March 18, 2003
See men shredded, then say you don't back war
By Ann Clwyd
“There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein’s youngest son] personally supervise these murders.”
This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict — the organisation I chair — to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This account was taken in the past two weeks.
Another witness told us about practices of the security services towards women: “Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped . . . women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation.”
The accounts Indict has heard over the past six years are disgusting and horrifying. Our task is not merely passively to record what we are told but to challenge it as well, so that the evidence we produce is of the highest quality. All witnesses swear that their statements are true and sign them.
For these humanitarian reasons alone, it is essential to liberate the people of Iraq from the regime of Saddam. The 17 UN resolutions passed since 1991 on Iraq include Resolution 688, which calls for an end to repression of Iraqi civilians. It has been ignored. Torture, execution and ethnic-cleansing are everyday life in Saddam’s Iraq.
Were it not for the no-fly zones in the south and north of Iraq — which some people still claim are illegal — the Kurds and the Shia would no doubt still be attacked by Iraqi helicopter gunships.
For more than 20 years, senior Iraqi officials have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This list includes far more than the gassing of 5,000 in Halabja and other villages in 1988. It includes serial war crimes during the Iran-Iraq war; the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds in 1987-88; the invasion of Kuwait and the killing of more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians; the violent suppression, which I witnessed, of the 1991 Kurdish uprising that led to 30,000 or more civilian deaths; the draining of the Southern Marshes during the 1990s, which ethnically cleansed thousands of Shias; and the summary executions of thousands of political opponents.
Many Iraqis wonder why the world applauded the military intervention that eventually rescued the Cambodians from Pol Pot and the Ugandans from Idi Amin when these took place without UN help. They ask why the world has ignored the crimes against them?
All these crimes have been recorded in detail by the UN, the US, Kuwaiti, British, Iranian and other Governments and groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and Indict. Yet the Security Council has failed to set up a war crimes tribunal on Iraq because of opposition from France, China and Russia. As a result, no Iraqi official has ever been indicted for some of the worst crimes of the 20th century. I have said incessantly that I would have preferred such a tribunal to war. But the time for offering Saddam incentives and more time is over.
I do not have a monopoly on wisdom or morality. But I know one thing. This evil, fascist regime must come to an end. With or without the help of the Security Council, and with or without the backing of the Labour Party in the House of Commons tonight.
The author is Labour MP for Cynon Valley.