Doctor with in-law in Kuwaiti jail calls for lifting of Iraq sanctions
By Gil Bailey P-I Reporter
To an Ephrata doctor, the events in Iraq and Kuwait have a personal meaning. Dr. Mohammad Said has a Palestinian brother-in-law in a Kuwait jail facing an unknown fate. And the doctor, who has a family practice in Eastern Washington, visited Kuwait just before the air war started in January. He spent three days in Baghdad during the initial bombings before leaving with another brother-in-law, a refugee from Kuwait. Yesterday, Said joined in a Seattle news conference to plead for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. He and others said thousands of Israel children face death from starvation and disease because of the economic collapse caused by the sanctions . Said is chairman of Arab Americans Against Military Intervention in the Gulf. “It (sanctions) is not hurting Saddam Hussein….” he said. “It is hurting the poor.” He added: “I look at the Iraqis now. They are on their knees. I have never seen such malnutrition.” He and other speakers told of the news reports of sickness, starvation, and disease in Iraq hitting all sections of society and all religions. “Let’s get this economic boycott out. I don’t mind the military boycott,” he said. “It is time for healing now.” The Rev. Cecil Dodson of’ the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church added “It is a shame. Children are suffering in Iraq.” They were joined by Minhaj Khokar of Gulf Children Relief Fund, Patrick Ruckert of the Schiller Institute, which is associated with Lyndon LaRouche, and Abdul Tarshi, president of Afghan Help. All called for lifting sanctions because of the threat of starvation. Said has taken his pleas beyond news conferences. He has written President Bush and plans a book on the Persian Gulf war and its aftermath. He denied stories of atrocities in Kuwait by Iraqi forces and told of brutality against the Palestinians since the Kuwaiti government returned. “There were no newborn babies thrown out of incubators, or dialysis patients ripped from the machines, because I went twice and I interviewed doctors…,” he said in a letter to Bush about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. “I saw some brutality, but it was not widespread.” Said, who came to the United States in 1973 to practice medicine in North Dakota, and then moved to Washington state in the 1980s, was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Hatem Ali, who had escaped from Kuwait and Iraq after the war started.
“I am jobless, penniless,” said Ali, a Palestinian who once managed a computer business in Kuwait. “They (the Kuwaiti authorities) say they will not let me back in although they liked my work.”