misery in Iraq after six years of occupation
BISMILLAH AL RAHMAN AL RAHEEM
The Honourable Ms. Luisa Morgantine,
Members of the European Parliament
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to thank you very much, as well as our colleagues who have given us this opportunity to have the honour in meeting with you and speaking to you; to convey to you a clear and honest picture of the health situation as well as the dire humanitarian situation experienced by the afflicted people of Iraq. It is an excruciatingly tragic and unbearable situation which cries out to all the liberals of the world and to all those interested in the lives of people in this vast universe, to get seriously and effectively involved, to proclaim the word of truth and to standup and work to save mankind, to provide and preserve the minimum of the simplest and most basic rights for a happy and dignified life, freedom, secure habitat and prosperous employment in a state of mental and physical energy without suffering and pain, hardship and discrimination, especially when this person lives in a land and country like Iraq, to which God has given such great natural wealth of water, oil, precious metals, and a rich soil all of which guarantee achieving a decent living.
I come from Mesopotamia, (The Land Between The Two Rivers), very ancient and has always been called "the black land" because of its prosperity, its crowded population and its abundance of good living conditions; because of its people's ancient civilization and its contributions to human civilization: the first letter and alphabet, the pen, and law, thousands of years ago, as you have read in ancient history.
Iraq, ladies and gentlemen, with its wealth and its generosity, attracted many peoples and ethnicities over the ages, as a result of which the aforesaid elements have made up a mosaic of the people. It has been inhabited by peoples of numerous different nationalities, ethnicities and religions in security and peace, as well as in compatibility, harmony and stability in spite of the fact that it has experienced numerous foreign waves of invasions, and large attempted invasions, desirous of its great wealth and its geopolitical strategic position over the ages. Iraq has come out of these experiences after fighting to the death and defending its land and territory to emerge victorious, united and unified.
I, an experienced doctor and cardiac specialist, who is experienced in the treatment of heart disease and who has served in his specialty in The State of Iraq for the past 4 decades, stand in your presence and addresses you. I have lived with and through the rule of several successive governments and political regimes which you know. I haven't any particular party or political fealty and affiliation. My people as well as my students and my colleagues in Iraq bare witness to my service in the medical, health and military and civilian medical services fields, professionally as well as academically. I specialized and trained in European hospitals in England, Italy, Ireland, France and here in Belgium, specializing in heart disease during the critical periods of the long war and the chocking embargo. I transferred the most up to date technical skills and research you had achieved in the cardiac field in order to benefit Iraq's patients as well as its doctors at a time when Iraqis suffered from the scourge of a technical, scientific and economic embargo which lasted for 13 years; I also witnessed the invasion of Iraq and when I also saw with my own two eyes, on the 9th and 10th April, 2003, how the invading tanks invaded my cardiac center and burned, looted and plundered the largest center for cardiac surgery in the center of Baghdad in plain sight of the entire world, for it to be left open for further plunder for many days to come under the invader's auspices.
In this center we used to perform 8 open heart surgeries on Iraqi adults and children, daily. European doctors from England, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain and Germany volunteered their work there as a humanitarian contribution to the center. I recall a telephone call from a colleague from the South of France who had worked in the past with us in the Center, when Baghdad and the area in which the center is situated was undergoing heavy aerial bombardment, during the invasion, begging me to leave the center with the rest of my colleagues in order to escape because the center was a target, as he seemed to believe from the direct satellite pictures. I remember when tears poured down my cheeks whilst watching the Cardiac Center burn and I was screaming at the commanding officer of the group which supervised the operation from the top of a tank, saying to "me stop your tears, we will build you a greater, larger and more up to date Center”.
Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament and Distinguished audience, when my colleagues and medical students in Iraq knew that I was going to be present amongst you, I was asked by their Union which was lately formed and carries a membership of more than 350 doctors, to carry forth their concerns and suffering as a result of the seriously deteriorated health situation in Iraq; their letter which arrived 2 days before my arrival, here, is in my possession. I left Iraq after continuing to work and restore parts of the Center with my colleagues, up to 5th March, 2005, when I received a letter threatening to liquidate and kill me in company with 10 other colleagues who are all cardiac specialists, should we not leave Iraq before this date. Its letters still follow me like ghosts and the style in which it was written still fills me with horror and pain.
