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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
The mother of all ironies: Why is Saddam still portraying his people as victims of western sanctions if some international aid has been arriving?
I don't know what's more sickening - this heart-breaking torture by the Iraqi authorities against their children, or the comments on this site attempting to 'put it in perspective'.
After reading this report, it reminded me of the little known, less published facts, regarding the use of extreme military measures, by the British government during the early 1920's, under the advice of Sir Percy large no's of Kurds were bombed into oblivion. Neither the true facts were ever told to the British people at that time, or the amounts of Kurds subsequently killed or injured by these attacks, why doesn't your journalist tell the history of these facts to the British public, absolutely no-one is free of guilt as regards the Kurdish peoples.
This is great. Just Saddam Hussein needs a ray of love in his heart and understanding of other's agony. This man or Iraqi president needs help because he is mentally ill.
I am emailing to comment on your programme, Mother of All Ironies, aired last night on Hong Kong television. I was struck throughout by your correspondent's persistent use of "Saddam" in reference to the Iraqi government or authorities. At one point (when he was speaking to the representative of the UN, I believe), his interlocutor picked up on this and a brief exchange of "Saddam?" "Baghdad" "Iraqi government" occurred. Your programme convincingly demonstrated why the Iraqi government is an odious one and its presentation of the sufferings of the Kurds was informative and persuasive. However, I felt that the continued identification of an entire government structure with one man, dictator and moral outcast that he may be, lacked objectivity and was tendentious. The programme would have been stronger without such personalisations and more objectivity when referring to the Iraqi government.
What next? Blair's army goes into the fight? Chirac's soldiers not to join, or join, as the case may be?
The stories you have on the show and on this site are disturbing, but the truth is, that the sanctions on Iraq are not effecting Saddam in any way. They are destroying the lives of millions, and not just those who are in northern Iraq. I wonder, will there ever be a time for peace for the Iraqi people, or is that asking for too much?
Too many different and credible sources over the years turn your report upside down. How about making a report that includes various credible sources rather than some former employee who has a grudge?
You are committed to exposing human rights violations and corrupt officials. How about the Human rights violations committed by the two Kurdish leaders who stand accused of executing prisoners of war during the eighties? They are also accused of suppressing dissent by their own people, hence the continuing flow of Iraqi Kurdish refugees to Europe.
The UN has failed miserably in supervising the distribution of food and medicine on all Iraqis justly and evenly. The Iraqi people implore the International community to bring Saddam and accomplices to trial for their crimes of war and genocide and for their countless atrocities against humanity; one of which is denying Iraqis, who are considered disloyal to Saddam regime, food and medicine. Is Saddam less criminal than Slobadan Melosovic, I wonder?!
While thousands of children are dying of leukaemia due to the chemical bombs of Saddam Hussein, how can you explain why so many children are dying of this disease in Baghdad and the South of Iraq too. No mention was made of the allied bombing during the Gulf War that probably caused this sudden increase. Some time ago a BBC reported interviewed a doctor in Basra and he was convinced it was due to allied bombing.
It's good to see that somebody is finding out the truth so we don't have to accept lies all the time. It is difficult to know when the media is reporting on Iraq that we are been told the truth but also that there are not dying babies all the time like where led to believe.
It is certain, people in Iraq are suffering under Saddam's regime and international politics, in particularly Kurds but why do you only remember this people when you need something against Saddams regime and also I would like to ask you why don't you mention about Kurds in Turkey, is it because Turkey is one of the best friends of USA and England, what about other parts of Kurdistan? I think you are just using Kurds against Saddam's regime nothing else, if not please prove that you care about the whole Kurdish people and please show people who suffered and tortured by Turkish army, police and other paramilitary organisations.
Do you have an explanation as to why Saddam gets such a sympathetic hearing in, not only the UK, but Europe as a whole ?
The programme on Iraq and the WHO only reinforces my view that we (in the west) should shut down the whole UN as it is just a money tree to beaurocrats who spend our money on a luxurious lifestyle their own talents could not provide. We should return to the old adage of he who pays the Piper plays the tune.
Peter Gaukrodger, England
Once again the UN have caved in on sanctions in allowing Saddam Hussein to dictate who should be the beneficiaries of medical needs in Iraq when they know full well that the Kurds have no hope of getting relief from their arch enemy. With this in mind did you ask Galloway whether he thought his bosom pal Saddam would provide all Iraqi people with medical aid once sanctions were relaxed?
First of all I thank you and all of your colleagues for showing the truth .I wish you all of the best in your life. It's good to see that not all reporters are ignoring the horrible things taht are done to Kurds.
You mentioned Al Anfal operation, that I presume took place in the late 80s. Kurdistan became under the control of the two Kurdish leaders since April 1991. How come there was no official international investigation into what happened? Who is likely to be embarrassed by the findings?
"The mother of all ironies" programme should have been broadcast on BBC1 at a peak viewing time. I just by chance turned on the TV to catch the shocking documentary.
