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03/14/2003 - SADDAM’S ATROCITIES - 2003-03-17

For decades, the people of Iraq have been brutally oppressed by Saddam Hussein. The United States and its allies are working to liberate them. As President George W. Bush has said, “Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it, and the security of all nations requires it.”

Courageous Iraqis are already planning for a future democratic Iraq. Among them are a group of free Iraqis known as "Women for a Free Iraq." Members of the group met recently with U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The Iraqi women told the officials stories of terror, murder, and oppression. "Saddam Hussein," said the group in a statement, "has been waging war on the people of Iraq. Every day that this war continues, more of our brothers and sisters will suffer from Saddam's totalitarian and racist policies."

Raz Rasool (rahs ra-SOOL) of "Women for a Free Iraq" is a Kurd from the northern part of the country. "I have many relatives and friends," Mrs. Rasool said, "who have been executed by the regime." Her father was imprisoned for years by Saddam. In fact, she said, almost every family in Iraq has lost someone under the Saddam Hussein regime.

Many Iraqis lost their homes or were forcibly displaced as the government wiped out thousands of Kurdish villages in the late 1980s. "I had to run from house to house to hide and many of my friends were killed," Mrs. Rasool said.

The Iraqi people are sick of their barbarous leader and yearn for freedom. So the United States-led coalition will help the Iraqi people help themselves. In the words of Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, "We want to help Iraqis take back their country and build a foundation for a better democratic society, a society based on Iraqi tradition and culture, but one founded on the universal principles of freedom and liberty."

It will be up to the Iraqi people to determine the precise form that their new government will take. But as President Bush said, the U.S. “will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected.”