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The Mass Media

Human Rights and Wrongs – 2/20/03

“War is not healthy for children and other living things,” says the famous Another Mother for Peace poster.

In war people who are not party to a conflict are maimed, killed, enslaved, tortured. Bombs don’t discriminate between the guilty and the innocent.

But there are just wars and unjust wars some argue. If armed conflict was the only way to prevent a crazed dictator from slaughtering his own people and amassing weapons of mass destruction with which to threaten the world, then war would be justified.

The Bush administration claims that is the situation Saddam Hussein presents us with today. But in massive demonstrations in New York, London, Rome and many other cities around the globe last Saturday, millions of people demonstrated their disagreement.

These were not demonstrations in support of a vile dictator. Rather they were demonstrations against the Bush administration’s determination to press ahead with a war which would claim thousands of innocent lives. You can’t save a people by destroying them, the demonstrators maintained.

Furthermore, since the war against Iraq does not have the support of the United Nations it would not make the world a safer place to live. Rather, it would lead to increasing unrest in the Middle East where it would be viewed as an attempt by the United States to seize the oil and other resources of the region. And, many maintained, since a war against Iraq is not supported by the United Nations it would set a dangerous precedent which rogue nuclear powers might point to if they too determined it was in their interest to go to war regardless of world opinion.

It was with these thoughts in mind that Diana Bell, a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the chairperson of the University of Massachusetts Boston Human Rights Working Group (UMBHRWG) drafted a resolution against a war with Iraq. The resolution, which appears below, was unanimously approved by the UMBHRWG.


Bearing in Mind that 9 million people die across the world each year of entirely preventable illnesses, 40 million people in Africa live in hunger and malnutrition, (according to the World Health Organization) and that 1.2 billion people live on less than 1 dollar a day (UN development Program),

Deeply convinced of the sacred right of peoples to peace and the inseparable tie between disarmament and development (as stated in theUN Commision on Human Rights Resolution 2001/69)

Taking into account the human rights violations that have been committedon all sectors of the Iraqi people (Amnesty International)

Profoundly concerned with the estimate that in the aftermath of a war in Iraq health supplies would be needed for 100,000 Iraqis suffering injuries, 1.23million people deemed highly vulnerable to disease, and 5.4 mill with ongoing needs (UN briefing paper) and furthermore the real possibility of a humanitarian crisis emerging with large flows of refugees and the internal displacement of thousands of people,

Reaffirming the need to improve the human rights situation in Iraq, not further loss of life, increased suffering or deteriorations of basic human rights,

The UMB Human Rights Working Group:

1. Strongly condemns the use of military force against the Iraqi people and promotes the strengthening of international peace and security for all peoples and,

2. Appeals to UMASS Boston community to extend support for a peaceful means of resolution to the current conflict/crisis.

Note: The next meeting of the UMBHRWG is on Friday, February 28th in W4-141 (room 141 on the fourth floor of Wheatley) from 12:30 to 2:30. All are welcome. To learn more about us go to www.umb.edu, scroll down to the shortcuts, and click on human rights.