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Speech to anti-war march, London, October 1st, 2002

by John Pilger

I was just asked by somebody from the BBC didn't I think the people of this country were suffering from compassion fatigue, and I said "this is your answer, 350 - 400,00 people suffering from compassion fatigue, like hell".

It's a great privilege to be here. I think that today may well be the beginning of true democracy in the new century. You know, democracy is not a game played in an institution that rubber stamps the government. Democracy is not one obsessed man using the power of Kings to attack another country in our name. Democracy is not siding with Ariel Sharon, a war criminal, in order to crush the Palestinians. Democracy is this great event today representing the majority of the people of Great Britain.

Now I've been to Iraq, and I've been recently to Palestine, and I've seen the suffering in those countries - the children dying in cancer wards in Southern Iraq, dying because their country is denied the equipment to fight their cancer and to clean up battlefields contaminated by depleted uranium, a weapon of mass destruction used by the United States and Britain 12 years ago.

Let me quote two American scholars, John and Carl Muller, who have examined objectively all the statistics of suffering in Iraq since the embargo was imposed 12 years ago. They conclude, and I quote, "economic sanctions have probably already taken the lives of more people in Iraq than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction in history".

That research appeared not in a campaign pamphlet but in the American establishment journal Foreign Affairs. It's a truth that many of my fellow journalists and broadcasters ignore or whisper because they know what it means. It means that a great crime against Iraq has already been committed in our name. And if they are honest with themselves they will know that the flattery of these imperial politicians has to stop and the truth has to be told.

Half the population of Iraq are children. Consider what will happen to them when the cluster bombs fall and the depleted uranium is used, as it will be. You know, we speak only of murder when some tragic and hideous event happens in familiar circumstances, but there is no difference, let me assure you, between murder committed here and murder committed by our government and its allies in Iraq and in Palestine.

This is not rhetoric, and it's time our public language was freed of its double standards. If they attack Iraq, Bush and Blair will be international criminals. They must be stopped because other countries will be next - Iran, North Korea, perhaps even eventually China.

What's so exciting about today and all the other demonstrations and meetings that are happening all over Britain is that they represent the true moral mainstream of political life in this country. Today a taboo has been broken. We are the moderates, Bush and Blair are the extremists.

The danger for all of us lies not in Baghdad but in Washington. Only one country has used a weapon, a nuclear weapon, of mass destruction against civilians. Only one country has threatened to use nuclear weapons in South East Asia and the Middle East. Only one country has torn up all the Treaties that were forged over years to prevent this happening. Only one country is developing nuclear weapons for what they call "pre-emptive" use, and that is the United States.

Tony Blair belongs to George W. Bush, not to us. If he joins the attack on Iraq he will kill untold numbers of innocent people and he will promote the kind of terrorism that endangers the lives of all of us. Is that what they call patriotism? Blair and Bush are the true enemy within. I believe we have no choice now. Our resistance to their murderous plans must be unrelenting.

John Pilger (01.10.2002) -

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revised 18 November 2005