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Critical Scholarship and Academic "Debate" on Terrorism 

Letter to Mr. Páll Skúlason, Rector of the University of Iceland

by  Elias Davidsson, Director of PRICE 


Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  25 November 2001

Reykjavik, Iceland, 25 Nov. 2001


Dear Mr. Skúlason,

I learned today that the University of Iceland is preparing to host next Tuesday, 27 November, a meeting-debate entitled The Struggle Against Terrorists and the War in Afghanistan. The main speaker is to be Ms. Barbara J. Griffiths, the U.S. Ambassador in Iceland. The discussion panel is reserved for the Ambassadors of the U.K., France, Germany and the Ambassador of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Community. The debate is to be conducted without the benefit of independent, critical, scholarship and without representatives of those who are at the receiving end of terrorist practices by the above States.

As the director of PRICE (http://www.juscogens.org/price.html), an international endeavour to promote the rights of victims of measures akin to terrorism, I am dealing daily with the adverse consequences of policies led by the States whose representatives are invited to the forthcoming meeting. These policies include acts of terrorism, as such conduct is defined in U.S. legal code (Title 18 § 2331), war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States, for its part, has for decades, engaged in terrorist acts against civilians in other jurisdictions and in attempts to assassinate foreign political leaders, as well as in war crimes and in crimes against humanity. The United States continue to condone and abet criminal acts by client governments.

I think you might be interested to know that the Governments of three of the invited Ambassadors, those of the United States, the U.K. and France, have for almost ten years pursued a war against the education of the Iraqi people. They did so by preventing Iraq from importing items such as writing paper, pencils, printing presses, journals, books, audio-visual equipment, computers and items for educational labs. The ban covered even medical journals. In order to isolate the Iraqi people, regular air travel between Iraq and the outside world, has been banned since August 1990. If the goal of these measures was to impair the human potential of the Iraqi nation, it was successfully achieved: Literacy rates have significantly declined in Iraq since the imposition of these policies; massive school dropouts have been reported by U.N. missions; hundreds of thousands of educated Iraqis have fled or emigrated, leaving behind impoverished people subjected to internal repression and external deprivation. Young people in Iraq grow without the hope of a better future. The long-term effects of such policies are frightening and may overshadow, according to former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck (who resigned in protest), the death of over half a million children since the imposition of sanctions. There exists no precedent in modern history of deliberate policies aiming at de-educating a nation.

It is a cause of profound consternation to me to learn that the highest institution of learning in Iceland is going to provide its most prestigious hall as a tribune to representatives of Governments who have engaged in de-educating a nation and continue, to this day, to terrorize civilian populations by various military and economic means. Academia has little to learn from representatives of such States with regard to a strategy to eradicate the scourge of terrorism.

I permit myself to express the hope that the University of Iceland will, under your guidance, find ways and means to use its human and material resources in support of the quest for global justice, such as by assisting and amplifying the voices of those who seek truth but do not possess the financial and political clout to express their views in academic settings. I am referring particularly to victims of policies pursued by powerful States.

If I can be of any assistance, please free to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Elias Davidsson,

Director, PRICE


Copyright,  Elias Davidsson 2001. For fair use only

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