Congressfolk Seek End To Iraq Sanctions

NOTE: Over 20 Congresspersons (below) have signed on to the Campbell/ Conyers letter to President Clinton, which calls for an end to economic sanctions against Iraq. The deadline for adding signatures to this letter is January 10. Albert Wynn is the only member of the Maryland delegation who had signed as of January 3. Call the others via the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

        Iraq suffers under the most comprehensive sanctions ever imposed on a nation, resulting in the deaths of over half a million civilians since 1991. According to the May/June 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs, excluding the Nazi Holocaust, “Sanctions [on Iraq] have contributed to more deaths than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”
       The U.N. Security Council’s response to the resulting humanitarian crisis is an Oil for Food Program that places Iraq’s entire population on a food rationing system. Furthern without addressing Iraq’s failing civilian infrastructure, power failures remain commonplace. Hundreds of tons of raw sewage are dumped into waterways weekly, causing epidemics of cholera, typhoid fever and gastroenteritis. Once-modern hospitals now practice Third World medicine without adequate staff and basic materials. Government wages stay constant despite 3000% inflation, contributing to massive poverty. Doctors, civil engineers, teachers and other professionals drive cabs to make money while the social fabric of a once prosperous nation unravels.
       Following are excerpts from the letter to the President:
       “Reports from UNICEF and other U.N. agencies operating in Iraq estimate that over one million civilians, mostly children, have died from malnutrition and disease as a result of the embargo. UNICEF also reports that, despite the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program, several thousand children under the age of five die every month.....
       “The embargo effectively prevents Iraq from purchasing equipment and spare parts required to restore water purification, sewage treatment, medical infrastructure, electrical, transportation, agricultural, and industrial production systems that were severely damaged during the 1991 Gulf War....
       “Statements by U.S. officials suggest that sanctions will remain in place until Saddam Hussein is removed, or even beyond. This policy clearly undermines the original intention of the sanctions, around which the international consensus against Iraq was originally based, and makes the children and families of Iraq into virtual hostages in the political deadlock between the U.S. and the government of Iraq.
       “Morally, it is wrong to hold the Iraqi people responsible for the actions of a brutal and reckless government. Politically, this policy deprives the Iraqi regime of any incentive to comply with U.N. resolutions and international norms.
       “...While we have no illusions about the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq should be allowed to restore their economic system. We simply ask you to do what is right: lift the economic sanctions. At the same time, we support the continued embargo on military equipment and materials.”

       The letter is signed by: Tom Campbell (R-CA); John Conyers (D-MI); Bruce Vento (DFL-MN); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Bernard Sanders (I-VT); Michael Capuano (D-MA); Carrie Meek (D-FL); Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI); Albert Wynn (D-MD); Lynn Rivers (D-MI); John Olver (D-MA); John Lewis (D-GA); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Bob Clement (D-TN); David Bonior (D-MI); Maurice Hinchey (D-NY); James Barcia (D-MI); Dale Kildee (D-MI); Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
       Source: Education for Peace In Iraq Center (EPIC), 747 10th St. SE, Suite 2, Washington, DC 20003; 202-543-6176 or 543-0725 (fax) or epicenter@ igc.org

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This story was published on January 5, 2000.