Unpublished letter to the Guardian, 22 November

Sir, 

Recognition by the Independent Inquiry that Gulf War Syndrome exists (Gulf war syndrome claims receive boost, 22 November) is good news - and long overdue.  However, the proposed compensation fund amounts to £3m.  For the 6,000 veterans affected and their families this means an average of £500 each.  The government has spent billions on war in Iraq - and even the Ministry of Defence's annual budget for entertainment is £8m! 

Veterans, their partners and their children, who have been made ill by Gulf War Syndrome, need ongoing compensation and immediate medical and specialised treatment.  In the context of the horrendous loss of life and terrible destruction of the environment, the same provisions must be extended to all those Iraqi people suffering Gulf War Syndrome as result of extensive use of depleted uranium in the first and the current war.  Itís time to invest in caring, not killing.

Giorgio Riva
www.refusingtokill.net


PRESS RELEASE   -    PRESS RELEASE   -    PRESS RELEASE   -    PRESS RELEASE

 Gulf War Syndrome exists - this recognition is long overdue

"Gulf War Syndrome exists", says the Independent Inquiry on Gulf War Illnesses. "This recognition is long overdue", says Ben Martin from Payday, "but only begins to address the problems faced by veterans, their families and the civilian population who are also victims."  

Alex Izett, whose 40-day hunger strike was instrumental in winning the Inquiry said: "What happened in the First Gulf War happened again in the second one - vaccinations and depleted uranium are still used.  The MoD is still killing soldiers and civilians, veterans and their families".

While welcoming the Inquiry's initial findings, Payday is concerned about its limitations:

  • The one-off ex-gratia payment recommended by the Inquiry "for all those who make a successful claim" will not compensate for the illnesses and suffering that Gulf War Syndrome has caused, not only to veterans, but also to their partners, their children and grandchildren.

  • The Inquiry does not recommend that all those affected should have access to immediate medical and specialised treatment on an ongoing basis.

  • The Inquiry does not take into account the disabilities and deaths suffered by the Iraqi population as a result of the same polluting agents.  This must be urgently investigated.

Ben Martin says: "It is shocking that it took half a century to win official recognition of the lethal effects of MoD experimentation at Porton Down.  Expressing the same disregard for human life, the government took the world to war - at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians as well as their own soldiers have died as a result.  It must not take another 50 years for all those killed and disabled by wars in the Gulf to get justice."

Contact: Giorgio Riva  07803 789699

Payday is an international and multiracial network of anti-war men working with the Global Women's Strike, and supported Alex Izett's hunger strike. Our website www.refusingtokill.net has publicised the campaign for recognition of Gulf War Syndrome.

17 November 2004


NOTE

 On 5 August 2004, Payday submitted to the Independent Inquiry that:

  • Members of the Armed Forces must not be used as guinea-pigs to determine the effects of the drug "cocktails";

  • all compulsory vaccinations must be stopped; having them must be only on a voluntary basis;

  • vaccines should only be taken when all possible side-effects of the "cocktail" are fully researched and explained to those taking them;

  • all medical records related to vaccinations and other drugs be released to those concerned so that they can receive proper treatment;

  • all medical treatment (including complementary treatments) be immediately and freely available to all victims of Gulf War illnesses and their families and carers;

  • proper respectful benefits be given immediately to veterans and their carers and to widows of veterans, according to the length and degree of seriousness of their illnesses;

  • all those affected get financial compensation for the years of delay by the Ministry of Defence in admitting and dealing with the truth;

  • the government fund an independent public inquiry which would be accountable to Parliament, where officers and scientists, including those researching the health of soldiers in the present war, would be allowed to testify;

  • a full and thorough investigation be conducted among the Iraqi population to determine the extent of illnesses, disabilities and deaths caused by both the first and second Gulf wars and the current occupation.


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