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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] R. Richard Newcomb Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control Department of the Treasury Washington, DC 20220 Re: Department of the Treasury letter dated November 4, 2002 Dear Mr. Newcomb: We are in receipt of your letter dated November 4, 2002, and addressed to Voices in the Wilderness, c/o Ms. Kathy Kelly. Since Ms. Kelly is currently in Iraq accompanying the Iraq Peace Team, a group of Americans and other concerned internationals who have pledged to remain in Iraq for the duration of any future US attack, we, members of Voices in the Wilderness, are responding on her behalf. We invite you to contact her directly in Iraq. As I am sure you know, on August 12, 1999, UNICEF reported that, in the period since their inception in 1990 through 1998, sanctions have contributed to the deaths of more than 500,000 innocent Iraqi children. Thousands die each month of diarrhea and respiratory infections. Further, the devastation caused to the Iraqi economy is plainly evident: unemployment and poverty are endemic, malnutrition and child mortality have increased hand-in-hand, water quality, especially in the southern region so aggressively targeted in 1991, remains extremely poor, and the nation’s previously excellent health care system lies in shambles, largely because access to both medicines and medical technology have been directly hindered by the sanctions our government so wholeheartedly supports. Your letter incorrectly suggests that Voices in the Wilderness (Voices) is a “juridical person organized under the laws of the United States.” We wish to state emphatically that Voices in the Wilderness is not now, and has never been, a legally recognized entity of any sort. It owns no property or stock and has no by-laws or officers. Rather, Voices is simply an unstructured association of people of good will from the United States and numerous other countries. We seek nothing more than a just and enduring peace between the citizens of Iraq and their counterparts from other nations. To this end, Voices sponsors delegations to Iraq composed of people who desire to witness for themselves the truth about the devastating effects of twelve years of UN/US-imposed economic sanctions. Delegates often bring with them toys and much needed medicines which they distribute to people in Iraq, medicines that are often fatally delayed from reaching Iraqi medical professionals by US “national interests.” Your letter also incorrectly indicates that “VW elected on six separate occasions, to export goods, to Iraq .” On countless occasions, Voices delegates, among them medical professionals and artists, clergymen and clergywomen, students and professors, Nobel laureates and veterans, have imported and delivered both antibiotics and cancer fighting medication into Iraq, medicine that we know has saved lives that would otherwise have been claimed by the sanctions. On our return, we have exported the stories of Iraqis whose lives depend on the Oil for Food rations, pieces of missiles that have hit their homes and killed their children, and art and music that so eloquently express their suffering. Additionally, we have reported on meetings held with senior UN officials working in Iraq. Unlike the sanctions we work to end, Voices seeks to export friendship rather than discord, to rebuild rather that to destroy, and, to paraphrase the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, to be peace in our every step. You suggest that, if Voices had requested US government permission to travel to Iraq and bring medicines to its citizens, such permission may have been granted. Let us not be misunderstood. Each of us knows for a certainty that it is no more necessary to ask our government’s permission to visit and care for the sick, no matter where they live, than it was for women to seek the permission of men for the right to vote, or for African Americans to petition their white brothers for equal protection under the law. Further, each of the world’s religions adheres to the basic moral principle that all people share the obligation to treat every person as they wish to be treated. Voices would most certainly welcome any official permission the US government might wish to bestow on our acts of charity, solidarity, and justice. Make no mistake, though, that we will continue to act according to the dictates of our consciences should our government continue to deny us permission to alleviate the suffering of an already devastated people. All of us understand that you, too, must follow your conscience as you perform your job. We ask you once again, however, to examine both UN and independent findings of the sanctions’ effects, to reevaluate your position, and to join us in our efforts in bringing an immediate cessation to the economic and military warfare currently being waged against the Iraqi people. We further ask that you enlist your coworkers and supervisors in sharing our attempts to aid the innocent civilian population of Iraq. Finally, we request that we be given the opportunity to present our case at an open and public hearing. As payment for these fines, we have included 6,750 Iraqi dinar (ID). Prior to the Gulf War and economic sanctions, these dinar were valued at approximately $20,000; today they are worth roughly $3.33! This drastic rate of deflation is a direct result of the draconian economic sanctions, which US Representative David Bonior has termed “infanticide masquerading as foreign policy.” If we work together in search of the truth and reconciliation with Iraq, just compensation will be found in a world where human rights are guaranteed, and the freedom to travel, to love, and to care for each other are protected, not limited, by governments. We thank you for this opportunity for dialogue, and we remain Respectfully, Voices in the Wilderness Roger Stroope "Ideas are more powerful than weapons" Austin College, Sherman Texas "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience…Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring" -- Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk