Letter: Iraqi Kurds: victims of the West's self-interested policy?

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The Independent Online
Sir: British television is focusing on the Iraqi regime's genocidal war against the Kurds in 1987. The BBC has telecast a special report in its Newsnight programme on 28 June and the second instalment is to be shown today (29 June).

This documentary is a harrowing indictment of the chemical regime of Saddam Hussein. To bring these effects to light is a great service and deserves to be so acknowledged. The critical question, however, remains: have the Western media and the United States and European political leaderships come to know of these effects only now in mid-1993? Or, were they aware of these atrocities even in 1987 and 1988 but thought it inconvenient to expose 'their friend Saddam' at that time because he was fighting their war against Iran? And have they now found it convenient to expose the same 'friend-turned-foe' in the context of the current American aggression against Iraq?

We in underdeveloped Pakistan were aware of the atrocities committed by the Iraqi leadership against the innocent Kurdish Muslims and protested at the time. A few newspapers and magazines in the Middle East and the West (including the Independent) reported some of these crimes. Amnesty International also took note of them in their report in 1988. Evidence of chemical war against the Kurds of Hallabji was rushed to the UN by Iran through Pakistan in 1987/88. But the Western media generally chose not to highlight that and the political leadership simply connived.

Iraq's crimes against its own people deserve to have been condemned then as they do now. But how morally acceptable was condoning all these crimes in 1987/88 and condemning them today? And how can we justify American missile attacks on Baghdad for allegedly punishing Iraq and violating norms of international law and behaviour and spare the Serbs for committing a thousand times more heinous crimes against Bosnian Muslims, despite all the resolutions of the Security Council? As people of the world become more and more convinced that the leading powers are guilty of double standards, what will be left of their moral credibility?

Yours faithfully,

KHURSHID AHMAD

Senate of Pakistan

Islamabad

29 June

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