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This mail is intended for use by anyone who wishes to lobby AI at the level of individual, local group, regional group, country or International. Apologies for the length of this message. It deals with AI's mandate, and how it could easily cover the sanctions issue if the International Secretariat wished it. I have produced it as a 5 page Word document if anyone wants the version full of fonts and bolds and italics etc. I have also produced a 1-page flier type thing, again in Word, saying similar stuff. The full text of the mandate is available at http://www.amnesty.org/aboutai/statute.htm/ Take a deep breath. Here goes... The Mandate. A quote from the very beginning of the Amnesty Mandate, which aims... “To promote awareness of and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments, the values enshrined in them, and the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and freedoms;” The UN sanctions on Iraq are unambiguously in breach of many articles of the UDHR (e.g. numbers 3,5,25,28,30) and also of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (articles 11.1, 11.2, 12.1) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 23.3) the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (article 2) and are a gross violation of the Geneva Convention (1977 addition, Protocol 1, article 54). How can an organisation that purports to stand against abuses of human rights ignore a policy that contradicts so much human rights legislation? It would seem from this *alone* that the Mandate covers the devastation caused by the sanctions. In the following paragraph the Mandate states Amnesty’s opposition to violations “... of the right of every person to physical and mental integrity...” …rights which have been massively violated by the UN sanctions through starvation, malnutrition, denial of many medicines and medical supplies resulting in thousands of deaths from easily treatable and previously eradicated diseases, denial of infrastructure supplies such as water purification equipment and supplies to restore electrical power generation, again resulting in atrocious suffering to the population. Paragraph a) also states Amnesty’s opposition to “...physical restrictions imposed on any person by reason of his or her... national or social origin...”. Given that the Iraqi people are being restricted by the Security Council in their access to all manner of humanitarian supplies because of the Council’s quarrel with their dictator, it would seem that this falls within the Mandate also. After all, if you are going to punish innocent people for the supposed crimes of a powerful man, why restrict it to the people in that country? Innocent people are innocent people whatever their country of origin. Paragraph c) states the opposition to... “...torture or other *cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment* or punishment of prisoners or *other detained or restricted* persons...”(emphasis added) Denying a people their right to provide themselves with the means to survive, the right to buy adequate food, medicine, clothes, water and power supplies, basic equipment for schools, agriculture and industry is unarguably “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of extremely “restricted persons”. Paragraph d) says Amnesty opposes... “...the extrajudicial execution of persons *whether or not* imprisoned, detained *or restricted*...”. (emphasis added) By denying a people the means to rebuild an adequate clean water supply in an area where we know that water-borne diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea will kill vulnerable members of the population, the Security Council is executing them as surely as if it was putting a gun to the heads of 250 people every day. Even if one argues that such consequences could not be foreseen, after just a few months one did not need to foresee them because the evidence of dying children was, and is, all around. Similarly, by denying innocent people the right to buy adequate supplies of antibiotics and all manner of life saving drugs, by denying them the electrical power to supply their life-saving machines until a powerful man does as the Security Council wishes, we know that ordinary people will suffer and die. The Council is ‘restricting’ people who have no voice, no recourse to judicial procedures, and one and half million are as dead as if they had been killed in a concentration camp. Does Amnesty’s Mandate really not cover this? On the AIUK web site, under ‘Mandate’ it states “During most of its history, Amnesty’s campaigning has focused on prisoners, but the movement has responded to the changing patterns of human rights violations in the world, and has increasingly taken action on behalf of people who are not prisoners.” and that Amnesty “...devotes its energies to working against abuses by opposition groups; hostage taking; torture and killings of prisoners; and *other arbitrary killings*;” (emphasis added) One can argue, as we would, that the people of Iraq are prisoners of conscience at the political whim of the Security Council. They are ‘restricted’ just as were those who suffered in the concentration camps in former-Yugoslavia that Amnesty recently denounced so vocally. Our governments are denying dying children the medicine and equipment that we know they need to survive. Amnesty should be speaking out against this “arbitrary killing”, just as it speaks out against Saddam’s crimes. However, even if one wants to argue that the suffering people of Iraq are not prisoners because they are not locked in little rooms with bars in the window; even if one wants to argue that their unnecessary suffering and lingering deaths are not torture because they are not being physically beaten with rubber hoses or electric-shock batons; even if one takes such arguments seriously, it is clear to us that Amnesty’s Mandate still easily covers the plight these of shell-shocked people. An objection that has been put forward is that those suffering under sanctions are not strictly ‘prisoners of conscience’ and therefore are not covered by Amnesty’s scope. However, it is clear that Amnesty’s actual scope, according to its own actions and Mandate, is much broader than this. This is shown, for example, by Amnesty’s opposition to the death penalty, its ‘Get Up, Sign Up’ campaign aimed at promoting the values of the UDHR, and its criticism of government policy in selling arms to brutal regimes, amongst other activities. The mandate, in addition to the above examples, under the section entitled “Methods”, states one of Amnesty’s tasks as being: “to make representations to international organisations and to governments whenever it appears that an individual is a prisoner of conscience or has *otherwise been subjected to disabilities in violation of the aforesaid provisions*” (namely the UDHR and all the other “recognised human rights instruments” (emphasis added)). It is unquestionable that the people of Iraq have “been subjected to disabilities in violation” of just about all the human rights legislation in existence. Still, the International Secretariat does not