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Letter from father Benjamin to Beppe Grillo
Jean-Marie Benjamin visited IRAQ for the first time in April 1998 to produce a documentary film entitled Iraq: The Birth of Time. In the south of Iraq he discovers the effects of the radioactive contamination on the Iraqi population, due to the weapons containing depleted uranium used by the Anglo-American forces during the Golf war in 1991. Back in Italy, he decides to dedicate his work to make the public aware of the tragic situation of the Iraqi people already suffering from the embargo imposed by the UN.
From 1998 to 2003 he travels every three months to Baghdad to gather documentation and from 1998 to 2003 he publishes three books and produces three documentaries. In 1999, he contacts the Italian Parliament concerning the question of depleted uranium and obtains from the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the Parliament the vote for a Resolution to constitute an inquiry commission. From 1999 to 2002 he participated several times at various Sessions of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
He organizes in secret a flight in a small airplane from Amman to Baghdad on 3 April 2000, on board the Italian parliamentarian Vittorio Sgarbi, the businessman Nicola Grauso and the pilote Nicola Trifoni. The first flight to Baghdad in violation of the embargo.
Jean-Marie Benjamin has participated in numerous conferences on Iraq throughout Europe and Canada. He composed, wrote the lyrics and sang several songs to protest against the embargo, bombardments and wars.
In the hope to avoid another war against Iraq and more suffering for the Iraqi population, he takes the initiative to invite to Rome the Iraqi Vice prime minister Tareq Aziz and organizes an audience with Pope John-Paul II (14 February 2003).
February 2003 - He organizes the visit of the Iraqi Vice prime minister Tareq Aziz to Italy (13-16 Feb.03). Following coordination with the Secretariat of State of the Vatican for an audience with the Pope John-Paul II (13 and 15 January) he meets the Vice prime minister in Baghdad on 24 January to inform him about the initiative and to extend an invitation from the Beato Angelico Foundation. During their meeting Benjamin proposes to Mr. Aziz a visit to the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi.
January 2003 - the English and French versions of the song and video clip "Mr President" are being published in France and England.
November 2002 the second edition of his book Obiettivo Iraq: nel mirino di Washington is published, (Editori Riuniti), accompanied by a DVD of the video clip Mr. President, a song written, composed and sang by the author. In December 2002 a CD audio with two songs Mr. President and Un giorno nuovo with the participation of Kasim Ali Shadhan will come out.
June 2002 he published in Italy a new book Obiettivo Iraq: nel mirino di Washington.
October 2001 - he produced a new documentary entitled Iraq: the hidden file. This film is built around an interview/colloquium with the Iraqi Vice Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, and contains six important files relating to violations of international law towards Iraq. The six sequences are: Iraq before the Gulf War, depleted uranium contamination, UNSCOM, UNCC, no fly zone and Christians and Muslims in Iraq.
1st december 2000 - he co-organized a flight Paris-Baghdad with 118 personalities on board from France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland and Great Britain. Passengers came from all walks of life including politics (parliamentarians, senators, ambassadors), culture, religion, international organizations, non-governmental organisations, artists and news reporters.
29 November 2000 - he gave a speech about Iraq to the House of Commons in London.
3 April 2000 - he flew from Amman to Baghdad (with Vittorio Sgarbi, Nicola Grauso and the pilot Nicola Trifoni) in violation of the embargo.
July 1999 - he presented a report to the Italian Chamber of Deputies which led to questions in parliament in July 2000 with a large majority vote requesting the Italian government to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iraq and to intervene with the UN for the lifting of the embargo.
September 1999 - he published a book in France and Switzerland entitled: "Iraq: l'apocalypse" (Editions Favre, Lausanne, Italy: Edizioni Andromeda, Bologna).
December 1998 - he was in Baghdad during the bombing and, after an international enquiry, made a new documentary entitled: "Iraq: journey to the forbidden kingdom" dedicated to the living conditions of the Iraqi population and the impact of radioactive contamination on the population and the environment due to the use of weapons containing depleted uranium.
April 1998 - crossing Iraq with a camera crew (covering over 3000 kilometres), he produced a documentary entitled "Iraq: the birth of time" (RAI UNO).
An exceptional and troubling document
A film by
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SILENT RIVER FILM FESTIVAL of Irvine