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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 13:50 GMT
Protesters seek to end Iraqi sanctions
Protesters
The protesters want an end to all sanctions
A seven-day protest aimed at lifting sanctions against Iraq has begun outside the Houses of Parliament.

The demonstration, which is being led by members of the Socialist Alliance and the Great Britain Iraq Society, follows last week's Anglo-US air strikes against targets near Baghdad.


Sanctions have done nothing to eliminate Saddam Hussein

Cllr Ian Page, Socialist Alliance
Both groups want all sanctions to be removed saying they are only serving to hurt ordinary Iraqis.

The Foreign Office announced earlier this week that Iraqi sanctions were under review.

Lift sanctions

The minister with responsibility for Iraq, Brian Wilson, said the review by the UK and US governments would focus on sanctions that harmed the Iraqi people.

But he insisted that those which were preventing Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction would remain.

The protesters told BBC News Online they wanted all sanctions lifted.

Peter Deegan, spokesman for the Great Britain Iraq Society, said: "We have had 10 years of sanctions. They have not worked. We would like to see all sanctions against Iraq lifted."

He added: "We are not convinced that sanctions are necessary."

Review criticised

Dave Nellist, a former Labour MP and now leader of the Socialist Alliance group on Coventry City Council, also called for an end to sanctions.

He criticised the government's review saying its aim was to lift those sanctions that prevented British companies from trading with Iraq.

Dave Nellist
Mr Nellist criticised the government's review
"The review of sanctions is not actually being driven for the wellbeing of the Iraqi people.

"It is being driven for commercial reasons."

Ian Page, a Socialist Alliance councillor in Lewisham in London, said sanctions had failed.

"Sanctions have done nothing to eliminate Saddam Hussein, who is a brutal dictator.

"They are not working and should go."

The protest which began on Thursday will continue until Wednesday 28 February.

Labour MPs Tony Benn and George Galloway are expected to lend their support to the campaign next week.

They are both due to address a meeting in the Commons next week calling for sanctions to be lifted.

Both have been criticial of last week's Anglo-US bombing of Iraq.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, outlined the Government's strategy as, "first, to protect the world from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; second, to protect his neighbours from his aggression; and third, to protect the people of Iraq, who have suffered most of all from his brutality".

Mr Cook concluded: "We need to re-focus international opinion on the continuing threat that he poses. We will continue to stand firm against Saddam and his attempts to bring death and suffering on the people of Iraq and its neighbour."

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Iraqi sanctions under review
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Iraq: Sanctions 10 years on
19 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Iraqi raids 'self-defence'
19 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Blair defiant over Iraqi air strikes
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Protesters mark Gulf War anniversary
16 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Call to end Iraq sanctions
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