Open Letter to Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations sign now

An open letter to Kofi Annan
Secretary General, United Nations

Mr. Kofi Annan,

In these desperate times of war, you and the United Nations
perhaps embody one of the last hopes of a world gone mad:

Today is International Womens Day and we send you this letter from the women in Iraq and the women of the world:

As Bush, Blair and their warmongers are encircling Iraq with over 300,000 troops, massive firepower and weapons of mass destruction, the women in circles of peace inside Iraq held their lamps for peace and will continue to do so; against a war that is illegal and immoral.
It is March 8 and we are gathered in the Talai square in Baghdad, standing in Circles of Peace against the US led war of aggression on Iraq, holding banners against the war, photographs of the dead children (because of depleted uranium used in the last Gulf War), listening to the testimonies of women suffering from the genocidal economic sanctions, offering songs of resistance, reading poems of peace, sharing stories of hope, lighting our lamps for peace.
But who will listen to us?

Who will listen to the many voices speaking, to the many more voices, unspoken
Who will listen as we tell our stories of war?
stories of the war of economic sanctions which have created situations of extreme deprivation
our children are dying of malnutrition, of lack of medicine
Unicef says five thousand children die every month: that is genocide Mr. Annan.
mothers are giving birth because of depleted uranium
to masses of flesh, like bunches of grapes, someone said
Children with no arms, no feet
Children born with no eyes

In the Childrens Hospital in Basra
Omar is lying with an old cloth around his head
His mother Fadila removes the cloth to wipe his brow
he too has no eyes, just two gaping holes
Omar has a brain tumor, his little head is in agony
His eyes had to be removed because of the pressure from the tumor
He desperately needs medicine.
Sanctions ensure he will not get any; not even to relieve the searing pain.

As we walked in to another childrens ward, another woman wearing an abaya
ran out tearing her hair, screaming, screaming.... her son, she
screamed, was dying:
Little Bassem was struggling to breathe: the doctors
attending to him had no medicines, no oxygen.
Bassem was dying of blood cancer,
the incidence of which has risen sharply in the last years.
we gathered around little Bassem as he breathed his last, the doctor showed us the
empty cupboards.
No medicines.

Just then a nurse walked in and opened the next cupboard
it seemed full; she even re-locked it.
Someone asked her what was in it:
She opened the cupboard: it was full:
of tiny, white shrouds...

the children are dying:
what will Bush and Blair say to the children in Iraq ?
what will they say to their own children ?
what will all of us say to the children?

Mr. Annan, the children in Iraq are dying.

Listen to their mothers as they tell of their children, their civilization
listen as they tell you of the dailiness of their survival, their strengths
listen as they tell you, in a world gone mad
of compassion, of care, of concern, of connectedness
they tell different stories because their eyes see the world differently
The world needs to listen to these storytellers
their stories speak from an ethic of care: another knowledge, another logic

You seem locked into a logic of war, a logic that legitimises overwhelming force
that will shock and awe with weapons of war
that will be used to obliterate entire peoples
What is never spoken about are the human costs
the human consequences for an ancient civilization
bombarded by precision guided Cruise and Tomahawk missiles, B-52 bombers.

The war will affect us all:

Everyone, as someone said, will be marked
by the blood and battle in the desert.

We are with you in that weapons of mass destruction must be obliterated from the face of the earth. From Iraq: From all the nation states that have weapons of mass destruction.
Chemical, Biological, Nuclear.
Anything less than this underlines the growing image that the UN is not a democratic institution and is largely controlled by the US and its powerful allies.
The US continues to build nuclear weapons in defiance of a ruling from the World Court and numerous international treaties: the nuclear stockpiles in the US could destroy the world many times over.

We all know this:

We remember well the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. And Nagasaki.
And the children of Rongelap and other islands in the Pacific that received the nuclear fallout from the US testing of the hydrogen bomb on the Bikini Island: mothers still give birth to masses of flesh, the jelly babies, children still die of blood cancers.
We remember too Agent Orange the chemical weapons used in the Vietnam war:
And depleted uranium used in Kosovo, Afghanistan
Were all these crimes not the result of the use of weapons of mass murder?
Who punished the US and its Allies for these crimes?
Where could the peoples of the Pacific go for redressal and compensation?
Which Court would listen to the peoples of Afghanistan?
Who brought sanctions or economic blockades against the US?

