Paying the Price (Short Version) (Activist Version)
Killing the Children of Iraq
John Pilger exposes the devastating effect that UN sanctions have had on the children of Iraq.
In a hard-hitting special report, award-winning journalist and filmmaker John Pilger investigates the effects of sanctions on the people of Iraq and finds that ten years of extraordinary isolation, imposed by the UN and enforced by the US and Britain, have killed more people than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
Directed by Alan Lowery
Produced by Carlton International
Produced, written and presented by John Pilger
The UN Security Council imposed the sanctions and demanded the destruction of Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons under the supervision of a UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). Iraq is permitted to sell a limited amount of oil in exchange for some food and medicine.
Pilger takes the former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Denis Halliday, back to the crippled country for the first time since he resigned in protest over the sanctions back in September 1998. Together, they reveal an extraordinary portrait of life in a country with a decaying infrastructure and a population that Pilger says is being held hostage to the compliance of Saddam Hussein.
Pilger has brought back disturbing evidence that the "holds" on humanitarian supplies have paralyzed the country and devastated millions of people, many dying from curable diseases because life saving drugs are only available intermittently. He also finds that the breakdown of the clean water system and health facilities are having a tragic effect on young children, contributing to an alarming rise in their mortality rate.
Pilger also exposes the suffering caused to the civilian population by the illegal bombing campaign being conducted by US and Britain in the "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq.
SHORT VERSION: In order to make a shorter version for meetings and classrooms, some of the history has been omitted from this version, and in particular the history of Western complicity with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2002
Copyright Date: 2000
"A profoundly unsettling programme."
The Financial Times
"John Pilger goes some way towards showing just how rotten modern foreign policy is, with a typically shocking and thorough investigation."
The (London) Independent
"Pilger paints a gut-churning picture of a society 'condemned to a slow death', with 4,000 children dying each month, malnutrition commonplace, medicine hard to obtain, depleted uranium shells from the Gulf War still not cleaned up, and British and American air strikes continuing."
The (London) Sunday Times
"This timely and powerful documentary reveals the hidden side of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the UN and the horrifying and irreversible effect on the Iraqi people, especially children, over the last ten years."
Abbas Mehdi, Professor of Organization and Sociology, St. Cloud State University
"Pilger's passion is what gives his journalism its power. His argument itself is simple, convincing and highly emotive. The United Nations Security Council led by Britain and the United States is guilty of genocide against the Iraqi people. Sanctions for Pilger are simply a means of waging war without adhering to the UN Convention on Human Rights or the Geneva Convention...The stated aim of the sanctions is to eliminate Saddam's capacity for constructing weapons of mass destruction. For this reason, the export of vaccines has been blocked. And morphine. And soap. A whole nation is suffering collateral damage and many of the children who are suffering the most were not even born when Saddam invaded Kuwait."
"Pilger paints a gut-churning picture of a society "condemned to a slow death". The (London) Sunday Times
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"A powerful and disturbing film...Appropriate for university level sociology, political science, history and women's studies courses - or any course where the instructor wishes to discuss the topics of American Imperialism, genocide, human rights, or the middle east."
Mike Sosteric, Editor, Electronic Journal of Sociology
"A powerful and moving film...Vividly conveys the suffering of the Iraqi people, the disintegration of their society, and the need for the outside world to do something about it...It is suitable for high school, undergraduate or graduate students. Those studying Middle Eastern Affairs or History, American Foreign Policy, or the Gulf War will find it the most useful. Highly recommended."
Thomas Beck, MC Journal
"Paying the Price is essential viewing if one of your course objectives is to increase your students' awareness of global issues, of fundamental human rights violations, or of the power of nations to legitimate the oppression and killing of innocent people in another."
Teaching Sociology (Magazine)