cj#949> VItW: Meanwhile, crimes continue in Iraq…


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 15:53:06 -0600
To: •••@••.•••
From: Voices In the Wilderness <•••@••.•••>
Subject: VitW update
Mime-Version: 1.0

Dear Friends,

We genuinely regret the long lapse since our last letter to you. Since
December 28, US and British jets have continued to strike Iraq on average
once every other day, hitting more than 110 targets.  More lethal and
brutal than even the worst of bombardments are the devastating economic
sanctions against Iraq.  Our campaign's main strategies continue to be:

    i-- open and public violation of the sanctions by carrying
medicine and medical supplies to Iraq, and

    ii- constant efforts to educate about how US/UN policies affect Iraqi
people; please let us know if we can be of any assistance in arranging
speaking engagements or public events, participating in interviews, or
supplying materials for publications.  We must also plead for understanding
if it takes some time for us to respond to requests.  Travel to Iraq,
delegation preparation, speaking engagements, a huge volume of
correspondence and day to day maintenance tasks absorb much of our time.
An added challenge appeared when our e-mail capacity disappeared for a full

Several of us returned from Iraq on March 12 1999 after assisting
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) members who arranged for Nobel Peace
Laureates Mairead Maguire (Ireland) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina)
to visit Iraq.  We felt very moved by their impassioned and eloquent pleas
to members of the US Congress, British Members of Parliament and leaders of
other countries to visit Iraq and see for themselves the terrible
consequences of economic sanctions.  Mairead Maguire further urged
President Clinton to follow his own advice, given to warring groups in
Northern Ireland: lay down the weapons and talk about resolving disputes

Please visit FOR's website (www.nonviolence.org/for)  to read a thorough
delegation report by Rev. John Dear, SJ, Executive Director of FOR.  Also,
on our website (www.nonviolence.org/vitw) you'll find, in an article
entitled "Death of a Nation," Rick McDowell's reflections on this most
recent trip to Iraq.

While in Baghdad, delegation members met with eight representatives of UN
organizations working in Iraq.  They noted that deterioration of Iraq's
infrastructure directly affects the government's capacity to distribute
desperately needed medicines.  Arrival of large shipments of medicine and
medical supplies requires inevitably time-consuming procedures for
inventory, quality control and equitable distribution.  Economic sanctions
have caused a severe shortage of machinery to accomplish these tasks (e.g.,
trucks, refrigeration equipment, forklifts, computers).  Compounding the
problems are frustrations caused when the electricity goes off (at least
several hours a day) and the telephones don't work.

Upon return from Iraq, we learned about reports accusing the Iraqi
government of deliberately withholding medicines, stashing them in
warehouses rather than delivering them to needy people. Puzzled, we asked
our delegation that's presently in Iraq, the Boston delegation, (March 15 -
28 1999), to doublecheck with UN authorities in Baghdad regarding these
allegations.  On March 18, Jennifer Horan, of the Boston delegation, called
to say that she spoke with Dr. Habib Rejeb, MD of the World Health
Organization, in his UN office in Baghdad, and that he urged nations not to
throw stones at Iraq because it has problems distributing medicines.  He
detailed the litany of difficulties facing Iraqi workers responsible for
food and medicine distribution. The Boston delegation will supply us with a
full report, upon return. You may recall excerpts from a VitW November '98
interview with Dr. Rejeb in which he explained that Resolution 986, the oil
for food deal, doesn't allow for any cash to purchase equipment needed to
distribute relief shipments or to hire Iraqi relief workers. Many of you
will have already heard Denis Halliday and Phyllis Bennis further describe
the flaws in implementing current UN Resolutions.

Along with reports from the Boston delegation, stay tuned for updates as
several more VitW "city" delegations travel to Iraq in coming weeks.  Below
is our delegation schedule through May.

March 28   Boston, MA delegation returns to the US

         Delegation leader Bert Sacks to remain in Amman to
         meet and assist with a a delegation of 28 people
         led by Gerri Haynes of Seattle, WA, sponsored by
            the Western Washington Physicians for Social
                 Responsibility and the International Physicians for
           the Prevention of Nuclear War - March 29 - April 10

March 29 - April 11  Philadelphia, PA delegation

April 12 - April 26  Joint Kansas City, MO / Ithaca, NY

April 18 - April 30  Delegation of Dominican religious women
             from New York, New Jersey, Washington DC,
                Washington, Puerto Rico, Chicago, Port
                 Huron and Seattle

May 15 - May 30      Syracuse, NY delegation, including several
             members of the January, 99 VitW "Walk Away

                         from the Pentagon"
walk--Wash.,DC to NYC

Posted on our website (soon) will be a document that tells the names and
contact information for travelers in the delegations listed above.  Each
delegation member will readily report to individuals and groups about what
they've seen and heard.  Thanks in advance for helping us communicate as
widely and effectively as possible.

Activity across the US greatly encourages us right now as numerous
individuals and groups grow acutely aware of the suffering and death caused
by economic sanctions against Iraq.

We see legislative work as a key component of turning awareness to action.
Erik Gustafson of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (tel.
202-543-6176) is coordinating The One Million Signature Campaign.  Please
contact him for petition sheets and for information about forthcoming
"lobby days."

Posted on our website (soon) will be a legislative strategy devised by Karl
Meyer and cohorts in Nashville, TN that includes collecting petitions,
engaging community leaders to present the petitions to a succession of
Congressional representatives (beginning with whomever seems most likely to
support ending the sanctions), and then holding 'low-intensity' sit-ins at
the Congressperson's office until the representative agrees to act on
behalf of ending the economic sanctions against Iraq.

Please consider joining VitW members and other Midwest peace and justice
groups, in Chicago, on June 18 1999 when  Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright will address Northwestern University's evening commencement
ceremony and receive an honorary doctorate of law.  Lets encourage Ms.
Albright to attend a teach-in about international law, that same day.  And
lets gather near the site of the graduation event to vigil and mourn on
behalf of the hundreds of thousands of children whose deaths Ms. Albright
has deemed 'worth it' for the sake of protecting US interests.

Denis Halliday and Phyllis Bennis, nearing the end of their cross country
tour, were enthused by the assortment of tenacious, creative groups they'd
met, all dedicated to ending the sanctions against Iraq.  Impressed by this
compassionate network, they suggested that we change our name to "Voices,"
since we're no longer facing a wilderness.  We're encouraged.  Yet we still
long for a time when Iraqi childrenís voices will reach us with exuberant
laughter, energy and joy, unclouded by anguished affliction.  Till then, we
remain your companions in a determined struggle.


Kathy Kelly
for Voices in the Wilderness

Voices in the Wilderness
    A Campaign to End the US/UN Economic Sanctions Against the People of Iraq
1460 West Carmen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
ph:773-784-8065; fax: 773-784-8837
email: •••@••.•••
website: http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw



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