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---------------------------------------------------------------------~-> Friends Everywhere, I'm sub-titling this letter, "Bridge To Peace". Hopefully, the reason may become clear, as you read on. It's "crunch time", as they say here, in IPT. Meaning things have gotten a stage more difficult, or at least many in IPT are feeling that way. To signify this, IPT'er Neville Watson, broke out a whole box of Nestle Crunch (gee, how I'm looking askance at myself in my mind as I indirectly promote Nestle, or any candy bars), but then, I'm just reporting facts and feelings and observations. I passed, but only due to my personal blood sugar sensitivities. We've been meeting at least twice a day, for two days, on this matter, and in groups of two's, three's, etc. in between. This morning, in a large meeting some of us were attempting to sing a song, a kind of parady written by Theresa, wife of Gabe Huck in our Chicago office. Thereaa and Gabe have been here together in the past, more than once. Theresa sang this song at the send-off and press conference at the Chicago's O'Hare Airport, as we (the March 6th team) were about to board Royal Jordanian Airlines for Shannon, Ireland, and then on to Amman, Jordan. Support team, please check the IPT website for this song, or contact the Chicago office. One way or another, I'd appreciate the words and information on the tune (what song it's a parady on) added, as a viewable file, to LAMPTIP. It's a great job on Theresa's part. I'd like to encourage it to be sung at rally's and protest actions that continue to take place, I know, to end this war. It can help to remind folks back home that we're not dealing with some back-woods tribesmen over here; that these people had created an advanced civilization thousands of years before we colonized the America's, "blessing" the native peoples with our form of "civilization", in a not so civilized manner. The chorus is, "We're going to the fertile crescent The cradle of civilization The land between two rivers We're going to Mesopatmia" If our troops began to learn this song, as well, and began singing it, maybe, one by one, they'd drop their guns, and ask to be arrested and taken home, having realized what they've become caught up in, who they have become a pawn of, and that if thousands took such an action, the war would end immediately. The Iraqi government has seized the high moral ground. It's time we joined them there, taking our fears and this war, off he battlefield, out of Iraq, and back to the UN where it belongs. Back to the meetings scene, it looks like, after the expected departure tomorrow morning of about 14 team members, there will be 10 to 12 of us left. The group remaining consists of about 6 "veterans" of the Voices work to end the sanctions and now the work, in non-violent ways, to stop this war (and all wars), plus 4 to 6 of us who have much more recently come to support this effort with our presence in Baghdad as part of IPT. The group that is leaving are mostly doing so because they feel they can contribute the most to this effort, one way or another, through work they can do on the outside, some possibly from Amman Jordan. There are 2 or 3 who were told they must leave, by the Iraqi government. Some of those leaving are part of a CPT (Christian Peacemaker Team) delegation which arrived just about a week ago, under the "sponsorship" of IPT. This exiting group is in the process of putting out a press release which will explain their viewpoint that they are "not leaving Iraq, but rather taking Iraq with them, in their hearts and spririt, and through their words and actions. They have built community here, and where violence is destroying community, they will take their experience with them and stand against such destruction." You will be able to learn more of their efforts by getting on IPT's email distribution list, by sending an email request to: Info@VitW.Org. There's also the website: Www.IraqPeaceTeam.Org. Those of us who are staying, feel we can contribute the most by staying. Those of us staying, including our founder, Kathy Kelly, will be issuing a press release, as well. I am staying, personally, for all the reasons I state in my document on this subject which is posted as an accessible file, for Yahoo Group members, under the Yahoo Group name: LAMPTIP at: Www.YahooGroups.Com . I have the opportunity to get email out today, by sending a disk with those who are leaving. This is making it possible for you to hear further from me at this time. For once, I have found space and opportunity to use a computer in the middle of the day, rather than what has been more the norm (the middle of the night). I small part of my mind realized that not all the noise outside the window was traffic; that as is often the case now, even in the day time, there were bomb and/or cruise missile explosions going off in the distance. I'm in our little office here, a small hotel room at the Al Fanar Hotel, which has been converted to an office by replacing the two single beds with simple office furniture. I can see the Tigris River, to my right, from the South facing balcony of this 5th floor room. And plumes of smoke in the distance, in all directions. Some are from bomb/missile strikes. Others are from oil being burned in open trenches to make aircraft navigation more difficult. But I don't think it really makes any effective difference with the latest U.S. technology being applied against the Iraqi people at this time. Unfortunately, there have been great advances in weapons guidance during the 12 years since the "Gulf War". So, the oil being burned, with good intentions, to