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86 Arrested Protesting Economic Sanctions vs Iraq


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." 

Please see "Myths and Realities regarding Iraq, the United States, and
economic sanctions" at:  
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