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Action Alert: HRW needs to clearly oppose sanctions against Iraq

  Dear all,

  On Wednesday, January 5, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press release
and memorandum regarding the sanctions against the people of Iraq.  This
is the first time that HRW comments on the sanctions, after more than nine
years of silence.  You can find the press release at Although it states some
criticism of the sanctions, HRW does not express strong and clear
opposition to these sanctions .  Instead, it calls for the "restructuring" 
of the sanctions.  It is vital that we now express our disappointment that
HRW has not called for the immediate lifting of the sanctions on Iraq; 
anything less than the immediate lifting of sanctions is an attempt to
justify the continuing deaths and the continuing siege . 

  Please write to HRW and urge the organization to oppose the continuation
of these sanctions.  HRW cannot credibly state that it is "dedicated to
protecting the human rights of people around the world" and simultaneously
support sanctions that directly kill thousands upon thousands of children
every month in Iraq . 

   I ncluded in this action alert:
      * Talking points
      * HRW contact information

  Please "bcc" your letters to [].

   In Solidarity ,
  -Rania Masri

  * Talking Points/Further information

  - Acknowledge that HRW has finally commented on the sanctions, and ask HRW
to take the next logical step on behalf of the Iraqi people, and call for
the economic sanctions against Iraq to be lifted.  Since HRW recognizes the
immense destruction caused by the sanctions, it must then equally demand the
end to the very policy responsible -- the sanctions.

  - Remind HRW the UN Sanctions Committee has, on the basis of "dual-use,"
constistently delayed contracts, and further rejected the importation of
items vital for health-care, education, and agriculture, including heart and
lung machines (AFP, Nov. 3, 1999).

  - Remind HRW that numerous UN agencies and independent reports (see ) have stated that the sanctions have
resulted in the deaths of thousands of children-under-five every month
(UNICEF, 1996), and hundreds of people every day (UNICEF, 1998).
Mainitaining - or 'restructuring' - the sanctions will lead to more deaths .

  - HRW stresses the call for an international war crimes tribunal for the
Iraqi leaders, primarily on the grounds of crimes committed in the 1980s.
Since HRW has chosen to mix the distinct issues of the effects of the
sanctions with Iraq's past abuses in 1980s, why does it not criticize the
US, France, Germany, Britian, and Russia for supplying weapons to Iraq
throughout the period of these worst abuses?

  - Point out that HRW fails to recognize the sanctions themselves as a
human rights violation.  Throughout the HRW statement, consequences of the
sanctions are referred to as a "humanitarian crisis," as if people were
dying because of a natural disaster, instead of a human policy.  Point out
that sanctions constitute a form of collective punishment banned under
international law (UN Charter, Geneva Convention of 1977--Covenant Against
Genocide), and under US law as terrorism (as defined by the US Legal Code,
Title 18/2331) (see for more information)

  -  Further remind HRW  about the further violations of human rights
through the "No-Fly-Zone" bombings. HRW has said very little about the
bombing of Iraq throughout last year.

  - HRW cannot hope to be credible human rights organization if it fails to
strongly criticize a policy that is holding 22 million people hostage.

  * Contact Human Rights Watch at:
  350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
  Tel: (212) 290-4700, Fax: (212) 736-1300

  1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.,
  Suite 500 ,Washington, DC 20009
  Tel:(202) 612-4321, Fax:(202) 612-4333

  333 South Grand Avenue, #430, Los Angeles, CA 90071-1508
  Tel: (213) 680-9906, Fax: (213) 680 9924

  33 Islington High Street, N1 9LH London, UK
  Tel: (171) 713-1995, Fax: (171) 713-1800

  Rue Van Campenhout, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
  Tel: (2) 732-2009, Fax: (2) 732-0471

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