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Dear folks, Long time pro-sanctions propagandist - and advocate of military action against Baghdad falling only just short of nuclear attack - John Sweeney has made a programme about Iraq which will be screened in the BBC2 Correspondent slot this Sunday evening (probably sometime between 7pm and 8pm - I don't have a TV schedule to hand). A taster is provided by the following, an edited version of a 5 minute broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning. The basic line of the broadcast was that the only Iraqi children who are 'dying because of sanctions' are in the northern governorates. At the same time the North / south disparities were wheeled out to prove that sanctions aren't implicated in the public health crisis. There was also some veiled innuendo suggesting that UNICEF's '99 surveys were somehow manipulated by the Iraqi Government. Much of the rest of the content of the broadcast - eg. the material about GoI human rights abuses - clearly had no bearing on the question 'are economic sanctions a major factor in the humanitarian crisis in south / central Iraq?' In any event Sweeney prefers not to answer this question, preferring to focus on the, questions: 'are Iraqi Government claims that 7000 children are dying every month because of sanctions true?' and 'are the mass child funerals in Iraq faked?', neither of which has any bearing on the anti-sanctions case. There will be a live forum with Mr Sweeney at 1500 BST on Monday 24th June and you can e-mail your questions using the form at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/audiovideo/programmes/correspondent/newsid_ 2053000/2053620.stm Sweeney writes for the Observer so I would expect a tie-in piece in Sunday's Observer. Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk ************************************** Friday, 21 June, 2002, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK The mother of all ironies A few weeks after 11 September Osama Bin Laden justified the attack by saying that western sanctions had killed one million Iraqi children. Saddam Hussein's regime says 7,000 children are dying every month. Labour MP George Galloway says that an Iraqi child has died every six minutes for the last 12 years. John Sweeney has been to the north of Iraq, where he found evidence that Saddam's sums don't add up. Ali, was a thick-set Iraqi who used to work for Saddam's psychopathic son, Uday. Some time after the bungled assassination of Uday, Ali fell under suspicion. So he fled Baghdad - going north, to the Kurdish safe haven policed by western fighter planes,. I've been to Baghdad. Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else's migraine. The fear is so omni-present you could almost eat it. No one talks. So listening to Ali speak freely was a revelation. He's not, exactly, a contender to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He had the heft of an enforcer. He told me that he had tortured for the regime. But I don't think he was lying to us. Ali talked about the paranoid frenzy that rules Baghdad, the tortures, the killings, the corruption, the crazy gangster violence of Saddam and his two sons. And the faking of the mass baby funerals. You may have seen them on TV. Small white coffins parading through the streets of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, an angry crowd of mourners, condemning western sanctions for killing the children of Iraq. Usefully, the ages of the dead babies - "three days old", "four days old" - are written in English on the coffins. I wonder who did that? Ali gave us the inside track on the racket. There aren't enough dead babies around. So the regime stores them for a mass funeral. He said that he was friends with a taxi driver - he gave his name - whose son had a position in the regime. Ali continued: "he told me that he had to go to Najaf" - a town 100 miles from Baghdad - "in order to bring children's bodies from various freezers there, and that the smell was unbearable. "They used to collect children's bodies and put them in freezers for two, three or even six or seven months - God knows - till the smell gets so unbearable. Then, they arrange the mass funerals." The logic being, the more dead babies, the better for Saddam. That way, he can weaken public support in the west for sanctions. That means that parents who have lost a baby can't bury it until the regime says so. So how could it be that people would put up with this sickening exploitation of grief? Uday took out a wooden cosh and beat the tennis player's brains out. Ali told another story. He'd seen Uday kill with his own eyes. This was some years ago, before the assassination attempt left Saddam's oldest son half-paralysed and impotent. Uday's lust is famous in Baghdad. He wanted a woman who played tennis at Baghdad's Sports Club, so he and Ali went to the club. As Uday was turning into the car park, a tennis ball came over the fence and bounced against the car of the woman he desired. The tennis player came into the car park to retrieve the ball and apologized to the woman. Maybe there was a bit of flirting - that does happen at tennis courts, even in England. >From his car Uday watched the two of them. Enraged, he took out a wooden cosh and beat the tennis player's brains out. And then - get this - a few days later, the dead man's relatives apologised to Uday for the distress their son had caused him. Incredible? I don't think so. In northern Iraq - the only part of the country where people can speak freely - we met six other witnesses who had direct experience of child torture. Another of Saddam's enforcers - now in a Kurdish prison - told us that an interrogator could do anything: "we could make a kebab out of the child if we wanted to." And then he chuckled. In that environment, with that background noise of fear, it is not impossible to imagine that the Government of Iraq could have conned the world, inventing numbers of dead babies that the gullible - and that includes the United Nations - accept as reliable. While we were in the north of Iraq, the chairman of the Great Britain Iraq Society, Labour MP George Galloway, was in Baghdad. He popped up on Iraqi TV, saying "when I hear the word Iraq I hear someone calling my name". I don't agree. When I hear the word Iraq, I hear a tortured child, screaming. Sunday 23 June 2002 on BBC Two at 1915 BST. Producer: Will Daws Series Producer: Simon Finch Editor: Karen O'Connor Live forum: Monday 24 June 2002 at 1500 BST. E-mail your questions to John Sweeney and Yvonne Ridley now. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk