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sanctions breaking dates hit the streets!

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, 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
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


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