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IRAQ/BIOLOICAL WARFARE AGENT ROTAVIRUS:
WAS IT USED IN THE IRAQ -- KURD WARS?

By Stephen Hughes

July 3, 2002

 

Rotavirus

This virus is one of the major causes of death among infants and children in developing countries.

Infection is characterized by, fever, vomiting, abdominal distress, diarrhea, and dehydration. In areas where medical treatment is minimal, the disease is often fatal to children. The disease appears within one to two days after exposure and lasts about one week. Immunity develops in children who have survived the infection. Rotavirus infections in adults are usually asymptomatic or mild.

IRAQ/KURD WAR

IRAQI RECORDS

During the unsuccessful Kurdish uprising of March 1991, the Kurds captured huge quantities of Iraqi government records in the secret police buildings in the major towns and cities. Although much of the documents was burned or destroyed during the confusing days of the uprising, more than 18 tones of documents, contained in 847 boxes with a total number of pages estimated as over four million, are now in the USA for safe-keeping, under the auspices of the Middle East Watch (MEW). Genocide in Iraq (6) and Bureaucracy of Repression (7) are the latest to be published by Middle East Watch in order to reconstruct, document, and demonstrate the Iraqi regime's policy against the Kurds, particularly during the years of 1987 through 1989. Their conclusion is that the organization 'believes it can demonstrate convincingly a deliberate intent on the part of the government of President Saddam Hussein to destroy, through mass murder, part of Iraq's Kurdish minority. [the Kurds] were targeted during the Anfal as Kurds. [and that] Saddam Hussein's regime committed panoply of war crimes, together with crimes against humanity and genocide.' This is not a hasty conclusion; but rather one based on a unique combination of three painstaking research projects lasted over eighteen months:

1. Oral testimony from over 350 eyewitnesses or survivals;

2. Forensic evidence from areas of mass graves; and

3. Huge amount of captured Iraqi documents.

Anfal Operations

Despite all public denial of using chemical weapons against the Kurdish civilians in 1988, the Iraqi regime did not deny a campaign it called Anfal. In a reply to a petition by a former Kurdish POW, Chief of the Bureau of the Presidency informed the man that his 'wife and children were lost during the Anfal Operations that took place in the Northern Region in 1988.' Anfal, a name of a sura in the Koran, is thus the official military code-name used by the Iraqi government in its public pronouncements and internal memoranda. It was a name given to a concerted series of military offensives, eight in all, conducted in six distinct Kurdish geographic areas between late February and early September 1988.

IRAQI RECORDS CONTINUED:

Since 1975, over 4,000 Kurdish villages had been destroyed; by a conservative estimate more than 100,000 rural Kurds had died in Anfal alone; half of Iraq's productive farmland is believed to have been laid waste.

The destruction campaigns of April 1987 - April 1989, which MEW calls the Kurdish genocide, had the Anfal campaign as its centerpiece. The Anfal campaign should by no means be regarded as a function or by-product of the Iraq-Iran war, since it was a rational, pre-planned enterprise in which modern techniques of management and expertise were effectively coordinated. The Iran-Iraq war provided the crucial element with which Baghdad could cover-up its opportunity to bring to a climax its long-standing efforts to destroy the Kurds through genocide. The Iraqi regime's anti-Kurdish drive dates back to more than fifteen years, well before the outbreak of that war.

KUDISH VILLAGE OF HALAHJA

Twelve years after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein struck on March 16, 1988, Halabja became a living laboratory for studying the effects of chemical weapons on civilians. The first comprehensive medical survey of northern Iraq has uncovered high rates of rare cancers, congenital defects, miscarriages, and other disorders are linked to Saddam's use of chemical weapons on his own Kurdish population during a 1987-88 campaign of repression. The attacks are "Saddam's time bomb," still debilitating the lives of the Kurds and their offspring, says Dr. Christine Gosden, a University of Liverpool medical geneticist who has crusaded for help for the region's residents.

Halabja most likely bore the brunt of Saddam's fury because of its support for neighboring Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The attack on the town killed 5,000 people immediately, and more have since died from the effects of the aerial poison. Mustard gas was almost certainly used, and European experts visiting the scene days later reported seeing signs of Cyanide Gas and nerve agents like Sarin and Tabun. But the exact ingredients in the chemical cocktail rained down on Halabja's people may never be known. Internecine Kurdish warfare and objections from Baghdad have prevented a full accounting. U.N. sanctions, in an unintended side effect, hamper efforts at medical assistance.

IRAQ /KURD WAR

KUDISH VILLAGE OF HALAJA CONTINUED:

A medical survey conducted with U.S. Government funds canvassed 1 percent of the region's 3.5 million people and 10 percent of Halabja's citizens, more than 40,000 in all. Interviewers used pictographs to overcome cultural barriers to discussing sensitive health matters. One startling finding: Saddam's forces used chemicals at 281 locations. The legacy is a medical catastrophe. Rates of congenital abnormalities are four to five times those suffered by Hiroshima's A-bomb victims, and cancer rates are 10 times the Middle East average. Rare malignancies like esophageal cancer abound. Lung and colon cancers hit people in there 20s. Until now, data on the long-term effects of chemical weapons on unprotected civilians have been sketchy, because most poison gas attacks have involved battlefield troops. "This should be of great interest to defense research establishments and civil defense preparedness [personnel]," says Mike Amitay of the Washington Kurdish Institute.

IRAQ/BIOLOICAL WARFARE AGENT ROTAVIRUS

WAS IT USED?

Rotavirus

This virus is one of the major causes of death among infants and children in developing countries.

Infection is characterized by, fever, vomiting, abdominal distress, diarrhea, and dehydration. In areas where medical treatment is minimal, the disease is often fatal to children. The disease appears within one to two days after exposure and lasts about one week. Immunity develops in children who have survived the infection. Rotavirus infections in adults are usually asymptotic or mild.

Iraq invested heavily in its Rotavirus Biological Warfare Program. However Iraq Rotavirus Program has been largely ignored. Mixed with other biologicals and as a binary agent, (Cholera ) even used in limited singularity warfare agent, it would cause major deaths and illness among children and infants. Its use would have gone unnoticed. Deaths of infants and children could have also been brought into villages by contaminated adults.

 

 

 

 


 

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