Gulf War soldier on hunger strike
Tuesday, 4 May, 2004
Source: BBC News
A former soldier has gone on hunger strike in an attempt to secure a public inquiry into Gulf war Syndrome.
Alexander Izett said he was ready to die to force the military to "come clean" over the issue.
The former lance corporal from Cumbernauld stopped eating last Saturday, on his 34th birthday, at his home in Germany.
Mr Izett said he developed brittle bone disease after being vaccinated in the run-up to the Gulf War in 1990 to 1991.
He took his case to the Scottish Parliament earlier this year but has become frustrated with the progress being made by MSPs.
"I'm now too ill to do anything else but make this final stand" - Alexander Izett
In a letter to his local MSP Cathy Craigie, the ex-soldier said he was "heart-broken" that he could not get the treatment he needed in Scotland.
He wrote: "This is a last desperate attempt in trying to force the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to tell the truth regarding my suffered illness of Gulf War Syndrome."
He wrote: "I'm now too ill to do anything else but make this final stand.
"I was willing to fight and die for my country. Now I am willing to die to make that country come clean and tell the truth of not only my suffering, but that of thousands of my fellow sufferers of Gulf War Syndrome."
Mr Izett said he wants a UK-wide public inquiry into Gulf War Syndrome because the Ministry of Defence continues to deny the existence of the condition.
He said sufferers should be given priority on the NHS, better pension rights and compensation payments for them and their families.
He said he received nine inoculations, including one for the plague and another for anthrax, whilst serving with 25 Engineer Regiment, based in Osnabreck, Germany.
In the event he never served in the war in Iraq because it lasted only a few weeks and he left the Army in May 1991 after serving for six years.
He said he became ill in 1993 and has since broken his ribs, knee cap and shoulder and suffered from depression and stomach ulcers, leaving him unable to work.
In a bid to get better treatment, he moved to Germany and he now lives in Bersenbrueck near Bremen on a 70% war pension of £72.50 a week, which he secured after a long legal battle with the MoD.
Mr Izett said he would take fluids for the first 14 days of his protest. He said he was being looked after by his wife, from whom he is separated.
Speaking from his home, he said: "When Tony Blair got into power he promised a full public inquiry and we are still waiting. It's all promises. I want to see action."
Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Executive about Gulf War Syndrome after hearing an emotional plea from Mr Izett in March.