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Halliday Interview/ Pilger film raised in Commons / New EDM
- From: Sean McGinley <pinguwebmaster@DELETETHISyahoo.de>
- Subject: Halliday Interview/ Pilger film raised in Commons / New EDM
- Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 14:52:29 +0100 (CET)
Question time. Also there is a new Early Day Motion condemning sanctions, mentioning the Pilger film nd George Galloways planned flight to Iraq, the EDM was tabled by Audrey Wise MP (Labour, Preston) and currently has 14 signatures.
I'm really sorry about the presentation of this, it's probably all crammed up together with no line breaks or paragraphs but there really seems to be nothing I can do about it. :(
Interviewer: One of the foremost critics of Western sanctions on Iraq is to meet foreign minister Brian Cowan to try to get Irish support for the campaign to have those sanctions lifted. Irishman Dennis Halliday left his UN job in 1998 saying that the sanctions imposed 8 years earlier were resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis each year. Dennis Halliday is with us now, good morning.
First of all, in terms of the figures here, what are the reliable numbers for the deaths being caused directly by these sanctions or are these available?
Dennis Halliday: Well, directly, in 1989 the death rate was 35/1000 live births, that's now increased to 131 deaths over 1000 live births, the Irish figure would be about 6 or 7 per 1000.
I: Now, our understanding of Western sanctions on Iraq is that they can only be imposed if they don't result in the deaths or any suffering to the civilian population, so are you saying that this is legally as well as morally wrong.
D.H.: On both counts: It's a breach of the United Nations Charter, it's a breach of the BDeclaration of Human Rights, it also undermines the Geneva Convention.
I.: And how long or how soon was that impact apparent, given that they were imposed in 1990?
D.H.: Well, given the fact that Iraq at that stage imported 70% of its food consumption, the impact was seen very quickly, nd you had famine conditions within a matter of 6,7,8 months.
I.: And how much help gets in through the humanitarian corridor?
D.H.: Well, there's no humanitarian charity help worth talking about, the big input comes from Iraqi oil sales through the United Nations which has probably brought in nearly 14 million tons of food in the last two years.
I.: And how long were you humanitarian co-ordinator there?
D.H.: I was there in Baghdad for just over a year.
I.: And then you felt at the end of that year that you were wasting your time?
D.H.: Well, as you quoted i just felt I wasn't there to oversee a programme of genocide and that in fact is what is unfolding in Iraq today.
I.: And was anyone listening to you within the UN?
D.H.: With some difficulty, but some members of the Security Council listened and we made improvements but the fact is the improvements have not revealed any new improvements in terms of the lifestyle, quality of life, malnutrtion of the people themselves.
I.: What then do you say to the argument for the sanctions which is that if you remove them you simply make Saddam more powerful, richer than he's allowed or can divert even more money to his weapons programme?
D.H.: Well, the fact is that the sanctions already have made him more powerful both within Iraq and without. I think it's largely a fiction of the United States and the UK that he has this potential. Others will tell youi Richard Butler included that he has benn diminished almost totally, militarily speaking, so this demonisation is something to hide behind, the result is it's the people who are being punished, not the regime.
I.: But the point is nobody knows for sure what exactly his military capabilty is.
D.H. Well, one can never anticipate the future but we can't punish an entire people because he may have the potential at some stage down the road.
I.: But isn't it already accepted that he has a potential and he'S shown he is quite prepared and willing to use it whenever he wishes?
D.H.: Well, you have to recall he went into the Iran / Iraq war with the support of Europe and the United States in particular, they gave him intelligence and military capacity. In the case of Kuwait there are many justifications, including the possibility of American encouragement. This is a long, complex topic.
I.: I know that, and it's very difficult to cover it in 3 or 4 minutes, but again, the argument in favour of keeping those sanctions there is that at least perhaps there is a prospect that the people themselves will rise up against him.
D.H.: Well you see the people have been very much diminished by economic sanctions so whatever potential for rising up and changing government has benn taken away I would say under the present system. We've got to change our approach, we've got to have dialogue with the government in Baghdads and have some faith we can work together in the future as was the case in the past, when it suited us he was an ally of the United States and Western Europe.
I.: And that's the way to go again now? Dialogue, negotiate with him?
I.: Surely the difficulty for the West is that they've demonised him to such a degree that you cannot sit down with the Butcher of Baghdad, that's their own view.
D.H.: Well that is indeed the problem, but you know Clinton has turned it around in North KOrea and he's opened a dialogue there and they've now got some positive solutions; the same has got to be done in the case of Iraq. We cannot justify the slaughter of 1.5 million Iraqis, that's what's happened so far, 10 years down the road.