In my opinion it was a great bit of reporting. Marvellous exposure. Well done.
This program was nothing short of cheap propaganda. The video was probably sitting on the shelf of the BBC (the British government propaganda machine) waiting for the right time, and just when there is talk of war against the long suffering people of Iraq. It was interesting that a lot of facts were missing. Yes, Saddam did use chemical weapons, BUT it was during the Iran-Iraq war when the town was mistakenly thought to be under Iranian control! Secondly, why did the reporter not investigate the increase in cancer rates in the South of Iraq where nuclear weapons were used by the Americans.
Thirdly, the annual budget of the UK is £430bn and still we complain of poor health, roads, schools, how can Iraq survive on £4bn when USA has bombed it back into the 1800's? Pure propaganda that the "objective" BBC should be ashamed of.
Help for these innocent children seems to be at their finger tips, but with the regime or the way the Iraqi governments provides medication seems to be only available to the chosen few.
David Zatouroff, UK
I congratulate John Sweeney on his excellent report. The report did accurately highlight all the main issues with the sanction, plight of the Kurds and the bizarre
situation where the UN is under the control of the dictator Saddam. I hope the programme made it clear to people in Europe that Saddam must go and should be replaced by a democratic government in Iraq. The change will be in the interest of
the Iraq people, regional stability, and world peace.
John Sweeny makes several over-simplifications, which suggests that he is very new to this issue. He claims that the figures of dead children supplied by the Iraqi government (7,000/month) are false. However, all those that oppose the sanctions regime do not rely on any of the figures supplied by the Iraqi government, but on those compiled by UNICEF (which are lower, but still incredibly high).
Also, Mr Sweeny seems to assume that because the Iraqi people are being oppressed by their own government, it is impossible for them to be oppressed by another source at the same time. This is a total non sequitur. The people of Iraq are being oppressed politically by the Iraqi government, and economically by the sanctions regime.
First of all I would like to thank you for that report as an Iraqi Kurd I was glad to see it and I think it was grateful I certainly don't have any questions because I have been there my self and know every thing that happens over there.
How is it you are able to see the evil of Saddam, but you continue to favour Arafat, his very good friend?
Ye Jiale, Hong Kong
Your report portrayed Saddam Hussein - not sanctions - as being responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Is your conclusion that sanctions are therefore ineffective at curbing Saddam - possibly giving him more power by enabling him to control the flow of medicines? If sanctions are not working, and merely serve as a propaganda tool for Saddam, what rationale is there for continuing with them?
Did you interview George Galloway for the programme and ask him to clarify his stance? If not, I would be highly suspicious of any implications on your part that he supports the torture of Iraqi children.
I'd like to say I thought this was a very good program, and showed that more can be done to get urgent aid to the people who need it most in Iraq. My only complaint is that it was unfair to George Galloway, the only way he can get into Iraq to try & help the needy is by not denouncing Saddam Hussein, if he did he would unable to visit Iraq and do the humanitarian work he does.
What comment can I have in regard with a story such as this... If it is true, then more shame on the former President Bush... who could have ended it... but did not... If what they say about D Cheney's relationship with Iraq's oil before he became VP, then shame of the present President Bush... If it is true... and in a world of lies, who can tell? Who can you believe? Even when I see things with my own eyes, I may understand just what I have seen.
Great article. Now, can you write about Hizbollah and the bombings of Jews 5700 miles away in Argentina. There is a lot of Islamic perfidy that never gets reported. Glad you had courage to do this article. Bravo!
Have any of this Ali's claims been independently verified? At this point I'm no more prone to believe him than Sadam Hussein.
I am so very sorry that our nations failed to rescue the people of Iraq from this insane dictator. The excuse for our failure amounts to nothing more than rampant political correctness: an idea that we should not remove a leader of another country just because we don't like the way they do business. What might have happened if the allied forces had stopped short at the border, and allowed Adolf Hitler to continue his insane work within the borders of Germany? How much longer will we ignore the suffering of these people in order to continue our national addictions to fossil fuels?
I believe that Halabjah is under the 36 parallel, so it is not protected by the No-fly-Zone, as you claim in your programme.
Do you feel that Saddam, like so many other dictators in that troubled part of the world, is committing these atrocities to, on the one hand, hide behind the suffering of his own people and, on the other, to transform that suffering into a rage against his chosen targets? And do you feel that by doing so he will, like Arafat before him, atomise and virtually destroy any kind of society Iraq has?
Inna Tysoe, USA
Tim McManus, USA
Your report failed to mention the importance of the electricity supply, and the ramifications of the current deficient volume and its erratic nature on the health service in Iraq. "The slow collapse of the electricity infrastructure has consequences which are rippling through every aspect of life in Iraq, and provides a good example of how weaknesses in one sector can affect all other sectors. The erratic quality of supply and increasingly frequent, unscheduled power outages... leads to the spoilage and waste of medicines and vaccines... [to] losses in rice and other crops requiring continuous irrigation where farmers were dependent on electrical pumps" -
UN Secretary-General's review of oil-for-food, 28 Apr. 1999
Does the UN secretary General have a part to play in your conspiracy theory?
