Iraqi scientist's family seeks her freedom has interviewed the family of Huda Mahdi Ammash, who was arrested by US forces on 5 May 2003. She was the only woman in the US military's list of 55 most wanted Iraqi officials.

    Dr Ammash is a member of more than 60 academic committees

    Ammash was a professor at Baghdad University and held a senior position at the regional command of the Baath party. She was the first and only woman member of the regional command of the Baath party.

    Her father was a well-known Iraqi statesman and army officer. He became a defence minister in 1963, vice prime minister in 1968, and an ambassador in 1970.

    Ammash was born in Baghdad in 1953; she earned her degree in biology/microbiology from Baghdad University in 1975. She pursued her higher studies at Texas University in the US, where she got her masters degree in microbiology. In 1983, she gained her PhD from the University of Missouri. 

    Her husband Ahmad Makki says his wife is a scientist and an academic and she has done nothing wrong to warrant imprisonment for nearly 18 months without any charges.

    "I call on all scientists and academics around the world to take
    their responsibility
    and work to set their colleague free"

    Zina Ahmad,
    Huda Ammash's daughter

    "I want to know why my wife has been detained for 18 months   without charge. How long will it take them to do so? She is a mother of two children and grandmother of two.

    "My wife has been sitting in a prison cell for 18 months without knowing what the charges against her are. Have you any idea what it means to be held without knowing when you will be released?" Makki said.

    "Everybody in the family would be happy to know what the charges against her are, at least we could assign a lawyer, go to court, and get a sentence. If she is acquitted we will celebrate, and if she gets a sentence, at least we and she will look forward to the day when she is reunited with her family."

    Who have you contacted to secure Dr Ammash's release, or at least to establish her legal status?

    Who do you want me to contact? They said detainees would be delivered to an Iraqi sovereign government, but that did not happen. They are still under US custody.

    Iraqi officials can do nothing about this. I meet US officials and every time I hear the same things: your wife is a high-calibre woman and a noted scientist, we respect her, and we are fully convinced she does not pose a threat.

    But practically nothing is improving. The situation is still deadlocked.

    The US publishers of Huda Ammash's peer-reviewed research paper, Iraq Under Siege, have said there may be political motivations for her detention by the US military on allegations that she oversaw Iraq's purported development of biological weapons. What is your view?

    As I said, Dr Ammash is a scientist and was appointed as dean of Baghdad University twice in her academic life. She is the author of Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War, and Sanctions, a peer-reviewed research paper published in Iraq Under Siege (South End Press, 2002), an anthology that examined the effects of the Gulf war and sanctions on Iraq.

    "Have you any idea what it means to be held without knowing when you will be released?"

    Ahmad Makki,
    Huda Ammash's husband

    In this chapter she warned that the use of DU [depleted uranium] in Iraq has left its deadly consequences on nearly half a million Iraqi women and children. She proved that the Gulf war syndrome did exist in Iraq because of the use of DU.
    I think it is the duty of every honourable scientist to warn his or her country of any possible danger. How could she remain silent?

    They said she was involved in secret weapons programmes. I would like to assure you that this is not true. All her research is published work and she has nothing to hide. She dedicated herself to science. Google her name on the internet and see how much research she conducted. also spoke to Ammash's mother, Hajja Qisma (Hajja is a title given to women who have made the pilgrimage to Makka), and daughter Zina Ahmad. They said they are praying to God day and night to end the ordeal of Ammash and every Iraqi prisoner.

    "She is my daughter, I know her very well. I am sure she has done nothing wrong. On the contrary, she has always been good to people. They must let her go for the sake of her children and family," Hajja Qisma said.  

    Zina said her mother is an honourable woman who succeeded in winning the respect of everyone.

    "I would like to tell my mother I am proud of her. I call on all scientists and academics around the world to take their responsibility and work to set their colleague free."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    Senegal's village of women

    Senegal's village of women

    Women in northeast Senegal are using solar-powered irrigation to farm food and halt the encroaching desert.

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Survivors of sex trafficking and those who investigate it in the city share their stories.

    A tale of two isolations

    A tale of two isolations

    More than 1,000km apart, a filmmaker and the subject of his film contend with the methods and meanings of solitude.