Friday, 14 March 2003
Tomorrow I go out as a human shield to the "7th April Water Treatment Plant" by the Tigris River. This water treatment plant services three million people, more than half of Baghdad. The Red Cross is also there. The plant also provides pure water to the major hospitals of Baghdad, some of which in turn service the whole of Iraq.
I hope you got my report of my visit to a paediatric hospital late last month ..
Love and best wishes Waratah/Rosemarie
(most people here know me as Rosemarie, its easier for them to remember)
14 March 2003
A Spanish speaking member of the Human Shields group gave me 2000 dinars so I can send this email to you.
This report is intended to be part of a larger article, "From Bougainville to Baghdad", but it can stand by itself, so please feel free to use it on its own for now. I want to strongly emphasise the need for positive, peaceful civil disobedience, including industrial action to stop the Warlords in the White House and their puppets like little Johnny Howard. It seems that they are hell bent on bombing the daylights out of us here and they will not listen to letters, petitions, demonstrations - only ACTION! The Warlords and their sycophants have thrown democracy to the wind and are acting like the dictators they really are.
Waratah (Rosemarie Gillespie)
DAYBREAK (March 11):
11th March 2003
from Iraq by Waratah (Rosemarie Gillespie)
human shield and independent news source.
The sky lights up slowly. Clouds of various shades of grey, merging into white, hang seemingly still in the morning sky, as if they were made by giant sweeps of an artist's brush. The streets are quiet, except for the odd speeding taxi or occasional bus. There are more taxi drivers desperately chasing work than jobs. It's part of the daily struggle for survival.
The crippling effects of the sanctions, imposed 13 years ago, have caused great suffering, affecting all aspects of life, including the economy. From children dying of leukaemia because of lack of medicines, to the shuttered shops on the main thoroughfares, to the little shoeshine boys and children begging in the street, the sanctions have left deep scars. Over 500,000 children have died from preventable diseases or the effects of malnutrition since the sanctions were imposed. One commentator aptly described the sanctions as "genocide masquerading as foreign policy".
Were the sanctions imposed to cripple Iraq's economy and bring the country to its knees? There was a time, before the sanctions, when one Iraqi Dinar (the Iraqi unit of currency) was worth more than US$10. Now the Dinar is worth less than one tenth of a cent.Iraq, with its once thriving economy, was blocked from exporting its oil, flying its airlines, from doing the things it does well, prevented from earning export income. The sanctions have dragged Iraq, once a prosperous socialist state, down into deep poverty and suffering.
Iraq nationalized its national oil resources in 1972, the same year Gough Whitlam was elected Prime Minister of Australia. During the Whitlam years, an attempt was made to regain some national control over Australia's substantial mineral resources, to "buy back the farm". Both the Whitlam Government, and the Iraqi government, had a policy of free university education, and implemented it. Iraq still provides free university and college education, despite the sanctions. Students are seen as a progressive element in society. In Australia, free university education is a distant memory, as universities are starved of funds, obliged to grovel for the corporate dollar, which comes with strings attatched.
People in Baghdad still talk about the July 1968 Revolution, when a government came to power with a policy of applying wealth, derived from the nation's resouces, to social programmes such as education, health, transport, arts, culture, etc. The Whitlam government had similar ideas - but Whitlam was demonised and his successor, Malcolm Fraser, lionised. Why?
Ask yourself, how democratic is Australia today? Is Howard listening to the Australian people, or is he marching to the beat of a distant drummer, the Warlords of the White House?
Here in Iraq we are living under the shadow of war. The thought that war could be imminent chills the bone. Will the Warlords go it alone, trampling on the United Nations Charter and our hopes for a world at peace? Are the people of Iraq to be condemned to suffer another invasion because the United States government, and the big oil companies driving it, are insisting on a "regime change" in order to gain control of Iraq's oil? Iraq has the second largest proven oil reserves in the world.
It seems to me that the planned invasion of Iraq by the United States Armed Forces is a stepping stone in the larger global game plan. The role of the Armed Forces, in both the United States and Australia, is to open up countries and/or maintain a state which is favourable for the operations of the multinational companies. George W. Bush was engineered into the position of President of the US. I was actually able to predict his "election", even before the first vote was cast! Athough Bush received fewer votes than his opponent Gore, the elections were engineered to put him in the White House because he was prepared to take on China, even to the point of engaging in a war with China. Bush and his mob have set out to secure Iraq's oil resources for American use in the event of a war with China, while cloaking their intentions with the rhetoric of "regime change".
The sun is rising in the sky, pale, filtered through a screen of grey cloud, sending faint shadows across the page as I write. We hang under a cloud. Now it seems as though it is not if, but when the invasion - and the intense bombing that will go with it - will start. How many of us will die? Why are the people of Iraq condemned to such a horrible war?
If the planned American invasion goes ahead, it will not only bring death to countless Iraqi people, men, women and children, it will be the death of democracy in the West - for the time being. For the last 30 years in the West, there has been an inexorable drive by the large multinational corporations to assert political and economic dominance over their host governments, including the United States Government. The operation of democracy has been reduced to an empty shell. Every few years a vote is taken, with the choice of national leaders predetermined by a consortium of large bcorporations and their "back room boys". The casting of the ballot has become a mere figleaf concealing where the true power lies.
If, on occasion, a government comes into power with a political and economic agenda which seeks to direct national resources for public (rather than private) benefit, a "crisis" is engineered and a "regime change" is implemented, for example Chile 1973, Australia 1975, Pakistan 1977, Fiji 1987, Iraq 2003?
Rumours are running wild as we prepare for the worst. Those of us who can afford to buy it are stocking up on water and other essential provisions. It seems as if the Warlords of the White House have thrown international law to the winds, imagining that their military might is unstoppable, like a rapist fixed on his objective.
Waratah (Rosemarie Gillespie)