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    Iraq Appeals for International Support to Build Democracy

    Lisa Schlein

    A senior Iraqi official has appealed for international support for his country's efforts to build a strong, democratic society. In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the foreign ministry official, Omer Berzinji,  told delegates from other countries that their security is closely linked with the security of Iraq.

    Mr. Berzinji heads the ministry's human-rights department. He told the commission that his country is just emerging from a 30 year nightmare. He says it is not easy to get over all the grief and pain or to forget the mass killings and tortures that took place under Saddam Hussein, but he says the new Iraqi government is trying its best.

    Mr. Berzinji says the international community has a big stake in helping Iraq succeed. He says Iraq and the whole world are victims of terrorism. Consequently, they must work together to combat it.

    "The security situation is a big stumbling block," added Mr. Berzinji. "It is not only Iraqis who are responsible for security. It is the international community that should be concerned, in particular, neighboring countries. Iraq is still being subjected to attacks that clearly hinder its reconstruction. That is why neighboring countries are being called upon to have a pioneer role in stopping infiltration of terrorists into Iraq."

    The human-rights official says Iraq is adopting new policies to integrate all individuals, of whatever origin, into public life. He says Iraqi people understand all too well the horrors of living in a society where human rights are systematically violated.

    Though he says the current government is in the process of protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental liberties for all Iraqis, he acknowledges that every now and then abuses are committed, despite sincere efforts to end human-rights violations.

    "When they are identified, they are treated with full transparency and the necessary measures will be taken to deter such perpetrators," he said. "We will not go back to the methods used by the criminal Saddam regime and we will no longer violate the human rights of the Iraqi people and hide such violations."

    Minister Berzinji says his country is in need of the skills specialized U.N. agencies can provide. He calls upon them to come back quickly to help the Iraqi people live in security and peace within a society that respects human rights.

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