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Press release February 20th 2003 08:20 Voices in the Wilderness UK Blair at odds with Amnesty over sanctions blame In the past few days the Prime Minister has cited the terrible effects of sanctions as a reason to go to war. See, for example http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/2752163.stm "Earlier, Mr Blair told MPs during prime minister's question time: "Before we take the decision to go to war, the morality of that should weigh heavily on our conscience because innocent people, as well as the guilty, die in a war." He added: "But the alternative is to carry on with a sanctions regime which, because of the way Saddam Hussein implements it, leads to thousands of people dying needlessly in Iraq every year." " Amnesty International flatly contradicts Mr Blair's abrogation of responsibility for suffering in Iraq. See below quote from the AIUK Groups Iraq Action Pack, Feb 2003: "It is widely agreed, including by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children's Fund, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, that the sanctions have crippled Iraq's economic infrastructure and have severely impacted on the civilian population. These sanctions have put the rights to food, health and education of the Iraqi population at risk, and have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom children. "Though there have been claims that the Iraqi regime has manipulated the impact of the sanctions for propaganda purposes, Amnesty International considers that the UN Security Council cannot avoid its share of the responsibility for the severe impact of the sanctions on the Iraqi population." http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/iraq_faq#7 Voices in the Wilderness UK spokesman Richard Byrne said, "We are stunned, that after years of trying to minimise awareness of the humanitarian crisis caused by sanctions Mr Blair now draws attention to sanctions as the terrible alternative to war. Then he has the bare faced cheek to try and absolve from blame the UN Security Council, which designed and imposed the sanctions regime for the suffering sanctions cause" "The way forward is not a choice between the two terrible evils of sanctions and war. Comprehensive economic sanctions are the weapon of mass destruction weapons inspectors can see everywhere they go in Iraq and that is why they must be lifted, regardless of the behaviour of the Iraqi Government. It is unacceptable to apply such a monstrously destructive weapon to a population of 22 million people, nearly half of whom are aged under 16, to try and influence it's government.." "Lifting sanctions is part of a just, non military approach to Iraq. It would help create a political space for ordinary Iraqis, freeing them from dependency on the Iraqi Government for their food ration and freeing them from the day to day struggle for survival caused by economic sanctions. Weapons inspections should be extended, to lead to the removal of all weapons of mass destruction from the region, including US weapons of mass destruction stationed there as envisaged in paragraph 22 of UNSCR 687. There are many other routes forward, none of them are guaranteed to be painless, but they certainly won't kill as many as sanctions and war." . call Voices in the Wilderness UK on 0845 458 2564/ 0794 7839992 sign the pledge of resistance to the "war on terrorism" www.j-n-v.org _______________________________________________ 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