Posted by andreas from p3EE3C382.dip.t-dialin.net (126.96.36.199) on Monday, December 02, 2002 at 7:25AM :
The Guardian [UK]
Amnesty attacks Iraq torture dossier
Staff and agencies
Monday December 2, 2002
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, said.
"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."
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