15 April 2004

Methodist Church expresses concern over escalating violence in Iraq

Anthea Cox, Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice:

"The escalating violence in Iraq is giving many Methodists cause for concern.  For those who campaigned against military action the current situation confirms their worst fears. 

Recent statements from the President of the United States continue to link the violence of a minority in Iraq with global terrorist threats.  Many people remain to be convinced by this argument.  Meanwhile there are real fears that recent offensive operations carried out by US forces are bolstering support for militant groups. 

The Methodist Church reiterates the importance of the crucial role of the United Nations in the handover of authority to Iraqi administration at the end of June."

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs, further commented:

"There are alarming reports concerning civilian casualties as a result of offensive military operations in Fallujah.  According to some sources, half of the 600 people killed in Fallujah in the past two weeks were women and children. 

The coalition forces have stated that they will consider an assault on Najaf to capture Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.  While recognising the extremely difficult task of facing the coalition forces in a hostile environment, we nevertheless call on the military only to undertake operations when it is feasible to discriminate between armed militias and civilian by-standers." 

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