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[casi] Sanctions against Iraq: "Close your eyes and imagine"

I am dedicating the attached article to Tony Blair.

It is the most poignant indictment of the sanctions regime
I've come across. The writer asks us to imagine criminally
negligent parents inflicting on their children what the
US-led world/UN has inflicted on Iraq.

This article, "Iraq's Untold Story: Genocide in Iraq",
appeared in Shia News, September 20, 2000.

If it were not for the food rationing system set up by
the GOI, millions more would be dead, notes the writer.
Prior to the Gulf War, he points out, Iraq was a "modern
nation where starvation was unknown".

The efficiency of the food distribution has been confirmed
by people like Halliday, von Sponeck, and Jutta Burghardt
It is also mentioned in a report by the WHO, March 1996:
"The situation of famine has been prevented largely by an
efficient public rationing system." - This report is at:

Evidently, the US/UK keep trying to whitewash their
guilt with blame-it-all-on-SH propaganda. And no doubt
they'll find believers - it is a comforting thought.
Still, the sanctions regime is well documented, not even
counting CASI.

--Elga Sutter


Published on: Wednesday, 21 Jamadioul Thani 1421
(20 September 2000)

Iraq's Untold Story: Genocide in Iraq

By Ali Albahrani (Provided)

Close your eyes and imagine.

Parents have been withholding food, water and medical care
to punish their children for misbehaving. The children are
on the brink of starvation.

The house itself is in total disrepair. Taps do not work
and the children, dying of thirst, are forced to drink
water from a dirty toilet bowl.

By the time authorities are alerted, one child is dead and
the remaining two are near death from starvation and
disease. The public is horrified and outraged.

How could this happen in our midst? There are calls for
investigations, inquests and inquiries. Neighbours,
teachers, doctors are questioned. Anyone even remotely
aware of the situation is held accountable.

The parents are arrested, probably sent for psychiatric
assessment, and charged with an array of offences
including murder. Donations and adoption offers pour in
from the public heartsick at the maltreatment of the

Keep your eyes closed.

Now, imagine that instead of one dead, you have half a
million under the age of five. Instead of two suffering
from severe malnutrition and disease, you have millions.

Instead of drinking water from the toilet bowl, the water
comes from a river contaminated with raw sewage.

Imagine that instead of two parents perpetrating this
horror on their children, it is being done by the nations
of the world, in the name of the United Nations.

Open your eyes. You are in Iraq.

As the latest international crisis over Iraq's refusal to
allow U.S. weapons inspectors in the country degenerates
into sabre rattling and threats of further sanctions,
there is a tragic untold story that explains the flag-
burning images flooding our television screens.

     [children are currently dying in Iraq at the rate
     of 4,500 to 4,800 per month UNICEF]

It has been the United States that has spear-headed the
campaign to continue sanctions against Iraq despite
warnings from United Nations agencies such as UNICEF, the
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World
Health Organization (WHO), of the genocidal conditions
within the country. According to information from the FAO,
since sanctions were imposed in 1990, more than one
million Iraqis have died - half of them children under the
age of five. They are victims of sanctions that have
deprived the Iraqi people of food, medicine and the spare
parts necessary to repair their water and sewage systems.

With pumps and sewage treatment plants largely inoperable
for lack of spare parts, raw untreated sewage flows freely
into neighbourhoods and rivers like the Tigris - a major
water supply for the country. Under sanctions, chlorine is
banned as a substance with potential military
applications. One factory in Iraq produces an inferior
grade chlorine in drastically insufficient supply.
Consequently, most water is, at best, partially treated.

UNICEF estimates that children are currently dying in Iraq
at the rate of 4,500 to 4,800 per month. Many die of
outright starvation, from diarrhea and diseases traced to
contaminated water and food, or from communicable diseases
once eradicated in Iraq.

When children become ill, they are taken to hospitals
where antibiotics and painkillers are non-existent or in
short supply. Even adequate lighting and running water are
sometimes lacking, not to mention basic medical equipment.

The children do not stay long - parents quickly see that
the hospitals have nothing to offer, nothing to alleviate
their children's agony, and the children are taken home to
die. They die as they have lived so briefly - tortured.
Their deaths could not be more cruel.

The children do not stay long - parents quickly see that
the hospitals have nothing to offer, nothing to alleviate
their children's agony, and the children are taken home to

All of this is happening with the full knowledge of world
leaders. It is genocide against a people enacted in the
name of the United Nations and in full violation of
international law as embodied in the Geneva Conventions.
The founders of the U.N. who, in the preamble to the UN
Charter, pledged to save succeeding generations from the
scourge of war, must be quite literally rolling in their

Sanctions, as they have been imposed on Iraq, are war in
its most pervasive form. Where traditional war targetted
the military establishment, a war of comprehensive
sanctions like we've seen in Iraq, hits first and foremost
the civilian population and, at that, the most vulnerable:
the infants and children.

Although sanctions are a provision of the U.N. Charter,
and may retain some utility in specific instances, that
clearly is not the case in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a
dictator. He has demonstrated that he is steadfast in his
course despite tremendous death and suffering in his
nation. Starving the population and depriving them of the
most basic human needs will not transform Iraq into a
democratic country that can vote Hussein out of office.

In fact, the opposite is likely to occur. As the people of
Iraq see that the world has issued them a death sentence,
Saddam is likely to appear the lesser of two evils. He has
set up an extensive food rationing system that provides a
semi-starvation diet throughout the country. Without it,
millions more would be dead. And, prior to the Gulf War,
despite Saddam's atrocities, Iraq was a relatively rich
and modern nation where starvation was unknown. It had one
of the most advanced health care systems in the region.

     [Saddam Hussain]

It is time that we, as a society and members of the global
village, asked ourselves some penetrating questions. Why
can states kill with impunity while individuals are tried
and imprisoned for similar acts? Why would we respond with
outrage if parents starved a child to death for
misbehaving, yet simply accept the deaths of half a
million children who are similarly punished by the nations
of the world - their sole crime being born in a country
led by Saddam Hussein?

The current situation in Iraq may well go down in history
as one of the worst atrocities of this century because it
has been willingly and knowingly perpetrated by the
nations of the world. It is a double tragedy because the
genocide in Iraq has been orchestrated through the
instrument that once represented our highest international
moral standard: the United Nations.

We should all be deeply alarmed that our world is ruled by
leaders so heartless that they can look at the facts
attesting to the genocide, and vote over and over again in
the U.N. to continue the sanctions.

In a 60 Minutes interview, the former U.S. Ambassador to
the U.N., Madeleine Albright, was asked point blank
whether or not sanctions were worth the death of half a
million children under the age of five. She responded that
it was a very difficult question but, yes, it (was) worth

The U.N. Charter begins with, We, the people of the United
Nations. We are the people of the U.N., and it is
incumbent upon us to act to stop the sanctions and save
the people of Iraq - one of our nations united. In so
doing, we will reclaim the United Nations institution and
the moral foundation it was built upon.

We can do no less. We must do no less.

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