APRIL 12, 2003
Songkran Festival is a time for peace.
The falling of Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq does not mean peace for the Iraqi people.
Not when they have 1374 civilians directly killed by the US-UK-AUS military actions in Iraq (estimated and reported as of April 10/www.iraqbodycount.net). Not when they have their public health system, education system, local government, energy, infrastructure, water system, food sources bombed to destruction. Not when the US-UK corporate vultures feed off the reconstruction contracts for Iraq.
The US government, in its eagerness to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq, has begun the distribution of contracts, even in the early days of the war. On March 24, the Stevedoring Services of America was given the contract for Iraq’s seaport administration. USAID’s website last week opened up eight more contracts for US companies for the reconstruction of the education system, local government and public health.
It is now becoming clear that one of the main objectives of this war was to create more profit opportunities for US and other multi-national companies and to boost the economy of the US government and other cohorts. But for the Iraqi people, the pittance that is being offered in reconstruction funds is a drop in the ocean of what is needed to rebuild the country from the ruins it is now in. It was estimated that US$100 billion is needed to reconstruct Iraq after the war. Bush is offering only US2.2 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq, which amounts to only $97 – per person in Iraq.
The falling of Saddam Hussein is Iraq’s liberation from a dictator, but does not mean peace for Iraqi people.
Not when a dictator is replaced by a puppet government of the US colonial power. The US has already propped up its leader, Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi is the leader of CIA created Iraqi National Congress (INC). He has not been in Iraq since 1956, and has no popular support from the Iraqi people. Chalabi is clearly appointed to ensure US interests in oil reserves in the Middle East are protected – which has always been the paramount reason for this illegal invasion.
The fact that US is now claiming victory in this illegal war, in no way legitimizes this invasion. It is still an invasion that was done in contravention of international law making their continued occupation of Iraq also an illegal act.
With US occupation of Iraq, there can be no peace.
In the Asia Pacific region, there is a strong build-up of military presence of US. US military agreements and joint military operations with Korea, Philippines and Thailand are sources of insecurity and threat in the region.
In Thailand, people celebrate Songkran, a time to welcome the new year, with wishes of peace, prosperity and blessings for the whole community. In contrast, the people of Iraq are mourning the death of their family members, the destruction of their homes, and the horror of having to rebuild their lives and their communities from the rubble of war. The US victory is not giving the Iraqi people a fresh start – but rather it is a continuation of a tyranny, this time headed by the colonial figure of the US.
Thus, we call on the United Nations as the rightful international body to oversee the restoration of peace and reconstruction in Iraq.
Oust US from Iraq!
Self-determination for Iraqi people – not US colonialism!
Reconstruction of Iraq - not US profiteering!
Stop all joint military operations in the Asia Pacific!
Rescind all military agreements with US!
The war in Iraq is far from over.
The bombs may have stopped falling, but the battle for control over the oil and the profits has taken the centre stage. US, now more than ever, is flexing its imperialist power to dominate global economy and peoples all over the world.
In the spirit of Songkran, we call for peace, justice, self-determination.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
tel no: 053-404613