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VitW update (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kathy Kelly <>

Dear Friends,

Voices in the Wilderness members who fasted and vigiled in Baghdad, Seattle,
WA, Guadalupe, CA and New York, NY were moved by the experience itself and
by the many support actions which took place from July 25 - August 12. 

Mil Rai and Andrea Needham, from VitW - UK, were joined by Umberto Greco of
Bridges to Baghdad for a fast across from the UN headquarters in Baghdad,
where they had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Denis Halliday, who recently
resigned from his position as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq.  Mr.
Halliday expressed intense frustration over the imposition of sanctions,
(see quote in the update which follows this note.)  AP and Reuters reports
(August 15, 1998) state that UN General Secretary Kofi Annan also strongly
disapproves of using economic sanctions that primarily affect civilian

On their 19th day of fasting, representatives of the VitW Fast for Life in
New York City, met with Mr. Richard Butler, at the UN, for forty minutes.
Mr. Butler acknowledged that he has not visited any hospitals or
sewage/sanitation facilities in Iraq. He said that security concerns prevent
him from doing so.  Team members urged him to find a way to see for himself
what is happening inside the hospitals.  "What the eye doesn't see, the
heart doesn't feel."   Please read further for a few observations from that
meeting, for details about our next delegations to Iraq, (September, 1998
and October, 1998)and for an invitation to Chicago members.   We look
forward to remaining in touch with you.  


Kathy Kelly 
for Voices in the Wilderness, 1460 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago, IL  60640
tel. 773-784-8065  fax:  773-784-8837  website:

Voices in the Wilderness Fast for Life Update

i--Baghdad:  Denis Halliday, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq,
interviewed 11th
August 1998 by Milan Rai and Andrea Needham for VIW UK at the UN
headquarters, Baghdad
            Question: Eric Falt was quoted as saying that part of the
personal reasons
why you were resigning might have included frustrations with the current
programme and the sanctions situation.

            DH: Yes. I believe that the sanctions are a very blunt
instrument. It's
indiscriminate. It does not work in terms of its intended purpose vis a vis
change of governance or approach and it discriminates in a sense against the
weak and the poor and the lower echelons on the economic scale in a way that
I find unacceptable and contrary to the basic human rights provisions of
individuals throughout the world which we in the United Nations are so
wedded to. As an instrument for change I find it to be a failure and a very
tragic one. In Iraq, we've all learned that lesson, including the member
states. I think its a policy growing out of bankruptcy. In terms of ideas on
how to deal with those member states who often temporarily step out of line,
so to speak, with the views and wishes of the majority of member states
worldwide ... I find almost an incompatibility, being a United Nations
official and overseeing a sanctions programme of this type.

(Mil and Andrea carried medicines to Iraq and visited with families,
doctors, patients, UN officials and NGO representatives from 5 August - 12
August.  Their reports will be available soon.)

ii-New York:  22 VitW members participated in the New York Fast for Life for
20 days. Several fasted the entire time; support and hospitality from New
York's Catholic Worker, Kairos, IAC and Pax Christi communities was
overwhelmingly generous. While fasting, the community wrote and distributed
thousands of leaflets, held five small demonstrations at various NY locales,
including the UN lobby, spoke with hundreds of curious people on the street,
and had at least a dozen media interviews. 

iii-UN:  On August 11, 1998, meeting at the UN with members of the fast, Mr.
Richard Butler, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, said that he was "aware of a
growing debate in many capitals concerning the lack of effectiveness of
sanctions." He encouraged Voices in the Wilderness to take part in the
debate to find a nonviolent and more effective alternative to promote
compliance" with disarmament goals. Scott Schaeffer-Duffy (Worcester, MA)
showed Mr. Butler eight photos he'd taken of desperately ill Iraqi children
during a May, 1998 trip to Iraq.  Mr. Butler was clearly disturbed by the
photos. Please consider writing Mr. Butler to urge that he make every
possible effort to personally visit hospitals in Iraq.  Ask him to state
publicly that reports from UN officials regarding the suffering caused by
economic sanctions deserve at least as much attention, publicly, as any
reports generated by the UNSCOM teams.  The contact information for Mr.
Butler is:   Mr.  Richard Butler, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM  UN
Secretariat Building  Room 312H  New York, NY  10017   tel.  212-963-3018

iv-Chicago:  Archbishop Dijbraeel Kassab, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of
the Southern Province of Iraq, will visit with Voices in the Wilderness
members and friends on Tuesday, August 18, at 7:00 p.m.  If you are in or
near Chicago, please join us at 1460 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago, IL  60640,
tel., --773-784-8065

Also available in Chicago is a five hour tape of the most recent Baghdad
meeting between Mr. Butler and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tariq Aziz.
Please let us know if you would be interested to view this tape.

Twelve members of the fast had traveled to Iraq and were able to give first
hand accounts of the suffering caused by the sanctions.  Charlie
Brown,(Bellingham, WA), Ken Hannaford-Ricardi (Worcester, MA) and Tom
Malthaner (Rochester, NY) will be part of a September, 1998 VitW delegation
to Iraq. (George Capaccio will also travel to Iraq in September,
accompanying an International Relief Association delegation). In October,
1998, Bert Sacks, who fasted in Seattle, WA, will lead a VitW delegation to
Iraq from the Seattle area.  Each delegation will bring medicines and
medical relief supplies to Iraq in open violation of the UN/US sanctions
against Iraq.  Should the US again threaten military strikes against Iraq,
VitW is prepared to send a team to remain in Iraq for the duration of the

Duluth, MN members of VitW are planning a nine day fast in September, 1998,
- one day to represent each year that the economic sanctions have been
imposed and a ninth day to show collective hope for a future beyond the
cruel sanctions.  
Please let us know very soon if you or your community would like to host a
speaker from Voices in the Wilderness or if there is any way that we could
assist you in your work to end the sanctions agaisnt Iraq.    
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

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