There’s Good News and Still Lots of Work to be Done

The Good News: Ross (Caputi, founder of the Justice of Fallujah Project) made his Kickstarter goal, so he will be able to complete his documentary “Fear Not the Path of Truth: A Fallujah Veteran’s documentary”. This is really good news for anyone who cares about justice for the babies of Fallujah, as he plans to distribute the documentary for free to both raise awareness of the situation in Fallujah, and hopefully through that, we will be able to raise funds for the babies. Awareness has to come first, as I’ve written over and over on these pages. I so admire Ross’ dedication to this cause, and I celebrate his small victory towards his goals.

The Unbelievable News:  Last month the Ministry of Health of Iraq released a summary report on a long awaited study on the prevalence of congenital birth defects in Iraq. The study, co-funded by the Iraqi Government and the World Health Organization, was based on a 2012 survey of mothers in 10 800 households from 18 Iraqi districts and basically involved going door to door to ask mothers about details of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and births with congenital defects since the 1980s. According to the summary posted on the WHO’s website, the study found “no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq”. They only looked at the medical files of 32% of the total reported cases. This unsigned report was released quietly, with no fanfare or press. And seemed to contradict previous statements by the Ministry of Health that the study would show damming evidence that there has been a dramatic increase in birth defects in Iraq.

The Hopeful News: The respected British peer-reviewed general medical journal The Lancet just published an article critiquing the WHO and the Iraqi Government study, noting that many experts are questioning its methodology and peer review. The Lancet article is one of several pieces critical of the summary report (see here here here). And it raises some of the questions I had when I first read it…why weren’t the doctors who are dealing with the crisis surveyed? From the Lancet article:

“Samira Alaani, a paediatrician in Fallujah, Iraq, who copublished a 2011 study utilising hospital records to conclude that congenital malformations accounted for 15% of all births in Fallujah since 2003, says the new study cofunded by WHO and the Iraqi Government should have employed hospital records more comprehensively.

“Muhsin Al-Sabbak of the Basrah Medical School in Basrah, Iraq, who copublished a 2012 study reporting a 17-fold increase in birth defects in the Al Basrah Maternity Hospital since 1994, warns that the data from Basrah in the new study does not match local hospital records.”

“Alison Alborz is a specialist on learning disabilities in children at the University of Manchester, UK, who published a 2013 studypresenting data from a 2010 survey of 6032 households in four Iraqi governates including data for more than 10 000 children and young people showing a prevalence of congenital birth defects more than 2·5 times higher than reported in the Iraqi Government study. She says the new report gives little information about sampling and does not offer any discussion of whether the districts chosen for analysis “reflect the characteristics of the governorate as a whole”.

“Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a toxicologist based in Michigan, USA, who coauthored the Alaani and Al-Sabbak studies, agrees with Alborz that the selection criteria determined by the MOH are not sufficiently explained. “Based on information available in this report, we cannot rule out selection bias issues”, she warns. She also questions the decision not to employ hospital records more comprehensively, and notes that the report suffers from a lack of detail regarding ‘which areas were exposed to bombardment or heavy fighting and which areas were not. The exposed and unexposed populations remain unidentified throughout’.”

I’ve exchanged emails with all of these caring and dedicated doctors and I trust them WAY more than that report. My hope is that their voices are taken seriously. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Dr. Alaani, the pediatrician who works at Fallujah General Hospital and who deals with cases like these, day in and day out:

Razan is the 1st baby to her young healthy parents , she is 1 yr old born with absent Radius & fused elbow , the family was living in Joolan district & moved during the last year to Habbaneya subdistrict

Razan is the 1st baby to her young healthy parents , she is 1 yr old born with absent Radius & fused elbow , the family was living in Joolan district & moved during the last year to Habbaneya subdistrict

Sept FGH pics

Sept FGH Pics 3

So what can we do? Organize a showing of the documentary, preferably for Remember Fallujah Week, November 18 – 24 (the 9th anniversary of the second battle of Fallujah) . Think of ways that we can raise money for Dr. Alaani. Spread the word about Fallujah and the babies. Share my blog…care.

A Breather, For Now…But We Can’t Forget and We Can’t Give Up

It seems that the new march to war has been stopped, or at least paused…for now.  I am grateful but wary and wish that I could believe that the situation in Syria will be resolved through diplomatic means, through the proper international channels.  I hope that my skepticism is proven wrong, and that we really can stop the Nobel Peace Prize winner from sending in bombs, as if you could really bomb your way to peace. I salute everyone who worked hard to stop what seemed inevitable. It gives me hope that we really can stop a wrong when we see it, and if we scream loud enough, our “Representatives” might even listen to us, and do the people’s bidding. I think that it was people putting pressure on Congress that helped bring this about.  That and Kerry’s ineptness.  But mainly the power of the people. Right on.