Babies are still dying from sanctions - does the amount really matter? The sanctions are not working - it is the ordinary people who are suffering not the rulers. The sanctions do not affect them. What is the point of this story , to relive the consciences of western murders.
Radiation therapy and much chemotherapy is very expensive, often ineffective, and needed by relatively few. They are not generally available in most of the third world.
Did you ask about simpler, cheaper drugs which are much more necessary and save far more lives?
An extremely interesting programme. When can we expect the points concerning lack of medical resources for the Kurds, and the bogus and staged funeral ceremonies of Iraqi babies to be put to George Gallaway?
Saddam seems to be one of the biggest tyrants of the last 50 years, yet no one seems to be willing to get rid of him. Declare war on him, destroy him and his killing machine. Then we can haphazardly prop up a new regime of killers and crooks, call it a stable government, give them tons of cash/food/supplies, and swagger off into the sunset knowing we have done the "right" thing. Wait, didn't we already do that somewhere?
Do you expect that your findings should change people's views on the immorality of sanctions on Iraq? Even if Saddam's claims of 7,000 children dying a month from sanctions are overblown, as you claim, do you deny that they are still not unacceptably large? Put simply, are both, say, 3,000 (or whatever the real number is) and 7,000 (Saddam's claim) not both equally unacceptable?
Your revelations are 14 years late! I am sickened that the suffering of the Kurdish people is being used to justify the US intentions on Iraq
Your TV programme did not prove that there are fake funerals, but that the death of young children is used in propaganda by Saddam. That is not the same thing. Children are still dying in Iraq, whether in Kurdistan, in the south or the central of Iraq. Exaggeration and propaganda is not unexpected from the Iraqi government. Are you implying that all the NGOs working in Iraq are in on the conspiracy?
Brian Swinton, England
I know my comment will be censored as UK is fulfilling the orders of the US masters to perform a black PR campaign against Iraq. The evidence the article is base on comes from less than credible sources at the very least. I too can say that I witnessed Tony Blair throw a waiter into a shark trap after when he was dissatisfied with his cocktail. Would you write an article based on that? My good friend is a Russian engineer now helping Iraq restore an old Soviet built power station destroyed during US led campaign to restore Kuwait's oppressive monarchy and I know from him that none of this torture stuff is happening in Iraq. But the dead babies are quite real.
George Galloway must realise what is going on inside Iraq. If he really is a humanitarian, he will be well aware of Saddam's aggression against his own people. What is the real reason behind his acceptance of and apparent respect for Saddam?
I watched your Correspondent programme yesterday but was dismayed that you did not mention the depleted uranium that the British & American forces used in the gulf war (which are banned under Geneva conventions) and might have a lot to do with the horrific deformities we were shown. I don't doubt for one minute that Saddam's use of chemical weapons also contributed but the rates of cancer we are seeing rose significantly after the gulf war.There is no justification for allowing children to die it is immoral and inhumane.
Where was the subject matter of Mr. Sweeney program? And where is the objectivity?
I never liked Saddam or his regime but cheap propaganda is to his service?
George Galloway - a Glaswegian MP's actions in kow-towing to Saddam Hussein's regime is nothing short of atrocious. Doesn't this man believe in the murder and betrayal of the Iraqi people by Saddam's regime? The release of oil exports by the UN, were for the care of the people, yet he has not allowed his people to have the aid that is needed. Why doesn't Mr. Galloway ask this question at one of his audiences with the despotic ruler?
Saddam remains a danger to his own people and to the international community. Your programme may go some way to convincing the UN to allow the Kurdish administration to import medicines and materials directly into northern Iraq. Despite the problems they have had and the difficulties between the PUK and the KDP they have shown that they will use such imports wisely.
If all sanctions were fully lifted, do you think Saddam would stop blaming the West for his country's ills or would he just find something else to moan about?
What happened to the UN enquiry into the Jenin massacre? How can we trust the UN if it does not act even handed? It is shameful that the UN allows Israel to get away with such atrocities while we are trying to punish Saddam Hussein for his crimes.
Jawad Mella Chairman of Western Kurdistan Association
I was very disappointed in your attempt to discredit Mr. George Galloway, through your program, when he is one of very few Western politicians struggling to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis and Palestinians. The clip that showed him praising Saddam was taken out of context: He had just been to Palestine, and he was simply conveying the degree of support that Saddam has among the desperate Palestinians.
Was George Galloway invited to join Mr Sweeney in Northern Iraq to see the terrible state of the hospitals and to hear for himself the bullish nature of Saddam and his cronies? I can't believe a member of the British Parliament can defend Saddam.
Why do these programs about the horrors of Saddam's regime always seem to come out around the same time the US and UK are thinking of bombing him?
The problems you claim to have exposed are according to you 11 years old, how come they never came to light until now?
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