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12/19/02 - IRAQ’S TREATMENT OF DISSIDENTS - 2002-12-20


Iraq is a nation with a rich cultural heritage. Its people have a history of intellectual and scientific achievement. The U.S. Department of State, in its report, “Iraq: A Population Silenced,” has collected evidence and testimony of Saddam Hussein’s terrible human rights violations.

“Iraq under Saddam’s regime has become a land of hopelessness, sadness, and fear,” said Safia al Souhail [soo-hayl], an Iraqi citizen and advocacy director of the International Alliance for Justice. In 1994, Ms. al Souhail’s father, Sheik Taleb [TAH-lib] Al Souhail, was murdered in Lebanon by Saddam’s operatives. Ms. al Souhail said that Iraq is “a country where people are ethnically cleansed; prisoners are tortured in more than three-hundred prisons.... Iraq under Saddam has become a hell and a museum of crimes.”

Immediately on becoming President in July 1979, Saddam ordered his security forces to remove, imprison, and eventually kill several longstanding members of the Iraqi National Assembly. He had several senior members of his Ba’th party leadership participate in the process of eliminating these so-called traitors.

Saddam Hussein was also the first leader to use chemical weapons again his own population, silencing more than sixty villages and thirty-thousand citizens with poison gas. The Iraqi dictator has tried to silence ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq. In 1987 and 1988, the regime killed and tortured many Kurds. Many Kurdish villages were destroyed and their residents forced into zones where they could be controlled by the government. Saddam Hussein has also targeted the citizens of other nations, killing and torturing Kuwaitis and Iranians, among others.

The Iraqi people are not allowed to vote to remove the government. Freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of movement do not exist in Iraq. One of Saddam Hussein’s sons owns the daily Iraqi newspaper. Iraqi citizens cannot assemble except in support of the government. Iraqi citizens cannot freely leave their country.

“As we consider how to disarm [Iraq],” said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “it is important to keep in mind the context of our efforts.”

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