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ACTIVISTS IN BAGHDAD PROTEST FUTURE ATTACKS AGAINST IRAQ'S CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE
Filed February 11, 2003 By Jeremy Scahill
 

BAGHDAD—While George W Bush speaks of sending in US Special Forces to protect Iraq's oil fields for future Western consumption, across Iraq there is tremendous fear that while the oil fields receive special protection from the Pentagon, Washington's bombers will systematically attack the country's civilian infrastructure.

The Al Taji electrical power plant, 30 miles outside of Baghdad, is one of the sites in question. During the 1991 Gulf War, the plant was bombed by allied forces, along with dozens of other electrical systems across Iraq. This led to pandemic shortages or blackouts of power in most of the country, causing an almost total shut down of water and sewage treatment facilities. Over the last 12 years of sanctions Iraq has been unable to adequately repair the systems, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of children from curable diseases.

Today at Al Taji, some 30 members of the Iraq Peace Team held a vigil in front of the electrical plant. They held a large banner that read: "To Bomb this site is a war crime; Geneva Convention Article 54.

Thirty members of the Iraq Peace Team face the cameras of international media at the Al Taji electrical generation plant in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Thorne Anderson.
The Iraq Peace Team currently has 40 members in Baghdad. They say they are here to stand with ordinary Iraqis through whatever may come. In the coming days, activists from throughout Europe, the US and the Arab world will arrive in Baghdad. As US Special Forces prepare to protect Iraq's oil fields, the activists say they plan to spread out at sites like the Al Taji power plant to protect them from US missiles. And they say international law is on their side .


"In the '91 Gulf War, places like this-electrical power systems-were targeted in Iraq. Seventy five percent of Iraq's generating capacity was destroyed and the consequences of this was that citizens everywhere were without adequate pure water and sanitation, said Elias Amidon a member of the Iraq Peace Team from Boulder Colorado. "This led to the spread of disease and killed countless thousands of innocent children, women and men. We've come to protest that. Bombing sites like this is a war crime.

Elias Amidon of the Iraq Peace Team speaks to reporters at the Al Taji electrical generation plant in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Thorne Anderson.
In a recent report released in Baghdad, the US-based Center for Economic and Social Rights said that in the event of war, there is an "imminent risk to the sewage treatment system in the country. The report bluntly states that disabling Iraq's electrical supply disables sanitation and that military destruction of water treatment facilities will "guarantee large-scale epidemics of water borne illness.

"As we face into another war; a war in which US officials have recently told us will each day result in more cruise missiles landing in Iraq than through the whole of the last Gulf War, we are facing a human catastrophe, said Irish activist Michael Birmingham. He recently accompanied visiting members of the European Parliament to meetings with UN agencies in Iraq. "All of the UN officials and non-governmental organizations on the ground in Iraq are telling us that this war will be a human catastrophe. It will result in the deaths, they estimate, of 100,000 Iraqi people. These are people who are not responsible for anything that this government has done.

On October 26th activists from the Iraq Peace Team demonstrated outside the main United Nations compound. Photo by Thorne Anderson.
The Iraq Peace Team currently has 40 members in Baghdad. They say they are here to stand with ordinary Iraqis through whatever may come. In the coming days, activists from throughout Europe, the US and the Arab world will arrive in Baghdad. As US Special Forces prepare to protect Iraq's oil fields, the activists say they plan to spread out at sites like the Al Taji power plant to protect them from US missiles. And they say international law is on their side .



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Jeremy Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org, the only website providing regular independent reporting from the ground in Baghdad.


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