On Wednesday, the Globe and Mail reported that Dr. Riyadh Lafta has been unable to come to lecture at the University of Washington because for six months the U.S. has been ignoring his request for a visa.[1]  --  Dr. Lafta is one of the co-authors of "Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Cluster Sample Survey" (Lancet, Oct. 12, 2006), which concluded that the Iraq war has resulted in "excess mortality" of about 655,000 Iraqis, including more than 600,000 violent deaths.  --  "Dr. Lafta had tried for six months to get a visa into Seattle to speak in Washington, and was ignored a half-dozen times," Jonathan Woodward reported.  --  The web site of Simon Fraser University reports that Dr. Lafta will speak in Vancouver on Fri., Apr. 20, but fails to indicate the time.[2]  --  However, another online announcement indicates that the lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m., and that it will be videolinked to Kane Hall 210 on the UW Seattle campus.[3]  --  Dr. Lafta teaches at Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and was also a co-author of an earlier study, "Mortality before and after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey," (Lancet, Oct. 30, 2004).  --  A Google news search fails to turn up a single U.S. media source reporting this story....


By Jonathan Woodward

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
April 11, 2007


VANCOUVER -- A highly regarded Iraqi epidemiologist who wants to tell Americans about an alarming rise in cancer levels among Iraqi children will come to Canada instead because he couldn't get a visa to the United States.

Unable to travel to the University of Washington, Riyadh Lafta -- best known for a controversial study that estimated Iraq's body count in the U.S.-led war in Iraq at more than half a million -- will arrive at Simon Fraser University in B.C. this month to give a lecture and meet with research associates.

"The University of Washington wanted him, but the U.S. denied his entry," said his colleague at SFU, Tim Takaro. "They need to be able to collaborate, even if his results are unpopular with the Americans. Now he's at SFU, and the best they're going to get is a video feed."

Once in Canada, Dr. Lafta will present estimates that paint a damning portrait of the war's ravages on children: that birth defects are on the rise since the war began, and that the number of children dying from cancers such as leukemia has risen tenfold.

Dr. Lafta had tried for six months to get a visa into Seattle to speak in Washington, and was ignored a half-dozen times, Dr. Takaro said.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services couldn't be reached for comment. But a spokesman for Seattle Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott said he couldn't understand the decision. "Jim's certainly more than a little unhappy about it. We don't know whether this was a snafu or more than that," Mike DeCesare said. "Certainly with the doctor not able to be on the campus, and engage directly with people, you've got to believe that's a net loss for everybody."

Dr. Lafta was born in Baghdad in 1960, was trained as a physician at Baghdad University College and then worked for 14 years for the Ministry of Health under Saddam Hussein. He became the head of the communicable disease department and then the primary-care department of Diyala province in northern Iraq.

Dr. Lafta, who is still in Iraq, couldn't be reached by e-mail yesterday. But Dr. Takaro shared a message from his personal communication. "The main point is that people outside Iraq do not realize the real disaster we are suffering," Dr. Lafta writes. "Only the Iraqi people know that, simply because the foreigners are listening to the news while we are living the events on the ground."


News and events


Simon Fraser University
[April 2007]


April 20, 2007

Location: Wosk Centre, 580 West Hastings, Vancouver -- Free admission.

Presenter: Dr. Riyadh Lafta.

Dr. Riyadh Lafta, who teaches medicine at Baghdad s Al-Mustansiriya University College of Medicine, and co-author of the October 2006 Lancet article that estimated more than 650,000 Iraqis have died following the invasion of Iraq in 2003.




Sponsored by UW School of Public Health Iraq Sister University Project and Simon Fraser University

Dr. Riyadh Lafta will be in North America to collaborate with University of Washington colleagues on a research project to document elevated levels of pediatric cancers in Basra, Iraq. The project was conceived as part of a sister university relationship between Basra Univ and the UW. The research project is supported by a grant from the Puget Sound Partners, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative.

Dr. Riyadh Lafta, who teaches medicine at Baghdads Al-Mustansiriya University College of Medicine, co-authored the October 2006 Lancet article that estimated more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the the American-led invasion in 2003.

Dr. Lafta will speak at a public gathering in Vancouver, BC, at Simon Fraser University's Wosk Hall (580 W. Hastings in downtown Vancouver BC) on Friday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m.

His talk will be video cast to the UW's Kane Hall at the same time with the opportunity for interactive audience participation.

Video linked to Kane Hall 210, UW -- for more information contact Amy Hagopian at 206-616-4989.