April 01, 2005

Lecture to focus on dangers of depleted weapons

by Paula Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A retired U.S. Army Major — who believes America's use of depleted uranium or DU weapons is causing countless fatal illnesses and birth defects — will lecture on the topic at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Retired Army Maj. Doug Rokke's multi-media presentation will be held in SIUC's Lawson Hall, Room 141. Admission is free. Free parking is available in lots west of the building.

Rokke, former director of the depleted uranium project for the U.S. Department of Defense, began to get alarmed about DU munitions during his Gulf War I stint in Saudi Arabia.

DU is now widely used in bombs, bullets and mines deployed in the war with Iraq.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and film crews may meet Ret. U.S. Army Maj. Rokke at a 4 p.m. news conference at the Interfaith Center (913 S. Illinois Ave.) Saturday, April 2, in Carbondale. The center is located across the street from SIUC's Quigley Hall and is at the intersection of S. Illinois Ave. and Grand Ave. For more information, contact Sean Lynch of the Student Environmental Center at 618/559-1941.

"When we first got assigned to clean up the DU and arrived in northern Saudi Arabia, we started getting sick within 72 hours. Respiratory problems, rashes, bleeding, open sores started almost immediately," Rokke says in an interview for on-line magazine "Yes," posted at www.futurenet.org/article.asp?id=594.

"When you have a mass dose of radioactive particulates and you start breathing that in, the deposit sits in the back of the pharynx, where the cancer started initially on the first guy. It doesn't take a lot of time. I had a father and son working with me. The father is already dead from lung cancer, and the sick son is still denied medical care" by the U.S. Veteran Affairs division, he says.

Rokke believes DU is behind the hundreds of thousands of cases of Gulf War syndrome.

His appearance is being sponsored by the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois, the area chapter of the United Nations Association-USA, the Big Muddy Independent Media Center, the Shawnee Green Party and the SIUC Student Environmental Center.