Protesting ‘The Place of Children in the Space of Conflict’ conference

M. Philippe Douste-Blazy

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

March 1st, 2005

Sir:

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
Director
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
Occupied Palestinian Territory Birzeit University, Birzeit