WASHINGTON (Aug. 25)
Secretary of State William P. Rogers called today for an end to the mass executions of Iraqi citizens for allegedly spying for the United States and Israel. Mr. Rogers deplored the executions at dawn today of 15 Iraqis, including two Christians and two Jews in Baghdad. According to the Iraqi radio, six of the condemned were military men and were shot by a firing squad. The nine others were hanged in the central prison. All had been accused as espionage agents for Israel and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), Baghdad radio made no mention of a trial, saying merely that the accused had been convicted.
Mr. Roger’s statement, read by State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey, said “the current blood bath in Iraq is a matter of serious concern to people everywhere. We hope this will be recognized and serve to bring an end to the series of executions in Iraq.”
At the United Nations today, Secretary -General U Thant disclosed that he had intervened in a last minute attempt to influence the Iraqi Government to delay the executions. He said he asked the Iraqi representative at the UN last night “to convey to his government my serious concern about the international repercussions that would be likely to follow the executions.” Mr. Thant added that he did not “question the right of the government of Iraq to try and sentence anyone within its jurisdiction who might be charged with a serious offense. But I did question the contemplated action on both humanitarian and political grounds.” The Secretary General said he felt the executions “will increase tension and danger in the Middle East.”
Today’s executions brought to 51 the number of Iraqis put to death for spying since last Jan. 27. Eleven of them were Jews. Mr. McCloskey recalled that on Jan. 27, 1969 when 14 persons, including 9 Jews were hanged and publicly displayed in Baghdad and Basra, Secretary of State Rogers denounced Iraqi authorities for putting on a “spectacle repugnant to the conscience of the world.” The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Iraq.
Mr. Thant’s 11th hour attempts to have the Iraqi executions postponed followed a meeting he had Sunday night with Israel’s chief representative to the UN, Ambassador Yosef Tekoah. Mr. Tekoah informed the Secretary-General of Israel’s appeal for intercession with the Baghdad regime to prevent the executions.