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AI EX101/98 US/UK/IRAQ Fear of mass killing of civilians (fwd)

An Amnesty International 'Urgent Action' about the military attack on
Iraq, and the civilian casualties it will incur (and now has incurred),
has been published...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 16 Dec 98 18:16:17 -0500
From: UA E-Mail Incoming <>
Subject: AI EX101/98 US/UK/IRAQ Fear of mass killing of civilians

+ Paper reprints authorised. Electronic redistributors +
+ must request permission from Amnesty International.  +
+ Contact:                         +

PUBLIC                     AI Index: AMR 51/110/98
                           16 December 1998

EXTRA 101/98        Fear of indiscriminate mass killing
                    of civilians in Iraq              


Amnesty International is concerned that there may be imminent
military attacks against Iraq by United States of America and United
Kingdom forces which could lead to indiscriminate or
disproportionate killings of civilians in violation of international
human rights law. This comes in the light of the report by the head
of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) to the UN Security
Council on 15 December 1998 about Iraq's alleged lack of full
cooperation with UN weapons inspectors and the sudden evacuation
from Iraq of UN staff, including UN humanitarian workers.

On 14 and 15 November, US and UK forces narrowly aborted a military
attack against Iraq after it had announced on 14 November that it
would resume full cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. However,
both the US and UK Governments have since repeatedly indicated that
military action against Iraq will be taken immediately, without a
UN Security Council resolution, should it fail to cooperate with UN
weapons inspectors in the future. The threat of military attacks
against Iraq came after its decision on 31 October to end all
cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.

Amnesty International's fears for the safety of the civilian
population in Iraq have been heightened by reports which appeared
recently in the US press. On 16 November the Washington Post wrote:
"...[President] Clinton had been warned by the Pentagon that the
attack plan would result in by far the most military undertaking of
his presidency, possibly killing 10,000 Iraqis. "That was the medium
case scenario", one administration official said...".

On 17 November the New York Times reported: "...Aides to Mr. Clinton
said that in making his decision, he was troubled by Pentagon
estimates that several thousand Iraqis, including civilians, would
be killed in the air strikes, a death toll far greater than any
other American military strike since the Persian Gulf war in

Amnesty International has so far received no confirmation from US
officials as to the accuracy of these reports. On 13 November the
organization publicly expressed concern that civilians might be
indiscriminately killed in the event of a military action against
Iraq. During the Gulf War in 1991 thousands of civilians in Iraq
were killed in aerial bombardment of Baghdad and other cities by US
and allied forces. In one such incident more than 300 civilians were
killed in the `Amariya air raid shelter in Baghdad. In November 1998
Amnesty International wrote to the US and UK governments urging that
life, safety and security of civilians must be the paramount
consideration in any action taken to resolve conflicts and to ensure
the protection of civilians in accordance with international
humanitarian law. Amnesty International also wrote to the Iraqi
government and urged that all necessary measures be taken to protect
the civilian population in Iraq.         


Iraq has been under UN economic sanctions since it invaded Kuwait
in August 1990. Under UN Security Council resolutions, adopted in
the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, sanctions cannot be lifted until
UNSCOM declares Iraq free of chemical and biological arms and
capabilities. Until September 1998 sanctions were being reviewed by
the UN Security Council every two months.    In February 1998 Iraq
barred some members of UNSCOM from inspecting suspected weapon sites
including eight presidential palaces. As a result US and other
governments threatened to take military action against Iraq but at
the end of February 1998, and following a visit to Baghdad by the
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Iraq signed a memorandum of
understanding with the UN Security Council and agreed to allow
access to all suspected weapon sites. 

In August 1998 Iraq announced its decision to suspend cooperation
with UNSCOM. The UN Security Council responded by adopting
resolution 1194 in September, suspending any review of sanctions
until Iraq reversed its decision. On 31 October Iraq announced that
it was halting all  cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. A
military action by US and UK forces was avoided after Iraq had
announced full cooperation with UNSCOM on 14 November.

telegrams/E-mails/faxes/express/airmail letters in English or your
own language:

- asking them to take into urgent consideration the risk of civilian
loss of life in the event of military action against Iraq.

(Please note: AI members in other countries are being asked to write
to the UK Government)

(Time difference = GMT - 5 hrs / BST - 6 hrs)

Bill Clinton               [Salutation: Dear President]
The White House
Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500
United States of America
Telegrams:          President, Washington DC, United States America
Faxes:        + 1 202 456 2461

Lader, Embassy of United States of America, Grosvenor Square, London
W1A 1AE. Fax: 0171 409 1637


+ If you have any queries about this Urgent Action or about +
+ the UA scheme in general, please contact:                 +
+   Ray Mitchell / Becky Hess                               +
+   Amnesty International UK Section                        +
+   99 - 119 Rosebery Avenue                                +
+   London EC1R 4RE      email:           +

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