Alliance Internationale pour la Justice | 06.03.2003 16:34
Iraqi women from various parts of the country testified yesterday at a roundtable event about how they have witnessed the killings and other atrocities resulting from three decades of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Together the women have lost more than 200 family members.
The women gathered not to mourn their losses, but to talk about rebuilding Iraq’s civil society and to identify solutions which would lead to freedom and democracy in Iraq. They were members of a panel at a seminar called "The Unheard Voices of Iraqi Women", organised by the International Alliance for Justice (AIJ), with Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
The AIJ delegation also met with officials from the European Commission's Directorate Generale for External Relations and from the Commissioner Chris Patten's cabinet.
“The European Union should understand that 95 per cent of Iraqi people are against the Iraqi regime. The women requested the EU members to ask for the Saddam Hussein’s resignation, and to declare his regime as ‘outlaw’,” said Aida Ussayran, member of the executive committee of the Union of Iraqi Democrats.
“We call on all the EU bodies, regardless of their position towards military enforcement of UNSC Resolution 1441, to fully support establishing an international tribunal for holding Saddam Hussein's regime to account for the crimes it has committed against human rights and issue concrete political statements to that effect,” said another delegation member.
AIJ calls on the European Union to invest in its relationship with the Iraqi people -- and not Baghdad’s dictator -- to support the creation of an international inquiry on missing people as well as support the rehabilitation of Iraq’s Marshlands. There are four million refugees and 900 000 internally displaced persons in Iraq . EU should support a democratic future for Iraq, the rule of law, a new family code respectful of women’s rights and a real participation of women in the decision-making process.
The Iraqi women, who have shared great suffering, also share the same aspiration: they want their country to be freed from the repression of Saddam Hussein’s regime. They hope that their testimonies will help the international community understand the pain and mistreatments that Saddam Hussein has inflicted on the Iraqi people.
“For three decades, the Iraqi women have lived under an extraordinary brutal regime. Since October 2000, more than 150 women were decapitated under the pretext of prostitution”, said Pascale Isho, delegation participant and president of the Assyrian Women’s Union.
According to Safia Al Souhail, AIJ advocacy director for Middle East, “Iraq has become a land of agony, dismay and fear; a country where people are ethnically cleansed. Iraq under Saddam has become a hell."
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Note to editor:
International Alliance for Justice is leading a network of 275 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from over 120 countries asking for an ad hoc international criminal tribunal for Iraq.