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Campaign launched for medicines to Iraq

By Deirdre Sinnott
New York

TThe meeting hall at the United Nations Church Center was packed Jan. 17. Reflecting growing worldwide anger at United States/United Nations sanctions on Iraq, a meeting and video showing had been called to protest this mass murder of children. People pledged time, money and hard work to deliver medicine and medical supplies to Iraq and build a campaign to end the sanctions.

Brian Becker of the International Action Center, which had called the meeting, told Workers World that the meeting was "a very successful first step. People not only pledged considerable funds, they signed up to make phone calls to potential contributors. And they took the video to use at their own meetings in schools, churches, mosques and synagogues."

Becker was referring to the video documentary, "Genocide by Sanctions," which premiered at the meeting. Filmed partially in Iraq and edited by Gloria La Riva, it covers a trip there in November 1997 made by IAC founder and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

The powerful footage shows the horrible impact of sanctions on Iraqi health care and on the lives and deaths of its children.

Becker explained that the IAC is asking for funds to transport medicine. The center hopes and expects to get substantial donations of medicine and medical equipment-more than the donated funds can purchase.

Using a similar approach, the IAC-affiliated Peace for Cuba Appeal has delivered millions of dollars worth of medicine to that island.

Speaking after the video showing, Clark said: "If we can reach people with the true effects of the sanctions they will be outraged. We want to get medicines to the sick and dying in Iraq because we owe them that and so much more."

The sanctions have "created a stunted generation in Iraq," Clark continued. "And that is one of the greatest crimes against humanity in this most awful 20th century.

"One and a half million people killed outright. Ten to 15 million more who suffer every day from the effects of the sanctions.

"The life expectancy has been brought down 40 years in Iraq."

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s April 1967 speech at New York's Riverside Church on the horrors of the Vietnam War, Clark said, "The greatest purveyor of violence in the earth is my own government."

Vietnam War combat veteran John Jones said: "The war against Iraq hasn't ended. As a veteran I know what war entails. During the Vietnam War the truth was kept from workers here. The Pentagon Papers proved that the news we got from the media was lies.

"The same scene is being played out in the Middle East. We are here to launch the Medicine for Iraq campaign and to condemn the sanctions which have killed more people than the bombs did."

The audiene applauded when IAC coordinatr Sara Flounders said: "The sanctions keep chlorine, medicines and detergents from the Iraqi people. Many die from curable diseases due to the lack of these items.

"Sanctions are the real biological weapon."

Rania Masri, coordinator of the Iraq Action Coalition, said: "George Bush said he wanted to bomb Iraq back to the Stone Age and once again the Pentagon is talking about war. Once again we wonder will Iraq be bombed?

"Who are the real terrorists? They are in Washington."

The writer recently visited Iraq with the International Action Center and has been speaking at meetings and in the media about conditions there.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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