Speech to / Discours à la "Baghdad Conference"

7 Mai/May 2002

Svend Robinson, MP

(Des parties du discours sont en français, mais la majorité est en anglais.)

Note :

   Svend Robinson is an elected Canadian parliamentarian member of the New Democratic Party (NDP).  He is a person of courage, justice and peace.  He is one of the very rare politicians in Canada who has the courage of saying was is right instead of saying what the U.S. government wishes to hear.

   Svend Robinson est un parlementaire canadien élu, membre du Nouveau Parti Démocratique (NPD).  Il est une personne de courage, de justice et de paix.  Il est un des rares politiciens-nes du Canada a avoir le courage de dire ce qui est juste au lieu de dire ce que les gouvernements des États-Unis voudrait entendre.

- Michael Lessard, Canadian citizen/citoyen & DroitVP coordinator/coordonnateur.

      I would like to thank organizers of this conference for the honour and
privilege of participating, and for being invited to say a few words on
behalf of the Canadian delegation to the conference. I want to pay
special tribute to my colleague George Galloway, the British MP for his
tireless, dedicated commitment to the people of Iraq.  He has travelled around the
world, including my own country Canada, to lift his eloquent voice
against the genocidal sanctions...thank you George, for your courageous
leadership.  I would like to pay special tribute to Myriam and all of the children
of Iraq.

     This is my third visit to Iraq. The first was in the fall of 1990, when I
led a Parliamentary delegation from Canada to speak out for peace, and
oppose a military assault on Iraq. La dernière fois, j'ai participé
dans une délégation du groupe Québécois, Objection de Conscience, en janvier
2000.  Nous avons visité Baghdad et Basra, et nous avons observé les
résultats dévastateurs des sanctions économiques, des bombardements, de
l'uranium appauvri, de la destruction de l'infrastructure du pays.
 Following my visit in 2000, the Canadian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs
Committee held public hearings which led to a unanimous, all party
report that recommended the lifting of economic sanctions and the
re-establishment of a diplomatic presence in Iraq.  The Chair of that Committee is now
the Foreign Minister of Canada, Bill Graham.

     I am back again in Iraq, together with my colleagues from Canada, to
once again speak out against the inhumane sanctions, the illegal bombing,
and to join my voice with those from people around the world in demand that
the United States do not extend its immoral and illegal "war against
terrorism" to the people of Iraq, who have already suffered too much. This "war",
which has led to the brutal suppression of basic human rights and
international humanitarian law, and the death of over 4000 innocent
Afghan civilians, not to mention innocent Canadian soldiers killed by the US
"friendly fire", must not be extended to Iraq. The US must not be
allowed to inflict further terror and violence on the people of Iraq. The
lives of Iraqi children are just as precious as the lives of the innocent
civilians who perished in the World Trade Centre. The Canadian Prime Minister,
during a meeting in February with Russian President Putin, stated that Canada
will not support a US led war on Iraq without UN authority, and in saying
that he reflects the widely held views of the Canadian people. I urge the
Iraqi government to give serious consideration to accepting the proposal of
the Russian government to re-admit UN weapons inspectors to Iraq, subject
of course to assurances that they are completely impartial and neutral,
and lift economic sanctions within 60 days thereafter. Canadians in
growing numbers, in the national organization CANESI, Canadian Network to End
Sanctions on Iraq, with representatives from churches, labour, doctors,
academics, human rights groups, artists, du Quebec et de partout au
Canada, are joining the anti-sanctions, anti-war movement.

     We are also here today to join in calling for peace and justice for our
brothers and sisters in Palestine, at this time of such pain and
tragedy.  Two weeks ago I travelled to Jerusalem and the outskirts of Ramallah,
as well as to Tel Aviv.  I was blocked from meeting President Arafat, but
I visited Qalandiya refugee camp, and heard eyewitness stories of the
most appalling brutality, humiliation, torture and murder by the Israeli
army.  Those who are responsible for terrible war crimes, whether the killings
at Sabra and Chatilla or the gassings of Kurds at Halabja, must be brought
to justice.  It is time that the international community stopped
shamefully surrendering to the Israeli government's refusal to allow a UN inquiry
into the horrors of Jenin.  The UN should send the inquiry at once, and
further should immediately send an International Protection Force to the
occupied territories.  Israel must respect the 4th Geneva Convention, and
withdraw from all territories occupied since 1967, dismantle illegal
settlements, and respect the rights of Palestinian refugees under international law.
At the same time, I call upon the Iraqi government and President Saddam
Hussein to respect the right of Israel to exist within secure pre 1967 borders,
and to stop glorifying the suicide bombers who take the lives of innocent
Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew.  While we all understand the despair, the
anguish and hopelessness of those who live in the squalid refugee
camps, nothing, I repeat nothing can justify the mass murder of innocent
people who are out at a discotheque or a restaurant or celebrating a religious

     In closing, let me again pay tribute to the people of Iraq, the proud,
dignified people who have suffered such tragedy at the hands of the US,
the UK, and too many other countries including my own.  The world will, I
am convinced, look back on these terrible crimes with shock and revulsion
and ask how this evil could have happened.  We must break the silence and
speak out in our own countries and demand that this genocide end.  The people
of Iraq alone must have the right to freely determine their future, not
George Bush, not Tony Blair or any other world leader.  And yes, I do look
forward to the day when the brave people of Iraq are able to live in a country
that is not subject to these inhumane sanctions and bombing.  I look forward
as well to the day when the people of Iraq are able to live in a democratic society
that respects the fundamental human rights of all of its citizens;

- that does not brutally repress all political dissent, that respects religious
and cultural diversity and the rights of all minorities including the Kurds
in the north and the population in the southern marsh areas;

- that rejects the mindless racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia of the
Jean Marie LePens and Jorg Haiders of this world;

- that ensures full equality for women in all aspects of society;

- that treats homosexuals such as myself with full dignity and respect
instead of inhumanely using religion as an excuse to persecute and
imprison them;

- that respects freedom of the press, and whose leaders are revered and
honoured for their wisdom and integrity, who need no portraits or
monuments or palaces or extravagant birthday celebrations to earn the love of
their people.
     The people of Iraq have suffered long enough.  End the sanctions, stop
the bombing, respect human rights and let these proud people live in peace
and harmony in this beautiful country of Iraq.  

Thank you, Merci, Shokran.

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