The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Dear All, I know that the subject of this discussion is primarily the effect of sanctions on Iraq but other issues relating to the Middle East are often raised, primarily, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It seems to me, however, that there is one very relevant issue relating to the Middle East which is not discussed, namely the effect of sanctions on countries other than Iraq. I have read that The United Nations Security Council has only imposed sanctions on countries ten times in it's history and that eight of these occasions have been since 1989 when the collapse of the Soviet Union gave the USA a position on the Security Council of unprecedented power. Today I read that it is proposed that sanctions on Libya be lifted. What I want to know is what was the effect of sanctions on Libya. It has sometimes been stated that sanctions killed 1.5 million civilians in Iraq, half of whom were children under 5 years old. Have the sanctions on Libya had a similar devastating effect? If they have why have we not been discussing them? It is widely agreed that the mainstream media cannot be trusted to keep us informed on issues such as these. For instance, I would accuse the widely admired journalist Robert Fisk of double standards. He did not write about the effect of sanctions on Iraq until 1998 a full eight years after they had been imposed. Have hundreds of thousands of Libyan civilians been killed as a result of sanctions? I think the only reliable source of information on a subject like this is a community of individuals such as those who belong to CASI and not the mainstream media. Having said that it is only fair to point out that some CASI members might have double standards. Postings to this news group with headings such as "Articles about extreme Zionism" are routine but others are not. For instance, on the 16th August 2001 there was an article headed "FW:Moving to Lebanon for 6 months." I can sumarise the contents by the following quotation; " the State of Israel to be presented at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, indicting Sharon and the Israeli government of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in 1982, and trying the Israeli government for committing genocide against the Palestinian people." I can see how a writer who is also a Muslim could feel strongly about this and feel that this would be a reasonable argument to construct. For instance I have read that 17,825 people were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. However there are other acts of violence which have taken place in Islamic countries which receive far less publicity. For instance the Pakistani Army was undoubtedly responsible for a vast campaign of violence in Bangladesh in 1971, eleven years prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Opinions on the origin of this conflict differ; it has been stated that "the relationship between East and West became progressively more corrupt and neo-colonial in character, and opposition to West Pakistani domination grew among the Bengali population." What is not disputed is that the Pakistan Government opted for a vast campaign of violence in order to stop the movement of East Pakistan/Bangladesh towards independence. I quote "Kill three million of them," said President Yahya Khan at the February conference, "and the rest will eat out of our hands." (Robert Payne, Massacre (1972) Estimates of the numbers of Bengalis killed vary. Most range from 1 million to 3 million. The people who were killed vary from Bengali militarymen, Hindus, Awami Leaguers, students, Bengali intellectuals and people from all walks of life. What is not in question is that a slaughter of genoicidal proportions took place, directed, to a huge extent of civilians. In regard to my statement about double standards it is worth pointing out that the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Lebanon in 1982 receives vastly greater publicity than the Pakistani slaughter of Bengalis in 1971. CASI members rightly distrust the media (if they didn't this newsgroup would not exist) but they should be wary of their own double standards. For instance it often puzzles me that we hear so much about "Occupied Palestine" and nothing about "Occupied Constantinople." Istanbul is a city formerly known as Constantinople until it's invasion by Turkey in the Fifteenth-Century. This is perhaps a rather academic point but to speak of "Occupied Palestine" and not of "Occupied Constantinople" is, it would seem to me, a double standard. To return to the subject of sanctions, it seems to me that members of CASI should address the subject of the effect of sanctions on other countries. If the USA is prepared to impose sanctions on countries which have a genocidal effect on civilian human life then it absurd to argue that we should only be concerned if the country in question is Iraq. To do so would be to admit that we allow the mainstream media and the American Government to set the agenda for our discussion which is basically to surrender our freedom of thought. Again I repeat, I have read that The United Nations Security Council has only imposed sanctions on countries ten times in it's history and that eight of these occasions have been since 1989. I remember reading this somewhere in a newspaper or internet news site such as the BBC. To be honest, I cannot remember where I read it. I am completely unable to tell you whether the sanctions on Libya have had a devastating effect on civilian life because, predictably, the mainstream media tell us nothing about this.I am also completely unable to even name these eight countries again because of the way information is deliberately withheld from us. If people are dying in Libya and Iran because of sanctions then this discussion group should be doing something about it; principally getting information about it out into the open to allow people to have an informed discussion about it. If you counter this argument by stating that CASI does not deal with this issue I would reply that plenty of postings to this newgroup are about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is only one of the human rights problems in the Middle-East. Yours sincerely Kieran Gallagher _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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