What Will Happen to the Returned Haitian Refugees?
I was disappointed to read the position taken in the editorial "Helping the Haitians," Feb. 7. The author's argument seems to be that if we don't send the Haitians back even more might exit their country.
The right question isn't how many are fleeing, but rather: Is it reasonable to return them to the conditions from which they are fleeing?
The author's answer to this is "yes." But based on what? There is an illegitimate government in power that overthrew a democratically elected government by force. The people being returned, in the main, voted for Aristide. Upon return these people are questioned and finger printed. A dossier is opened on them which the government has access to. How safe are these people?
There is no systematic human-rights monitoring of what happens to these people once they are back in Haiti. We cannot know whether they are in fact harmed or not. We do know, however, that there are continuing reports of serious human rights abuses and violence by security forces. What if 1 in 10 or or 1 in 20 people are killed or brutalized after they return? Is that an acceptable risk?The author picked the wrong time and the wrong exodus of people to get tough about. Dennis Gallagher, Washington Executive Director, Refugee Policy Group Armaments in Iran
The sources relied on in the Opinion page article "Arms Buildup in Iran Belies the Image of a 'Moderate' Regime," Feb. 6, are unreliable.
Depending on an Iranian opposition group which, in the author's parlance, operates "from bases in Iraq," leads to such erroneous assertions as: "The Iranian regime has authorized expenditure of $14.5 billion on weapon purchases and other military expenses this year."
Even a glance at the Iranian budget figures would readily illustrate the absurdity of fabrications produced by a so-called opposition group with a long history of terrorist and mercenary activities - including complicity in the suppression of Iraqi people last April.
In the real world, Iran has a modest defense budget - 1.3 percent of its GDP. Comparatively speaking, it is less than all of her neighbors. The total yearly revenue of Iran, in foreign exchange rates, is almost $19 billion. Taking into account that Iran has to feed its 58 million people and rebuild an economy devastated by an imposed war by Iraq, it is absolutely illogical to even guess that the alleged numbers in the column are true. Ramin Rafirasme, New York Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Bringing stability to Russia
Regarding the Opinion page article "Russia's Turning Point," Jan. 28: With respect to Western policy, it should be clear that there is interdependence between economic, political, and military factors. "Political forms" cannot alone produce internal stability, and, moreover, they cannot be separated from other considerations.
That is, holding back economic aid to these newly independent states will not produce stability, internal or external, and it will thus not allow for viable "political forms," no matter how much choice is involved.
Independent states, nationally self-determined governments, economic and political reform - these become mere words if we do not understand and respect the existing realities of interdependence between these states. It is not the other way around or a matter of separating one factor from another. Craig A. Ilgenfritz, Wilmington, Ohio
Asst. Prof. of Political Science, Wilmington College