Action Needed Now for Congressional Letter on Sanctions
ADC Action Alert:
Action Needed Now for Congressional Letter on Sanctions:
Only 13 Signers So Far
Letter Goes to Clinton on January 6
The congressional letter to President Clinton has so far gathered only 13 signatures. This is not nearly enough. If you have not already done so, please take five minutes out of your holiday season to call your Representative. The congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121.
The letter, initiated by Reps. Tom Campbell and John Conyers, calls for a lifting of the economic sanctions against Iraqi civilians. It will be sent to Clinton on January 6.
The signers so far are:
Tom Campbell (R-CA) John Conyers (D-MI) Bruce Vento (DFL-MN) Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Bernard Sanders (I-VT) Michael Capuano (D-MA) Carrie Meek (D-FL) Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) Albert Wynn (D-MD) Lynn Rivers (D-MI) John Olver (D-MA) John Lewis (D-GA) Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Representatives Tom Campbell (R-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) are circulating a new letter to President Clinton, calling for the lifting of economic sanctions against the Iraqi people. Released today, this is an important new initiative which can serve as a vehicle to express the deep concern of the anti-sanctions movement about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. It deserves our support and requires immediate action. This is not the only stirring of concern about the sanctions in Congress. The letter follows a groundbreaking trip to Iraq by five congressional staffers at the end of the summer — the first congressional delegation since 1991. We are in hopes that a congressional bill encouraging U.S. trade with Iraq will be introduced when Congress returns and opens a new session in January.
A previous letter to President Clinton calling for the de-linking of economic from military sanctions was sent by 43 members of Congress in the fall of 1998. Let‘s try to increase the number of signatures this time.
While some of us may not agree with all of the specific language of the letter, it is important that we support the congressional voices questioning the sanctions policy and challenging other members of Congress to take responsibility for the effects of U.S. policy on the people of Iraq. The full text of the letter is below.
Please contact your Representative right away. Ask him or her to sign on to the letter. Rep. Campbell‘s office tells us that it will circulate the letter “for at least two weeks.” There is no cut-off date as yet, but the letter may not circulate for an extended period.
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
You can reach any congressional office through the congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
Congress is out of session, so you may want to call their local offices. You can look up your Representative‘s email address and the address of local offices at ADC’s Website
TEXT OF LETTER:
Dear President Clinton:
We are again writing to you to ask that you de-link economic sanctions from the military sanctions currently in place against Iraq.
More than nine years of the most comprehensive economic embargo imposed in modern history has failed to remove Saddam Hussein from power or even ensured his compliance with his international obligations, while the economy and people of Iraq continue to suffer.
Reports from UNICEF, (the United Nation’s Children’s Fund) and other United Nations agencies operating in Iraq estimate that over one million civilians, mostly children, have died from malnutrition and disease as a result of the embargo. UNICEF also reports that, despite the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, several thousand children under the age of 5 die every month (“Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Iraq,” 1998, UNICEF). Earlier this year, a special United Nations Security Council panel reported that “the gravity of the humanitarian situation is indisputable and cannot be overstated.” Iraq has “experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty.” Prior to sanctions, Iraq’s healthcare was regarded as amongst the best in the Middle East. Today, children die from epidemics of once preventable diseases. The special Security Council panel reported “infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world.” Meanwhile the embargo effectively prevents Iraq from purchasing equipment and spare parts required to restore water purification, sewage treatment, medical infrastructure, electrical, transportation, agricultural, and industrial production systems that were severely damaged during the 1991 Gulf War.
The U.S. Administration has argued that sanctions remain necessary to prevent Iraq from threatening its neighbors and rebuilding its arsenal. The goal of these sanctions, however, seems to have changed. The original UN resolutions imposed sanctions to pressure Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programs. Statements by U.S. officials, including Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger, however, suggest that sanctions will remain in place until Saddam Hussein is removed, or even beyond. This policy clearly undermines the original intention of the sanctions, around which the international consensus against Iraq was originally based, and makes the children and families of Iraq into virtual hostages in the political deadlock between the U.S. and the government of Iraq. Morally, it is wrong to hold the Iraqi people responsible for the actions of a brutal and reckless government. Politically, this policy deprives the Iraqi regime of any incentive to comply with UN resolutions and international norms.
The time has come to turn a new page in our dealings with Iraq. While we have no illusions about the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq should be allowed to restore their economic system. We simply ask you to do what is right: lift the economic sanctions. At the same time, we support the continued embargo on military equipment and materials.
Tom Campbell, Member of Congress
John Conyers, Member of Congress