 2011 and can assure you that there were no biological agents or anything even remotely close to something like that, that could have caused those people to become infected. Regular ammunition being fired doesn’t expell any kind of radiation and there was no radiation dumps. I’m sorry those people were infected but I think you’re looking for a easy target to point the finger at. Instead of using so much energy looking for the cause, you should be looking for a way for the people to get help. Good luck.

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