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86 Arrested in Iraq Protest



Voices in the Wilderness: 202-258-4958   (cell phone)
Fellowship of Reconciliation:  914-358-4601

86 Arrested in Protest of Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

86 protesters from across the United States and Canada were arrested at
the US Mission to the UN, on Monday, February 14th, at 12:00 p.m.  Their
nonviolent resistance was confronting the US/UN Security Council sanctions
against Iraq.  Among those arrested were Kathy Kelly, Chicago, co-founder of
Voices in the Wilderness and Reverend John Dear, executive director of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation.

A broad spectrum of human rights groups were represented in both the
nonviolent resistance action and the legal demonstration.  Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, Pax Christi USA, the American Friends
Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, have all taken
official stands against the sanctions.  Leaders from every major religion in
the US have also condemned the sanctions.

In August 1999 UNICEF used the infant mortality rate from before the
sanctions to estimate that 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five
have died due to the effects of sanctions.  "They die from dysentery,
typhus, cholera - and other epidemics of water-borne diseases which were
created when the US bombed the civilian infrastructure of Iraq during
the Gulf Warthe sanctions prevent infrastructure repair and maintenance."
noted Raed Battah from Kentucky, who recently traveled with Voices in the
Wilderness to Iraq, in open and public violation of the sanctions.

The protesters echo the concerns of the UN Humanitarian Relief
Coordinator in Iraq, Mr. Hans von Sponeck, who has now asked to be
relieved of his duties.  Von Sponeck was not available for comment.
Diplomats, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said von Sponeck will be
leaving because of the difficulties entailed with implementing the U.N.
trade sanctions, initially imposed to force Iraqi withdrawl from Kuwait.
The sanctions have crippled the Iraqi economy, leaving ordinary Iraqis
struggling to feed and clothe themselves. Von Sponeck wanted the Security
Council to separate Iraq's humanitarian needs from its disarmament. His
outspoken remarks drew sharp criticism from both the United States and
Britain, the main proponents of sanctions on Iraq. Von Sponeck was also
critical of the U.N.approved Oil for Food program.

Von Sponeck's predecessor, Denis Halliday of Ireland, resigned in 1998,
saying he did not want to be associated with the adverse impact of U.N.
trade sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.  Halliday stated, "We are destroying
an entire society.  It is as simple and terrifying as that."

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