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Kathy Kelly, A Remarkable Woman With A big Heart The genocidal embargo against Iraq is entering its tenth year , the children of Iraq are still dying. Kathy Kelly and the Voices of the Wilderness are fighting tirelessly against the deadly blockade. Here what she had to say: AL-MOHARER - Kathy, the deadly blockade against Iraq entered its tenth year. Iraq is still suffering from shortages of medicines and food stuffs . We know that you worked hard in the past and are still attempting to help smash the genocidal embargo imposed unjustly by the United States under the name of the United Nations and its Security Council.....We would like to introduce your Organization ( Voices in the Wilderness) to our readers, and would like to know about your role and activities. KATHY KELLY - Thank you very much for your ongoing interest in our campaign to end the economic sanctions against Iraq. I am writing to you from Washington, DC where six of us are on Day 24 of a fast calling for an end to the sanctions. We're accompanied by six other fasters in various parts of the US along with a wide range of people who have made a special point, during the past three weeks, of contacting their legislative representatives, religious leaders, and local media to urge them to challenge the economic sanctions. Calls to US Congressional offices, from activists across the country, have helped us with efforts here. One congressional aide invited us to meet with him after he'd received an unprecedented number of calls and letters about the issue. We were pleasantly surprised to realize that many of the offices on Capitol Hill are already aware of our campaign. It's also been helpful to let government officials know that we represent a growing number of community and faith based groups who oppose economic sanctions against Iraq. This week, we'll be joined by activists from Detroit, Philadelphia, Colorado Springs, New Hampshire, and Luck, WI, all of whom plan to visit their representative's offices. Tuesday will be particularly full. Some of us will attend Representative Kilpatrick's briefing at the Rayburn Bldg. (10:30 a.m.) while still others will leaflet and banner at a presentation Secretary of State Albright will give to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Our banner will say "Compassion for the Children of Iraq." Throughout the day we'll help host a blood drive at Georgetown University where people will donate blood locally but do so on behalf of Iraqi people who have died. Early this morning we sent letters to Ms. Madeleine Albright (we write to her every day) and the Iraq Desk of the State Department inviting them to join us when we break fast on Friday morning. We want to break the fast with Iraqi dates and yogurt. This will be a means of breaking the embargo as well. The fast increases a longing we know is shared by communities throughout the world: we long for the day when people who already have so much won't feel entitled to get more, when US people will gladly and generously share food, resources, and our future. On February 19, our 31st delegation will leave for Iraq. Each delegation tries to "hit the ground running" upon return, reaching out to their local communities to educate them about the terrible consequences of the economic sanctions and to share with them briefings received in Baghdad from UN workers, religious leaders, and Iraqis who work so hard to maintain the country's infrastructure and education in spite of harsh frustrations imposed by the sanctions. AL-MOHARER - Do you have branches or affiliated organizations outside the United States that support the work of the Voices in the Wilderness in its fight against the Embargo ? Can we have the addresses of these organizations to publish them so our readers might contact them ? KATHY - We work out of my home in Chicago, an apartment which I share with my father and various other friends from time to time. Dad's presence with us is a blessing, - he needs full time health care, and as we look after his needs we're ever reminded of how keenly Iraqi brothers and sisters want only to protect their loved ones and look after their needs. Following a nine year state of siege, the most comprehensive embargo ever imposed in modern history, it is nearly miraculous that Iraqi people whom we meet still extend to us so much hospitality and friendship. Still, we realize that the embargo sorely afflicts a new generation. Adding to the the pain are regular bombardments. Recently, one of our delegations visited a school in Mosul. Students at the school were terrified upon hearing that Americans were in their building. Three parents were summoned to the school to comfort their children who sobbed uncontrollably. Small wonder. Days earlier, a US bomb exploded near enough to the school to cause all of the windows to shatter. The children were covered with broken glass and shrapnel. Beyond the United States, we know of many groups that work hard to end the embargo against Iraq. In London, Voices in the Wilderness UK has been active since late 1997. They've sent six delegations to Iraq and regularly plan events in the UK. They can be reached by contacting: Mil Rai 12 Trinity Road East Finchley London 8JJ United Kingdom 011-44-181-444-1605 fax: 011-44-171-700-2357 firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Needham 128 Bethnal Green Rd. London, E2 6DG United Kingdom 011-44-171-739-2301 email@example.com AL-MOHARER - It is well known that the Voices in the Wilderness is facing many legal difficulties in the United States for defying the embargo. Can you tell us how do you challenge them ? KATHY - The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have regarded our actions as criminal as we bring medicines and toys to Iraqi children. We refuse to be governed by cruel and pitiless laws, and we want to dramatize our confrontation with a US led sanctions policy that forces the United Nations to wage economic warfare against children. The US government has threatened us with 12 years in prison, one million dollars of fines, and a $250,000 administrative fine. In December of 1998, we were given a pre-penalty notice for $160,000 in fines. My passport was confiscated by the United States government in February of 1998, and in November of 1997 customs agents seized belongings of four of our travelers when they returned to the United States. We've repeatedly thanked the US government for the clarity of their warnings, assured them that we will continue to visit Iraq and deliver needed medicines, asserted that we will not be paying any fines, and invited them to join us in our efforts. AL-MOHARER - Can you brief our readers about your last visit to Iraq by your group and Ramsey Clark's ? KATHY - I was quite grateful for an opportunity to visit Iraq with a large group of people, assembled by Ramsey Clark and the International Action Center, in May of 1998. This was the first of three delegations which they have organized in the past two years. Following the May '98 visit, travelers began to work very effectively to end the economic sanctions. Several of us have worked together before as members of the Catholic Worker community, a group dedicated to simplicity, service, sharing of resources, and advocacy of nonviolent resistance to injustice. I feel very pleased to now be linked to these people in our present fasting. We'll soon join together in New York City, February 12 - 14, for a time of teach-ins, retreat and actions at the US Mission to the UN. We feel awkwardly and painfully conscious of the fact that we can simply choose to end our fast. Such a luxury is not available to Iraqi brothers and sisters who have endured a long night of deprivation, of doing without, of bewilderment so well expressed by teenagers I recently met. They asked me, "What is the fault? What have we done? And what would happen to us if we were to do to any other country in the world what is being done to us?" What a privilege it will be if in any small way we can be a voice for them. A Note Kathy, you are a remarkable woman with a big heart, we salute you and salute your efforts, I am sure that history will record your heroic endeavors in its annals. The children of Iraq will never forget you. Voices in the Wilderness is a campaign to end sanctions against Iraq. Kathy Kelly is Co-Founder of the campaign. She has traveled to Iraq numerous times and AL-MOHARER was honored to interview this remarkable Lady through the Internet. Ibrahim Ebeid Co-Editor http://www.al-moharer.com.au __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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