Saturday, September 29, 2007

Iraq Death Toll Rivals Rwanda Genocide, Cambodian Killing Fields

By Joshua Holland
AlterNet
September 17, 2007

According to a new study, 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since the 2003 invasion, the highest estimate of war-related fatalities yet. The study was done by the British polling firm ORB, which conducted face-to-face interviews with a sample of over 1,700 Iraqi adults in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Two provinces -- al-Anbar and Karbala -- were too dangerous to canvas, and officials in a third, Irbil, didn't give the researchers a permit to do their work. The study's margin of error was plus-minus 2.4 percent. Field workers asked residents how many members of their own household had been killed since the invasion. More than one in five respondents said that at least one person in their home had been murdered since March of 2003. One in three Iraqis also said that at least some neighbors "actually living on [their] street" had fled the carnage, with around half of those having left the country. In Baghdad, almost half of those interviewed reported at least one violent death in their household.

Before the study's release, the highest estimate of Iraqi deaths had been around 650,000 in the landmark Johns Hopkins' study published in the Lancet, a highly respected and peer-reviewed British medical journal. Unlike that study, which measured the difference in deaths from all causes during the first three years of the occupation with the mortality rate that existed prior to the invasion, the ORB poll looked only at deaths due to violence. The poll's findings are in line with the rolling estimate maintained on the Just Foreign Policy website, based on the Johns Hopkins' data, that stands at just over 1 million Iraqis killed as of this writing.

These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the great crimes of the last century -- the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia's infamous "Killing Fields" during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.

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