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On Wednesday, Bill Janzen the director of the Mennonite Central Committee in Ottawa delivered a stirring commentary calling for an end to both the sanctions and bombing of Iraq on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio 1 morning news program. It is one of the few times that I am aware of Iraq's plight being highlighted on CBC. Here it is. (Thanks to the Ottawa MCC for supplying the transcript.) -------------------- For CBC Commentary by Bill Janzen December 8, 1999 Two weeks ago I was on a field in southern Iraq checking a tomato project when American fighter planes came overhead. Soon we heard anti-aircraft fire. Our group was not in danger but it was a vivid reminder of what the Iraqi people live with and of the policy problems now before the UN Security Council. In 1991, after Iraq was forced out of Kuwait, the UN continued with economic sanctions. They were to pressure Iraq to cooperate with UN inspectors sent to ensure that it did not have weapons of mass destruction. Understandably, Iraq did not like being inspected but the inspectors say that by December 1998, one year ago, they were close to concluding that Iraq had met the requirements. Then a crisis developed. The inspectors were withdrawn and bombers sent in. Some say the crisis was manufactured by the US. Others blame Iraq. What is clear is that for the last twelve months American and British planes have made almost daily 'fly-overs' and frequent bombings. Though claiming to target military installations, they have hit residential areas, hospitals, schools, markets, a herd of sheep, and water-storage facilities. They've killed several hundred civilians and injured thousands. For the people of Iraq these bombings come on top of the decade-long sanctions. These have led to severe shortages of food, medicines, spare parts for water treatment systems, and other necessities. Over a million people have died. Our visits to Iraqi hospitals are unforgettable. School attendance is down. Stealing, prostitution and killing are up. And salaries for teachers, doctors and civil servants are at two percent of what they were. To help alleviate these needs, the UN and Iraq agreed, in 1996, to an Oil-For-Food program. It allows Iraq to sell oil and acquire humanitarian goods. This has helped but it has not stopped the deteriorating trends. In the debate now before the UN Security Council, most countries say that Iraq must allow weapons inspectors back in. The main argument is whether the sanctions should now be 'suspended', meaning that they could be reinstated if Iraq refused to cooperate with the inspectors, or whether Iraq must first demonstrate cooperation for, say, a four month period, before the sanctions might be terminated. Both scenarios suggest that the sanctions could end soon but that cannot be assumed. President Clinton has said the sanctions will stay as long as Saddam stays. That stance, which hardly invites cooperation, may be a key part of the problem. Canada, to its credit, is trying to broaden and improve the Oil-For-Food program. It should also insist that UN resolutions be applied fairly, not only those on Iraq, but those calling for regional disarmament and justice for the Palestinians. That is more likely to elicit cooperation. The current approach on Iraq is destroying a generation. The human costs are enormous. People have lost hope, and anti-western sentiment is growing. It does not bode well for the future. For Commentary, this is Bill Janzen in Ottawa. __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Thousands of Stores. Millions of Products. All in one place. Yahoo! Shopping: http://shopping.yahoo.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi