Show Details for Monday August 2nd, 2010

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This week’s guests are Denis Halliday and Tim Shorrock

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Denis Halliday

Denis J. Halliday was the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq from September 1, 1997, until 1998.

A 34-year veteran[2] of the UN, Halliday resigned in 1998 over the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, characterizing them as “genocide“. He subsequently gave the following explanation of his decision to resign:

I often have to explain why I resigned from the United Nations after a 30 year career, why I took on the all powerful states of the UN Security Council; and why after five years I continue to serve the well being of the people of Iraq. In reality there was no choice, and there remains no choice. You all would have done the same had you been occupying my seat as head of the UN Humanitarian Program in Iraq.I was driven to resignation because I refused to continue to take Security Council orders, the same Security Council that had imposed and sustained genocidal sanctions on the innocent of Iraq. I did not want to be complicit. I wanted to be free to speak out publicly about this crime.

And above all, my innate sense of justice was and still is outraged by the violence that UN sanctions have brought upon, and continues to bring upon, the lives of children, families – the extended families, the loved ones of Iraq. There is no justification for killing the young people of Iraq, not the aged, not the sick, not the rich, not the poor.

Some will tell you that the leadership is punishing the Iraqi people. That is not my perception, or experience from living in Baghdad. And were that to be the case – how can that possibly justify further punishment, in fact collective punishment, by the United Nations? I don’t think so. And international law has no provision for the disproportionate and murderous consequences of the ongoing UN embargo – for well over 12 long years.[5]

In 2003 Denis Halliday was presented with the Gandhi International Peace Award in recognition of his work drawing attention to the plight of Iraqis. In 2007 he presented the same award to Media Lens whose co-founder David Edwards had interviewed[6] Halliday in May 2000 about his work in Iraq. In 2009 Denis Halliday agreed to become a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation, and he presented the annual peace award to the Children’s Legal Centre.

On October 25, 2007, Halliday, Harold Pinter and John Pilger had a letter printed in the Daily Telegraph in which they condemned the “celebration of [former British Prime Minister] David Lloyd George’s legacy” (following the unveiling of a statue in Westminster in his honour) as “disgraceful”, likening his policies of aerial bombardment of Middle Eastern countries to the present day war in Iraq.[7]

Since leaving the UN, Denis Halliday has been involved with a number of peace initiatives such as Perdana, founded by the Malaysian ex-President Mahathir Mohammed.

Denis was on-board the Ireland-flagged humanitarian ship the MV Rachel Corrie, en route to Gaza.

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Tim Shorrock

Tim Shorrock is an investigative journalist and labor activist. He is the author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence, published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster. Over the past 35 years, his work has appeared in many publications in the United States and abroad, including Salon, the Journal of Commerce, Mother Jones, The Nation, Harper’s, Inter Press Service, The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus, Asia Times, Sisa Journal (Korea) and Hankyoreh 21 (Korea). He also appears frequently on the radio as a commentator on US-Korean relations and US intelligence and foreign policy, and has been interviewed on South Korea’s MBC, Pacifica’s Democracy Now, NPR’s Fresh Air and Air America.

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