Gentlemen, before the invasion and despite the cruel embargo, there were 18 Faculties of Medicine, six of which were established during the period of the embargo, six dental colleges, four pharmacological faculties, and tens of colleges, institutes and schools of nursing, assistant doctors and aides, in Iraq. The first Faculty of Medicine in Baghdad, was opened in 1927 whose first dean, for a very long time, was the English Doctor, Sanderson, the author of the golden memories of his decades long medical service in Iraq called "10,000 Nights and a Night in Iraq".
In Iraq, we had more than 39,000 hospital beds in efficiently run teaching hospitals, as well as city and town hospitals, as well as medical clinics and centers in the country. We had more than 34,000 registered doctors, 20% of whom were specialists and we used to graduate more than 1,000 doctors annually. We also had 30 Post Graduate Studies of Medical Specialization, granting the Iraqi Board to more than 250 doctors annually. These personnel carried out their duties and responsibilities with great efficiency towards the injured and the disabled during a long war and during the period when Iraq was boycotted scientifically for a very long time.
The Founding Constitution of The Iraqi State in the 1920s granted the right to all Iraqis to free education and state medical treatment and preventative medicine (national health insurance). These services were established throughout Iraq's countryside, villages and cities, throughout all its provinces.
The Educational system in Iraq is British in its method since its establishment, and Europe understands and knows the standards and efficiency of Iraqi doctors as well as the standards of medical teaching and health care in Iraq; a large percentage of these doctors, today, is spread throughout Europe and Britain. The World Health Organization, UNESCO, UNICEF, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF RED CROSS, and other world organizations evaluated Iraq's achievements positively in vaccination programmes, family medical care, general health, child health, rehabilitation of the disabled, birth control and the decline in mortality of the under 5s and of the newly born since 1980, which put an end to the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics such as Cholera, Infantile Paralysis, Meningitis, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough, and Tuberculosis. In addition to this, Iraq was the foremost in the region in controlling HIV Aids and in fighting addiction and drug abuse as well as establishing School Health Programmes and establishing Protective Child and Maternal Centers as well as establishing specialized centers for Fertility, Cancer, Cardiac and Vascular, Orthopedic, Glandular, Radio Isotopes, Nerves, Ophthalmology, Paralysis, Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, Toxicity, Herbal Medicine, and even Acupuncture Treatment.
Iraqi women have contributed heavily to Iraq's medical journey and history, and in addition to all the aforementioned the great success of The Food Programme and the Dispensing of Medicines for all chronic disease, as well as the widespread institution of local health clinics and national health insurance. The beneficial use of the Oil For Food and Medicine Programme led to mitigating the bad effects of the imposed embargo on Iraq on its medical imports before the occupation.
The method of importing medicines and medical equipment and supplies since the '70s in the last century was successful in importing safe, effective and solid medicines from international, multi national solid, well-known companies, so was the local manufacture of medicine, enjoying the same specifications as that of the imported, both of which succumbed to identical analyses and tests as well as to efficient central registry in order to safeguard society from its possible resultant catastrophic effects. The importation of medicines was limited to the Organization for Medicinal Imports – The Ministry of Health, with scientific supervision of a committee specially chosen for its efficiency.
Members of the European Parliament and Distinguished Colleagues and
What did the invasion of Iraq after April 2003 do to the health and humanitarian situation in Iraq, as we commemorate its repugnant and abominable anniversary?
To abbreviate my talk, and because of the constraints of time, leaflets in English will be handed out to you which will give you a clear picture in numbers which reflect the state of my country's health. These numbers are not a figment of the imagination, but numbers extracted from studies and follow up reports carried out by international professional and humanitarian organizations, institutions and societies, referred to, opposite each fact and number mentioned.
As for the reality on the ground, CDs will be handed out to you which will, in pictures, reflect and document a little of the suffering of the Iraqi people from the terror of bombardment and bombing, the destruction of infrastructure, violence and terror, the killing which has targeted the people and its doctors, its efficient professionals, and its scientists and academics as well as the forced displacement of people inside and outside Iraq; the suffering of women as well as the widows and the orphans and the spread of crime and sickness and epidemics; the spread of commercialization of bad medicines and addictive drugs; the internally displaced refugee camps; their conditions as well as the condition of the detainees in the prisons of the occupation as well as in those of the imposed authority. However, suffice it for me to state that we are in a country that :
1- 70% of its doctors have emigrated.
It has lost more than 5,500 of its scientists and academics, killed,
imprisoned, or emigrated.
3- 70% of its hospitals have minimum standard performance, below the required standards in the remnants of what is destroyed, raided, or stolen.
