Voices Call to End Sanctions and Occupation
by Kathy Kelly, Bitta Mostofi, Danny Muller, and Ceylon Mooney, Voices in the Wilderness
May 16, 2003
Experiences of Iraq Peace Team members during months leading up to Operation "Shock and Awe" and throughout the US bombing, invasion and occupation confirm for us the simple adage: "Where you stand determines what you see." Today we read several reports of ongoing chaos,exchanges of gunfire, and outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, which the World Health Organization warns could become epidemic. As we continue to focus a spotlight on Iraq, we agree with Mil Rai, of Voices in the Wilderness UK, who insists that in order to prevent a "next" war we must effectively counter the propaganda surrounding this current war and occupation.
We're indebted to Voices in the Wilderness members living in Iraq to help us gain insights into experiences of ordinary Iraqi people as they try to cope with the aftermath of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." In the desperately poor Al Thawra district, three generations in one family spoke with Caiohme Butterly, a Voices delegate currently in Iraq, about the uncertainty and apprehension they now face:
"It is like waking up from an operation," said Dr. Karim. "The anaesthetic not quite worn off, one slowly trying to get a sense of things around oneself, trying to discern shapes, objects. There is pain, and fear, and apprehension dulled a little by the anaesthetic, but still there. It is pure, and complete confusion, we feel we are dreaming, waking up from one nightmare, the previous regime, perhaps to descend into another."
A neighbor, a young engineering student, explains, "Perhaps we have less to fear than others. We have little to lose. The services the municipal authorities once provided to others, we never received, because of this we don't miss them in their absence. We are used to surviving with little resources. The only thing the government ever brought us was suffering. Our people are our only resource. We are an oil state, but look at the poverty we live in."
His mother agrees, "Oil is our curse. It brought us nothing but tragedy under Saddam. It will bring us nothing under the Americans. They should not have subjected us to another war."
"But let me dream," says Karim's father. "Maybe they have changed."
Today the U.S. presents to the UN its resolution, calling for a lifting of sanctions and further the appropriation and authority of Iraqi oil sales to be dictated solely by the US and UK. To our dismay, and to further devastation for Iraqi people, their struggle to regain control of their resources and right to live in peace is once again dictated by a power that does not represent them. The United States has insisted on the implementation of sanctions for 13 years, sanctions that have killed innocents, among them children, the sick, the elderly, and now have the nerve to criticize anyone that questions their intentions, as made evident by comments made by Ari Fleicher this week concerning possible European opposition: "There is no reason for the people of Iraq to suffer sanctions any
There has not been a single, justifiable, reason for Iraqi people to have suffered for over 13 years. Economic sanctions are inherently criminal, as they fail time and time again to achieve any goal beyond the punishment of people, innocents. We stand for the lifting of economic sanctions, as their continuation will only prolong the desperately needed reconstruction of civilian infrastructure and transport of much needed medical aid and supplies. We support their removal and the commitment to realizing their abolition, and the recognition of economic sanctions as both a failed and genocidal policy. We continue to oppose the umbrella of military violence, occupation, corporate control, and foreign developed leadership that Iraqis have been told is their "liberation."
Like Karim, we too dream that things can change. We dream that Iraqis will at last be able to live without the fear of a brutal dictator or a corrupt U.S.-installed regime, without incessant threats from foreign invaders and the perpetual violence that has been waged against them for far too long, and without the sanctions that have robbed them of their ability to maintain their health, society, and economy. We also dream of a U.S. where our money is not concentrated in the militarization of our society, where we feel represented in our own communities and governments, and where all people are granted education and medical care.
There is much work to be done. Please continue to stay with us. We need each other now to continue the work more than ever.
for Voices in the Wilderness
May 09, 2003
Voices in the Wilderness is a joint US/UK campaign to end the economic sanctions and military warfare against the people of Iraq. VITW has sent numerous delegations of non-violent peace workers to Iraq to deliver humanitarian aid to Iraq and to provide a voice for the Iraqi people in the West. Visit VITW’s website to learn more and consider supporting their important work: www.vitw.org