The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Thought I'd forward this alternative view to our anti-sanctions work. Feel free to respond with comments! Personally, my immediate responses are: a) sanctions are not going to bring Saddam down (if anything, the opposite is true); b) the humanitarian concerns on which CASI is based transcend the politics of the situation - the sanctions are simply wrong and immoral, whatever Saddam is up to. Seb ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 12:37:22 -0400 From: Nibras Kazimi <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Free Iraq Campaign May 23-June 8, 1998 DISCLAIMER: I truely apologize if this message is a nuisance. You will only hear from me this once, unless, of course, you contact me with welcome questions and inquiries. Dear Friend, I am contacting you to salute your efforts and goodwill for the Iraqi people. You have demonstrated not only concern and commitment, but also a vibrant, decent and humane nature. Your contributions towards the lifting of sanctions off Iraq is a sign of hope that in this dark, cynical and insensitive world, there are still those who care and act for others. However, I am also saddened to see that all this goodwill towards the hungry and shackled people of Iraq is misguided and manipulated. Your efforts have been part and parcel of the regime's media blitz, and anything that serves the purposes of Saddam Hussein's regime is yet another wound inflicted upon the Iraqi soul. There are 160,000 Iraqis in the United States, another 50,000 in Canada. The United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees estimates that about 4 million Iraqis have been driven into exile; of this number, about a million were forcibly deported by the regime. Now ask yourself how many Iraqis participated in the Lift the Sanctions Campaign? Very few. Why? Well, the organizers believe that Iraqis in exile are enjoying the comforts of the West and have forgotten the misery of those withering inside. That simply is not true. The vast majority of Iraqis must now not only support themselves but also their family, friends, neighbors and relatives languishing in Iraq. No Iraqi, whether in the opposition groups or not can openly praise the sanctions because the sanctions are simply inhumane. However, there is a reason why they don't participate in numbers befitting the sizes of their communities: they see your passions manipulated by a regime that imprisoned, tortured, starved, deported, raped and stripped them and their families of the most basic of human rights: life. A regime that rules by sheer brutality and indescribable cruelty; a regime that waged genocide, obliterated whole cities, and shackled the citizenry of Iraq to a rapacious war machine. One day we will uncover the mass graves, one day we will sift through the documents, one day we will liberate the concentration camps, and after binding, highlighting and cataloguing our case, we will march up the same trail taken by former nations that carried damning evidence of gas chambers and killing fields. Your goodwill should not be shamed and held accountable on that day. Do not become Saddam's tools against the Iraqi people. Iraqis live in fear, even here in America. Why? Saddam's regime holds our families hostage. If a person here were to go on TV and speak their minds on Iraq, his/her elderly mother or any other immediate family member would be taken in by the Iraqi Secret Police, the dreaded Mukhaberat. They would only be released if that person returns to Iraq and hands himself/herself over to the authorities. How do they monitor this? They have a very sofisticated network of Iraqi and Arab mercenary informants and agents who earn their paychecks by reporting on the activities of this or that person. It is a real, not imagined or paranoid, fear. Back in the 1980s, when Saddam was the darling of the West, tens of prominent Iraqi dissidents were assassinated abroad, and hundreds more were abducted and went "missing". Outrage? Saddam buried 182,000 "missing" civilian Kurds in mass graves west of the Samawan desert; do you honestly believe that no satellites picked that up? He leveled 4000+ villages as part of the same campaign, the Anfal campaign of 1988-89. The chemical attack on Halabja was just one manifestation of this campaign, fortunately captured on tape and film by an Iranian journalistic team accompanying the Iranian troops, and thus exposed to the world. Even back then, Time Magazine only gave it two pages. Remember, Halabja happened only three years before the sanctions were imposed. There have always been sanctions in Iraq, imposed on anyone who didn't curry the favor of the regime. Internal sanctions were always imposed on certain areas like the south and the Kurdish north, where food stuffs were always rationed, services rare and medical attention scant. Removing the sanctions today would only mean one thing: a lifeline to Saddam. If he were to accept the last increases in the Oil-For-Food deal, which gives Iraq an annual revenue of 10.4 billion dollars, then that would be enough to feed the Iraqi people and provide medical attention; that is not what he seeks. How does that work? Well, 30% of the revenue would go towards war reparations and compensations (incurred on Iraq's future by Saddam), and that would leave 7 billion dollars for Iraq. The total civilian imports in 1989 (this was a good year in the brief peacetime between Saddam's follies of the Iran-Iraq War and the Kuwait invasion) amounted to 11 billion dollars; which included Mercedeses for Saddam and his retinue and cuban cigars and caviar for his henchmen. Medical needs amounted to 500 million dollars. Saddam has yet to accept the new increases in the Oil-For-Food Deal. He wants us Iraqis to starve infront of your eyes a little while longer so that he can get the sanctions lifted. [The Oil for Food program was first proposed and then expanded by the efforts of the democratic Iraqi opposition by pressuring the US and the UK to relieve the