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Next Monday (the 14th February) is the ninth anniversary of the bombing of the Ameriyah shelter in which several hundred Iraqi civilians (mostly women and children) were killed. To mark this date voices uk is asking people to send their own anti-sanctions postcards to the FCO, either *on* this date (or, alternatively, post them on the Saturday to *arrive* on the 14th). The message could be very simple eg. "Sanctions are killing the children of Iraq. Lift the economic sanctions now !", together with your name. Postcards should be addressed to : The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall, London SW1A, If everyone sends a card the FCO will be deluged so please send one ! Best wishes, Gabriel Carlyle voices in the wilderness uk tel. 01865 - 243 232 %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Other events on the 14th : Our sister organisation in the States (Voices in the Wilderness) are currently nearing the end of a 30 day fast against the sanctions in Washington. On the 14th they will be joining members of the Atlantic Life Community, Friendship and Reconcilliation and others in an act of civil disobedience at the US Permanent Representative to the UN (at the UN Plaza in new York). Some non-violent direct action will also take place at an appropriate venue in London on the same day. Below I've posted some recent correspondence, describing the Voices US fast and lobbying activities : %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Contents: 1) Letter from Kathy Kelly in Washington DC 2) Report on the meeting with Toni Berry, head of the Iraq Desk at the Department of State 3) Review of Tuesday's events 4) Schedule for NYC activities Feb 12-14 Letter from Kathy Kelly Dear Friends, The community of fasters in Washington, DC and elsewhere in the US and Canada sincerely thanks the many people who have been our companions in this effort. Calls to US Congresspeople helped us quite a bit here in D.C. One congressional aide asked to meet with us because he'd received an unprecedented number of calls and letters on the issue. It's encouraging to walk into offices and learn that workers are already familiar with the issues we want to raise. It's also helpful to let government workers know that we represent a growing list of community and faith-based organizations that have gone on record as opposed to the economic sanctions. Nevertheless, experience here in DC confirms our determination to continue trying to educate US Congressional and Senate offices about the consequences of economic sanctions and to work hard to generate media challenges to the present policy. This week we welcome activists from Detroit, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, Luck, WI, and Colorado Springs who visited their legislative representatives. Tuesday was very full: some of us went to the briefing on Iraq hosted by Representative Kilpatrick; others stood outside of the briefing Secretary of State Albright delivered to the Senate Foreign Relations committee, while still others were be part of the blood drive at Georgetown University where many people donated blood locally but in memory of Iraqi people who have died because of economic sanctions. Throughout the week, we have been trying to meet with Embassy representatives from each of Iraq's neighboring states. We want to learn from them the perspectives of their governments regarding consequences of economic sanctions against Iraq. Early this morning we sent letters to Ms. Albright and to the Iraq desk at the State Department asking them to join us as we end our fast the morning of February 11. We'll let you know how plans develop for Friday. Thanks in advance to folks at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Kairos Community, the Atlantic Life Community, the New York Catholic Worker, and many others for activities planned in New York City this weekend. With you, we long for that time when people who already live so well will no longer feel entitled to get more, when nonviolence will be so engrained in us that we'll gladly and generously share food, resources, wealth, and futures. Sincerely, Kathy Kelly for Voices in the Wilderness Washington D.C. Fast Report on the meeting with Toni Berry of the U.S. State Department's Iraq Desk The following is the report of Voices in the Wilderness' meeting at the State Department in January 24. On January 24, 2000, Ms. Toni Berry of the U.S. State Department's Iraq Desk met for an hour and a half with three Voices in the Wilderness representatives, Chris Allan-Doucot, Nick Arons, and Kathy Kelly. We introduced ourselves as representative not only of Voices in the Wilderness, but also of a growing network of concerned individuals and groups opposed to the US/UN economic sanctions on Iraq, including the National Council of Churches, National Council of Catholic Bishops, Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi USA, the American Friends Service Committee, Western Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee, Life for Relief and Development, the Council on Islamic Arab Relations, and Conscience International, Chris Doucot displayed a carefully organized notebook of photos showing victims of both bombardment and