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Viewpoints 'An exercise in ignorance'.

Michael O'Neill's letter on Ann Clwyd MP, her support for the Kurdish people and her recent election as chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party was an exercise in ignorance.

Ms Clwyd has been campaigning for the indictment of Saddam Hussein and for wider recognition of the barbarity suffered by the Kurds for a quarter of a century.

She has chaired the organisation Indict, which collected testimony from Iraqi victims of all ethnicities for years.

She stood in northern Iraq and watched as Saddam Hussein's fascist regime bombed Kurd villages and was sacked from Labour's Shadow Cabinet when she spoke out.

I listened to Ms Clwyd weep as she described holding the body of a baby lifted from a mass grave in Iraq. To call all of this 'jumping up and down a great deal' about the Kurds and to compare her to the convicted perjurer Jeffrey Archer is nothing short of outrageous.

Mr O'Neill also needs to get his facts straight about the situation in Iraq (other than the repetition of the wildly inaccurate figure from The Lancet of 100,000 casualties). Turkey did not take part at all in the 2003 invasion.

As a direct result of the fact that it wants to join the EU, Turkey is being forced to take action on better treatment of its Kurdish minority.

Recognition of the Kurdish language has occurred, the death penalty has gone and laws on education and broadcasting have been relaxed. More needs to be done, but there is progress.

Mr O'Neill should not attack those who have campaigned for freedom and democracy for people of all ethnicities for a large portion of their lives simply because they took a different view from him on Iraq. To do so is short-sighted and, indeed, utterly shameful.

Rob Newman

Newfoundland Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 6, 2005
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