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“The place of children in the space of conflict”-An open letter (with French translation)

Written by admin  •  Saturday, 05.03.2005, 13:18

M. Philippe Douste-Blazy
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health and Social Protection
Paris, France


We have just come to know that the French Ministry of Health, the French State Secretariat for Victims and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs are co-sponsoring an international congress entitled  ‘The Place of Children in the Space of Conflict’, to be held in Toulouse, France on the 21-23 of March 2005.

We were shocked and greatly concerned that the French Government would actively support and engage in holding such a conference in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time when the Israeli Government is being accused of major human rights violations against Palestinians, young and old, including fundamental violations of the Geneva Conventions.

As the Congress agenda demonstrates, it seems that the primary purpose of the conference is to draw attention to the suffering of Israeli children, to the exclusion of serious and needed attention to other children living in war and conflict, the context within which these children suffer, and the reason for their suffering. Under the guise of science, this Congress in fact constitutes nothing more than propaganda on behalf of the very perpetrators of violence against children, their families and communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The French Government is thus hosting a Congress characterized by an unjust and biased agenda that fails to recognize who is the occupier and who is the occupied, and may well give the impression that it is the Palestinians who are the occupiers of Israeli land and thus the main cause of violence in the area! It omits taking into account the root cause of death, injury, disability and the misery of life of children on both sides of the conflict, although not equally: Israeli military rule of Palestinian land.

Accordingly, we would like to register our strong protest and call on you to immediately cancel this Congress in the name of justice, reason as well as scientific ethical considerations.

Dr. Iyad Sarraj
Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Gaza City
Occupied Palestinian Territory

Dr. Rita Giacaman
Associate Professor and
Research and Program Coordinator
Institute of Community and Public Health
Birzeit University
Occupied Palestinian Territory


Ministre de la sante
8, Avenue de Segur
75007 PARIS

Monsieur Le Ministre,

Nous venons d’apprendre que le Ministere de la Sante francaise, le Secretariat d’Etat aux Victimes et le Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres d’Israel organisent a Toulouse du 21 au 23 mars un congres international au sujet de “La place de l’enfant dans l’espace du conflit”.

Nous sommes aussi bien choques qu’inquiets que le gouvernement francais soutiendrait un tel congres avec le Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres d’Israel lorsque ce meme gouvernement est accuse de graves atteintes aux droits de l’homme des palestiniens, jeunes et adultes, ainsi que de multiples violations des articles des Conventions de Geneve.

Le programme du congres revele que le but du congres est de mettre en relief la souffrance des enfants israeliens, en passant sous silence  tous les enfants souffrants des effets de la guerre et de conflit, ainsi que le contexte et les raisons de leur souffrance. Au nom de la science et la medecine, le congres ne represente qu’une exercise de propagande en soutien de ceux qui infligent une violence quotidienne aux enfants, leurs familles, et leurs communautes dans les territoires occupees palestiniennes.  Ainsi le gouvernement français et la mairie de Toulouse apportent une caution a un congres dit medico-scientifique qui est en effet structure de façon injuste et biase sans mention de qui est l’occupant et l’occupe.  Ceci est vrai a un tel point que ce congres pourrait laisser comprendre que les palestiniens occupent la terre d’Israel et forment ainsi la cause majeure de la violence dans la region.  Ce congres exclut de toute mention la source fondementale de la mort, des blessures, et de la souffrance des enfants des deux bords du conflit, neanmoins une souffrance inegale, c’est-a-dire, l’occupation militaire israelienne des terres palestiniennes.

Ceci etant, nous vous communiquons notre refus d’une telle manipulation de la souffrance des victimes.  Au nom de la justice, de la raison et de l’ethique de la science, nous vous prions d’annuler ce congres.

Dr. Iyad Sarraj,
Programme de sante mentale de la communaute de Gaza
Territoires occupees palestiniennes

Dr. Rita Giacaman
Professeur et Coodinateur du Programme de Recherche
Institut de Sante publique et sociale
Universite de Birzeit
Territoires occupees palestiniennes

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