Editorial: Latest research puts Iraqi death toll at one million

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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On the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by Anglo-American imperialism, startling new figures were released by an Australian scientist, Dr Gideon Polya, indicating that the number of post-invasion avoidable Iraqi deaths is actually far higher than any previous study has suggested.

It is well known that the occupying forces in Iraq have disdained even to pretend to keep a record of the body count their imperial venture is clocking up. Clearly the imperialists hoped that, with the total destruction of all machinery of state in Iraq, there would be no-one to bear witness to the true magnitude of the crimes being committed by these self-proclaimed purveyors of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’.

Nonetheless, there are still people in the world with the ability and the desire to get at the truth.

Last year, British medical journal The Lancet published figures that suggested an avoidable death toll in Iraq of 655,000 since the 2003 invasion. This announcement, coming from such a respected source, could not easily be ignored, and so was reported in a muted way, but dropped immediately as a news item.

Following the government’s line that the report’s methodology was fundamentally flawed, most media outlets reported the story, along with the government’s response, and left it at that.

Owen Bennett-Jones, a reporter for BBC News Online, went further than most to find out about the government’s response to the Lancet survey. Having submitted a Freedom of Information request last October, he was finally able to reveal in March that the government’s own advisors had confirmed the report’s methodology to be, in fact, “robust” .

Having reported this fact, though, Bennett-Jones confined himself to noting baldly the survey’s own conclusion that “If the Lancet survey is right, then 2.5% of the Iraqi population – an average of more than 500 people a day – have been killed since the start of the war.” (‘Iraqi deaths survey “was robust”’, 26 March 2007)

Nowhere in his article (or in any of the others that reported his findings) was there any hint that the death of 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population under British and US occupation might constitute something to make a fuss about; there was certainly no mention of war crimes.

And now Dr Polya’s new research reveals that, far from outrageously exaggerating, as many reporters and politicians asserted at the time, the Lancet’s report was erring on the side of caution, since its authors concerned themselves only with violent deaths, and therefore did not count all the other avoidable deaths such as those arising from lack of nutrition or medical care.

Dr Polya said: “Using the most comprehensive and authoritative literature and UN demographic data yields an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq.” (Quoted in ‘Deaths in Iraq have reached 1 million’ by Alan Jones, www.dailyrecord.co.uk, 19 March 2007)

According to Dr Polya’s own website, his research draws on freely-available but totally ignored UN and UNICEF data that show a massive rise in the death rate of under-fives, as well as in the Iraqi death rate generally.

And if the figure of one million dead Iraqis from the war and occupation were not horrendous enough, let it not be forgotten that the 2003 invasion and subsequent four years of occupation are but the latest stage of imperialism’s 16-year genocidal onslaught against the Iraqi people.

Taking into account the 1.5 million people (over half a million of them children under the age of five) who died as a result of lack of medicines and food during the 12 years of brutal sanctions and as a result of the first Iraq war, the figure rises to some 2.5 million needless Iraqi deaths in 16 years – more than 10 percent of the total pre-war population of Iraq (generally agreed to be around 24 million).

Truly the bloodthirstiness of imperialism respects no bounds of humanity or decency; recognises no moral limitations that might curtail its quest for domination of resources and markets or its drive after maximum profits.

All the more reason why workers in Britain should give unstinting support to the brave Iraqi resistance fighters who are today in the front line of the struggle to bring down the hideous system that inflicts such dreadful losses without a qualm. Their fight is ours, and their victory will bring the day of imperialism’s defeat that much closer.

Victory to the Iraqi resistance!