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DATE= JANUARY 11, 1999 TYPE= EDITORIAL NUMBER= 0-08138 TITLE= EDITORIAL: REPRESSION IN SOUTHERN IRAQ CONTENT= THIS IS THE FIRST OF TWO EDITORIALS BEING RELEASED FOR BROADCAST JANUARY 11, 1999. ANNCR: THE VOICE OF AMERICA PRESENTS DIFFERING POINTS OF VIEW ON A WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES. NEXT, AN EDITORIAL EXPRESSING THE POLICIES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. VOICE: THE KILLING CONTINUES IN IRAQ. THE VICTIMS OF SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REPRESSION INCLUDE ETHNIC KURDS IN THE NORTH AND SHI'A MUSLIMS IN THE SOUTH. TENSIONS IN THE SOUTH ROSE AFTER THE ASSASSINATIONS OF TWO SENIOR SHI'A CLERICS LAST SUMMER. THE REPRESSION REPORTEDLY REACHED A PEAK IN NOVEMBER, WITH HUNDREDS KILLED IN ACTIONS DIRECTED PERSONALLY BY QUSAY HUSSEIN, ONE OF SADDAM'S SONS. SINCE THEN, THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF MASS ARRESTS THROUGHOUT SOUTHERN IRAQ AND IN THE SHI'A SUBURBS OF BAGHDAD. AND HUNDREDS OF SUMMARY EXECUTIONS HAVE BEEN REPORTED IN THE CITIES OF BASRA AND AMARA AND AT RADWANIYAN PRISON. SHI'A MUSLIMS HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO DISCRIMINATION FOR DECADES -- AND TO BRUTAL REPRESSION SINCE 1991. RECENTLY, IT WAS REPORTED THAT SEVEN MORE VILLAGES AT THE EDGES OF THE SOUTHERN MARSHLANDS WERE DESTROYED OR TURNED INTO MILITARY OUTPOSTS. THE IRRIGATION SYSTEM WAS CUT OFF AND VITAL TAMARISK TREES WERE CUT DOWN OR BURNED. MORE THAN TWO-THOUSAND CIVILIANS UNABLE TO FLEE WERE REPORTEDLY TAKEN HOSTAGE BY IRAQI FORCES. THESE WERE OLD PEOPLE, THE INFIRM, WOMEN AND CHILDREN. BECAUSE OF SADDAM'S REPRESSIVE CAMPAIGNS, THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER ALLIED FORCES ESTABLISHED "NO-FLY" ZONES IN BOTH NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN IRAQ. THE ZONES WERE IMPOSED TO REDUCE THE THREAT OF AIR ATTACKS BY IRAQI FORCES. IN THE 1980S, THE SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN AIR ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS, KILLING THOUSANDS IN A MATTER OF HOURS. SEVERAL TIMES OVER THE YEARS, IRAQI FORCES HAVE CHALLENGED THE NO-FLY ZONES. THE MOST RECENT CHALLENGES CAME LAST WEEK. AS IN PREVIOUS CASES, U.S. FORCES RESPONDED QUICKLY. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT SADDAM WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO DISRUPT THE NO-FLY ZONES. BUT ONLY A CHANGE IN BAGHDAD CAN BRING AN END TO THE SUFFERING OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE. AS PRESIDENT CLINTON SAID, THE U.S. WILL CONTINUE TO WORK FOR "A GOVERNMENT IN IRAQ THAT REPRESENTS AND RESPECTS ITS PEOPLE -- NOT REPRESSES THEM. AND ONE COMMITTED TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH ITS NEIGHBORS." ANNCR: THAT WAS AN EDITORIAL EXPRESSING THE POLICIES OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. IF YOU HAVE A COMMENT, PLEASE WRITE TO EDITORIALS, V-O-A, WASHINGTON, D-C, 20547, U-S-A. YOU MAY ALSO COMMENT AT WWW-DOT-VOA-DOT-GOV-SLASH-EDITORIALS, OR FAX US AT (202) 619-1043. 08-Jan-99 2:02 PM EST (1902 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .