Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

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OPINIONS
 

It's the people who really suffer

Re: Realities of Iraq

To the Editor:
The recent situation in Iraq is shaping up to be one of the most horrendous acts against humanity this world has ever seen. Although the U.S. sanctions have ostensibly been enacted to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and ease tensions in Iraq, they have in reality, systematically destroyed the civilization of Iraq, leaving the already impoverished people crippled with little hope of survival.

Meanwhile, the effects have not even touched Hussein as he, along with the rest of the world, cold-heartedly watches his country die. The facts include:

– More than one million of the country's 20 million have died. Relative to America's population, that is as if 12 to 20 million Americans had died since 1990.

– The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that sanctions have killed over 560,000 children in Iraq, more than the number of Japanese killed by the atomic bombs and Bosnians killed by "ethnic cleansing" combined. And this number represents only the children.

– The risk of death to a child under age five has gone up almost 500 per cent. Today one in five children are dying a slow and agonizing death due to the lack of proper care.

– The rates of deformities and birth defects have risen 20 per cent due to inadequate hospital equipment and medicines being kept out of the country by U.S. sanctions.

– Every day that goes by, 160 children under five, and 400 of all ages are dying from pre-famine conditions and disease epidemics caused by lack of food and medicine.

– From 1989 to 1997, infectious diseases have increased dramatically. Typhoid fever has increased from 1,800 to 15,000 cases, Amebic Dysentery 20,000 to 550,000, Cholera from 0 to 850, Scabies 0 to 40,000, Viral Hepatitis 1,800 to 30,000, and Giardensis 70,000 to 600,000 cases.

These are the realities that the Iraqi people wake up to everyday and are barbarically forced to endure. Can the insanity of Saddam Hussein, who himself doesn't feel the repercussions of the sanctions, be proper justification to kill thousands of innocent people?

In the eyes of international law, the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is strictly prohibited. The blockade is a violation of the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, Constitution of the World Health Organization, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States. According to the U.S. legal code title 182331, the blockade on the people of Iraq is also an act of international terrorism. We can not understand how the Canadian government, with its long and rich history of peaceful resolutions, can support such an action by the U.S., an action which is classified as international terrorism by the U.S. legal code itself!

We know that Saddam Hussein should be stopped, but killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the process can not be the solution. The first step in the right direction would be to push the U.S. administration to lift these inhumane sanctions and return to the Iraqi people their fundamental right to live. Hopefully the Canadian government will display more of a moral conscience than our southern neighbours.

Ali Hamou
Science I



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Copyright The Gazette 1998