Iraq

Iraq: Amnesty International Secretary General questions Powell

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How does the threat which Iraq poses today weigh against the threat that American military action poses for human rights and innocent lives in the Middle East?, Amnesty International's Secretary General asked Colin Powell today.
Listening to the US Secretary of State address the World Economic Forum, Irene Khan voiced the concern of many civil society groups, that the humanitarian situation in Iraq is extremely fragile after a decade of sanctions and serious human rights violations by the Iraqi regime.

"Military action could easily precipitate a huge disaster. As in 1991, there might be a million refugees again and a humanitarian nightmare if Iran and Turkey keep their borders closed, as they have vowed they will," Ms Khan added.

In addition, Ms Khan cautioned about the risk of reprisals within Iraq.

"Knowing the way Saddam treats his people when he is cornered, it's very possible there could be an internal bloodbath," Ms Khan said.

"This is not just conjecture -- it has happened before and it could happen again."

The effect of military action in Iraq would not be limited to that country. Ms Khan warned of a "ripple effect elsewhere -- an escalation of the Middle East conflict and protest and violence in other Muslim countries, threatening many lives."

Amnesty International believes that sacrificing the human rights of people for the sake of geopolitics is unacceptable.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Irene Khan, please contact Judit Arenas on + 44 7778 472 188.