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Voices in the Wilderness

A Campaign to End the UN/US Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

July 25 - August 13, 1998 Fast for Life Announcement

Since August 6, 1990, the people of Iraq have endured the most comprehensive trade sanctions ever imposed in modern history. Previously reliant on trade for basic foodstuffs and medicines, Iraq was particularly vulnerable to this embargo. Likened to a state of siege, the economic sanctions have led to a cycle of disease and malnutrition that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs reports that "public health services are near total collapse - basic medicines, life-saving drugs and essential medical supplies are lacking throughout the country. Fifty percent of rural people have no access to potable water, and waste water treatment facilities have stopped functioning in most urban areas."

We are US citizens, many of whom have traveled to Iraq in violation of the UN/US sanctions. We have seen how the sanctions punish innocent civilians and isolate them from the international community. We believe there is no human benefit in inflicting misery, suffering and despair on Iraqi people.

Peaceful and fair relations between the United States and Iraq must begin by recognizing Iraqi peoples' fundamental human rights (the rights to food, clean water and health care). Iraq's people have a right to live. They should not be used as bargaining chips to force U.S. will on Iraq's leaders.

Several months before her induction as Secretary of State, Ms. Madeleine Albright stated, regarding the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children that, "we think the price, the price is worth it." We disagree. Writing about Iraq, British historian Geoff Simons speaks solemnly to such callous disregard for human life. "All those prepared to defend policies that are impacting with such cruelty on an entire population should reflect on their complicity, major or minor, in the perpetration of a new holocaust."

Lifting the economic sanctions would begin a process of healing and reconciliation between the people of the US and the people of Iraq. Voices in the Wilderness members, in repentance for the loss of life caused by these sanctions, will gather in New York City to undertake a vigil and fast, calling for an immediate end to the sanctions. Fasters will vigil each day and evening at a site opposite the US Mission to the UN from July 25, 1998 until UN Weapons Inspection Director Richard Butler and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz conclude their next round of meetings scheduled to begin on August 9, 1998.

The Fast for Life appeals to religious and community leaders to join them, August 6 - 9, in issuing an urgent call for an end to the sanctions. As we commemorate the victims of atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us unite to protect Iraqi civilians from any further suffering and death. We call upon the United Nations to publicly recognize the sanctions themselves as a violation of the Geneva Protocols and a weapon of mass destruction--a weapon that targets innocent lives in the cradle of civilization.

http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw

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; f: 773-784-8837

email: kkelly@igc.apc.org

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