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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 5, 2002
4:13 AM
CONTACT:  Voices in the Wilderness
In Iraq, Ramzi Kysia 964-1-718-8007, ivoices@uruklink.net
In US, Melissa Muro, 773-784-8065, info@vitw.org

“Breaking Ranks and Building Bridges”
Six Americans Fast for Peace at UN Headquarters
 
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - August 5 - On August 6th, 6 Americans on the 44th Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) peace delegation to Iraq will be fasting in front of UN Headquarters in Baghdad, in protest of continuing US/UN Sanctions and bombings on Iraq. August 6th marks the 12th Anniversary of the Sanctions. Other members of VitW have already begun a 40-day fast at UN headquarters in New York City, titled “Breaking Ranks and Building Bridges.” Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization of family members of victims of 9/11 dedicated to non-violent solutions, will join Voices in breaking this fast on September 11th.

Breaking Ranks
The focus of “Breaking Ranks and Building Bridges” is to encourage the UN, and people around the world, to break ranks with the US to end 12 years of genocidal sanctions. The UN is clear about the effects of its own policy: “The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a large body of wasted, stunted, and impoverished children in violation of the right to life and survival.” (UNICEF, Situation of Children in Iraq, 2002)

Kathy Kelly, co-founder of VitW asserts, “Across Iraq, people ask us why Americans want to punish them even more. For 12 years they've been told sanctions were a ‘peaceful’ alternative to war, and now they're told war is the solution to the suffering of sanctions. In a twisted way the message is at least consistent: to please remember that they're better off dead.”

Delegation member, Lisa Amman, director of Peace and Social Justice at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in St. Paul, MN, agrees, “It is unbearable that 5 Americans choosing not to eat for 24 hours in Baghdad, or 12 Americans not eating for 40 days in New York City, is more newsworthy than millions of Iraqi children hit by malnutrition, and even death, as a result of Sanctions.”

Building Bridges
VitW will begin an “Iraq Peace Team” and place 100 nonviolent activists in Iraq, both before and during a US attack. Without respect to world opinion, US planning for more war is taking precedent over finding peaceful solutions to 12 years of ongoing war. The Iraq Peace Team intends to create a space for alternative information that would include video footage and audio reports from team members inside Iraq, interviews with specialists who have lived and worked in Iraq, and perspectives from people dedicated to nonviolent means to resolve disputes.

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