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[casi] Spotlight Iraq: A Season of Truth-telling, Community-building, and Nonviolent Resistance

The following message, from Voices UK's sister group in the US may be of
interest to list-members.

Best wishes,

voices uk

An Invitation from Voices in the Wilderness Chicago
Summer 2003

Spotlight Iraq

A Season of Truth-telling, Community-building, and Nonviolent Resistance

Who we are

Since its founding in 1996, Voices in the Wilderness has campaigned to end
economic and military warfare against the Iraqi people. We have done this
mostly by organizing delegations to Iraq in deliberate violation of U.N.
economic sanctions and U.S. law, to publicly deliver medical supplies to
children and families in need. Our primary focus has always been ordinary
Iraqi civilians and the most vulnerable of Iraqi society, especially
children. We have witnessed this ongoing warfare through the everyday lives
of families we have come to know as friends over the course of seventy
visits to Iraq.

We are volunteers-teachers, veterans, social workers, artists, health care
professionals, trades people and people of faith-who, in the tradition of
Mohandas Gandhi, practice and advocate nonviolence as a means for social
change. As nonviolent war resisters, we oppose the development, storage and
use by any country of weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear,
chemical, biological, or economic. Many of us refuse to pay taxes for war.

Voices in the Wilderness functions as a network for nonviolent education and
action: developing and practicing ways of nonviolent resistance.

Where our actions have led us

Prior to the spring 2003 invasion of Iraq, we joined others to build an
international antiwar movement that came closer than ever before to
achieving the critical mass needed to stop a war before it started. Tens of
millions of people throughout the world, including millions in the United
States, publicly opposed this war. Though this movement did not prevent the
invasion, these efforts have generated a community of grassroots education
and resistance not seen in decades. Through Spotlight Iraq, a season of
truth-telling, community building, and nonviolent resistance, we hope to
build upon the local, national and worldwide momentum generated before the

Why we must keep the spotlight on Iraq

Some of us were present with Iraqi civilians to witness the cruelty and
depravity of "shock and awe." Throughout the war, embedded journalists'
reports were touted as fact while independent eyewitness accounts were often
omitted or underplayed by mainstream U.S. media. We expect further evasions
and distortions as Washington pursues its economic and military interests
through the occupation of Iraq.

Why we propose a season of truth-telling, community-building, and nonviolent

We must reaffirm that the millions of people who marched, leafleted,
protested, lobbied, refused to pay war taxes and committed acts of civil
resistance were right: this invasion should not have happened, and the U.S.
occupation is unjust and inhumane. We must not let the story of war,
sanctions, and invasion be rewritten by the architects of the "New American
Century." We must illuminate the experiences of Iraqi people under
occupation after enduring two brutal wars and thirteen years of economic
sanctions. If we want to end war, we must engage in human contact and
truth-telling to counter the sensationalism of war propaganda.

As we Spotlight Iraq during the summer of 2003, let us work towards:

* compliance by the U.S. with the Geneva Conventions requiring that they, as
the occupying force, meet the immediate humanitarian needs of Iraqis. We
assert that the U.S. should then step aside to allow humanitarian relief to
be done by the UN and qualified NGOs working with Iraqis.

* replacement of US/UK occupation forces by an independent, international
peacekeeping presence, working in cooperation with the Iraqi people and
independent NGOs to stabilize the country and quickly establish a legitimate
Iraqi government, subject to the needs and interests of Iraqis, not to the
political and economic interests of the U.S.

* cancellation of debt and compensation demands from the 1991 Gulf War. The
Iraqi civilian population should not be forced to pay for the debts accrued
by the Ba'ath regime.

* recognition that Iraq's natural, cultural, and economic resources belong
to Iraqis, not to any U.S. administration or corporation. The lifting of
economic sanctions does not in and of itself guarantee self-determination
for Iraqis; U.S. corporations see a gold mine in Iraq, and the recent
resolution pushed through the UN Security Council not only lifts sanctions
but guarantees US/UK occupation for at least a year, giving these
administrations and their corporate entities free access to Iraq's potential
wealth. We demand that the appropriation of Iraqi assets be concentrated
within Iraq and supervised by a transparent, non-governmentally-aligned body
until the people of Iraq can select a new government of their own.

* renewal of UN efforts to certify that Iraq does not possess weapons of
mass destruction; we emphasize that such standards must be applied to all
nations. Never again should weapons inspections be linked to economic
penalties imposed on a civilian population, as was done in Iraq.

* payment of reparations from the U.S. and UK to families of Iraqi civilians
killed over the last 13 years of military actions and economic sanctions.

* clean-up of all cluster bombs, mines and depleted uranium used in Iraq and
an end to the development, production, distribution or use of these weapons
by any country. We hold US/UK weapons companies accountable to Iraqis and
demand compensation for damages done.

