. Ten Years On: The Iraq Sanctions | London Progressive Journal
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Ten Years On: The Iraq Sanctions

Fri 25th Jul 2008

A decade ago at the Fire Brigade Union conference hall in Manchester, a conference entitled “The Silent Holocaust”, was organised with the aim of exposing the brutality of the UN-imposed sanctions on Iraq.

The conference brought to light, how the imposition of a regime like the sanctions, was also viewed by US Secretary of State Madeline Albright (pcitured) as being a “price worth paying”, that the 6,000 children who died each month from sanctions-related causes, or the 1.5 million who died in total, was "a price worth paying", if this meant that the USA and the UK were able to “contain” Saddam Hussein and prevent him from building his “weapons of mass destruction“.

The very fact that the British Parliament believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of Mass Destruction and sanctioned the illegal invasion in 2003, exposed the degenerate minds of Britain’s leadership and failed to answer the basic questions, such as those posed by Andy Kershaw of the Independent who, in a 2001 article “Chamber of Horrors in the Garden of Eden”, asked how the West expected Saddam to invade his neighbours and gas the Kurds with pencils, beef extract powder and broth and malt extract - all items that were banned from entering Iraq under the sanctions.

As Kershaw explained “Pencils, you see, according to the New York based Sanctions Committee 661, contain graphite and therefore could be put to military use” but somehow the British and Americans thought the “aggressor” to be so sub-human that in 2002, the British post office prevented me from sending jelly sweets, colouring books and crayons to my own child relatives in Iraq.

Also, the Post Office prevented me from sending paracetamol, aspirin and multi-vitamins and, since the first Gulf War, sanctions blocked an entire country’s children off to the basic rights to medical care, through the academic "brain drain" and the Western refusal to grant a country access to urgent medical supplies.

Often forgotten are the children whom the British Government also sought to “liberate” (before orphaning an estimated 4.5 million extra Iraqi children through “liberation”), including “children born without eyes, without brains. Another had arrived in the world with only half a head, nothing above the eyes. Then there was a head with legs, babies without genitalia, a little girl born with her brain outside her skull and the whatever-it-was whose eyes were below the level of its nose.”

This was a scene which Kershaw described from the Basra Maternity and Children's Hospital, chilling images captured on film and believed to be linked to the use of Depleted Uranium by the British and Americans in the first Gulf War but the silence was barley broken in the run up to the invasion and only denialism has followed since.

In Obedience to Authority, psychologist Stanley Milgram observed:“in Nazi Germany, even among those most closely identified with the 'final solution', it was considered an act of discourtesy to talk about the killings." Today, the “discourtesy to talk” is so pervasive that, as Media Lens recently pointed out, that “One would hardly guess from media reporting that Britain and America are responsible for killing anyone in Iraq,”


Hussein Al-Alak is Chairman of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign.

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