Groups Demand: Lift the Sanctions Now
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Voices in the Wilderness, and War Resisters League join together tomorrow – RELIGIOUS LEADERS, PEACE GROUPS, GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT DEMAND:
“LIFT THE SANCTIONS ON IRAQ”
– What: Press conference demanding an end to the blockade of Iraq.
– Where: National Press Club, Washington, DC – Holeman Lounge
– When: April 27, 2:00 PM
Speakers: Auxiliary Bishop P. Francis Murphy, Archdiocese of Baltimore; Rev. Thom Whitewolf Fassett, United Methodist Church; Rev. John Dear, FOR ; Kathy Kelly, Voices in the Wilderness; Gordon Clark, Peace Action; Hussein Ibish, ADC; and Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, All Dulles Area Muslim Society Committee.
Convinced that the U.N.-imposed blockade of Iraq is cruel and illegal, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim leaders have joined forces with national peace and human rights organizations to organize a national day of actions protesting the economic sanctions against Iraqi civilians. On April 27, hundreds of activists across the United States will challenge the sanctions by attempting to mail aspirins, bandages, pencils, school notebooks, and chlorine bleach to Iraq via the U.S. Postal Service (which is banned from mailing anything of value to Iraq).
Organizers expect postal officials to rebuff the attempted mailings but hope that their actions will highlight the absurdity of the U.S. policy. In many cities, organizers will deliver the rejected packages to local congressional offices, asking that elected representatives help them get the materials to Iraq. In other cases, they will be delivered to groups like Voices in the Wilderness which ship material aid to Iraq in violation of the ban.
At 2:00 that afternoon, church leaders and others listed above will add their voices to the growing chorus demanding an end to the blockade. “The overwhelming suffering of the Iraqi people–particularly the children who are completely innocent–compels us to seek an end to the Iraqi sanctions,” said Bishop Murphy. Together, these groups represent 100,000 members.
Other critics of the sanctions include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who wrote a letter to President Clinton last year asking that economic sanctions against civilians be delinked from military sanctions. The letter was signed by a total of 43 members of Congress. According to U.N. officials, the sanctions on Iraq are the most severe trading restrictions ever imposed and are responsible for the death of an estimated one million Iraqis and up to 5,000 children each month.
The day of Post Office actions and press conference falls in the midst of a week of coordinated student actions on more than 100 campuses nationwide. In addition, the DC-based Education for Peace in Iraq Center is sponsoring a series of Congressional lobby days during that week.