So, I’m left thinking hard about what it will take to see some action on the consequences of our past wars. What will it take to get people in power to accept responsibility for their actions? How can we get some justice for the babies of Fallujah?  I do think that helping Ross get his documentary made is a positive step.  Not only will it raise awareness and educate, it can be used as a vehicle to both raise funds and to lobby our governments to take steps to make amends.  When enough people are educated and see the damage caused by our weapons, well, maybe enough people will say no more, no more blood on our hands. At least that’s my hope.

It will be a hard fight. Already the powers that be are denying and fighting and doing everything they can to dismiss and deny. As I mentioned in a previous post, the World Health Organization and the Iraqi Ministry of Health did a study on birth defects in Iraq that began in May-June 2012 and was completed in early October 2012.  The study was supposed to have been released in November 2012. Still no report or word from the WHO, but yesterday the WHO quietly released a short summary that shows “no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq.” These results are definitely at odds with previous research on the public health crisis in Iraq.  And it most certainly doesn’t explain what the doctors at Fallujah General Hospital see every day, day in and day out.  And still, where is the WHO? I am skeptical, and fear that the same people who denied Agent Orange for years will do whatever they can to deny the situation in Fallujah.

We can’t let them. Please share the kickstarter and keep talking about the babies. As the efforts in Syria show, we can change the course of events if we try. We just can’t stay silent, and we can’t give up. For these babies:

no words

no words

fallujah baby toe fallujah baby hand

As Our Country Wants to Send Bombs to Syria, We Must Remember Fallujah

I sit here today listening to the voices of my country’s leaders, trying to convince my fellow Americans that it’s our moral and ethical duty to bomb Syria, A Humanitarian effort, they say. Then they bring out the pictures of all of those poor children, and my heart bleeds, because it is terrible to see human suffering like that.  No one who is against military action in Syria is pro-chemical weapons. But I beleive, as do many others, that the story they are using to sell us this war is not the truth.  I believe other reports that question the black and whiteness of who used the weapons.  And even if what they say is true…even then, why isn’t our President, he who won a Nobel PEACE prize, doing everyting he can to avoid sending bombs? Why doesn’t he goto the UN?

Because, this is what happens when we send in our weapons:

fallujah baby boy

From Fallujah General Hospital:  “Male stillborn with upper & lower limbs abnormalities , aprevious baby aborted 2 years ago with the same condition , the parents are not relatives & there is no previous family history of such or any other abnormalities”

And, if we didn’t do this, then why won’t we fund any research to determine what did?  There’s a World Health Organization study on birth defects in Iraq that was supposed to be released in the spring. Where is that study? Where is the US here? Why can’t we address the “collateral damage” that our bombs cause before we send new bombs to new places? These are the questions I’m thinking about on this glorious end of summer day in America.

PLEASE continue to share the link to Ross Caputi’s Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/570302124/fear-not-the-path-of-truth-a-fallujah-veterans-doc As I’ve written here before, this is the first step in helping find some justice for these babies.

Peace,

addendum:
This picture was just posted on the Fallujah General Hospital facebook page today:
fallujah baby boy 2
Ismaiel , 4 days old boy born with abnormalities of both upper limbs , his family live in Joolan district , the parents are not relatives & their previous family history is free of any anomaly
Let’s remember this as we debate more bombs in Syria…

Halfway There on the Kickstarter…And, As Always, More Babies

The good news? The kickstarter by my friend Ross at the Justice for Fallujah Project is halfway to the goal! That is awesome and I thank all of my friends for supporting this cause, Please share the link and spread the news. Even if you can’t donate, the more FB and Twitter shares, the higher the campaign “scores” on kickstarter. And remember, we hope to use the documentary to raise money for the babies. It’s action that we can take.

The bad news? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted FOR military action against Syria.  The propaganda machine is beating the war drum again.  Chemical weapons are terrible, no doubt about it.

But so are ours.  We’re hypocritical interventionists.  We are not the world’s police nor should we be. Because THIS HAPPENS WHEN WE SEND OUR BOMBS TO MAIM AND KILL:

more babies more babies 3

This is why I am so passionate on the issue of whether the US should enter the war in Syria. It’s bad and my heart breaks for the children and babies of Damascus. But let the world community deal with Syria, Because if we can’t pay for what we’ve done to the families of Fallujah, what are we doing contemplating more bombs?!

How to Help Fallujah? Here’s a Start

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted…sad to say, but it’s because I had nothing new to say.  More babies born with horrific birth defects, more silence from, well, everywhere.

