More On Sanctions

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Thursday, May 16, 2002 at 10:05AM :

Here is the official press release from Voices in the Wilderness.
MAY 15, 2002

American and British Citizens Discuss New "Smart" Sanctions With UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - May 15 - A delegation of American and British citizens today called the UN's latest modification of Iraqi sanctions inadequate and misleading. While the so-called "smart sanctions" are allowing more civilian goods into Iraq, the people of Iraq will probably not see any immediate change. Furthermore, said the group of seven in Baghdad on their seventh day of their sanctions-breaking visit, the U.S. will still have the ability to deny many items entry into the country.

Yesterday, members of the Voices in the Wilderness delegation met with Tun Myat, the UN Humanitarian coordinator in Iraq. Myat told them that he believes "no matter how much you try and modify [the existing program], it is not designed for - and it will never be - a substitute for normal economic activity."

While the group has found the marketplaces in Iraq are, as often reported, full of a wide range of goods, Mr. Myat noted, "The problem is whether or not there are people who have the purchasing power to buy them. Until such time as people can reasonably afford to buy and live naturally, everything else you see will only be superficial."

Dan Handelman of Portland, currently on his second trip to Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness (VitW), agreed: "You can import all the VCRs, cars and clothes you want, but as long as there are families selling items from their food rations to buy other basic needs, the current humanitarian crisis will continue. Until the water, sewage and electrical plants are repaired and people can return to a normal economic life, sanctions will still be responsible for massive malutrition, disease and death."

Four members of VitW/UK, along with US delegation members Chris Doucot, (Hartford, CT), Chrissy Kirchhoeffer, (St. Louis, MO), and Dan Handelman risk jail sentences and heavy fines for violating sanctions. VitW is a Chicago-based campaign, started in 1996, to end sanctions on Iraq. Its members call for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction be they nuclear, chemical, biological, or economic.

For more information, call Voices in the Wilderness 773-784-8065.

-- Lilly
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