save human lives, is creating environmental damage far worse than (pardon me) Los Angeles smog. With perhaps the first victims being the children of Baghdad, followed by those adults whose systems are already weak from other factors. Meanwhile, back at the skyline. Directly ahead is the local Sheraton hotel, which is a tall, attractive building. Why not? The first organized cities in history, the first building arches, architecture in general, originated in this area. Down below, in the streets, the traffic seems to increase a little each day. Most of the stores and businesses that closed the day before the bombing started, are still closed. But a few more re-open each day, as more of the people adjust to the current situation. They say here, often, and have for decades, or centuries, as a cultural expression: "This is the life, what can I do". That's a rough interpretation of a common Arabic phrase, which I understand is common throughout the Middle East, but which I can't put my finger on, in Arabic, at this moment. Speaking of the Sheraton makes me think about prices here. Amazingly, the cost per night there is only 100,000 Iraqi dinars. I say, "only", because at the current conversion rate for U.S. dollars, that's less than $40.00 per day. Our hotel is costing us about $6.00 US per day, per person, with 2 persons per room, or 4 per 2 room suite, which includes a decent breakfast of cheese, eggs, bread, and tea or coffee. Each room also has a small fridge, so we can save money by buying food on the outside. Imported food items are relatively expensive, though. I bought a kilo (i.e. 2.2 lbs.) of bulk tea the other day for our group for about $1.00 U.S. Tea in tea bags, even local, are far more expensive. The hotel charges almost half that for just one cup of tea in the dining room (except at breakfast, when it's included. But one can soft drink, imported from Jordan, costs almost $1.00 U.S. because it's not local and now must be brought in on roads which have been damaged to some degree by U.S. bombing and are definitely far more dangerous to travel now then when we first came in, because U.S. forces have apparently even set up road blocks and in some cases purposely "taken out" civilian cars and busses with missiles, according to eye witnesses our team members have witnesses. But I can buy a batch of 15 falafel "sandwhices", 2 of which make a very complete meal, for a group of us, and bring them back to the hotel, for only $1.00 U.S. If us forces initiate a siege of Baghdad, like they are attempting to enforce in Basra, prices for even simple, basic, food and water could go sky high. I am feeling somewhat ashamed shortly after another team member (Ramzi Kysia, of Washington D.C.; born in the U.S., but of Lebanese parents) joined me on the balcony and we sat down to discuss various subjects related to our presense here and the ways we want to help. The shame rose in me because at a certain point, I realized that we, as most of the population, were sitting there chatting, almost oblivious to the fact that every few minutes, there would be another string of explosions in the distance. Some of them, even though in the distance, were strong enough to give the building a good shaking. Ramzi is a great source of information, observation, reflections, and analysis, based on having spent much time working for peace in the Middle East for many years, and due to having been born into a family of Middle Eastern descent, and living in an Arabic community in the U.S., beginning as a child. Unfortunately, he is among those leaving tomorrow. He would have stayed here, but he was accused by the police of doing something he didn't do (staying at the home of a local family overnight, when in fact, he was visiting friends at a hotel close by). So, he was ordered expelled, as a penalty, but has been told he may be able to return soon. Meanwhile, he will be doing a lot for our the cause from Jordan and/or the U.S. Did I tell you about the "peace water" ritual, and the responsibility I accepted, regarding same? The day before I left, friends of mine from Sonoma County, brought me a vial of specially blessed water. They, with about 30 friends, had created a ceremonial/ritual/event wherein water brought back from many special places in the world, as well as water from local streams, lakes, and rivers. In this event, they sought to imbue the collected waters with special prayers and powers to foster peace. They then poured these waters into the Pacific Ocean, with the hope that by their actions and the world-wide interconnections of the Pacific would help spread peace throughout the world. But first, they saved a little in a special vial, with a wax sealed cork, to send to Iraq with me. Some leaked out on the way here, in my daypack, but at least half made it, in liquid form, and the rest is with me in residue and sprit, such that my day pack is now my Peace Pack. When my Sonoma County, CA friends gave me the vial of Peace Water, they asked me to bring it to Iraq, and find an opportunity to pour it into either the Tigress or the Euphrates, in the spirit that the mixing of this special water with either of these historical rivers, of great importance to the region since ancient times, might help spread peace throughout Iraq and flow out into the Gulf to spread peace throughout the region. About a week ago, several team members and I walked out on a bridge across the Tigress, with the Peace Water in mind. The bridges are all guarded by the military, as is not surprising in the current circumstances. We're doing the same thing, after all, in Northern California, for example, with the Golden Gate Bridge, and Iraq