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October letter - please join this group!

Hello. Glenn from Voices UK here. Apologies to those who are on the Casi
announce list as this will be a duplication.

This is a request for any UK members on this list who can spare 20 minutes
or so each month to join a co-ordinated letter-writing effort to keep up the
pressure on policymakers in the run-up to the general election.

Voices UK has been circulating campaigning letters and helping people to
answer the letters they get back from the Foreign Office for over two years

Building on our experience, we believe that this monthly group effort will
make our letter-writing campaign more regular,
organised and effective, and get more people writing.

Members of the Letter Writing Group will receive notes and briefings which
should give you the facts you need for each month's letter If you would like
to join the group, please email me at . (or see phone
no. below to arrange paper copy).

For those who wish to get cracking right away below are the notes that we
hope will be useful for this month's letter. Obviously people are free to
write what they choose, but at the same time we feel it would be a goodidea
to have many letters focusing on a particular theme each month. Hence the

***Please*** do send us copies of the letters you send, and any replies you
receive. This will enable use to compose quick and comprehensive responses.

Keep up the pressure!


020 8351 6736

This month's letter...

As a one-off we would like you to send two letters this month if you can.
The first (and most important) one addresses Robin Cook's recent remarks at
the Labour Party Conference about human rights and 'British values'.

As an additional item, we are asking you to write to Menzies
Campbell,Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat Party, to
(a)congratulate him on the Lib-Dem's public call for non-military
sanctionson Iraq to be lifted and (b) ask that this demand be included in
the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for the next election. A short letter, card
or postcard should suffice for this.

Whatever holes one may like to pick in the Lib-Dems' position, the fact that
the third largest British political party has taken such a stand is no small
thing and with an election looming we think they should be
congratulated and encouraged.

Points for October letter:

This is a letter to Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, who told the Labour
Party Conference a few days ago that British foreign policy towards Sierra
Leone was motivated by 'simple human decency' and nothing else, who
claimed that 'We have put human rights at the heart of our foreign

A re-elected Labour Government, says Mr Cook, would 'tackle the causes of
conflict'. 'We believe in British values. Freedom. Justice. Fairness. But
we do not accept that those are values for Britain alone. If we want those
rights for ourselves, then we should support those rights for others.' So
says Mr Cook. But if he really wants Britain to be 'a force for good in
the world', he is going to have to stop attacking the rights of 22 million
ordinary people in Iraq.


1) In your recent speech to the Labour Party Conference, you suggested
that the Labour Government has 'put human rights at the heart of our
foreign policy.' You suggested that humanitarian intervention in Africa
had been motivated by 'simple human decency' and nothing else. You claimed
that the Government believes in 'British values' of 'Freedom', 'Justice'
and 'Fairness' - rights which we should also support 'for others'.

2) And yet you continue to support the imposition of economic sanctions on
Iraq, where 800,000 children under the age of five are now chronically
malnourished, according to a recent study by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation and the World Food Programme. Chronic malnutrition, as you
know, can lead to lifelong mental and physical stunting, and is a direct
consequence of the economic sanctions. How can it be consistent with
'British values' to stunt the mental and physical development of
three-quarters of a million children for political ends? How can human
rights be 'at the heart' of your foreign policy if the rights of these
hundreds of thousands of children to health and happiness count for
nothing in our relations with Iraq?

3) As you will also know, the UN Secretary-General has recently (8
September) warned that Iraq's electrical generating system is in danger of
disintegration. 'The entire electricity grid is in a precarious state,'
according to Kofi Annan: it is in 'imminent danger of collapsing
altogether' if there is another major fire in a power station. As you
know, in February 1998 Mr Annan said that the collapse of the power
generation sector could create 'humanitarian consequences [which] could
potentially dwarf all other difficulties endured by the Iraqi people.'
There is a crisis.

4) At the same time, according to the Secretary-General, 25 per cent of
contracts in the electricity sector are currently on 'hold', and these
contracts 'represent the most critical components and spare parts, making
much of the equipment already delivered under the programme inoperable.' I
ask you to provide an assurance that Britain is not responsible for any of
these holds, and a commitment not to impose holds in this vital area.

5) I invite you to follow the example of Menzies Campbell, Foreign Affairs
spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, and to renounce the use of
economic sanctions against Iraq. 'Simple human decency' demands no less.


Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH

Menzies Campbell, MP
Liberal Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

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