4- 90% of medicines in pharmacies is neither analysed nor is it registered or is bad or corrupt and contaminated; it is brought on to the black market across the borders by ghost companies and a country in which thousands of unlicensed pharmacies and drug depots exist, run by people who are not pharmacists.
5- Its hospitals are used as centers for ethnic and sectarian physical liquidation and terror by the militias.
6- The Ministry of Health is part of a sectarian quota division system that specifies the identity of the minister and the directors general and is controlled by the theocratic political parties as well as the religious and sectarian militias. It is an institution in which financial and administrative corruption prevails and according to the Transparency Committee, more than 2 Billion US Dollars have disappeared as a result of phony ghost contracts and bribery.
7- There is no supervisory or monitoring role to be mentioned by the present parliamentarians who are doctors, but on the contrary, their interference may cause a negative effect on the size and the nature of the financial and administrative corruption.
8- Widespread mental illness and drug addiction and the widespread growth of opium poppy plantations and opium for the first time since occupation.
9- Alteration of basic medical purchase requirements and their replacement with insignificant lists and invoices.
10- The spread of epidemics and the loss of credibility of all statistics and the lack of statistics of cholera, Measles, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough, and Toxoplasmosis and a worsening situation of Tuberculosis and HIV Aids.
11- Unsafe imported foods.
12- A rise of incidence in cancer and the nature of the registered cases recently and a rise in cases of congenital malformation as due to the aggravated complications as a result of radioactive pollution and the burning down of trees. Pollution of rivers, as a result of the collapse of the sewage system, particularly in the Middle and the South caused by the use of Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorous as well as Cluster Bombs, and the prevention by the occupation forces of remedial measures and surveys to discover the polluted locations for sterilization and cleansing.
13- The proliferation of landmines in the sites of the old wars, as well as unexploded ordinance, especially in Basra and in the border areas.
14- Loss of cooperation and harmony with the humanitarian and voluntary organizations, such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and others, as well as financial corruption in the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, and the escape outside Iraq, of its President with US protection.
15 - Lack of medicines and supplies and, as well as minimal financial allocations, since they did not exce 4% of the overall budget allocations in the best of cases, and because of rampant corruption.
- Lack of safe potable water for more than 70% of the population and
the continuing lack of electricity as well as the lack of proper
17 - The highest rates of infant and newborn mortality in the world.
18 - In Iraq after the occupation:
o More than five million are displaced.
o More than 4 million are below poverty level.
o Approximately, 2 million widows.
o Five million orphans.
o Insufficient food for more than eight million.
o More than 400,000 have been detained and prisoned.
o More than 28% of the population is unemployed.
It is clear that human health and safety is being targeted as well as the Iraqi identity; depersonalization, and interference in the process of education and upbringing in order to weaken and divide Iraq by depletion of its capabilities and its scientific resources which is being implemented by devising a political process and service institutions based on ethnic and sectarian quotas which are inconsistent with efficiency, integrity and reconstruction, transparency and construction.
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament:
Occupation, invasion, murder, terrorism, intimidation, and threats would not put an end to the aggravated violence because of the worsening oppression of peoples and unjustified wars that do not create freedoms and democracy. All that the occupation built as a political process which it alleges to be legitimate, has proved that it is a failure, for the Government of Iraq is classified as the most failed in the world, and the most financially and administratively corrupt.
Thus, I urge you to work on expelling the occupation out of Iraq as soon as possible and to allow the Iraqi people and international will to achieve genuine national reconciliation between the patriotic forces and the components of the mosaic of our people and its factions so that it is an Iraqi solution with regional and international support and so that it is not a forced solution as a result of force, invasion and threats.
International law obliges the occupying power to pay equitable compensation for all the damage committed after the occupation while the country was under its patronage. We also hope that all those involved in all the political administrations formed during the occupation, be made accountable and tried for their planning for, and execution of the invasion of Iraq, without any justification. Your stance with the will and aspirations of the ill-fated Iraqi People is required and is basic for what it expresses in its message of justice and support for all the oppressed peoples, in opposition to and a cessation of all lethal wars and all occupation and imperialistic projects in the world, for they will only contribute to further violence, tension and political and economic instability which threaten the world today, with choking crises as well threatening the heart of humanity and the achievements of the peoples of the world.
Finally, please accept from our people and ourselves, words of the deepest gratitude, of thanks and of praise as I also ask of The Brussels Tribunal for helping in granting me this opportunity.
Dr. Omar Al–Kubaisy
March 18th, 2009.