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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 now. 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 email@example.com . (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 notes. ***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! Thanks, Glenn. 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 policy.' 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. POINTS TO MAKE TO MR COOK 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. ADDRESSES: Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary Foreign and Commonwealth Office Whitehall London SW1A 2AH Menzies Campbell, MP Liberal Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson House of Commons London SW1A 0AA -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk