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Statement on Iraq by the Anglican

18 September 2002

We, together with our sister churches in the Middle East, US and around the world, share profound concern and alarm at the escalating threat of military action against Iraq. We fear the devastating impact that resumed bombing and hostilities will have on the people of Iraq and the stability of the Middle East region. The civilian population has already suffered years of poverty, insecurity, and human rights abuses. Any attack on Iraq will be an attack on a deeply harmed, powerless and vulnerable people. We support the World Council of Churches and Middle Eastern and US Churches in their calls to oppose military strikes against Iraq.

We call on the New Zealand government to continue to oppose and denounce any unilateral military action against Iraq. We ask the New Zealand government to support the UN as moderator in the crisis and to work with the international community to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis and end debilitating sanctions. We also call on the New Zealand Government to stand by its commitment that no New Zealand Defence Force personnel are involved in any phase of military action against Iraq.

12 years of international sanctions and intermittent bombing by US and British forces have achieved none of their political objectives. The policy has only served to destroy Iraq's economy and infrastructure and create a grave humanitarian crisis. There have been more than 1 million Iraqi deaths due to inadequate food, sanitation and medical care including over 400,000 children under 5. The ruling elite of Iraq has not been harmed. It is the people on the ground that suffer. The violence of economic sanctions must end.

President Bush's proposed military action will cause further deaths and suffering amongst Iraqi civilians and has no justification or constructive goals.

- The Bush administration has not been able to provide any evidence of international acts of terrorism coming out of Baghdad or assistance being given to terrorist networks.

- The Bush administration has not been able to substantiate claims that Iraq has nuclear capability or weapons of mass destruction. We await the independent report of the UN Weapons Inspectors.

- An attack on Iraq will only serve US domestic political interests. Saddam Hussein must be criticised for the repression of his own people, but support of a US enforced regime change, replacing a hostile regime with one more palatable to Washington sets a dangerous precedent.

- There is no support for an attack on Iraq within the Middle East. US led military strikes on Iraq will place an already volatile region into further chaos and bloodshed.

- US aggression toward Iraq is part of its 'war on terror'. This is a flawed campaign as historical and current international events show military responses to terrorism have usually failed. Bombing Iraq will kill and uproot yet more people and families, fuelling further anger and resentment toward the US and the West.

We must listen to voices in the region, and support sustained political and diplomatic engagement with the ruling elite of Iraq and re-empowerment of the Iraqi people so they can determine their own futures.

Only peaceful intervention can break the cycle of violence.

John Paterson, Presiding Bishop, The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Aso Samoa Saleupolu, President, Methodist Church of New Zealand; Rob Yule, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand; Garth McKenzie, Chief Secretary, The Salvation Army.

Stop killing the people of Iraq     'War on terrorism' index


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