Support for victims in Iraq [Archives:2004/742/Local News]

May 31 2004

By Peter Willems
Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Yemen Times Staff

Hundreds of Yemeni women held a demonstration at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) headquarters last Thursday to protest against the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers and the suffering of women during US attacks in different Iraqi cities.
“We are here to show anger and disapproval of what is happening in Iraq,” said one of the spokeswomen for the demonstrators, Dr. Azzah Ghanem. “President Bush promised liberty, freedom and democracy, but what the Iraqis received was torture and abuse. The United States must leave as soon as possible,” she added.
A dozen women who participated in the protest delivered in person a letter to James Rawley, Resident Representative of UNDP stationed in Sana'a. The letter said to the United Nations that it is “being silent despite atrocities of the United States against humanity and human rights.” It demanded that perpetrators of the abuse must be held accountable. “We urge the US to respond swiftly to the international demands concerning the setting up of an international investigation committee under the supervision of the UN and International Red Crescent to carry out an independent investigation into the abuse, studying the legal situation of the detainees and making the occupying forces obliged to compensate and publicly apologize to the abused prisoners,” the letter said. It also demanded the immediate withdrawal of the occupying forces.
Also delivered were an estimated 15,000 signatures from Yemenis in Sana'a that supported the letter.
During his meeting with protestors, Rawley said that the United Nations is concerned about the situation in Iraq and is searching for a solution.
“The United Nations is very concerned and is looking into what can be done for what is happening in Iraq,” said Rawley. “We are doing everything we possibly can, led by Brahimi, to improve the situation in Iraq.”
UN envoy Lakdhar Brahimi is in Iraq helping to organize the transfer of power from the US led coalition to an Iraqi interim government on June 30.
Rawley added that he would send the letter he received from the demonstrators to the UN headquarters in New York.
The abuses committed by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison, located just outside of Baghdad, was revealed a month ago. The Yemeni government immediately condemned the abuse that was inflicted on Iraqi prisoners.
The demonstration was also aimed at the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues.
“I want justice to be served and aggression of both Bush and Sharon to be stopped,” said one protestor, Khadijah Zabarah. “They fight terrorists with worse terrorism. Unfortunately, nobody can stop them or say anything.”
After the meeting with Rawley, the demonstrators went to the US Embassy, but the Embassy was closed, so the demonstrators were unable to deliver a letter to a US official.