Who would dare?

Millions in the world today, dare
Millions in the world who gather on their streets, in public squares
who dare to speak; who dare to oppose a war that is illegitimate:
An attack by the US on Iraq to change the regime, to decapitate the leadership, assault their leader
besides its arrogant and contemptuous message
is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Charter and International Law

You know well that the Security Council Resolution 1441 does not provide a mandate for the use of force against Iraq:
Read from any point of view that serious consequences will follow for non-compliance cannot and must not be understood as a mandate for war.
the US has no legal authority to attack Iraq
so this is an illegal war.
As it is an unjustifiable war: an immoral war:

You received reports from Unscom and the Iaea that they have not found any weapons of mass destruction yet: no smoking gun
You watched Hans Blix and his team dismantle and destroy the Al-Samoud missiles:
You witnessed the systematic stripping of a nations defence system
and more, a civilizations dignity
You were fully aware of the US bullying and even bribing of some governments
You experienced Bushs taunts of an irrelevant United Nations
He challenged you and the UN with falsified documents, fabricated dossiers: he derided, he demeaned, he dismissed the UN
And finally brought the UN to a standstill.

You let him

Then you recalled the UN personnel from the demilitarized zones
encouraged humanitarian organizations to leave
You had called on Iraq in October last year to accept the return of the Weapons Inspectors
yet you ordered their withdrawal in a unilateral act.
paving the way for the naked aggression of the USA
The Inspectors had not failed, yet you ordered them out of Iraq
validating Bush and Blairs now unbridled and unfettered war:
a new war encapsulated in a new doctrine of pre-emptive strike that would take us to even more unimaginable horizons.
We know well that the violence of Bush and Blair that starts in Iraq will engulf the region and the world.

We must look at war crimes, and also the crimes of war:
the threat to war is surely a crime of war, crimes against whole peoples:

Suddenly time was of the essence;
there was no more time for the Weapons Inspectors.
which Resolution of the Security Council was inscribed with a time line?
It was an act of political blackmail
And you allowed yourself and the UN to be sabotaged
Mr. Kofi Annan you betrayed the people of Iraq:

You betrayed the world.

Should not the UN have guaranteed that there would be no military assault if Iraq submitted itself to inspection?
Or was it a package deal?
Random air aids, surveillance planes stalking Iraq, mapping every detail, continuing psychological threats, the propaganda war,
The no-fly-zone over Iraqi airspace is forbidden for Iraq, but the US uses it as it wishes:
Twelve years of genocidal sanctions
Iraq stripped of its defences; has no right to resist.

And everyone begins to speak of a Post-War Era:
Blair calls the international community to repair Iraq
Surely this is one more arrogance:
They create the war; and the UN, as he says must now have some central role:
Why central role after the massacres will happen; what happened before?
Blair and Bush often, it would seem, speak from the same mouth:
Twisting the truth; doublespeak comes easily.
If it were all not so tragic
It could be one more scene in the Theatre of the Absurd
Bush did it recently in Afghanistan
the worlds richest country bombing the world poorest country
in what he called the War of Civilization
on the pretext of finding Osama bin Laden.
he devastated a whole country and its people
This time it is his War of Liberation
And he promises to use terrifying precision weapons
on a scale never seen before in Military History
heaping deciet, destruction, devastation, death on Iraq and the world.

Who will bear the costs of these wars?
What of the thousands killed?
We are talking of millions being uprooted
Collateral damage, Washington will say
We used precision bombs and missiles,
Our wars are humanitarian interventions.
to bring democracy, human rights.
After all, this is Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Freedom for whom?
And at what price?
You will remember that
the former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright when told that sanctions were killing five thousand children every month and asked was it a price worth paying
Her considered reply was yes, it is a price worth paying.

Has the world lost its soul?

The price, we know, will be paid by our children and our childrens children
what will your childrens children tell our childrens children in another moment of time?
Will history still be written by the privileged and the powerful?
or will the visions of millions of people of conscience all over the world be heard?

Will the stories of Basrah, of Baghdad be told?
Will the dead of Umm Qasr, Nasariya speak?
Will we ever find those who disappeared?
Will the logic of war prevail over the logic of peace?
Will peace for the world be a distant dream?