think this is worthy of a campaign. Another objection has been the argument that Amnesty does not have the resources to take on such an issue. We would argue that this is manifestly not the case. Amnesty has a team dedicated to Iraq, and produces regular detailed reports, case studies and news releases about its human rights abuses. However they focus almost entirely on abuses in Iraq perpetrated by the Iraqi regime. These abuses are terrible, reprehensible, and deserve to be exposed. But to spend all that energy on recording the details of political detainees, disappeared, executed etc, and then to decide not to expose the abuses going on for all to see in the local streets and hospitals seems to us a crazy and irresponsible thing for a human rights organisation to do. It need not take much in the way of resources to gather evidence on UNSC abuses in Iraq. The evidence is widespread and easily available. UNICEF, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the World Food Programme, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and dozens of other delegations and aid agencies from all over the world have compiled a huge amount of evidence on the effect of these sanctions. AI frequently uses such sources when it cannot, for whatever reason, gain direct access to the evidence. For example, Amnesty actively campaigns on abuses in China, not from directly observed collection of evidence, but through reliable sources: “The Chinese government continues to block Amnesty International representatives from entering the country, but that hasn’t stopped our organisation from gathering information on human rights violations from sources inside China. AI’s information comes from a wide variety of sources, including people inside China who are working to promote human rights, victims of human rights violations and their relatives, government publications, Chinese newspapers and other sources.” – AI website, ‘China – Frequently Asked Questions’. On the telephone, Amnesty told us that they are “sympathetic” to the situation in Iraq, but remain “neutral” on the matter. This response astonished us. “Neutral” between which sides? Is Amnesty “neutral” between those who are dying from deprivation every day and those who are causing that deprivation? Presumably they mean that Amnesty is “neutral” in who it wishes to blame for the situation, i.e. the Security Council or Saddam’s regime. Whilst Amnesty is busy being neutral and saying nothing, however, people are dying. It does not matter which leaders you wish to blame. In the name of anything that resembles humanity, the horrendous suffering that the innocent people of Iraq have endured for eight years has to stop. The people of Iraq have no ability to influence either their own dictatorship or the Security Council, especially when they are struggling just to survive. The punishing of these people, then, cannot be justified. It is not only an abuse of human rights but also a crime against humanity, which dwarfs those subject to high-profile Amnesty campaigns. The Security Council is holding a gun to the heads of Iraqi children and demanding that Saddam co-operate, or the innocent will die. The logic is that if the dictator would only do as we say then we wouldn’t have to kill innocent people. The same logic could be applied by any terrorist hostage taker. We do not think this is something which a reputable human rights organisation can ignore. Saddam is a brutal, murderous dictator who probably cares little for his own people. By imposing sanctions, the Security Council, led by the US and UK, shows similar contempt for the lives, and deaths, of those same people. Amnesty should be informing the world of all the abuses occurring in Iraq, not just those of Saddam. There is a saying that all that is necessary for evil people to succeed is for good people to do nothing. For Amnesty to remain “neutral” on this genocidal situation is to take the side of the powerful against the powerless; to take the side of Saddam and the Security Council against the side of the people of Iraq. We do not believe that there can be any such position as “neutral” on this issue. Many in the anti-sanctions movement believe that this is a ‘Dracula’ issue: i.e. that it only needs organisations and the media to shed some public light on the situation for the sanctions policy to collapse. We believe this. We believe that if people see the truth of what is happening as a result of sanctions in Iraq, they will not stand for it. We also believe that it is the duty of organisations such as Amnesty to highlight these abuses and bring the lifting of the sanctions nearer. The AI representative told us on the phone that “other bodies” are taking on the sanctions issue. This is clearly not enough, as evidenced by the death toll of the last 8 years. It needs higher profile, established, respected human rights organisations to join in the chorus against this morally and legally indefensible policy. The sooner this happens, hopefully the fewer people will suffer and die. It appears to us that the Mandate, in a number of its parts outlined above, can easily be interpreted to allow Amnesty to speak out on this issue. Indeed, we think the question is not so much ‘does the mandate apply to this?’ but rather ‘how can the mandate not apply to Security Council abuses in Iraq?’. Even if it is deemed by the International Secretariat that the sanctions issue falls outside the Mandate, we believe that it is such a huge and urgent human rights issue that the Mandate should be changed to incorporate such abuses. With 250 people dying every day, the people of Iraq clearly cannot wait for the next Mandate review in the year 2001. Given this, an emergency change proposal is essential. However, it is our opinion that it only requires the current Mandate to be interpreted differently in order for Amnesty to start to lend its considerable and desperately needed weight to task of exposing this massive and ongoing crime against humanity. We urge all members, groups, and concerned people to write, lobby, and campaign for AIUK to persuade the International Secretariat to change its policy NOW. You may like to invite speakers to local group meetings, encourage members to write to AI and AIUK both as individuals and groups, speak up at regional meetings, or turn up and lobby for the Iraqi people at the AGM in Cardiff in April. A number of local groups have already expressed their concern to AIUK, and pressure is growing. We are hearing that many people within AI, particularly in the Iraq section, feel the same way, but are frustrated that their hands are tied by the policy of the International Secretariat. It is up to the ordinary membership to put pressure on AI to change its policy NOW. For the sake of the 1.5 million who have already died, and for the 250 people who will die today, and tomorrow, and the day after and on and on until sanctions on humanitarian goods are lifted, we hope you feel able to do all you can to get Amnesty informing and campaigning on this, as it should have been doing for the last 8 years. Good Luck. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html