Amnesty: British Dossier cold and manipulated manipulation

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  • Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 00:19:35 -0000

Amnesty attacks Iraq torture dossier 

The government was today accused of manipulating information on human
rights abuses in Iraq to build its case for war against Saddam Hussein. 

Amnesty International said a dossier released today by the foreign
secretary, Jack Straw, listing torture, rapes and other abuses
perpetrated by the Baghdad regime, is a "cold and calculated
manipulation" of the work of human rights activists. 

"Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to
Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in
Iraq before the Gulf war," the group's secretary general, Irene Khan,

"They remained silent when thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians were
killed in Halabja in 1988." 

The report contains graphic first-hand accounts by victims of the
regime's human rights abuses, as well as intelligence material and
evidence from aid charities working in Iraq. It makes clear that the
abuses are carried out as a policy of the Iraqi dictator. 

Publication of the dossier is being seen as a further move by the
government to make the case for war if President Saddam fails to comply
with a UN resolution ordering him to disarm. Baghdad must submit a full
declaration of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in six days
or face "serious consequences" under UN resolution 1441. 

A team of UN weapons inspectors has been in Iraq for five days examining
suspected arms sites. 

In the introduction to the document - titled Saddam Hussein: Crimes and
Human Rights Abuses - the Foreign Office said: "Iraq is a terrifying
place to live. 

"People are in constant fear of being denounced as opponents of the
regime. They are encouraged to report on the activities of family and
neighbours. The security services can strike at any time. 

"Arbitrary arrests and killings are commonplace. Between three and four
million Iraqis, about 15% of the population, have fled their homeland
rather than live under Saddam Hussein's regime. 

"These grave violations of human rights are not the work of a number of
overzealous individuals but the deliberate policy of the regime. Fear is
Saddam's chosen method of staying in power." 

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said:
"No one doubts the barbarism of Saddam Hussein. It dates back to the
period when, under a Conservative government, the UK was willing to sell
him arms-related equipment and to give him substantial financial credit
so that he could afford to make purchases. 

"The issue is whether or not he will fulfil his obligations under the
security council resolution 1441. 

He said that "justifiable distaste for Saddam Hussein and all his works"
should not obscure his obligations to the security council. 

Sherif Ali bin al-Hussein of the Iraqi National Congress, which brings
together a range of groups opposed to Saddam Hussein, today described
the prospect of US military occupation of Iraq as liberation. 

"Comparisons with Japan or Germany are incorrect," he told BBC Radio 4's
Today programme. 

"The true comparison should be with France, Holland or Denmark, looking
on Iraq as a liberated country, not a defeated enemy." 

Source:  The Guardian

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