UK MPs accuse US military of human rights atrocity over use of toxic munitions in Fallujah

In a sign of growing disquiet at the continuing media reports of a health crisis in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, British MPs have submitted a parliamentary motion accusing the US military of a human rights atrocity.

12 March 2010 - ICBUW

Responding to reports from Sky News, the Guardian newspaper and the BBC of a developing humanitarian crisis in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a mixture of Labour, Liberal Democrat and independent members of parliament have supported an Early Day Motion that accuses US forces of involvement in a human rights atrocity.

What is an Early Day Motion?

Early day motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few EDMs are actually debated. Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.

An MP can add their signature to an EDM to show their support. They can also submit amendments to an existing EDM.

Last week's report from the BBC's World Affairs Editor John Simpson was picked up by news outlets worldwide. While the report did not make a causal link between the use of uranium weapons and the subsequent rise in birth defects, it made clear that Iraqi medical staff suspect that the US's use of toxic materials in its weapons is a possible cause of the health problems.

The story triggered a swift response from the US military, whose spokesperson claimed that they took claims about health problems "very seriously" but added: "No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues." At no point did they deny using uranium weapons there. However, and in spite of several Freedom of Information requests, the US military is still refusng to disclose how much DU was fired in Fallujah, just as it is refusing to disclose how much was fired elsewhere in the country and where it was used. Unsurprisingly this makes it almost impossible to study whether these health problems are linked to uranium weapon exposure.

That this House notes the deeply disturbing report of BBC correspondent John Simpson indicating the high numbers of children being born with serious defects in the Iraqi town of Fallujah; further notes that the report says that those born with congenital heart defects is 13 times the rate found in Europe, that other babies have been born with limb loss or distortion, paralysis or brain damage, and that officials in the town have warned women that they should not have babies; further notes that during the US onslaught on Fallujah, white phosphorus and depleted uranium weapons were amongst those used, and also that after the fighting was over, rubble from the town was bulldozed into the river, polluting water supplies; further notes that there has not been a proper independent inquiry by medical experts to establish the cause of these birth defects; and considers that this consequence of this US military action makes it a human rights atrocity.

The Early Day Motion was submitted by Labour MP Harry Cohen and is supported by Labour MPs: Jeremy Corbyn, Mr David Drew, Kelvin Hopkins, Glenda Jackson,  John McDonnell, Lynne Jones, Ronnie Campbell; Liberal Democrat MPs Andrew George, Mr Colin Breed, Mark Williams; independents Robert Wareing and Dai Davies and Northern Ireland SDLP member Mark Durkan.


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