Letter: By bus to Baghdad

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The Independent Culture

By bus to Baghdad

Sir: A group of British volunteers and I have just returned from a 67-day journey from Big Ben to Baghdad aboard a London double decker bus.

Its purpose was to highlight the suffering of the people of Iraq under their nine-year siege, to deliver $500,000 worth of medical supplies and such dangerous contraband as pencils, and to demonstrate to the British and American governments the strength of feeling in the countries through which we travelled against this unjust and disproportionate embargo which, according to the UN, is killing Iraqi children in their hundreds of thousands.

Our bus chugged across three continents, 11 countries and 15,000 kilometres. Between our arrival in Tangiers and our reception by two million people in the streets of Baghdad, our route was carpeted by rose petals and confetti and we were accompanied by the cheers of millions.

We met two Prime Ministers, two Foreign Ministers, two Health Ministers, six Speakers of Parliaments, five Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Committees, 86 Members of Parliament and audiences at public meetings numbering tens of thousands in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Jordan.

I gave more than 300 interviews which were published or broadcast in countries as disparate as Australia and Norway, Japan and the USA. Yet not one mainstream British newspaper carried a single news report or feature about any part of this journey.

Does this not indicate a serious failure to confront the real moral crisis in a policy, in which our own country is deeply implicated, which punishes millions of Iraqi civilians in a stand-off over which they have no control?


(Lab, Glasgow Kelvin)

House of Commons

London SW1