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'We Have a Right to Heal': Campaign Demands Justice and Reparations for Iraqis and Vets

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

(Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr)

A group of U.S. veterans of the Iraq war and two Iraqi organizations are "demanding the right to heal" from the war that has not ended, demanding reparations for trauma and health effects from the war, and demanding the U.S. be held "accountable for its violations of the rights to life and health of these war-torn peoples."

“The war is not over for veterans and their families who are dealing with its aftermath as a result of the loss of loved ones, or in the form of PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and other war wounds both visible and invisible; and it’s certainly far from over for communities in Iraq still reeling from the devastating and awful effects of this illegal war,” said Maggie Martin, Organizing Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, one of the groups behind the new campaign launched Tuesday, the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The group, along with the Iraq-based Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, delivered on Tuesday a filing to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights detailing the human rights violations including war crimes, torture, casualties and trauma as a result of the U.S.-led war and occupation.

Emphasizing the ongoing effects of the war and the total disaster the U.S. has created, Falah Alwan of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq said, "We will need decades to restore what the occupation has destroyed and decades to save our future generations."

Referring to U.S. munitions such as depleted uranium and toxic burn pits, Alwan added, "The US invasion has left behind an environment polluted by radiation and soil poisoned with chemicals. Our children and our elders are dying from diseases caused by the weapons and destruction."

The U.S. "must repair the damage it caused," stated CCR President Jules Lobel.  “We can’t let those in power move on as though the U.S. bears no responsibility for the devastating and long-lasting impacts on all sides of this war."


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The Demanding a Right to Heal campaign has testimonials from some of those affected by the war.  In the first video below, Sawsan, a mother from Haweeja, Iraq describes the health problems plaguing her son:

In the next video testimonial, Iraq war veteran Annetta Carman, who worked as a medic, shares a story of the reality of war:

The groups are petitioning for a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to address their demands. You can sign a letter of support here.


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