suffering of Iraqis.] But why is that the most important issue for him? He needs the sanctions lifted in order to put fresh cash in his coffers and most importantly, to control the spending of this money: reimpose sanctions on certain segments of the population, re-expand his military capabilies and of course, get re-integrated in the international community and start hunting down dissidents. Under the current UN plan, the Oil-for-Food teams stationed in Iraq are the only ones authorized for the distribution of food stuffs. Translated: the well-fed Republican Guards and the starving children which are shown on TV are treated equally. This undermines the very premise of Saddam's regime: co-opting segments of the society to coerce others. Iraq's problem is Saddam Hussein. The terrible suffering of the Iraqi people did not start in 1991 when the sanctions were imposed. The nightmare began in 1968 when Saddam's Ba'ath Party came to power and terrorized the nation. Everyone involved in the Free Iraq Campaign is exposing their families back in Iraq to a lot of danger. Many others are assisting silently. We need you, those who have recognized the humanity and suffering of the Iraqi people, those who have put the faces and names of Iraqi children before their eyes and in their hearts; we need you to raise your free voice and call for the indictment of Saddam and his gang for their crimes against humanity. I beseech the Iraqi Action Coalition and the Voices in the Wilderness group to continue their noble efforts but also to change their policy of accomodating this evil regime by refusing to denounce it. I ask you to share this message with friends and e-mail lists, and attend the rallies in the cities near you. The US administration, specifically National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, wish to forget about the headache posed by Saddam and water down their policy of containment towards one of deterrance. They do not believe in or respect the democratic Iraqi opposition whom they consider to be weak and ineffectual. The underlying premise is racist: "Iraqis are backwards for a concept such as democracy; that is why they need an authoritarian and blood-thirsty tyrant like Saddam". Please help us for it is an unfair fight: at best, we have Kalashnikovs and rusting rifles while he is equipped with chemical weapons. Yesterday's New York Times reported on the regime's desire to purchase 35 US-made helicopter gunships, equipped with chemical sprays, through Canada. The regime is not suffering from sanctions, they want them lifted so that they can ready for a day of reckoning. Iraqis are sick of war and tyranny, but they are in utter despair. They rose in a valiant rebellion in 1991 and liberated 70% of Iraq's territory but stood bewildered and betrayed as the West ignored the massacres unleashed against them once Saddam regained his balance and was permitted to fly his armed helicopter gunships by the Allies. Lift the sanctions by overthrowing Saddam. Do not subtract Saddam from the sanctions equation. The people of Iraq want bread and freedom, and they are counting on your goodwill and efforts. We Iraqis in exile are trying to echo the cries of help from those caught inside; will someone listen to our pleas? Feel free to contact me or the city-specific organizers with any questions or inquiries. Thank you for your understanding and compassion, Yours Sincerely, Nibras Kazimi Tel: (508) 641-0443 Fax: (617) 876-0839 For more information about the campaign: www.iraq.net/Editorials/FreeIraq.html For more general information: www.iraq.net FREE IRAQ CAMPAIGN May 23- June 8, 1998 Free Iraq Campaign Mission Statement A group of independent Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans will undertake a bus journey touring eleven states from San Francisco, California, to Washington, DC in a campaign to indict Saddam Hussein for his crimes against humanity including the crime of genocide; to implement UN Resolution 688 calling on the Iraqi government to respect the human rights of all its citizens and to call for lifting the economic sanctions against the innocent Iraqi people. The group will kick off the campaign in California and drive through several states ending in Washington DC. At every stop, the group will carry out public rallies with local Iraqis, Iraqi-Americans, and sympathizers talking to people, government officials, and the media about the Indict Campaign, UN Resolution 688 and the sanctions against innocent civilians, exposing the Iraqi regime's crimes, and collecting signatures on a letter addressed to leaders of the international community. The letter will urge the international community to bring Saddam Hussein and his cronies before an international court of justice and to help the Iraqi people choose their own government based on freedom, justice and respect for human rights for all Iraqis. The Free Iraq Campaign will present the letter and signatures to the American Administration and Congress and to the member states of the United Nations Security Council. To make this campaign possible, the group is seeking donations from all Iraqis, Iraqi-Americans, and Americans, in funds, effort and time. We will be following up on the "Free Iraq" journey, bringing you the latest details about the progress of the bus tour. For more information, please contact: Mr. Nibras Kazimi at email@example.com Web site at Events Board of http://www.iraq.net/ Tel. (508) 641-0443 Fax. (617) 876-0839 All donations are to be mailed to: Iraqi American Committee P.O. Box 41164 Los Angeles, CA 90041 Free Iraq Campaign Endorsements: (alphabetically) Assyrian National Alliance, Chicago, IL Canadian Iraqi Community Relief Fund, ONT Independent Iraqi Group of North America, Toronto, ONT Iraqi American Committee, Los Angeles, CA Iraqi Democratic Union, CA, AZ, MI Iraqi Forum for Democracy, Nashville, TN Iraq Foundation, Washington, DC Iraqi Turkoman Association of Toronto, ONT Kurdish National Congress of North America Muslim Public Affairs Council, Los Angeles, CA