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Hello once again, Voices letter writers. Glenn here.

Apologies that this month’s letter notes are later than usual.

For those of you new to the group, the idea is that Voices sends out some
notes at approximately monthly intervals for people to use as the basis for
regular letters, should they wish. This could be to MPs, the press, Tony
Blair or other officials. I apologise not being able to write individually
to everyone, especially the new members, but again thanks for taking part. I
can be contacted at the above address/ number, or try the Voices office for
further information. Anyway, on with the important stuff:

With the recent passing of the eleventh anniversary of the sanctions (August
6th) we suggest a good old-fashioned letter to the Prime Minister.

He’s at: 10 Downing Street, London SW1, or he will be when he gets back from
holidays. (You can always send a copy to your own MP c/o House of Commons,
London SW1A 0AA. )

The issue we suggest focussing on is the need for a revival in Iraq’s
economy in order to address the humanitarian situation. ‘Smart sanctions’
will not revive the economy. None of our policy makers have (explicitly)
accepted that sanctions cause suffering, and all have ignored the fact that
it will require a revival of the economy to allow the people and the whole
society to recover.

Some quotes are listed below – contact the Voices office (0845 458 2564) for
a  larger collection of useful quotes “Voices raised against the Sanctions
on Iraq”.

An aside: The government constantly invokes the ‘threat’ that the Iraqi
regime poses as justification for continuing the sanctions. I would suggest
we stress that any security concerns can and should be addressed in other
ways than punishing the entire population – expressly forbidden under the
Geneva Conventions (and abhorrent in any case). You may like to quote the
Kuwaiti Foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who told Reuters on
20th March 2001:

“I say Kuwait has no objection to the launching of a call to lift the
economic sanctions from Iraq.”

(Here you may also like to suggest disarmament agreements for the entire
Middle East region, arms sales controls or other security measures, although
this may mean that any reply focuses on these matters rather than the
effects of sanctions).

A good question you may like to ask (in your own words of course!):

In a letter to Paul Keetch MP of 4th June 2001, Foreign Office Minister
Brian Wilson said: “There can be little doubt that the resumption of normal
economic activity would benefit the Iraqi people, but this cannot happen
while the Iraqi regime continues to defy UN resolutions”.

It would appear from this that the UK government is admitting that by
preventing “normal economic activity” the sanctions are harming the Iraqi
people, something that they have always denied. Can the Prime Minister
confirm that the government admits that sanctions harm the Iraqi people, and
if not, why did Brian Wilson indicate that they did?

Questions like this can follow any or more of the quotes below. Will the PM
admit that sanctions harm the ordinary people of Iraq and that we have a
duty under international law not to resort to such measures? You know the
sort of thing.

Some more quotes to back up this line of questioning:

“[T]he humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the
absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy”.
(UN Humanitarian Panel, 31 March 1999)

“[T]he US plan will not revive Iraq’s devastated economy while control over
Iraq’s oil revenues remains in the hands of the UN, and foreign investment
and credits are still prohibited.”
(Financial Times, 28 May 2001)

“[A]lthough the country would be able to import more, it would still be
denied the free movement of labour and capital that it desperately needs if
it is at last to start picking itself up…  Iraq needs massive investment to
rebuild its industry, its power grids and its schools, and needs cash in
hand to pay its engineers, doctors and teachers. None of this looks likely
to happen under smart sanctions.”
(Economist, 26 May 2001)

“’It won’t improve life for the ordinary Iraqi. It will be a dole, a handout
to Iraq as a whole’ said an officer with a high-profile aid agency, who
requested anonymity. ‘It will do nothing to tackle the real issue – how to
stimulate the internal economy and allow civil society to come back.’”
(Financial Times, 1 June, 2001)

“To recover from its 11 years under the battering-ram – which has crushed
the country’s industrial and agricultural infrastructure – Iraq needs the
freedom, and overseas investment, of a huge reconstruction effort… [T]he
British proposal  of “smart sanctions” offers an aspirin where surgery is
called for.”
(Economist, 24 Feb, 2001)

“The solution [to the nutritional crisis] lies in adequate food supplies in
the country, restoring the viability of the ID [Iraqi Dinar], and creating
conditions for the people to acquire adequate purchasing power. But these
conditions can be fulfilled only if the economy can be put back in proper
shape enabling it to draw on its own resources, and that clearly cannot
occur as long as the embargo remains in force.”
(UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, 1995)

“[A]id can be no substitute for a country’s entire economy. It can never
meet all the basic needs of 22 million people nor ensure the maintenance of
a whole country’s collapsing infrastructure.”
(‘Iraq: A decade of Sanctions’ International Committee of the Red Cross, 14
Mar 2000)

Glenn Bassett, Voices UK
020 8351 6736

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