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News for Feb 15 to 21, 2000

News for February 15 to 21, 2000
Sources:        AP, Reuters,, BBC, The Mariam Appeal

Thanks to Rania Masri for supplying news reports from the Mariam Appeal.


*       Jutta Burghart, head of the UN World Food Program in Iraq, resigns.

*       Von Sponeck speaks out on Iraqi situation.

*       US congressmen (both Democrats and Republicans) criticise embargo.

*       US/UK forces commit at least two bombing raids on Iraq during the last

*       Iraqi group states that 26 political prisoners were executed in Iraq last

*       Kuwaiti army officer on trial for heading pro-Iraqi regime in Kuwait
during Gulf War.

*       Russian tanker saga concludes. Oil removed from ship. Proceeds will go to
UN account.

Sunday February 20 12:05 PM ET

 U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Defense Sites

 ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. jets bombed an Iraqi air defense system in
Iraq's northern no-fly zone Sunday in response to a
 missile attack, the U.S. military said.

 The Iraqi forces fired multiple surface-to-air missiles at warplanes on
patrol, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said
 in a statement. Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks with
bombs, the statement said.

 All planes left the area 250 miles north of Baghdad safely, it said. The
planes are based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

 On Saturday, Baghdad said three Iraqi civilians were wounded when U.S.
warplanes bombed the same region during patrols of
 the no-fly zone. Saturday's attack was carried out in response to Iraqi
artillery fire.
>From the BBC:
Sunday, 20 February, 2000, 21:59 GMT
Kuwaiti quisling says he faced death

A Kuwaiti army officer who headed the
regime which Iraq set up in Kuwait in
1990, has gone on trial for treason.

The officer Colonel Alaa Hussein Ali, was
sentenced to death in absentia in 1993
for collaborating with Iraq.

He returned to Kuwait earlier this year
after living in exile first in Iraq and then

He broke down in tears during cross
examination by the judge about his links
with Iraq's ruling Baath party.

He said the Iraqis threatened to kill his
family if he didn't comply with the order.

He said he was taken prisoner on the first
day of the invasion while on his way to a
Kuwaiti army camp to take up arms to
defend Kuwait.

Saturday February 19 2:09 AM ET

Russian Tanker Leaves Oman Waters After Oil Lifted

MUSCAT, Oman (Reuters) - A Russian tanker seized by the U.S. Navy in the
Gulf on suspicion of smuggling Iraqi fuel has left Omani territorial waters
after it unloaded its cargo, an Omani foreign ministry official said.

The Oman News Agency (ONA) quoted the official as saying that the cargo was
pumped into another tanker Friday, allowing the Volgoneft-147 to sail with
its crew on the same day.

The agency quoted the official as saying late Friday that Oman plans to sell
the tanker's cargo of 5,000 tons of gas oil and deposit the money with the
United Nations fund in charge of Iraqi oil sales, after deducting costs of

>From the Mariam Appeal:

Congressman Tony Hall (Democrat-Ohio) has written a letter to Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright questioning the Clinton administration's negative
comments on Hans von Sponeck and Jutta Burghardt.

Hall wrote 17/2/00 that “thousands of courageous people, like Sponeck and
Burghardt, [were] working against almost impossible odds to help those in
need”, and that those he had worked with wer generally “conscientious and
careful in their evaluations of situations such as those the people of
Iraq now endure.”

“It appears to me that nothing Mr. Von Sponeck or Ms. Burghardt has
noted,” the letter continues, “differs from the reports of UNICEF, the
International Red Cross, and other respected organizations that have
examined what is happening in Iraq today.”

Importantly he added, “Your spokesman's vilification of these individuals
is unfair and appears to be an effort to stifle the expression of
legitimate concerns about our country's policies toward Iraq.”
US - Iraq no-fly zone clashes
Iraq, Military, 2/19/2000

Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery north of Mosul fired today on aircraft
enforcing the northern Iraq no-fly zone, the US European
Command said, adding that the aircraft "responded to the Iraqi
attack by dropping ordnance on elements of the Iraqi
integrated air defense system."
Friday February 18 11:32 AM ET

Rights Group Says Iraq Executed 26

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Twenty-six political prisoners were executed in a prison
near Baghdad last month and 13 others died of torture and neglect in a
center, a human rights group linked to an Iraqi opposition party said

The report by the Center for Human Rights, which is linked to the Iraqi
Communist Party, could not be independently confirmed. The Iraqi government
does not
comment on such allegations.

The group's report, faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo, said the
executions took place Jan. 27 in Abu Gharib prison. The group listed the
names of all 26 of
those executed as well as their home provinces.

The group also reported that 13 people it described as political detainees
died in a Baghdad detention center as a result of torture, neglect and
malnutrition in
December and January. The victims were among at least 580 other detainees
held in the Makaseb detention center, the human rights group said.

The officials in charge of the Makaseb center are personally selected by
President Saddam Hussein and are affiliated with the military intelligence,
headed by
Saddam's son, Qusai, the group said.

Iraqi prisons are generally overcrowded. The former minister of labor and
social affairs, Abdel-Aziz Mohammed Saleh al-Sayegh, was sacked last June
for saying
prison conditions were appalling.
Thursday February 17 6:30 AM ET

Iraq Deaths Double Under UN Sanctions-Von Sponeck

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Nations' top humanitarian official in Baghdad
says infant mortality in Iraq has more than doubled
under the U.N. embargo imposed in 1990.

Hans von Sponeck, who announced his resignation at the weekend saying U.N.
humanitarian programs in Iraq were ineffective,
added that one Iraqi child in five now suffered from malnutrition.

 ``We have increasing evidence on many fronts. When you look at the
mortality situation you could see there is a rising trend,'' von
Sponeck told Qatar's al-Jazeera satellite television.

``In 1991, 56 children under the age of five per 1,000 were dying. Now 10
years later, the figure has gone up according to
UNICEF to 131 per 1,000,'' he said in an interview from Baghdad broadcast on

``Malnutrition, I keep saying every night one out of five Iraqi children
under five goes to be malnourished,'' he said.

``We have evidence that mental disorders of children under 14 are
increasing. So there is a sense of hopelessness and can we afford, can
anyone afford, to associate himself or herself with such a reality? I


Von Sponeck told al-Jazeera the state of education in Iraq was ``totally

 ``There is not enough anywhere, whether it is books or pencils or classroom
furniture....That is the generation that is now in Iraq
 being prepared for responsible citizenship of tomorrow,'' he said.

 ``Today, with an unemployment rate that is estimated at between 60 and 75
percent, people depend on what is given to them and
 that is humiliating and it does not make for a future of self-reliance
based on your efforts to earn in a dignified way a living,'' he

 ``Every year that passes, every month in fact that passes, sees the
intensity of the weight of the sanctions on the lives of people
 here increase,'' he said.

>From the BBC:
Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 17:42 GMT
US congressmen criticise
Iraqi sanctions

Protesters in New York call for an end to sanctions

A group of United States congressmen -
both Democrats and Republicans - are
putting pressure on the Clinton
administration over its support of the
United Nations economic sanctions
against Iraq.

The group's spokesman, David Bonior, a
Democrat for Michigan, has described the
sanctions as "infanticide masquerading as


'Hurting Iraqis not Saddam'

The bipartisan group of congressmen held
a press conference in Washington on
Thursday in conjunction with
Arab-American groups.

They were representing a larger group of
70 legislators who had signed a letter
urging President Bill Clinton "to do what is
right: lift the economic sanctions".

The congressmen said they supported the military embargo
on Iraq, but wanted to see the economic embargo lifted.

The letter read:
"While we have no illusions about the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the
people of Iraq should be allowed to restore their economic system."

"This embargo has not hurt Saddam Hussein or the pampered elite which
supports him, but has been devastating for millions of Iraqi people,"
congressman Bonior said.
Tuesday February 15 12:30 PM ET

U.N.'s Iraq Food Program Chief Quits

By WAIEL FALEH Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The head of the U.N. World Food Program in Iraq has
quit to protest U.N. trade sanctions, European diplomats in Baghdad said

Jutta Burghart of Germany has administered the distribution of food supplies
in Iraq under the U.N.-approved oil-for-food deal since she assumed her post
in January 1999.

Several attempts by The Associated Press to reach Burghart for comment
failed, but one of the diplomats said that in her letter to WFP headquarters
in Rome she said that she cannot continue in her job amid the widespread
suffering she attributes to U.N. sanctions.

 In Rome, WFP spokesman Francis Mwanza confirmed that Burghart had resigned,
but he said it was a ``personal decision to leave and go back to her
previous employer, the German government.'' He said her decision was not
made to protest the

Burghart is the second high-ranking U.N. official in Iraq to quit in three
days. Iraq's chief Humanitarian coordinator, Hans Von Sponeck, quit over the
sanctions. His resignation was accepted Monday.

``The United States acts as if the United Nations is one of its own states.
... Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday have refused  to sell themselves to
America and have stood for the truth,'' the daily newspaper al-Iraq said in
a front-page editorial.


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