Voices in the Wilderness Chicago projects:

It has been said that world public opinion, "the other superpower," is the
only force capable of challenging the impunity of U.S. militarism. A
tremendous grassroots opposition movement blossomed over this past year
through the efforts of countless community organizations and peace groups;
eventually, the mainstream media had no choice but to recognize the
overwhelming public opposition. The events of the past year show that human
contact is the only proven method of eclipsing the spin of mass propaganda;
we must continue to speak the truth from the bottom up through personal
outreach, community building, and organizing. Here are a few projects that
we will be coordinating to spotlight Iraq during the summer of 2003.

* Wheels of Justice Tour. In collaboration with our friends from Middle East
Children's Alliance (MECA), we will co-coordinate a national bus tour to
further education, organizing and action around war and occupation in Iraq
and Palestine. On this tour we will offer academic and eyewitness
perspective to the conflicts in Iraq and Palestine as we cultivate and
promote nonviolent resistance in the U.S. to war and occupation. Email for more info.

* Creative Resistance Summer Camp. We are hosting a creative resistance
summer camp in New York City to communicate the issues that are outlined in
VitW's Spotlight Iraq using traditional and emerging forms of activism. For
a period of 30 days, artists, media activists, and grassroots organizers
will take part in creative forms of direct action using NYC as their canvas.
We will use methods of nonviolence and alternative forms of communication as
a means to counter the massive U.S. government propaganda campaigns. Email for more info.

* An ongoing presence in Iraq. We continue to witness firsthand the
aftermath of this latest war and the present reality of occupation. We will
continue to gather the stories and experiences of Iraqis living under this
military and economic occupation.

* Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance. Recognizing that the United
States provides 46% of the world's weapons and 90% of the weapons used in
conflict, we pledge our nonviolent resistance to Boeing Corporation's weapon
production and war profiteering in Chicago. As has been done all over the
U.S. at the headquarters and factories of Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and
other institutions of war-making, we confront the institution of militarism
in our back yard.

* Internship and training. We will host volunteers in Chicago to research,
share, and produce training and outreach materials to further grassroots
organizing and community-building. Our seven years experience in organizing
and action may serve useful to those working within their own communities.

* Nonviolent education and counter recruiting. We cannot practice
nonviolence and effect social change without speaking to domestic social
conditions; we recognize that militarism exploits the particular
circumstances of communities marginalized by racism and poverty in the U.S.
The No Child Left Behind Act threatens to cut federal money from schools
that do not offer their rosters to military recruiters. In the hope of
providing a desperately-needed service to youth yearning to be
better-informed, we aim to counter-recruit through providing nonviolent
education and alternatives to military service.

* War Tax Resistance. "Let them march all they want, as long as they
continue to pay their taxes." -Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State, June
12, 1982. Voices in the Wilderness is not aligned with any governmental
agency and does not file taxes; as individuals, many of us are war tax
resisters. We refuse to pay the fines imposed by the US Treasury Department
for traveling to Iraq and distributing medicine to those in need. To find
out more about war tax resistance, contact, the National War
Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, (800) 269-7464; email: or the War Resisters League (800) 975-9688; email

* Humanitarian Aid and Restorative Justice. At the minimum, we consider all
"aid" from the U.S. and UK as reparations for years of war and economic
sanctions. However, humanitarian assistance must also pursue accountability,
restorative justice, and truth-telling. While supporting organizations such
as Bridges to Baghdad, CARE and LIFE for Relief and Development, who
facilitate humanitarian aid to Iraq, we also challenge the systems of
oppression that brought about these deplorable conditions. The U.S.
administration and its corporate allies must be held accountable for the
dangers facing Iraqis from unexploded munitions, sickness caused by
contaminated water, environmental destruction, and the fallout of depleted
uranium weapons.

Spotlight Iraq tactics: Here are some other good ways to reach out to your

* Cultivating relationships, initiating dialogue, and building supportive
communities so that our peacemaking can grow.
* Practicing and refining persuasive arguments and nonviolent communication.
* Canvassing door-to-door and doing neighborhood leafleting.
* Urging local referenda and resolutions regarding war, civil liberties and
weapons proliferation.
* Challenging elected representatives publicly.
* Doing poster campaigns, guerilla art, and creative resistance.
* Confronting the very institutions of war and terror in our cities, states,
towns and nation.
* Organizing vigils, civil resistance, phone-ins, petitions, letter-writing
campaigns, public meetings, rallies, demonstrations, lobbying.
* Pressing for divestment from war profiteers by universities and schools.

Please help us Spotlight Iraq with this plan of action for the coming



Amy Holcombe Mooney
Angela Garcia
Bitta Mostofi
Ceylon Mooney
Danny Muller
David Smith-Ferri
Gabe Huck
Joe Proulx
John Farrell
Kathy Kelly
Laurie Hasbrook
Mary Meyer
Stephanie Schaudel
Sue Mackley
Tom Walsh

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