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and the innocent victims of US/UK missiles are lying in hospital wards, weeping and writhing in agony, the question was asked: > Iraq imported chewing gum machines through OFF? Quoting Mr. Blair's official spokesman: > 'the oil-for-food programme was abused by the Iraqi regime > by, for example, using it to "import thousands of chewing > gum machines"'. > > Has anyone heard anything about this before? I've emailed > OIP about it and await a response (not holding my breath > in view of current crisis) Nero came to mind, as I read this. Forgive me if the comparison sounds unfair. It probably is. What I can't get out of my mind though is "current crisis". I offer my comments very reluctantly, especially since none were asked for. They are not meant as a criticism, but as a reflection on the way we, the worldwide public, are being manipulated through language. And I fear that silence or acquiescence to such manipulation will desensitize us to suffering and pain. Should this happen, we will no longer be human beings, merely living robots. In all likelihood, we would not even be aware that we are living in a dehumanized world. Our soul, the centre of our spiritual being, would be a barren. 'Current crisis' or 'Iraq crisis' is the accepted euphemism - and a dangerously deceptive one. 'Crisis' doesn't conjure up images of mangled, bleeding bodies, wreckages and burnt-out houses. 'Crisis' doesn't make you think of death and destruction; of pain and grief. 'Crisis' is business-like neutral. And that's where the manipulation lies. This not a 'crisis' - least of all an Iraqi one. It's not even a war. It's the slaughter of human beings - human beings like you and me. It's the destruction of their already devastated infrastructure. It's the confiscation of their assets. And all these atrocities are inflicted by a rapacious military giant and its equally greedy cohorts on a small country - carefully disarmed, just to be on the safe side. But such brutal reminders of reality mar the invaders' image, burden the conscience of their populace, and put a strain on diplomatic relations. Moreover, consumer confidence may sag, the stock market may fall - and people may even unite in anarchy. That's why politicians and the media prefer innocuous euphemisms such as 'crisis', 'liberation', 'collateral damage', and so on. (And that's why horrifying images of the victims might be considered offensive also.) As we are bombarded with these euphemisms, we too start to using them - accepting them. And it's hard to rise in protest against a 'crisis' or a 'liberation'. But rise we must, if we want to safeguard the world from becoming a dehumanized monster. If we glibly use these euphemisms, war is indeed peace. No need to visualize the horror, sense the pain - and empathize with the victims. It's all very comforting. But our feelings atrophy for lack of use - become confined to our own sterile little world. Silent protest is not enough. To break the spell of the manipulation, we must denounce euphemisms such as 'liberation' or 'collateral damage'. We must call a spade a spade. What is happening now in Iraq is probably the greatest injustice committed since the holocaust. All the more so because it committed in the name of morality. And I for one won't allow myself to become brainwashed by soothing euphemisms into accepting this injustice in silence. Sixty years ago, perhaps the Germans too were seduced by euphemisms (besides racism). 'Final solution' doesn't sound that bad. So all were silent - no one spoke up. In the foreword to _Drinking the Sea at Gaza_, the Israeli writer Amira Hass tells why she is so committed to exposing the brutal treatment of the Israeli authorities on the Palestinians. She describes a scene where her mother (Polish) was being transported to a concentration camp - travelling with many others in an open freight car. Along the way, they passed a group of women (German?) working in a field. What struck the mother was the impassive staring of these onlooker. They just stood there, gaping - with faces devoid of any emotion. And they must have known where that train was headed for. Evidently, the mother never forgot that scene. She passed it on to her daughter. It stuck with Amira Hass too. And it made her determined never to stand by silent and passive in the face of injustice. The scene stuck with me too: I can picture those women. Anyway, I won't be silent either - ever. I have probably said too much, repeated myself. And I hope I haven't offended anyone. But I am afraid of a callous, heartless world watching impassively while the starved, traumatized Iraqis are being slaughtered - slaughtered for material gains. And I am afraid of a world where water is _sold_ to the helpless victims of this brutal conquest - to teach them the virtues of capitalism. Below is Uzma Bashir's account of a hospital visit. She is a human shield in Baghdad. This then is a glimpse in the reality of the 'current crisis', ie, the current slaughter. In sadness, and hoping for hope, Elga Sutter <START FWD> http://www.humanshieldaction.org/ human shield action news Latest news :: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 >From Uzma Bashir in Baghdad We visited the Yarmouk Hospital this morning. A woman, who had been wounded in the bombing of the Sha'ab district in North Baghdad, was lying in a ward weeping uncontrollably. "When I first saw her," Uzma said, "She looked up at me, and her tearful eyes told of a terrible story. She broke down in paroxysms of grief, her loud wailing bringing tears to our eyes. "There was not a dry eye among any of us as she told the horrible story of the bombing in which her three sons were killed." A missile hit the Sha'ab district yesterday morning, as people were going about their business. This is a civilian residential area with small shops and markets. Why was it bombed? In another ward, an old man, also wounded in the bombing of the Sha'ab district, told me that all his ten children had been killed. A young boy of about 12 lay in bed without any movement or expression, except complete bewilderment. He had lost his mother who had been killed by the blast. Another man, blood oozing from his face as he lay on his hospital bed, told his story. He had traveled from Syria by bus, that is, by public transport. As he was nearing Baghdad, he saw three buses fired upon United States Air Force planes. An estimated 70 civilians were killed. A blind man was walking down the passage, helped by a friend. He was looking for someone who understood English. The man was clearly very angry. He pulled his his shoes off and held them up saying:" This is George Bush! This is Tony Blair!" Throwing his shoes down on the floor in a rage, he stamped on them to show his contempt. I saw a little boy about ten years old who was in so much pain he could barely stand. He had been wounded in the abdomen and in the crotch. After we left the hospital, we went to a place about half a kilometre away, where we saw a bomb crater in the middle of five houses. The houses were clearly part of a residential area with a school at the end of the street. Eleven or 12 people were killed in their homes when the missile struck. One of the survivors of this bombing raid, which occurred two or three days ago, was also in the hopsital in great physical and emotional pain. Even though his leg was raised and bandaged up, blood seeped through the layers of bandages. He told us that his house had been destroyed and his family killed in the bombing. I saw the place in the Sha'ab district where the missile hit, There was a deep crater in the main thoroughfare, which is divided highway with service roads along each side. On both sides of the road there was death and destruction. A motor mechanic's shop had been hit. Walls had been blown apart; cars had been reduced to twisted wreackages. A radiator grill was bent as if some giant had taken to it with a mallet. Bits of burnt and torn tyres were scattered about. A piece of an exhaust pipe, bits of twisted metal and other debris were scattered where once there was a busy car repair shop. Walls of residential buildings on both sides of the road were blown apart. On the other side of the road a woman was yelling something in Arabic about George Bush. Her rage boiled over as she burst into tears, stil cursing him, and then embraced me sobbing on my shoulder. Today we saw the 'teeth' of the grief and suffering imposed on civilian Iraqi people, on men , women and children. The horror has just begun. As the missiles keep flying, the innocent keep dying as if the attackers are bereft of all humanity. Has 'democracy' gone mad? Or have the oil warlords taken over the Whitehouse and Whitehall too?? Only international civil disobedience and industrial action will stop this madness, before the mounting corpses come back to haunt us. Uzma Bashir <END> _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk