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Basra 2000



Dear all

We have been very remiss in not notifying everyone properly about the Basra
2000 project.

You may have noticed an item in the news round-up for 10 - 16 July that in
mid-July six very courageous Voices US people went to stay in Basra, to live
with ordinary families, eat the oil-for-food ration, and try to live the
ordinary life of Iraqis under sanctions. (Article reproduced below.)

The Voices US group are sending out weekly reports, the last of which is
dated 2 August, and they can be found at the following website:

http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw/Basra%202000.html

Best wishes

Mil

ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE

 6 Americans Sample Iraqi Lifestyle, AP, 15 July '00
http://www.newsday.com/ap/international/ap899.htm

by WAIEL FALEH

BAGHDAD -- Six American opponents of U.N. sanctions on Iraq set out Saturday
to live in a southern city for two months and experience the hardships
ordinary Iraqis face every day -- food rations, power shutoffs and sewage
problems.

Activists from the Chicago-based group, Voices in the Wilderness, picked
al-Jumhoriya district in Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad. Allied forces
pounded Basra during the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops out of
Kuwait. U.S. and British jets still carry out airstrikes on the area during
patrols over southern Iraq.

In Basra, the activists would ''live simply, study Arabic and, as best as we
can, become voices on behalf of people whom we believe are innocent victims
of a pitiless siege enforced by military might,'' Kathy Kelly of Chicago
said Saturday before setting out from Baghdad.

Voices in the Wilderness, which has a branch in London, seeks an end to U.N.
sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the
Gulf War.

The sanctions have crippled the Iraqi economy, and health and education
systems and have left residents dependent on U.N. food rations. They also
are blamed for countless deaths of Iraqi citizens, especially the very young
and elderly.

The group was planning to live on the same amount of food rations Iraqis
receive and deal with the power cuts, bad water and damaged sewer system in
the Basra neighborhood. They planned weekly reports detailing their
activities.

''We would like for people of the United States and the world to know what
really is going on, otherwise they may remain unaffected by sufferings Iraqi
people endure,'' Kelly said.

Kelly, 47, has visited Iraq 13 times since December 1990, when she was among
hundreds of foreigners to camp out in the Iraqi desert for 10 days in an
attempt to dissuade allied forces from attacking.

In 1996, she established Voices in the Wilderness, which has brought
delegations of U.S. citizens to Iraq to see for themselves how the sanctions
hurt ordinary Iraqi citizens.

While not a humanitarian aid organization, Voices has delivered more than $1
million worth of medicines for Iraqi hospitals and other humanitarian
donations.

[Mil adds: The 1990/91 Gulf Peace Team actually only had 70-odd foreigners
on it. Richard Crump, one of the mainstays of the 9-year-long Foreign Office
vigil - Mondays, 5.30-7.00 - was also a member of the GPT.]

Milan Rai
158 Springfield Road Brighton BN1 6DG
ph/fax (0)1273 508 331
milanrai@trinityroad.free-online.co.uk

National Office
Voices in the Wilderness UK
16B Cherwell St
Oxford OX4 1BG
01865 243 232
voices@viwuk.freeserve.co.uk


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