I.: But the proof, if you like, of this image of the Butcher of Baghdad is that he himself could help these people or many of them, simply by diverting some money away from weaponry, away from presidential palaces, away from his own political power base but he chooses not to.
D.H.: Well, you're making an assumtion he has income, now the income nwe understand he may have from cross border traffic with Turkey and Jordan, may be as much as $350 million a year. $350 million a year with a population of 22 million gives you about 17 per person. That doesn't really make a great difference.
I.: What support, if any, do you expect to get from the Irish government, why should they put their head up over the parapet on this one?
D.H.: Well, the Irish government has a good history in terms of dealing with humanitarian crises, we've seen how Ireland stood up and was counted in temrs of Timor where the numbers were, happily much less so. I am hopeful the Irish government will see a way now clear to stand up and address the issue of economic sanctions and encourage the Security Council to come up with a different policy, particularly of course Washington.
I.: Are you not afraid that we'll simply play along with the big boys and do what they want to do?
D.H.: Well, I fear that has been the situation and I'm always hopeful we'll change that and we'll stand up with our neutrality and our independence intact and take a position which Ireland in the past has been well known for, which is the right position and the moral line.
I.: Dennis Halliday, thank you very much indeed for coming in. That's Dennis Halliday, the former Un Humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq.
The recent John Pilger ocumentary was raised twice at Prime Ministers Question Time in the House of Commons on Wednesday March 8th.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On Monday night, some 5 or 6 million of our fellow citizens watched a programme produced by John Pilger, showing horrendous
scenes of what was happening in Iraq. Can we be happy to pursue a policy for nine years that has such an effect?
The Prime Minister: No, we cannot be happy to pursue such a policy at all. We are not happy to pursue it, but the way to get the sanctions lifted is for Saddam Hussein
and his regime in Iraq to come into line with UN resolutions, and stop trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.
This Government have taken the lead in the United Nations in trying to find a better method of ensuring that food and medicine get through to the Iraqi people. The
opportunity exists for Saddam Hussein to feed his people and to provide them with medicines. He has billions of oil dollars that he could use for that purpose, but he does
not. He uses the money to prop up his regime, and spends it on weapons of mass destruction.
If my hon. Friend wants to help the people in Iraq, I urge him, as I have urged him often, to help put pressure on the Iraqi regime and Saddam Hussein to fulfil their
humanitarian obligations. The way to end sanctions is for them to come into line with the United Nations resolutions. If they do that, no one will be more pleased than
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Is it not unfortunate that the person who made the programme that
8 Mar 2000 : Column 1006
has been mentioned and which was broadcast on Monday night minimised the responsibility of the criminal dictator of Iraq for the suffering of the people there? In
acknowledging the necessity for sanctions, is it not important to try to find ways in which to assist the children who urgently need medicine, while bearing it in mind
that the criminal dictator has never shown the slightest interest in the people who live in that country?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If Saddam Hussein co-operated with United Nations resolutions, money could go into Iraq to feed his country;
the sanctions would be lifted and there would be no difficulty. However, he refuses to co-operate with the inspectors of weapons of mass destruction or to get money to
his people through the oil for food regime. It is a tragedy; what is happening in Iraq to children and their families is terrible, but the answer is to ensure that Saddam
Hussein comes back in line with international law. If he does not, the money will go to him, not to families in Iraq. It will be spent on weapons of mass destruction and
we will be back where we were a few years ago.
Instead of producing a programme that presented only one point of view, the makers of Monday night's programme should understand that the international
community is desperate to get help to families in Iraq, but that we cannot do it at the expense of allowing Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction.
SANCTIONS ON IRAQ
That this House congratulates John Pilger on his distressing but riveting TV programme exposing the real effects of UN sanctions on Iraq, which have led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children, and intense
suffering for others who cannot get adequate treatment, nourishment or pain relief, but which effects appear to be avoided by Saddam Hussain and his friends; further notes that former UN official Dennis
Halliday explained on the programme that he had been able to save the lives of two children by illegally taking them medicines but that he could not do that for thousands; further notes that the woman doctor who
explained the children's problems was exceedingly upset by what she saw day by day, knew that most of the children in her ward would die and said it was like seeing her own children dying; also congratulates the
honourable Member for Glasgow, Kelvin on organising the humanitarian flight to Iraq originally scheduled for Saturday 11th March and regrets the obstructions put in his way by the Foreign Office; points out that
many British people will disapprove of this flight being described as a publicity stunt and will consider that the Iraqi situation should be publicised and made as widely known as possible; and calls on the Government
to make real its oft-stated claim that it is not at war with the Iraqi people by withdrawing the wholehearted support it as present gives to the United States of America in relation to these sanctions.
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