The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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3. And as for the comment about a "long history of murderous assaults on the Kurdish people". First you should know the history of northern Iraq. For the last 150 armed Kurdish groups have consistently harassed and periodically massacred the non-Kurdish populations of that region. The Assyrians/Chaldeans and Armenians were brutally massacred by Kurdish guerillas (before, during AND after World War I). Even today in the safe haven, non-Kurds (Assyrians/Chaldeans, Yezidis, Armenians, Arabs, Turcomen) live in a state of fear. A massacre is a massacre and must be condemned no matter who commits it, BUT you give a completely wrong impression when you only speak of Kurds as victims without giving the other side of the story. And of course, it is well known that the Kurds were given far more rights and respect in Iraq, than in either Turkey or Iran (including the Monarchy and the Islamic Republic).
Second, while Kurds have historically been allowed to publish more extensively in Iraq than in either Turkey or Iran, this freedom has not extnended into other social feeds such as secondary education or political representation. After the genocidal assault on the Kurds during the Anfal campaign and Baath threats to 'repeat the operation' during the Gulf War, talk of 'Kurdish rights' within Baathist Iraq is futile.
This last point is important because it underlies why many Kurds have been less vocal in supporting the anti-sanctions movements than others from the region. While many abhor the impact of sanctions - and have suffered from the double blockade in Iraqi Kurdistan - they quite justifiably ask: after sanctions, then what happens to us?
I believe this is a point not sufficiently addressed in many anti-sanctions movements. I recently attended a presentation by anti-sanctions campaigners, one of whom had recently returned from a trip to Iraq. The reception given them was quite positive and people were appropriately angered by the impact sanctions have had on the Iraqi people. However, you could just about feel the credibility levels in the room drop as soon as one speaker began to argue how Saddam Hussein was not necessarily so bad and had been unjustly vilified in the western media.
I think we all agree that most people do not appreciate how devastating the sanctions regime has been for the Iraqi people. But Saddam Hussein is not 'misunderstood' or a victim of bad press. Just ask any one of the victims of Baath party repression. This is why our solidarity with the Iraqi people should extend beyond helping achieving a 'post-sanctions' peace to helping them achieve a 'post-Baathist' peace as well.