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Truth about Iraqi ‘baby parades’

Anyone who knows anything about oppressive totalitarian regimes knows that nothing is as it seems and politically loaded public displays in such countries should be dismissed out of hand. This rule should have been applied to the images from Saddam ruled Iraq of convoys of taxis, with tiny coffins of dead infants strapped to their roofs slowly driving through the streets of Baghdad. The children were allegedly killed by United Nations sanctions.

The moving scenes, accompanied by crowds of women screaming anti-Western slogans, were often filmed by visiting television crews. The western media, so shrewd and cynical when it comes to reporting on Western politicians and so naive and gullible when manipulated by dictators’ propaganda, provided valuable ammunition to anti-sanctions activists such as George Galloway, who routinely blamed Western governments for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. And to the Guardian, who regularly reported on the beastly US and its minions as being responsible for the death of the (cynically paraded) babies and the on-screen grief of their mothers (mock grief of the members of the Iraqi Women’s Federation).

As expected, the reality behind the Ba’athist regime’s dystopian methods is slowly coming out. In the case of ‘baby parades’ Iraqi doctors in Baghdad tell Charlotte Edwardes, a Telegraph reporter that UN sanctions did not kill the hundreds of infants displayed over the years – it was neglect by the former regime.

According to the Telegraph, Iraqi doctors say they were told to collect dead babies who had died prematurely or from natural causes and to store them in cardboard boxes in refrigerated morgues for up to four weeks, until they had sufficient corpses for a parade.

Many of the children died, they say, as a result of the Iraqi government’s own neglect as it lavished funds on military programmes and Saddam’s palaces in the knowledge that it could blame sanctions for the lack of medicines and equipment in hospitals and clinics. Dr Hussein al-Douri, the deputy director of the Ibn al-Baladi hospital in Saddam City, a Shia district in eastern Baghdad explains:

We were not allowed to return the babies to their mothers for immediate burial, as is the Muslim tradition, but told they must be kept for what became known as ‘the taxi parade’. The mothers would be hysterical and sometimes threaten to kill us, but we knew that the real threat was from the government.

Asked what would have happened if he had disobeyed the orders, Dr al-Douri replied: They would have killed our families. This was an important event for the propaganda campaign. The government then ordered members of the Iraqi Women’s Federation, an organisation funded by the regime, to line the streets of Baghdad and wail and beat themselves in mock grief.

Dr Amer Abdul al-Jalil, the deputy resident at the hospital, said:

Sanctions did not kill these children – Saddam killed them. The internal sanctions by the Saddam regime were very effective. Those who died prematurely usually died because their mothers lived in impoverished areas neglected by the government. The mortality rate was higher in areas such as Saddam City because there was no sewerage system. Infectious diseases were rampant.

Over the past 10 years, the government in Iraq poured money into the military and the construction of palaces for Saddam to the detriment of the health sector. Those babies or small children who died because they could not access the right drugs, died because Saddam’s government failed to distribute the drugs. The poorer areas were most vulnerable.

We feel terrible that this happened, but we were living under a regime and we had to keep silent. What could we do?

What could they do? Not much, if they wanted to live and continue in their profession. But those who lapped up Saddam’s obvious propaganda for their own purposes should now recant their accusations as loudly as they heaped them.

Let’s hear it, the Galloways of this world!

9 comments to Truth about Iraqi ‘baby parades’

  • Surely you jest, sir…those pieces of sloppy merde will never admit they lied. They will huff and puff and sputter that they were told the truth so they told us the truth.

    … now recant their accusations…

    Not bloody likely!!

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Could somebody explain the British press’ penchant for the phrase “The Telegraph can reveal….” [replace Telegraph with the appropriate newspaper title]? Was The Telegraph keeping this a secret before?

    At least the paper isn’t referring to itself with third person plural constructions. 🙂

  • Who’d have thought it? The dead children were used for propaganda, and Saddam Hussein deliberately diverted money away from hospitals in order to turn the sanctions into a political tool.

    Whatever next?

  • G Cooper

    Notice the astounding silence on this story from the BBC et al?

    Where are the peace activists when you have a piece of information like this that you want to roll up into a ball and stuff right up their noses?

  • I remember reading about the faked parades several months ago on the web, but now I can’t remember where it was. Salam Pax’s weblog, maybe?

  • S. Weasel

    I never understood the sanctions-are-killing-babies argument in the first place. I mean, food and medicine weren’t sanctioned in any way and, as long as Saddam was still one of the richest rulers on earth, it was hard to make the case that someone else was ripping off the Iraqi people.

    Burt…jeez…keeping your country’s dead babies in the fridge so they’re handy for photo ops…that’s one for the Tinpot Dictator Hall of Fame, isn’t it?

  • Brian

    Our friends to the left have this covered: if the the doctors were lying before because they were afraid of what Saddam might do to them, then these same doctors are lying now because the Americans are just as villainous as Saddam was. Basically, any Iraqi who voices satisfaction or says we’re doing well is not a credible source, he’s just a suck up or a frightened victim of our reign of terror. So good news a priori can’t be believed. Meanwhile, any Iraqi who condemns us is a straight-shooter expressing “dissent”. And as we all know, ya can’t argue with dissent.

    I think they call this “critical thinking”.

    The lefties already used this stance to explain away the happy crowds who greeted us back in April (“they’re just used to cheering for the men with guns” I once overheard) and they’ll keep using it for a while yet I’m sure.

  • Neil Eden

    So… what part of this makes you feel better? The fact that the US intelligence community was too stupid to know that Saddam didn’t give a damn about the people of his own country and would use the US imposed sanctions as a free weapon given to him by the American tax-payer to crush opposition to his rule. Or that the US intelligence community knew that a political gangster like Saddam would of course take full advantage of sanctions (just as Castro has done for 40 years), but they just didn’t give a damn. They instead hoped that, with the US gov’s help, Saddam would starve enough of his people that they would have no choice but to rise up and overthrow him. Both bespeak a certain amount of evil and incompetence.

  • Kathy Wilson

    People go and do a bit of research on the affects of Uranium Depleted Weapons. Find the area between Iraq and Kuwait that is a UN no go zone because of the tons of UDW that where dropped in the first Gulf war. Then compare the in the area the amount of cancers in children before and after that war. Then just take a percentage of Gulf War Syndrome sufferers and then you’ll start to get it. People lets us not all be divided by who was right and wrong. We all want the same thing at the end of the day it’s just how we do it. No government should be left unquestioned. Please don’t right things off until you do some research.