Good morning Judge. My name is Theresa Marie Camerota. I am here this morning to be accountable to obstruction of entranceway to this Federal building on March 20, 2003, the day the US government began bombing Iraq. On the grounds of personal conscience and integrity, I believe I am not guilty of unreasonably obstructing the entranceway.
As US citizens, who still value a democracy system, we realize we may be preaching to the choir here as we stand before you one by one to speak our peace. However, we appreciate this opportunity to share our perspective with you and your staff today because we believe our long road to peace happens one heart to one heart, one conscience to one conscience.
My reason for being here today is quite personal. Some folks here may find it amusing that we come into your court room to talk about our childhoods and our families, but that is where most of us are rooted in our beliefs and values. When I was growing up I had three brothers, who I took care of, who died within a four year period. My brother Tommy was ten and I was twelve when he died from leukemia. Afterwards our home and the immediate neighborhood were tested for radiation contaminates but nothing was found.
Four years ago in March 1999 I went with five other delegates from Philadelphia to visit children's hospitals in Baghdad and Basrah. We saw many, many children, most were under the age of five years, who were sick and dieing from leukemia and other blood-related diseases as a result of the depleted uranium poisoning from U.S. bombs of the first war on Iraq in 1991. We looked in their eyes and spoke to their mothers who asked us over and over again, "Why is your government killing our children?"
Judge, I brought along a fact sheet about depleted uranium. May I read some of the data to the court and leave copies of the report for you and your staff? Among the sources listed are The Center for Defense Information and Federation of American Scientists.
Depleted uranium (DU) emits primarily alpha radiation and its half-life is believed to be 4.5 billion years. To date, the US has produced more than 500,000 tons and it continues to accumulate. The US military first used DU munitions in combat during the 1991 Gulf War on the tips of "penetrators" from cannons mounted on tanks. During the assault on Iraq, at least 10,000 rounds of DU ammunitions were fired from tanks and at least 940,000 rounds were fired from aircraft, littering the environment with 320 tons of DU.
Overall cancer rates in Iraq have risen at least 300-400% since the 1991 Gulf War. Some studies suggest much higher increase: a UN sub-commission report in August of 2002 states, "Cancer appears to have increased seven to ten times and malignancies and leukemia among children under the age of 15 have more than tripled since 1990." Young children, who are especially vulnerable, bear the brunt of the suffering. Today, over 56% of all cancer in Iraq occurs among children under the age of 5, as compared to 13% in 1990. Birth deformities appear to have increased "between four to six times." Intentional bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons sites and the burning of the oil fields also contributed to this situation.
We are aware that this administration holds itself above international law. They seek to govern by rule of power and not rule of law. May I read to the court how the use of DU applies to International Law? According to the August, 2002 sub-commission report, laws which are breached by the use of DU shells include: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations; the Genocide Convention: the Convention Against Torture; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which expressly forbid employing "poison or poisoned weapons and arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflicts.
May I leave this report for you and your staff to read? Also included are the effects of DU on American soldiers who participated in the first Gulf War. The results from this year’s war on Iraq are not yet available.
To date, we clearly see that the Bush Administration did not invade this country for weapons of mass destruction. We, who reasonably obstructed your doorways to stop this war, believe that the use of depleted uranium is a weapon of mass destruction, killing primarily Iraqi children.
We believe this war is based on lies. This is not a war for disarmament, or for regime change. In fact there is evidence that leading members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime were deliberately restored to power in the first months after "liberation."
We believe this war is based on power with huge awards of money for eighteen prominent US corporations to which the Bush administration has given large and highly profitable contracts to operate in Iraq, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton and Bechtel being at the top.
In closing, a quote from our singer-songwriter friend, Steve Earle. "The most important thing to remember is, no matter what anybody tells you, it is never, ever unpatriotic or un-American to question anything in a democracy."
Judge, here is a first payment towards the court fine. Here are $25 worth of pennies. There are 2,500 in this box. Not that it is representative of a child’s life, because every child is priceless. However, before this war there were 2,500 children dying per month under the imposed US economic sanctions. 500,000 Iraqi children dead because they were deprived of proper nutrition, clean water and medical supplies.