Rebecca Torr / Gulf Daily News – 2008-01-14 23:10:53
MANAMA (January 13, 2008) — Bahrain’s environmentalists staged a vigil yesterday in protest at the mass destruction in Iraq. The war in Iraq is having an irreversible impact on the country’s people and the environment, said Environmental Friends Society (EFS) president Khawla Al Muhannadi.
Depleted uranium used in American weapons has seeped into the country’s soil, sand and rivers and is causing cancer in children and deformities in newborns, she said.
“War is the first enemy of the environment,” Ms Al Muhannadi told the GDN. “The use of depleted uranium affects those living and future generations. Many children are being born deformed or are getting cancer because of the depleted uranium.”
Ms Al Muhannadi was among 80 environmentalists, consisting of children and adults, and others who were speaking out against the Iraq war during President George W Bush’s visit to Bahrain and the region. The group expressed their opinions with a vigil at the EFS premises, Hamad Town.
At the gathering they lit candles to remember victims of the Iraq war, which they identified as children, women, men, civilisation, air, water, soil, fish, birds, palm trees, rivers, values, ecosystems and biodiversity.
Environmentalists also made paintings and wrote messages in Arabic and English expressing their thoughts on the war. The messages will be copied onto the society’s website at www.eef.org.bh and on international environmental sites. A cake with Mr Bush’s picture on it with his face crossed out was also cut to symbolise the event.
“We lit candles to remember victims of Bush’s terror against the environment and humanity,” explained Ms Al Muhannadi, who was the first to light her candle.
She acted in memory of the Iraqi children who had lost their parents, friends, houses, security, school and homeland, as well as those who had allegedly become sick from the depleted uranium.
The candle was also lit for the women in Iraq who had lost their children, husbands, future and dreams, as well as the men who had promised their children, wives and family they would protect them, but were unable to do so. The environmentalist also remembered the elderly in Iraq who had witnessed the destruction of their universities, museums and cultural symbols because of war.
Finally, the candle was lit to recall the losses to the environment, including the lost palm trees that once gave Iraq its old name Ardh Al Sawad (black land), added Ms Al Muhannadi. She said environmentalists in the US have spoken out against Mr Bush’s actions in Iraq and it was only fair that Bahrainis should also speak out in a peaceful way.
“Our King should be proud to say this is the democracy I have in my country and that they can speak out,” explained Ms Al Muhannadi. “We love our King and respect him and we are behind him in everything. We appreciate the freedom and democracy we live in and he should be proud we are exercising it.”
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