Mr. Kofi Annan:
You and the United Nations must ask why
that when so many governments
and millions of people all over the world stood against military intervention and war
you could not stop the US, UK and other warmongering governments
from their ambitions of hegemony and empire?

As the whole world watches
In horror
In sadness
a war terrifying and traumatizing, unfolds

And even in this moment perhaps
the General Assembly of the UN could invoke the
Uniting For Peace Resolution (UN Resolution 377) which
empowers the General Assembly to keep or restore peace
when the Security Council could not agree to do so.
You know that it has been invoked at least ten times since 1950.
Yet you seem so silent at this time.
Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter:
the war on Iraq matters:
the dying children matter:
Omar, Bassem, Yasmine matter:
an ancient civilization and its wisdoms matter
that war will bring the suffering that it must bring, matter

For us all.

And the present moment is the only moment available to us
It is the door, Thich Nhat Hanh, tells us, to all moments
There is no way to peace Mr. Annan
Mahatma Gandhi always told us peace is the way
These great wisdoms that must show us another way than war

We do indeed live in devastating and desperate times:
And the unimaginable dangers of our times must lead us to find greater wisdoms daring to reach for new horizons
If you could, even at this moment, stop the terrible war from continuing in Iraq
You would be breaking new ground
Millions will be standing with you

Yet be assured that if you will continue to remain silent.
and through your silence write war crimes into history
people all over the world will find you complicit by your silence and your actions

As you look again into the eyes of the children
What stories will you tell them?

Will you tell them
that once-not-so long ago
(You already speak of the future when we are in a catastrophic present!)
when thousands of Iraqis were being massacred
you looked away; sad, no doubt, but you preferred to look to the future created by the warmongers.
You listened to their doublespeak
You validated their political somersaults
extermination, Mr. Annan is their script: even as they made you and the UN irrelevant
empire building is their finale
Will you look into the eyes of the children in Iraq
And tell them that you had no answers and that all you accepted were only violent ones?
What will you tell the children?

You must listen to other stories:
stories that come from the corners of the Arab streets stories from the Iraqi women
stories that come from people of conscience all over the world
stories of courage and commitment
stories of harmony and hope
stories of dignity of a people
stories that come from the children
tortured, terrorized, traumatized
in wars, civilized or uncivilized
children from the tears
children of the wind, children of the storm
children of the stars
they offer a hope
they speak of a justice
a justice that will stop the curse of greed and violence and war;
Is not this what this war is all about?
Because only justice, Mr. Annan can stop a curse!

Corinne Kumar
March 8 and March 19, 2003

International Women Solidarity Iraq comprised of women from different countries journeyed to Iraq from March 3 12, 2003. The letter began on March 8 in Baghdad, continued on the return journey and the last paragraphs written the day Kofi Annan decided to pull the Weapons Inspectors out of Iraq legitimizing the US led war of agression on Iraq.

The International Women Solidarity Iraq consists of:

Samira Khoury, Palestine/Lebanon; Iqbal Doughan, Lebanon; Farida Akter, Bangladesh; Pregs Govender, South Africa; Martha Mundy, Britain; Nelia Sancho, Philippines; Lillimore Erikson, Sweden; Luisa Morgantini, Italy; Fatima Meer, South Africa; Vilma Espin, Cuba; Biljana Kasic, Croatia; Genevieve Vaughan, USA; Mahnaz Afkami, Iran/USA; Eunice Santana, Puerto Rico; Neelam Hussein, Pakistan; Wang Jiaxiang, China; Eileen Pittaway, Australia; Hafidha Chekir, Tunisia; Siripon Skrobanek, Thailand; Ruth Manorama, India; Marguerite Waller, USA; Angela Dolmetsch, Colombia; Madhu Bhushan, India; Mililani Trask, Hawaii, USA; Aruna Gnanadason, India/Switzerland; Vanessa Ludwig, South Africa; Ita Nadia, Indonesia; Rabia Abdelkrim, Algeria/Senegal; Piya Chatterjee, India/USA; Sura Ghassan, Iraq/Tunisia; Sylvia Marcos, Mexico; Moema Viezza, Brazil; Rosalie Bertell, Canada; Corinne Kumar, India/Tunisia.

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