has not even threatened to invade California. As we first walked onto the bridge, several military personnel hurried over from a guard post to speak with us, looking very concerned. We showed them one of our "Magic Sheets" (explained in one of my earlier comunique's). That eased tensions a bit. Then they explained with gestures that no pictures were allowed. I have chosen not to carry a camera with me, as pictures being taken outdoors, of any kind, are forbidden by our hosts unless we are given specific permission to photograph a specific person and/or place/thing, from a specific angle, at a particular time, on a particular occasion. To violate this rule is the quickest way I know of to get thrown out of Iraq at this time. This sounds rather harsh. But, then I remember that if I was an Iraqi in the U.S. right now, I might well be in detention, simply because I am from Iraq. I pray for the day when most of us, individuals and nations, have learned to come together, on all occasions, coming from a place of love, instead of fear. Once we understood their greatest concern, those with cameras, and the rest of us as well, confirmed that we would take no pictures, and we walked out onto the span. The bridge is one known locally as "The British Bridge". It has a proper name, I believe, but there are special reasons for its common name. It was built by the British, long ago. As I understand the history, it was originally built for a rail line, but was later converted to vehicle traffic. During the Gulf war, the U.S. led coalition forces purposely destroyed much civilian infrastructure in Baghdad, including ALL of the bridges over the Tigress. But this bridge, specifically, was not touched, because the British arm of the coalition demanded that it not be destroyed, as they had built it. So critical are these bridges to the life of the people in Baghdad, that they rebuilt them all within one year of our previous assault on Iraq. Note that we never even attempted to approach Baghdad during the Gulf War, with our troops, but we disabled, civilian infrastructure, purposely, which is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. But it doesn't seem that we, as a nation, care at all about international law, unless we can use it against another party. There's a water treatment plant at the edge of the city, where some of us have been spending some of our time, to protest the disabling of civilian infrastructure in the last war, and to warn against doing the same during this war. We have hung a large sign there, stating that to damage such a facility is a WAR CRIME. Of course, we have been commiting war crimes (for that is what they are, based both on the Geneva Conventions and any sense whatsoever of morality) here for over 12 years now, beginning with much of our response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Perhaps, in some minds, since the current invasion and bombing of Iraq, has been from the beginning a WAR CRIME, in its entireity (for the initiation of any war, is to me a WAR CRIME - this war in particular, due to the lame reasons we have given for doing so), then what does it matter, perhaps, what what individual crimes we commit in the course of commiting the overall crime? Well to me, and to the Iraqi people, it matters very much, for this crime, these crimes, have been affecting them severely, for 12 years now, causing much suffering, and civilian deaths, as I have mentioned before, and will continue to speak out against, totaling over ONE MILLION HUMAN SOULS, HALF OF THEM CHILDREN. My fellow team member, Charlie Liteky, 72 (a much decorated Viet Nam Vet - a chaplain - decorated for saving many lives through his heroism on the battle field - and now known for his anti-war actions that have landed him in jail more than once, and recently in a U.S. Prison for over a year) said yesterday, when he was explaining to our group here, why is not leaving Iraqi, no matter how difficult life becomes here: I came to Iraq some months ago, because I heard the children crying out. They are crying even louder now. Well, it seems I was speaking of Peace Water and a bridge. Sorry, this could be more organized. Forgive me for it's being more a stream of consciousness thing, but I have much to share with you, and not much opportunity to do it, let alone, get it to you in a nicely edited package. Please feel free to cut and paste, excerpt from, etc., any of my letters home, as you share them and their contents with others, throughout the land, as long as you are careful not to take anything out of context. It would also be nice if you give credit to IPT and even to me, as the specific voice, but that's not my main concern. For the importance of IPT's voice, and my voice, is that we be a voice for the voiceless in this case, the Iraqi people. It's not that they are incapable of speaking for themselves. It's that they have not been able to be properly heard on the world's stage, and when they have spoken, not enough of us have been listening and acting on what we have heard. Or, because of who is speaking for them, we have killed the message because of the messenger (a purposeful switch on the old saying from Roman history). I have crossed many of Baghdad's bridges, but always before when I had been on a bridge, it was in a car or taxi or bus. Each of those times, I had the Peace Water with me. But to stop a vehicle in the middle of a bridge in the middle of Baghdad, in these times, get out, pour something into the river, then speed off, would have invited instant bullets with the questions being asked later, perhaps of my dead body and those of others with me. So, on this occasion, we walked slowly