sanctions. We told Ms. Berry that State Department reports frequently contradict UN official reports as well as evidence we've witnessed first hand regarding destruction caused by a war on two fronts, economic warfare and bombardment. Ms. Berry told us the history of the no-fly zones, asserting that the patrols are meant to protect Iraqi people. We pointed out that the families of the 143 people who've been killed by these "patrols" would have difficulty appreciating this protection. She said that State Department contacts 'on the ground' in Iraq say that Iraqi people want the no-fly zone patrols and bombing to continue. We noted that not a single person with whom we've met, in the course of 31 delegations, has asked that no-fly zones and bombardment continue. She didn't dispute that bombing no fly zones is a violation of international law and that innocent people are killed. Nor did she dispute that it's unfair of the US State Department to deny that people are being killed. We showed her fragments of bomb parts which we collected in July of 1999. Regarding the effect of economic sanctions on Iraq's economy, Ms. Berry said that if sanctions were lifted today, Iraq's government would not have any more revenue to work with than that which it already could generate. She then raised concerns over what the government of Iraq would do with added revenue, given the recent record of building palaces. She said they have no indication that Iraq would use added revenue to help its people. We noted that prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had developed an advanced means of meeting the health, housing and education needs of its people. As a sovereign nation, Iraq has a right to decide for itself how it will spend revenue raised from sales of its own resources. We frequently referred to UN briefings which we attended in Baghdad during which Mr.Hans von Sponeck assured us that stockpiling of goods should not be attributed to malice on the part of the Iraqi government but rather to problems caused by the economic sanctions. We summarized some of the ways in which imposition of the sanctions interferes with efficient distribution of goods and also pointed out several reasons why distribution in the north is more effective than in the south-valid reasons based on important facts which are not mentioned in the US State Department reports which assign all blame to the Government of Iraq. We noted that this information is crucial for a better understanding of why Iraqi people suffer from severe shortages and asked why the State Department chose not to include these facts in their August report. We noted that on three separate occasions President Clinton, Secretary of State Ms. Albright, and Defense Secretary William Cohen have stated that sanctions will not be lifted until the current regime is removed from power. We asked what incentive the Iraqi government would have to comply with UN mandates if in fact the US has assured them that compliance will not result in lifting the sanctions. Ms. Berry stated that humanitarian concerns are "number one" in the US State Department's view, but in concert with concern over containment of Saddam Hussein. She agreed that the role the US is playing is not good for the country's image abroad. She said they would prefer a situation in which Iraqi people weren't suffering. Chris Doucot said that he believes US people would approve a change in the policy. Ms. Berry said that "Congress would never go along with a change in policy that alleviates suffering as long as Saddam Hussein is still in power." We felt quite positive about introducing ourselves and our concerns to the State Department through this meeting with Ms. Berry. She listened carefully to our grievances and clearly understood our conviction that these grievances are ground in human decency, truth, and international law. The exchange encouraged us to seek public debates between representatives of the US State Department and spokespeople who favor lifting the economic sanctions. The meeting with Ms.Berry suggests to us that the strategy advocated by Phyllis Bennis in a recent response to Resolution 1284 makes sense: continue pressing the media to challenge the current policy and continue efforts to educate and persuade legislators as regards the lethal effects of economic sanctions. It's also important that we continue linking with human rights groups. Ms. Berry noted that other human rights groups and religious groups have visited her and asked that sanctions be maintained. We've recently met with Mr. Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch and are meeting today with Kani Xalam of the Kurdish Information Agency. Along with listening to the concerns of these groups, we'll urge them to write to, call, and visit with State Department representatives to express concerns over the human rights abuses caused by economic sanctions on Iraq. These letters, calls, and visits are noted. Review of Tuesday's events February 8 Washington, DC At an early morning meeting, four representatives of the US State Department met with Bishop Gumbleton and a delegation of activists from Detroit, most of whom had traveled to Iraq in December 1999, in Carolyn Kilpatrick's office. Beth Jones, of the Iraq desk, listened to presentations by the Detroit VitW travelers who clarified that they oppose weapons of mass destruction and then gave first hand accounts of ways in which economic sanctions had destroyed infrastructure in Iraq and destroyed lives. Ms. Beth Jones, of the State Department's Iraq desk, stated that Iraq's government has had the revenue to buy needed items but has chosen not to. We offered Ms. Jones and Representative Kilpatrick a copy of a recent UN contract status document which lists items currently on hold, still being processed, or blocked. This list is available from the Office of the Iraq Program on the UN website. We also showed UN Iraq Coordinator Benon Sevan's letter of February 7 which urgently asks the UN Sanctions Committee to approve contracts that will allow Iraq to import crucially needed equipment for oil production. Next, the Detroit delegation moved to the briefing arranged by Representative Kilpatrick and chaired by Representative Conyers. Present also were Representative Kucinich, Rep. Kildee, Rep. Stabenau, at least 20 congressional aides and a standing room only crowd. Each of the speakers offered moving testimony, and we're very eager to make available Raed Battah's tape of this briefing. Please let the VitW office in Chicago know if you are interested to get a copy. Following our afternoon vigil, VitW activists fanned out to visit congressional representatives. Several fasters then met with representatives of the Kuwaiti Information office. We wanted to learn more from them about why their government says that the government of Iraq poses a threat to Kuwaiti people. Also, we wanted to learn whether or not they think that economic sanctions against Iraq are a helpful means to alleviate their fears. In a two hour meeting, the Director of the Kuwait Informatin Office and his advisor spoke at length about the destruction and loss Kuwaitis endured during the Gulf War and asked, particularly, that attention be paid to the plight of 600 Kuwaitis believed to prisoners of war. They said that they still fear invasion or retaliation by Iraq. We pointed out the many ways in which economic sanctions cause, on a comparative scale, ongoing and far greater suffering and destruction. We think it's useful to pursue this discussion with members of the Kuwait Information Office. The director is Dr. Shafeeq N. Ghabra, a former professor of political science at Kuwait University. 202-338-0265 Throughout the day, Simon Harak, SJ and Ramzi Kysia were on hand at a blood drive organized by Georgetown Students during which many people came to donate blood locally but on behalf of Iraq people who have died because of economic sanctions. Simon and Ramzi ask that we promote this idea widely. There was standing room only in the room reserved for the blood donation; as people waited in line, Simon talked to each donor about conditions in Iraq. Literature and pictures were taped to the walls, and letters writing materials were available for those who wished to write a letter to their congressperson while recovering from blood donatoin. Each donor that was approached either wrote a letter or promised to do so later. In the evening, about 40 American University students gathered with four of us who are fasting. They are part of a group called "The Movement," and we felt greatly heartened by their readiness to become actively involved in campaign work to end the sanctions against Iraq. The meeting lasted three hours. "One day and a wakeup" - on February 11 we plan to break our fast in front of the state department and then gather with supporters and representatives of the Arab American community in Washington DC at the Cafe Luna (12 noon). Then we're heading north to New York City. The sojourn here will hearten us for the long haul. Schedule for NYC activities Feb 12-14 Sunday, February 12 9AM-noon: Housing Check-in at Maryhouse Catholic Worker, 55 East 3rd St., NYC Centering prayer with Sr. Eileen Storey, scripture reflection, and sharing from activists who have traveled to Iraq. Maryhouse Catholic Worker. 1:30-5PM: Teach-in at Judson Memorial Church, 55 washington Sq. South, NYC. Speakers include Denis Halliday, Phyllis Bennis, Sam Husseini of the Institute for public Accuracy, and David McReynolds of the War Resisters League. 7PM-11PM: Pfeffer Peace Prize Presentation to Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness. Speakers include Denis halliday, Kathy kelly, and John Dear. Celebration wih refreshments and music will follow. St. Francis Xavier Church, 30 West 16th St, NYC. Sunday, February 13 9-11AM: Vigil at St. Patrick's Cathedral, 5th Ave and 51st St. 1-6PM: Planning session for Monday's action at the UN. Meet at NYU Catholic Center, 58 Washington Square South. 1-6PM: Youth Caucus, nonviolence training, planning session for nonviolent direct action. Aletheia School of prayer, 20 washington Square north. Monday, February 14 9AM: Meet at St. Patrick's Cathedral, 5th Ave and 51st St. We will vigil, march to the UN, peacefully protest, and if moved, participate in the nonviolent direct action at the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, 799 United Nations Plaza, NYC Questions about NYC? Call Danny Muller at 212-714-8143 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi