-From a press release from Voices in The Wilderness, Jan 18 00:
Month-Long Fast Protests Iraq Sanctions
Washington, DC - In protest against what they call the ongoing siege of Iraq, members of Voices in the Wilderness have undertaken a month long fast in the nation's capital. Planning to fast from all solid foods until February 11, members of the fast aim to sustain a daily vigil, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., on the East Capitol lawn (opposite the Supreme Court building), with banners and enlarged pictures. Each day, they will meet with congressional representatives and staffers. They'll also seek meetings with State Department officials and leaders of influential groups in Washington, DC.
"Official UNICEF reports state that 150 children under the age of five die every day as a direct result of the sanctions," said Rev. G. Simon Harak, SJ, of Baltimore, MD who recently returned from six weeks in Iraq.
"Last April, Baghdad, UN Humanitarian Relief coordinator Hans von Sponeck told us that aid from the UN's 'oil for food' deal comes to about 49 cents per person per day. He called this woefully inadequate. You can't stop massive starvation and disease on 49 cents a day."
Von Sponek's predecessor, Denis Haliday, former director of the UN's "oil for food" program, resigned in protest against a policy he has called "genocide" and he now speaks out publicly against the sanctions.
Human rights workers agree that Iraq needs to rebuild its infrastructure. Hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, railways, dams, electrical plants, and sewage plants are all in serious need of repair.
-From Kathy's letter about the fast, Jan 13 00:
Tomorrow, several of us leave for Washington, D.C., where we will undertake a month-long fast. We officially begin the fast on January 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King and the 9th anniversary of the Gulf War.
Our agenda and motivation - quite simply - is to engage in an action that approaches being commensurate to the crime committed every day in our names against the Iraqi people. The fast is carried out in the nonviolent tradition of King and Gandhi. We believe that by forsaking food for one month to focus our energies and minds, we are taking a step towards elevating the level of action to end the sanctions.
This fast, we hope, expresses our resolve to bring this issue into the hearts and minds of mainstream America. It is a moral question - the imposition of humanitarian deprivation towards a political end - and we want it to be considered one. Quite honestly, we have tried many things - writing, actions, arrests, and protests - and sense again and again when we visit Iraq that the hopes and dreams of children are continually being beaten to death by political and economic whims of powerful nations and players.
We'll gratefully welcome your support in:
contacting your congressional representatives:
The Campbell-Conyers letter to President Clinton has gathered 34 signatures. Hopefully this number will reach 100 by the deadline, January 27. Please if you have not already done so, call your representative, and urge that he or she not only sign the letter, but also call for hearings on the sanctions, and sponsor legislation that will end them.
Finally, we ask for your thoughts and prayers during this month. Please help us focus on how to best use the next few weeks as a time of massive education and compassion for the people of Iraq.