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apologies for the delay in posting this, been v busy talking to the press. Some of you may have seen the Guardain front page about sanctions breaking Iraqi dates, you can probably see it on www.guardian.co.uk, it was in Thursday's edition Subsequently I have given interviews with BBC Wales, BBC World Service and LBC radio. The LBC one was supposed to be about the dates but it ended up being a load of the usual stuff about weapons , world war 3 etc, with Simon Henderson, Jenny Tong MP, some Colonel bloke and me. Managed to get to talk about the escrow account and the need for credits and loans for the infrastructure but only because the phone connection for all the others packed up! If any wants to buy dates they are on sale in some shops around the UK, let me know where you live and i'll point you towards the nearest stockist. Richard Byrne Voices 020 8554 2205 Press release: Embargo 07.00 Thursday 20 December Contact: Voices in the Wilderness 020 8554 2205 Sanctions breaking Iraqi dates hit the streets! Half a ton of sanctions breaking Iraqi dates will this weekend reach homes all over Britain in the largest ever British sanctions break. The dates, sold in half kilo boxes, have been imported from Iraq via Italy by Voices in the Wilderness UK (1). Under UN sanctions Iraqis are not allowed to export any goods for cash except through the UN oil for food program. Prior to 1991 dates were Iraq's second largest export commodity (after oil). Voices' dates were purchased from a worker's co operative in Baghdad by Bridges to Baghdad, an Italian NGO, who arranged the shipping of the dates into the EU and their subsequent shipping to Britain and Canada. This weekend they will be delivered and sold through shops, cafes and peace groups in 20 locations around the UK (2) Milan Rai, from Hastings, who just returned from a Voices sanctions breaking trip to Iraq on Sunday said, "Everybody purchasing these dates and everybody selling these dates is breaking sanctions. Nearly 1000 people over the next few weeks will engage in a simple act of civil disobedience by buying a box of dates, defying a policy which UNICEF says has contributed to the death of over 500,000 children (3)." "Importing dates from Iraq is not just a gimmick for Christmas. This is about serious issues. By importing dates from Iraq we are addressing one of the key requirements for ending the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The people of Iraq need to have an economy. Economic sanctions currently force all of Iraq's exports (currently oil is the only allowed export commodity) to be sold through the UN. The revenues generated never enter the Iraqi economy as they did pre 1990, but are held in an escrow account in Paris. By denying Iraqi people normal economic activity, our Government knowingly perpetuates a humanitarian crisis. In March 1999, a humanitarian panel set up by the UN Security Council concluded that 'The humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival in the Iraqi economy.'(4) That revival cannot happen while economic sanctions remain in place. Iraq needs its economy to re inflate. That can only happen if the UN stops running Iraq like a giant refugee camp. " "Ordinary Iraqis need a wage which means something. They need the purchasing power to buy the things all families need. After eleven years of sanctions we must end what Save the Children Fund described as a 'silent war on Iraq's children' (5)" ENDS----------- CALL VOICES 020 8554 2205 (1) Voices in the Wilderness UK campaigns for an immediate and unconditional lifting of the economic sanctions on Iraq. (2) London, Manchester, Bradford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Bristol, York, Cardiff, Brighton, Hastings, Derbyshire, Liverpool, Berwick Upon Tweed, Nailsworth, Oxford, Brentwood and more. (3) UNICEF'Child and Maternal Mortality Survey 1999," report and Questions and Answers August 1999 (4) Humanitarian Panel Report March 1999 (5) http://www.scfuk.org.uk/pressrels/250700.html . -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.