BAGHDAD, Iraq - Six American activists opposed to U.N. sanctions and U.S. war
threats against Iraq fasted Tuesday in front of a United Nations compound to mark
the 12th anniversary of an embargo that has crippled Iraq's economy.
The six-member delegation of the Chicago-based Voices
in the Wilderness organization arrived in Baghdad last week, bringing medicines,
coats, shoes and art supplies. It has made numerous such visits to Iraq over the
Voices in the Wilderness activists raised banners that read "drop sanctions not bombs," "end the sanctions" and "rebuilding not rebombing" at a tent where they fasted in front of the U.N. compound in Baghdad.
John Maus, from Bloomington, Minnesota, described the sanctions as "devastating and unjust things that do not have to be done."
Strict U.N. economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion
of neighboring Kuwait, which led to the Gulf war. Over the years, they've been
revised to try to ease the hardship on Iraqi civilians, but they are to be lifted
only once U.N. weapons inspectors verify Iraq has dismantled its weapons of mass
The inspectors left Iraq in 1998 ahead of U.S.-British airstrikes; Baghdad has barred their return. The United States accuses Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned chemical, nuclear and biological weapons programs and of supporting terrorism.
U.S. President George W. Bush has threatened unspecified consequences if weapons
inspectors are not allowed to return, and speculation of another war to overthrow
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is high.
Phil Steger of St. Paul, Minnesota, the delegation leader, said any new U.S.
war on Iraq would be disastrous because Iraq hasn't recovered from the 1991 Gulf
war. "We are talking about famine, pestilence, war and death. These are the four
things President Bush wants to bring to Iraq," Steger said.
© 2002 The Associated Press