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House of Commons Debate (circulated by Daniel Blaney, 30/6/99)

> Dear members of CASI,
> I am concerned about the way that the argument against sanctions is being
> put forward in the House of Commons.
> Open criticism of the sanctions regime and exposure of the DU issue within
> the House is very important, and George Galloway has always been one of
> the most outspoken. However, I am alarmed by the tacit support shown by
> George Galloway for the Iraqi government, implicit in the words "The
> character of the Iraqi regime has been effectively carpet bombed on many
> occasions by hon. Members throughout the House."
> It is highly inappropriate to express solidarity with the Iraqi regime on
> two main counts:
> 1) The known facts about the Iraqi regime, particularly given the British
> Government's current position of no tolerance. It is not possible to
> underestimate the criminality of Saddam Hussein and the RCC power base.
> Suggestions that the character of the regime has been "carpet bombed"
> indicate that its brutality has been underestimated (or that two decades
> of terrible human rights violations are not a matter for international
> concern).
> 2) The feelings of the Iraqi community in exile towards the Iraqi regime.
> Any defence of the Iraqi regime, no matter how indirect, destroys the
> credibility of western anti-sanctions campaigns in the eyes of the Iraqi
> community in exile. Among the several millions of Iraqis currently living
> outside Iraq are many hundreds of thousands of people whose basic human
> rights have been violated by the regime, often with shocking cruelty. As a
> result of statements of solidarity with Saddam Hussein by key
> anti-sanctions campaigners, many Iraqis in the UK (who invariably express
> hatred for Saddam Hussein etc), harbour deep doubts about the intentions
> of western anti-sanctions campaigns. For example, at a gathering of the
> Iraqi community in Britain earlier this year, I found that despite their
> own opposition to the sanctions, key members of the community were
> convinced that organisations such as the Emergency Committee on Iraq and
> CASWI were, although opposing sanctions, actually supporting the regime.
> The sanctions directly violate the basic rights of the civilian population
> within Iraq, and cause huge suffering for Iraqis both within and outside
> the country. Therefore, opposition to the sanctions is clearly the most
> relevant stance for us as stakeholders in the policies pursued by the
> British government. However, the understanding and support of the Iraqi
> community in exile is vital, and therefore we need to make our position
> regarding the Iraqi government very clear. For this reason I suggest that
> we avoid deriving campaign support from speeches or articles which contain
> any hint of tolerance for the Iraqi regime.
> I would welcome comments and suggestions as to how to tackle this issue.
> Harriet
> ______________________________________________________
> Harriet Griffin
> Research Assistant
> Environmental Change Unit
> University of Oxford
> 5 South Parks Road
> Oxford OX1 3UB
> United Kingdom
> Phone: ++ 44 (0)1865 281210
> Fax:  ++ 44 (0) 1865 281202
> E-mail:
> ______________________________________________________
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