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Re: [casi] John Sweeney's latest propaganda pieces

John Sweeney also did a Correspondent piece on Radio 4 Saturday morning.
We made a complaint to the BBC along the lines of below - that it was
very biased and dismissive and ignorant of UN and other NGO's work -
suggesting they were being duped by GoI etc.

BBC phone number of comments: 0870 0100123

producer of R4 Correspondent:

Producer of TV Correspondent:


In message <000e01c219ca$c74e97a0$d10a893e@p300-user>, Voices uk
<> writes
>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:
>Sweeney writes for the Observer so I would expect a tie-in piece in Sunday's
>Best wishes,
>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
>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
>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
>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.
>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.
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Emma Sangster

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