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Today's commentary from the Toronto Star's editorial page editor emeritus, Mr. Haroon Siddiqui, focuses on the grass-roots movement to end economic sanctions (... and be generous with your critique, Colin, as you're mentioned ... ;-) Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA --- http://www.thestar.com/editorial/opinion/990916NEW02_OP-HAROON16.html The Toronto Star September 16, 1999 by Haroon Siddiqui, editorial page editor emeritus Sanctions spark grassroots crusade WE WOULDN'T know it from following the media, especially the American TV piped into our homes. Not only an overwhelming majority of United Nations members, including the Security Council, are opposing the ongoing Anglo-American bombing of Iraq and the economic sanctions on that destroyed country of 20 million destitute people. A parallel grassroots movement is springing up in Canada, the United States, across Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia against the perversity of victimizing 20 million civilians to get at Saddam Hussein. Not since the Vietnam War and the battle against South African apartheid have so many disparate citizens come together for an international cause. In a two-pronged campaign, they are delivering humanitarian relief, in defiance of the sanctions, and lobbying their governments to stand up to America. Those who supported the 1991 Gulf War have joined peace activists, as have prominent church leaders with non-believers, the native-born with newly active immigrant communities. Their Web-savvy movement cuts across cultures, ethnicities, religions, borders. It includes Nobel laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Ireland and Adolfo Perez-Esquivel of Argentina. Professors Noam Chomsky of M.I.T., Edward Said of Columbia and Cornel West of Harvard. Playwright Harold Pinter. Veteran British Labourite Tony Benn. Former American attorney-general Ramsey Clark. Former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Dennis Halliday, an Irish Quaker who resigned last year in disgust. Ten Anglican bishops in Britain and 54 of America's 350 Catholic bishops, who have called for ``the immediate cessation of sanctions.'' And in Canada, Senator Lois Wilson, first female president of the Canadian Council of Churches in 1976, and former moderator of the United Church, among others. The Mennonite Central Committee, which has a representative in Iraq to coordinate relief shipments, wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to condemn Canada's kowtowing to American policy, as has the United Church, Inter-Church Action for Justice, Project Ploughshares and World Vision Canada. Many faith groups are working with the Middle East Council of Churches, following a handwritten appeal by eight Iraqi prelates: ``The sanctions are killing our people, our children, the ones Christ has given us to protect. They are killing our beloved Muslim brothers and sisters. They strike at our poor and our sick most of all. Tell your government to end the sanctions. End the war against Iraq.'' Vancouver psychiatrist Allan Connolly, of Physicians for Global Survival, joined David Morgan, Vancouver-based president of Canada Veterans against Nuclear Arms, on a trip to Iraq and returned horrified: ``There is no moral, political or legal justification for inflicting this suffering on Iraqi people. In fact, they contravene the Geneva Convention prohibitions against genocide.'' Similar sentiments have been expressed by Hamilton psychiatrist Joanna Santa-Barbara, former president of the physicians' group. McMaster University-based academics and students have coalesced under the Global Movement to End the War against Iraq. At the University of Waterloo, Hari Sharma, professor emeritus in chemistry, was so stunned at finding traces of depleted uranium in urine samples of Gulf War veterans, he got involved. In Montreal, Samaa Elibyari, who has been to Iraq, and Raymond Legault of Voices of Conscience, are mobilizing opinion against sanctions. Several Arab and Muslim organizations, most in Toronto, have raised hundreds and thousands of dollars. Among them: International Development and Refugee Foundation, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Islamic Congress, Islamic Circle of North America and Islamic Society of North America. The last two are active in the United States, working with: Chicago-based Voices in the Wilderness www.nonviolence.org/vitw, whose leader Kathy Kelly faces fines of $160,000 for delivering medicines and toys to Iraqis, and a jail term for donating blood in Basra on a recent trip. Clark's International Action Center in New York www.iacenter.org which has sent $6 million of medicines, led delegations to Iraq, and is organizing a week of protests Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. He remains the most outspoken American critic of sanctions as ``genocide and a crime against humanity.'' Washington-based Education for Peace in Iraq Center www.leb.net/epic which is running a 1-million signature campaign. Iraq Action Coalition of Raleigh, N.C. iraqaction.org which is organizing a conference Oct. 15-17 in Ann Arbour, Mich. with American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and others, including McMaster's Global Movement run by student Stan Loucks. In Britain, Torontonian Colin Rowat of Cambridge University, is coordinating a national petition with the British branch of Voices in the Wilderness and other groups. The Canadians involved in the anti-sanctions campaign are particularly angry at Ottawa for its hypocrisy in promoting an international agenda based on human security while supporting Americans in dismembering a whole people. Wilson, adept at detecting stirrings in the grassroots, reports a ``a lot of public concern'' about the sanctions. ``Why we are supporting it when it's foisting so much devastation on a vulnerable people, especially children, and when it doesn't even seem to be achieving its aims?'' she asks. -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. 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