Iraq Sanctions Challenge IV: Why They’re Going To Baghdad

Coming from seven countries and 15 U.S. states, 50 members of the fourth Iraq Sanctions Challenge will gather in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 13 to fly into Baghdad. The two tons of medicine these women and men will bring with them is very different from the bombs that U.S. planes continue to drop on Iraq. The medicine represents donations from hundreds of people who were not able to go to Iraq to deliver this needed assistance.


Coming from seven countries and 15 U.S. states, 50 members of the fourth Iraq Sanctions Challenge will gather in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 13 to fly into Baghdad. The two tons of medicine these women and men will bring with them is very different from the bombs that U.S. planes continue to drop on Iraq. The medicine represents donations from hundreds of people who were not able to go to Iraq to deliver this needed assistance.

The Iraq Sanctions Challenge will leave New York on Jan. 12. The delegates will fly into the Iraqi capital in time for the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S.-led air war against that country.

United States/United Nations sanctions began before the 1991 Gulf War. They have lasted for over 10 years and have cost far more lives than the bombing.

Month after month 5,000 more people die–not from some uncontrollable natural disaster, but from the conscious imposition of this brutal policy, which Washington maintains despite growing international opposition.

SOLIDARITY AND OUTRAGE

Who are the people who will travel to Iraq in defiance of the illegal sanctions? They are risking high fines and prison sentences for the “crime” of traveling to Iraq with medicine to save some lives and alleviate pain.

For this challenge members are coming from seven countries: the United States, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, Greece, Britain and Iceland.

One-third of the delegates are under 30 years old and one-third are over 60. They are students and educators, a truck driver, a member of parliament, long-time peace activists and social workers, lawyers and a lifeguard, a typesetter and medical workers.

Eleven of them are experienced challenge members, having already gone to Iraq on previous delegations.

What comes across in talking to each of them is a sense of solidarity with the Iraqi people and great outrage at the U.S. policy of sanctioning an entire people.

Here are some of the reasons the delegates have given for going on the challenge:

“To oppose the human injustice, with its perpetual punishment of the Iraqi people for no reason,” said Michelle, an educator from New York.

“A sense of obligation drives me: my government is doing this in my name with my money… how can I not take action? On behalf of sanity and love, someone must bear witness to
this … holocaust,” wrote Ceylon, a musician from Tennessee.

“This is urgent. People are dying at the hands of my government and it must be stopped,” explained Emma, a student at Bard College.

Another delegate wants to further the work he is doing to expose the dangers of depleted uranium and its use by U.S. forces in Iraq. Damacio from New Mexico wants to get soil samples to test because he believes that “the amount of depleted uranium used in the Gulf War may be much higher than previously thought.”

‘I WILL BE DOING IT FOR THE KIDS’

“I believe that what the U.S. has done to Iraq is one of the worst episodes in American history and that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is a disaster,” said Ingrid from Florida.

“I will be doing it for the kids of Iraq and all the innocent people who have and are dying from the sanctions” wrote Dimtrios, a Greek student from Portland State University in Oregon.

“My motivation is the indignation within me that refuses to remain silent before such egregious acts of U.S. imperialism such as the genocide of an entire nation,” explained Lana from Sarah Lawrence College.

Once they reach Iraq the delegates will visit hospitals, pharmacies and schools. They will meet with everyday Iraqi people and government officials to learn about the human effects of the sanctions policy. They will interview, videotape, photograph and observe so that they can report what they have seen to people back home.

The Challenge members intend to go back home and tell their friends and neighbors what they saw, speak on local radio programs, show their photos and videotapes, and get articles published in magazines and newspapers. They will build the
grassroots anti-sanctions movement that continues to oppose this cynical and anti-human tool of war.

Author: Paddy Colligan

News Service: Workers World News Service

URL: http://www.workers.org