out onto the bridge, which due to it's being just a day or so after the bombing had begun, was basically void of any vehicular traffic, as the city was still adjusting to the new situation. We stopped way before the center of the river, spoke words of peace and prayers for Iraq, the end of this war, the end of all wars, and I poured the Peace Water from the vial into the Tigres. Thank you Numea, thank you Dragon, thank you and all my special friends in Sonoma County, and their friends. I feel honored to have had to opportunity to help complete your intent, your creative and not insignificant gesture of peace for Iraq, peace in the world. For we know, but want to say it anyway, that it takes many small actions (or inactions such as not going to the polls to elect a different President), on the part of millions, to create the conditions for a war such as this. Now, millions at home, and millions more around the world, are acting, responsibly, and non-violently, for peace. Thank you, if you are part of this, for your efforts. And if you are one who truly believes are attack on Iraq is justified, I respect your view, but I ask you to take the time to research and re-examine your reasons, and to go inside. To pray for God's guidance, if you are a religious person, to ask what Christ would do if you are a Christian. Or if you are not religious, to simply meet quietly with the sense of right and wrong we each have inside of us. Try putting yourself in the other person's shoes. Make that person an Iraqi woman, man, or child. Be, for a moment, such a person here in Iraq. Move into a place of compassion. Maybe you could also do the same with world leaders who are involved in allowing or even participating in this insanity. What if your family, your children, have been and are being, seriously affected. How would you want to be treated? Most of us have, since childhood, a very good sense of fairness, of we give time to check with it. Most of the Iraqi people truly love Americans. It's really hard for them to imagine how any American could be supporting our government's actions here. I try to be gently honest with them when this comes up. I point out that while many Americans are protesting, saying: "Stop The War", "Not In My Name" (and they see our demonstrations on Iraqi TV, there are still millions of Americans who are still supporting this war. If you are such a person, I respect your fears. But I ask you to examine the basis for your fears. For our "reasons" for war, no matter how justified and logical they may seem, must be based on fear, or we would not be engaged in war, as either a defender or an offender. For if you do go through such a soul searching process, acknowledging all your fears, large and small, and their basis, I believe you too will experience a shift of mind and heart and eventually (soon, I pray) begin to speak out for peace. And do you know, friend, that while this will help achieve peace in the world, it is you, yourself, who will first benefit, for peace in the world begins first with peace in you and peace in me. To arrive at such a place inside ourselves, is a great blessing, both for ourselves and for those around us, near and far. But keep in mind, that as each day moves on, as our lives move on, we must continue to take the time, make to effort, to continue to be coming from a place of peace, each of us. For we all slide down the slope, into a place of fear, often. The question is, how quickly can we rise back up, on God's wings, trusting that we are all held in the palm of God's hands, to the peace that is there for all of us, inside and outside, if we but trust and try. And if, for some reason, maybe not on the surface, but underneath, you believe an American life is worth more than an Iraqi life, how many American soldiers will have to die, their bodies sent home in body bags, funerals in every city and town, large and small, across our land (land and people that I too love), before you will begin to say WHY? WHY are we in Iraq? And, even if you believe, in your heart, that we have a justifiable reason to be here, IS IT WORTH IT? I know that for most who are reading this, I am "preaching to the choir". Please share my message with those you know who have not yet joined the choir. If you are finding it hard to help them find peace, maybe my words and the place I am currently at, inside and outside, might give them a different kind of opportunity to cross over a bridge in their own lives, to a more peaceful life, coming less from a place of anxiety, anger, fear, resentment, hurt, rejection, all negative feelings, and more, just very simply, from love and compassion. My love and the love of the Iraqi people, go out to you, today and every day, even as the bombs continue (with sometimes an hour or two's let-up) to fall all around us, reminding me to feel compassion and love for the millions in the world who suffer from the lack of peace in themselves, which may, in a way, be even worse than being in the midst of this war, knowing that today could be your last. Sincerely, Martin If a reader has questions, we may be reached via - Martin Edwards: Email: EagleEyeLite@Netscape.Net Address: 1083 Vine Street Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA Phone: 707-431-2713 See, Also: LAMPTIP at Www.YahooGroups.Com For Background, more information on our organization, etc: Voices In The Wilderness - Iraq Peace Team A Campaign to End Sanctions and Stop the War Www.IraqPeaceTeam.Org Email: Info@VITW.Org Tel: (Chicago, USA) 773-784-8065,or 8837 and: Www.NonViolentPeaceForce.Org _______________________________________________ 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