File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9801, message 18

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 10:58:31 -0800
Subject: U.S. Group Challenges U.S./U.N Sanctions on Iraq (FWD)

30 December 1997

Amman, Jordan  Contact:  Michael Bremer	   Al-Monzer Hotel: 639469		
		         G. Simon Harak,  SJ  614190

Chicago, IL  USA                Kathy Kelly  773-784-8065  or  312-455-1199

U.S. Group Challenges U.S./U.N Sanctions on Iraq

	Amman, Jordan - As a gesture of peace and good will, a group of five
Americans traveled to Iraq during the Christmas season to deliver medicine
and to see for themselves the results of seven years of economic sanctions
against the Iraqi people.  The group was the ninth such delegation from
Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based campaign to end the US/UN
sanctions against the people of Iraq.
	UN agencies report that over one million people have died as a direct
result of the sanctions, 600,000 of them children under five years old. 
"Even though we had read the UN reports and heard from previous
delegations, nothing could prepare us for the extent of the devastation we
saw," said Mira Tanna, an educator from St. Louis, MO.  For ten days, the
group traveled unrestricted, making unannounced visits to hospitals in
Baghdad and central and southern Iraq.  "We saw so many parents weeping
over their children.  They were dying from treatable forms of illness, but
there are no medicines.  We spoke with many highly trained physicians who
could not heal their patients for lack of medicine and equipment. 
Incubators lie useless for lack of parts, operating rooms are closed for
lack of anesthesia.  Doctors are forced to decide who gets medicine from
inadequate supplies," reported Michael Bremer, a carpenter from Chicago.
	The group also met with relief organizations, human rights observers,
church leaders, heads of hospitals, pharmacists, and various UN agencies
and NGOs.  "We asked everyone the same question," said Rick McDowell, a
co-ordinator of Voices in the Wilderness delegations.   "Is all the allotted
food and medicine getting to the people?  And everyone we met gave the same
answer:  The distribution of food and medicine is the best it can be.  The
problem is, there just isn't enough coming into Iraq, even with the
'oil-for-food' deal."
	The group's tour included neighborhoods, home visits with families, and a
center for internal refugees.  "The source of all the illnesses became
apparent when we saw barefoot children playing in open sewage in the
refugee camps or in parts of Basra," continued Bremer.  "They have no
spare parts to repair the water systems we bombed in the war.  The water
supply has become completely polluted in the south. And the elderly, the
people with chronic diseases, the diabetics  you can only imagine."
	The group seeks to inform the American people of the effects of the
sanctions on the Iraqi people.  But the previous delegation had their
videos, photos and journals confiscated  by US customs agents.  Voices in
the Wilderness has received notification from the US Treasury Department
that their activities could warrant up to twelve years in prison and one
million dollars in fines.  "We really are good will ambassadors for the
American people," said G. Simon Harak, S. J., a Jesuit priest from
Fairfield, Connecticut. "What's all  this about censorship, and threats of
imprisonment and fines?  The American people need to know that the
economic sanctions are killing tens of thousands of ordinary people.  We
can have military sanctions.  Punish the countries and the companies that
would sell weapons.  But whatever the original intent, these economic
sanctions have now become themselves a weapon of mass destruction for Iraq
and her people.  I join the bishops of Baghdad and Basra in their appeal,
End the seven years of war against the Iraqi people."

	Members of the Voices Delegation are available for interview in Amman on
30-31 Dec. 1997, at the above numbers


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