Human Rights Day conference on Iraq
Manchester, October 2002.
This was an informative day for all who attended. Speakers included Camille Warren from CADU, Milan Rai from Voices in the Wilderness and journalist Felicity Arbuthnot. A lively debate was held around the issue of DU's radiological and chemical toxicity. Felicity Arbuthnot provided some valuable insights from her frequent visits to Iraq. Hospitals have very few drugs and many Iraqis are malnourished. The situation is distressing because incidences of cancer among children in Baghdad have risen five-fold since the Gulf War, probably due to DU and other toxic and/or radioactive chemicals dropped by the West.
In spite of the rebuilding that is beginning, the Iraqi people live in great fear of another war, a war which could involve weapons of mass destruction. Ms Arbuthnot stressed that the Iraqi people she spoke to DO NOT WANT a new government imposed by the USA or any other Western power. Much as they hate and fear Saddam Hussein, they do not want a puppet regime in his place. The officially recognized opposition, the Iraqi National Congress, was an umbrella opposition that tried to unite opposition Nationalists, religious parties and left-wingers to oppose Saddam Hussein. Initially the USA cooperated with the INC. But increasingly the US has pushed the left-wingers and religious parties out and started to negotiate to get an `opposition' to suit US taste. Many Iraqis feel that Saddam must go, but not at the price of a US takeover.
Why is the US so keen to attack Iraq? A possible reason is OIL. If the USA had control of Iraq as well as having its current links with Saudi Arabia, it would control 60% of the world's oil.(It is estimated that Iraq has more than 10% of the world's oil, much of it undeclared and untapped). Iraqi oil is cheap and easy to extract: so cheap that drinking water in Iraq costs 15 times as much as oil. Control of Iraq would also enable the US to isolate Iran and Syria, by surrounding them with US allies.
We must oppose this war if the Iraqi people are not to see their country destroyed yet again.
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Page last updated: 6th December 2002