But now there is some action to take. Please help support this Kickstarter started by my friend (we’ve never met but I hope that he will allow me to call him my friend) Ross Caputi, the Veteran who fought in the battle of Falujah who I have written about in these pages.  He is in the process of making a documentary about Fallujah,  told from both his perspective as an ex-marine, and from the people of Fallujah’s perspective, or as Ross more eloquently states:

“This documentary is about my life after my experience in Fallujah, and my struggle to learn the truth about what I participated in amidst all the propaganda. But it is also a documentary about Fallujah, the people who live there, and the human consequences of US foreign policy in their city. ”

He wants to raise awareness here about the crisis facing the people of Fallujah (and also other cities in Iraq), a crisis caused by our foriegn policy. It is so relevant and touches me even more today, as we sit here and our President speaks of “a targeted surgical strike” in Syria. Meaning a bomb.  They want to bomb. Again.  The US government screams and cries about chemical weapons being used in Syria…and our answer is to bomb, and we can’t look at this, what has happened in Fallujah as a result of OUR weapons, OUR bombs:

baby born in Fallujah General Hospital last week

baby born in Fallujah General Hospital last week

another baby born in August at FGH

another baby born in August at FGH

Ross again:

“Possibly the most heart wrenching consequence of these sieges is the public health crisis that emerged a couple years after the fighting. All of the scientific research on this topic suggest that the weapons that were used in the two sieges of Fallujah polluted the city to such an extent that there are now enormous rates of birth defects and cancers in Fallujah. Today, 14% of all children born in Fallujah are born with birth defects. And the cancer rates in children are 12 times the expected rates in a healthy population. These figures have led many people to compare Fallujah with Hiroshima. So not only did the sieges of Fallujah hurt people in 2004, but they are still hurting people today, and unless we do something about it they will continue to hurt the future generations as well. ”

I believe that by helping Ross to share his story we can both raise awareness for the situation in Fallujah, which we need to do in order to really be able to help these babies (think Vietnam, Agent Orange, and what it took to get the US to take responsibility), and hopefully we can change public opinion and public will so that more people stand up and say no more…no more bombs and no more drones that kill and maim innocent men, women and children, for decades on end. No more. Ross plans to make the documentary free for anyone who wants it.   And, we can use it to raise funds to send to Fallujah.  The awareness HAS to come first, however. Without lots of people knowing and caring, anything we’d raise would be a drop in the bucket. This is a start…

I admire Ross’ efforts.  And I think he’s braver than our “leaders”, the ones who talk of targeted attacks and surgical strikes. He was there, and his story needs to be told. Here are more of his thoughts:

“In the past I’ve come under attack because I’ve publicly denounced our mission in Fallujah. I’ve been called a “terrorist,” a “traitor,” a “coward,” and many other things. It has been mostly other veterans who have attacked me in this way, because they feel threatened by my activism.

I fully expect that this documentary will come under similar criticism. And I will defend the message in this documentary the same way I always have. To claim that our mission in Fallujah was immoral, doesn’t in any way imply that the people who participated in either siege are immoral people. We were intentionally misled by our leaders and the media to believe that we were doing a good thing. But however well intentioned we were, that doesn’t change the fact that our mission hurt a lot of innocent Fallujans. This is a fact that can’t be dismissed, and it shouldn’t be dismissed.

Furthermore, I understand that when you have close friends killed in combat (as I have) you want so badly for what they died for to be right and noble. It is a hard pill to swallow to learn that our friends’ lives were squandered in an unjust war. I understand this. I understand why people get angry with me for trying to inform the public that our mission in Iraq was wrong and that it hurt a lot of innocent people. But Fallujans shouldn’t have to suffer because the truth is difficult for us to accept.

Just as other unpopular truths came under fire in the past (like abolitionist ideas and civil rights), this issue will likely come under fire too. The title of our documentary comes from an Arabic proverb: Fear not the path of truth for the lack of those who walk it. Although the message in this documentary is a hard pill to swallow, and it will certainly face some backlash, I’m prepared to defend it.”

It’s a step toward justice for these precious babies. Won’t you take it, and help? Please donate and share this link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/570302124/fear-not-the-path-of-truth-a-fallujah-veterans-doc

And work and pray for no bombs in Syria…

Peace,

Dawn

What Can You Say

to this post from the Birth Defects in FGH (Fallujah General Hospital)  facebook page?

I’m thinking that I need to send these pictures to some congressional offices. I think that they should see them, don’t you? And if you can think of anyone else who should see these, I’m open. Contact me…

Thanks. Peace.

From Fallujah General Hospital:

“This ( supposed to be ababy ) born yesterday night in Fallujah Maternity & children hospital ,with no identifiable human features , it’s twin born with polydactly , there was 8 weeks abortion just before that pregnancy , the parents are 29 years old healthy & not relatives , they live in Garmah subdistrict ,have no prior family history of any congenital anomaly & there is no history of prenatal infection or any teratogenic drug use nor the exposure of x.ray irradiation.”

News from Fallujah General Hospital

No, I really don’t have any “news”.  It’s kind of hard to have a blog on an issue that just sits there, getting worse – or worse, just sitting there.  I understand, really. Too much sadness and too many things to be outraged over and it’s hard to keep up with it all, especially something that seems so overwhelming and so far away, and basically kind of hopeless.  I get it, I do. Since I’ve started my blog  all that I’ve done in terms of doing something, is, well, start my blog.  I’ve shared lots of links and background info on what’s been done and what’s been written and at this point that’s really about all I can do.

So, for this last post before I go away for a couple of weeks to recharge my batteries and get geared up for more action, I decided to post these images from the facebook page called the Birth Defects of Fallujah (here is the link, please “like” it, knowing that like really isn’t the right word…https://www.facebook.com/fallujahhospital2012  and of course definitely please like the Justice for Fallujah Project facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Remember-Fallujah-Project/148687775148374?hc_location=stream

I so admire Dr. Ala’ani and the staff of the Fallujah General Hospital, dealing with this,  with limited $ and no real support.  Really no words. All of these babies were born in Fallujah:

This is afemale born today in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly , Encephalocele , Cleft lip & palate , her brother born 4 years ago with the same defects & died 5 days after birth , 2 normal two years & 11 months old sisters , the parents are young & healthy & have no previous family history of any anomaly

This is afemale born today in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly , Encephalocele , Cleft lip & palate , her brother born 4 years ago with the same defects & died 5 days after birth , 2 normal two years & 11 months old sisters , the parents are young & healthy & have no previous family history of any anomaly

This boy born today by Cs in FMCH & died shortly after birth , he has Microphthalmia + abnormalities in his trachea & esophagus , the family have no previous anomaly

This boy born by Cs in FMCH & died shortly after birth , he has Microphthalmia + abnormalities in his trachea & esophagus , the family have no previous anomaly

 From Alshuhada'a district , Fallujah , born with chest & hand deformity , his sister married few years ago & gave birth to 3 successive babies with fatal congenital anomalies, the family have no previous history of any congenital anomaly .


From Alshuhada’a district , Fallujah , born with chest & hand deformity , his sister married few years ago & gave birth to 3 successive babies with fatal congenital anomalies, the family have no previous history of any congenital anomaly .

Hiba Sayf with Arythrogryposis & claft , female born in FGH in the 11th of february 2013 , no previous family history of any anomaly .the family live in Saglaweya , their neighbours also have ababy born few days ago with spina bifida

Hiba Sayf with Arythrogryposis & claft , female born in FGH in the 11th of february 2013 , no previous family history of any anomaly .the family live in Saglaweya , their neighbours also have ababy born few days ago with spina bifida

Male born yesterday 6-4-2013 with Hydrocephaly to ayoung healthy parents , there was no previous family history of any anomaly before .

Male born  6-4-2013 with Hydrocephaly to a young healthy parents , there was no previous family history of any anomaly before .

baby with left big toe giantism

baby with left big toe giantism

Female born yesterday in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly & dysmorphic features , she is the 1st baby to a 2nd degree relatives healthy young parents , the family live in Jumhooreya district , Fallujah & have no previous family history of any anomaly

Female born in Fallujah MCH with Microcephaly & dysmorphic features , she is the 1st baby to a 2nd degree relatives healthy young parents , the family live in Jumhooreya district , Fallujah & have no previous family history of any anomaly

Another male born in FGH 2 days ago with multiple gross congenital anomalies in addition to CHD , he is the 1st baby to 2 young healthy couples with no previous history of any anomaly

Another male born in FGH with multiple gross congenital anomalies in addition to CHD , he is the 1st baby to 2 young healthy couples with no previous history of any anomaly

The pictures are hard to look at and the stories are hard to read…to be 100% honest, I didn’t even post some of the worst. (Like some of these, all born in January 2013: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.379635948800603.82796.179904905440376&type=1)  Can you imagine?

These are the images and these are the stories that move me, in sadness and in anger, at what the war did to these innocent babies. Do you feel it?  It’s what motivates me to keep going in this endeavor, and I hope that everyone who happens upon my blog – whether you are my dear friends or strangers that found it by chance – I hope that you can keep them in your mind as well, and help us, in whatever way you can, to find some justice. Please send ideas, suggestions, thoughts on how we can get the word out so that they can get some help.

And, I will see you on the other side of my vacation, fired up and ready to go…