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DECEMBER 16, 1998   10:32 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
American Friends Service Committee
Peter Lems, Program Assistant for Iraq
Phone (215) 241-7170 Fax (215) 241-7177
 
American Friends Service Committee Statement Deploring US Military Action Against Iraq
 
PHILADELPHIA, PA - December 16 - AFSC views with utter dismay the newest US attack against the people of Iraq. We call on the Clinton administration to immediately cease all military action against Iraq.

On the eve of momentous religious holidays for all three Abrahamic faiths, the US has taken actions that could, by the Clinton Administration's own admission, result in the death of 10,000 Iraqi civilians, even in a 'medium case scenario.' (16 November, The Washington Post.) This is an enormous price to pay in civilian deaths, and will add to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have already died as a result of sanctions. These figures need to be part of discussions among officials who make policy decisions about Iraq. These discussions have so far been conducted without due consideration of the humanitarian effects of sanctions and military actions.

Moreover, AFSC finds it morally reprehensible that the US is bombing a predominantly Muslim country on the eve of Ramadan, by far the most sacred time of year for Muslims. During Ramadan Muslims strive to perform extra acts of worship, and to be more generous, kind and patient, and to abstain from all acts that do not benefit humanity. Among these are using threatening language, acting in anger, oppressing the helpless, and killing, all of which are elements of the current US escalation and bombing campaign in Iraq. The Christian minority in Iraq is also preparing to celebrate Christmas, a religious holiday that also calls on people to act peaceably and generously towards their brothers and sisters. The Iraqis, too, are our brothers and sisters. Ramadan and Christmas are periods to cultivate peace, reconciliation, forbearance and forgiveness of one's opponents and enemies. The US government's acts, however, will only serve to foster anger and enmity in the region.

AFSC opposes the use of violence at all times, but resorting to violence in a special year when Christmas, Ramadan and the Jewish festival of Hanukkah all fall in the same month, will alienate many people in the Middle East and make our goal of lifting economic sanctions and establishing a comprehensive regional peace that much harder to achieve. As Hillary Clinton stated recently in Gaza, "Whether we celebrate Ramadan or Christmas or Hanukkah we share common values, common experiences and above all a common future."

We call on the United States government and the United Nations to respect the rights of all Iraqis to live and worship free from economic and military violence. Instead, all parties must work to build a common future based on respect and dignity for every individual.

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization which includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

 
    

 

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