POWERFUL NON-PRESS-POOL PHOTOS FROM IRAQ IN 1991
http://nationalphilistine.com/baghdad/ - Snapshots of people
NEWS FROM BAGHDAD -- see below for WHAT YOU CAN DO
From 3- 8 January 2003 Scilla Elworthy, Director of Oxford Research Group, joined a group of NGO representatives and former UN officials to meet with cabinet ministers in Baghdad including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, Foreign Minister Nagi Sabri and Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rashid, as well as to talk with doctors, teachers and scientists.
They had the opportunity to meet ordinary Iraqis and visit sites recently inspected for weapons of mass destruction. The aim was to contribute to efforts to prevent war and to gather information not available in the western press, particularly with regard to the human situation.
The group included: Margarita Papandreou, former First Lady of Greece
Scilla Elworthy, Director, Oxford Research Group, UK
Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq
Christian Harleman, the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Sweden
Jan Oberg, Director, the Transnational Foundation, Sweden
Zeynab Oral, Winpeace and Peace Initiative, Turkey
Omaima Rawas, peace activist and Vice President of the Syrian Arabic League, Syria
Fotini Sianou, President, Women's Committee, European Trade Union Confederation
Dr. Elworthy has produced several reports since her visit to Iraq. These include:
* A report from Baghdad summarising the main points from the visit;
* 'The Baghdad Diaries': a detailed account of Dr. Elworthy's experience in Iraq;
* 'From the Cradle of Civilisation to the Graveyard?': an overview of the Iraqi crisis with suggestions for a peaceful solution;
* 'Iraq - A Way Out': a proposal to avoid war in the Middle East
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Time is short. The UNMOVIC inspectors are due to report on 27th January 2003. Military preparations indicate that an attack may begin in early February. A pre-emptive attack will be a clear-cut violation of the UN Charter and international law. Medical and public health experts in the UK estimate that between 48,000 and 260,000 civilians could be killed in the first 3 months of conflict, and that if WMD are used, there could be up to 4 million dead.
What can be done to move towards a genuine solution of this conflict other than war and occupation
1.The free press and NGOs must speedily step up their analysis and reporting to challenge disinformation about the realities in Iraq. Please distribute this report to all your media contacts.
2. Whenever you hear a news broadcast on Iraq which does not mention something about ordinary people, call them to ask for some human interest stories. Iraq is not one man, it is 26 million fellow citizens. They have points of views, hopes, fears and dreams like all of us.
3. The European Union has a substantial potential role to play. A consistent well-structured mediation process could be offered, either through key Arab states, or in the form of a meeting between the most senior representatives of the United States and of Iraq to 'explore whether all avenues short of war have been exhausted'. This meeting would need to be announced before 27th January, perhaps to take place mid-February. It would need to take place in a very safe environment and employ state-of-the-art conflict resolution techniques. These moves could be supported by France and by Germany in their chairmanship of the UN Security Council in January and February 2003 respectively. Urge your EU government to support such an initiative, and copy your letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis of Greece, 15 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, 10674 Athens,
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org which has the current presidency of the European Union.
4. If you are yourself willing, go to Baghdad to become part of the Civilian Protection that has already begun with contingents from Spain, the US and Austria. 5000 people are needed to stay at civilian sites such as electricity, water and telecommunications facilities to try to prevent them being bombed. Individuals taking this course of action should be aware of the serious risks involved. Contact either Voices in the Wilderness www.nonviolence.org
5. Call your foreign office to ask it you have an embassy in Baghdad.Many governments do not have any representation and thus cannot collect first hand facts and impressions on which to base an independent analysis. Neither Britain nor the US has an embassy in Baghdad, and communications have to go through the Polish embassy.
6. Ask your parliamentary committee for foreign affairs whether they have visited Iraq to see for themselves and if not, why not. Ask them to talk to Iraqi people at all levels.
7. Make it known that the 12-year sanctions regime has had the opposite effect to that intended; it has put Saddam Hussein in total control of the Iraqi people, through the rationing programme.
8. Prime ministers and presidents worldwide need to understand the strength and urgency of public opposition to this proposed attack, so that they will actively support mediation rather than allowing themselves to be bribed or bullied into supporting an attack. See George Monbiot's article
'Act now against war'
for ideas on how to get the message across, through non-violent civil disobedience. He suggests disrupting the speeches of ministers, blocking the roads down which they must travel, blockading important public buildings, or airports from which troops take off.
9. Urge your government to support the development of a new security regime for the whole region, honouring UN SC Resolution 687 requiring that the Middle East shall become a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.