As medical doctors, we cannot
remain silent in the face of the enormous suffering of the Iraqi civilian
population, brought about by the US-British bombings, invasion and
We have seen hundreds of civilians,
including many children, injured and killed, often by prohibited weapons
such as cluster bombs. We have seen how ambulances and civilian cars
have been hit by US troops.
We have experienced how patients
and health workers had difficulties passing US military checkpoints
and reaching medical facilities.
We now see how the Iraqi civilian
hospitals and other medical facilities are plundered and neglected.
Many Iraqi health professionals
can no longer report to work. Without electricity, safe water supply
and the provision of medicines and other medical supplies, many patients
are simply left to die.
As health professionals and
as human beings, we cannot tolerate this situation.
We therefore issue the following
statement and appeal:
1. The current humanitarian
catastrophe is entirely and solely the responsibility of the US and
British authorities, who launched a war of aggression against Iraq
in complete violation of international law.
2. In the course of their
war, the US and British troops have grossly and repeatedly violated
international humanitarian law (Articles 10, 12, 15, 21, 35, 36, 41,
45, 47, 48 and 51of Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions).
3. A genuine and lasting solution
to the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq can only be realized after
the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US and British occupation
troops and the full restoration of Iraq's sovereignty on the entire
Iraqi territory and on the basis of the Iraqi people's own free will.
4. The US and Great Britain
should be made to pay for all direct and indirect damages and suffering
their war has inflicted upon the Iraqi people, country and society.
5. In the meantime, as occupying
powers, the US and Great Britain have the duty of ensuring the food
and medical supplies of the population (Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention). They likewise have the duty of ensuring and maintaining,
with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical
and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene
in the occupied territory. They must allow medical personnel to carry
out their duties. (Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention)
6. We call on the relevant
UN agencies, such as the UNFP, Unicef and the WHO, to immediately resume
their humanitarian operations in Iraq. A firefighter does not wait
until the house has burnt down completely, but takes risks in order
to fight the fire and avoid the complete collapse of the building.
7. We support all spontaneous
and organized initiatives of the Iraqi population to denounce the US
and British occupation and to demand that the US and British authorities
fulfill their duties under international humanitarian law.
8. We support each initiative
that aims to bring US General Tommy Franks and other US and British
military authorities and personnel before a court of justice to make
them answer for their violations of international humanitarian law.
Upon the request of direct
victims of US violations of international humanitarian law, among them
patients and medical personnel, we have asked the well-known Belgian
human rights lawyer Mr. Jan Fermon to explore the concrete possibilities
of charging US General Tommy Franks in a Belgian court for war crimes,
on the basis of the Belgian law of universal competence.
Geert Van Moorter, M.D., emergency
physician, in Baghdad since 16 March
Colette Moulaert, M.D., pediatrician,
in Baghdad from 16 March to 13 April
Harrie Dewitte, M.D., in Baghdad
from 6 to 13
April Claire Geraets, M.D.,
in Baghdad since 6 April
Bert De Belder, M.D., coordinator
of Medical Aid for the Third World in Brussels, Belgium
THE IRAQI BODY COUNT DATABASE