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Members of Congress Call for Lifting, Announce New Measures to Ease Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

Washington, D.C., Feb. 16 — At a Capitol Hill press conference today members of Congress called for the lifting of economic sanctions against the people of Iraq and announced new measures to combat the sanctions. A spokesperson from the office of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced a series of legislative initiatives related to easing the sanctions. These would:

  • Document the effects of sanctions as reported by international humanitarian organizations
  • Change US law to allow for the free export to Iraq of food and medicine
  • Mandate a report to Congress by the President on progress in easing the humanitarian crisis in Iraq
  • Replace the licensing requirement for the export of many items to Iraq with a notification requirement
  • Halt the harassment of US citizens who travel to Iraq to provide relief or document the effects of sanctions
  • Hold a Congression hearing on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq

At the press conference Reps. David Bonior (D-MI) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and spokespersons for Reps. Tom Campbell (R-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) joined 11 Arab American and American Muslim organizations in calling for an end to the sanctions. The conference follows a letter sent by 70 members of Congress to President Clinton on Jan. 31 appealing for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. At today’s press conference, Rep. Bonior said that the sanctions are “not just a moral outrage but a strategic blunder. We refuse to close our eyes to the suffering of innocents.” He said that sanctions constitute “Infanticide raised to the level of policy.” Rep. Kucinich said that the sanctions are “not just counterproductive, but immoral.” He added that “You can be opposed to the Iraqi regime and opposed to the sanctions at the same time and we must do that.” A spokesman for Rep. Campbell said that “We simply call on the President to do what is right – lift the economic sanctions.” He said that the anti-sanctions movement “is truly a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) applauds the bold moral leadership of these members of Congress on this crucial issue. ADC President Hala Maksoud said “We applaud the moral position taken by these members of Congress, and are gratified by the growing support for the lifting of sanctions. This sensitive response to the plight of the Iraqi people will be the yeast for a future of understanding between the American and Iraqi peoples. Such courageous moral leadership will constitute the grounds on which reconciliation can be built.”