The Children March

Date: Sat, 19 Jul 97

From: Rania Masri <rmasri@leb.net>

Dear friends,

The silence of the media was broken by the Children's March to the United Nations on Tuesday July 1st. The march took the form of a funeral procession, mourning the lives of the hundreds of thousands of children that have died -- and continue to die -- due to the UN imposed blockade on Iraq. An international delegation, representing some of the sponsoring organizations, met with the assistant to the UN Secretary General, and presented messages and petitions from activities held in 100 cities worldwide -- each demanding the immediate lifting to the blockade. The struggle will continue until the blockade on the people of Iraq is lifted. --

For Immediate Release: 9 July 1997

Iraq Action Coalition Press Contact: Rania Masri International Action Center (919) 848 4738 Arab Women's Solidarity Association IAC@leb.net

Children's March to the UN Broke The Silence !

Tuesday July 1st, 12 Noon to 3 PM 47th and 1st Ave., New York City, New York

On July 1st, hundreds of children and adults led a march to the United Nations in New York. They demanded that the children of Iraq be allowed to live and play as children deserve.

The march was a funeral procession, mourning the lives of the hundreds of thousands of children and demanding the end to further killings. By the UN's own estimates, more than 4,500 children under the age of five are dying every month in Iraq due to the UN blockade. Approximately 750,000 children have already died since the imposition of the blockade in 1990. One third of Iraq's surviving children have stunted growth and serious nutritional deficiencies that will deform shorten their lives. This is a crime that violates all standards of morality.

The procession met at 47th St. and 1st Ave. in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where speakers addressed the rally. An introduction was given by Sohair Soukkary, of the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, and Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, and then followed by a minute of silence. Children from the Bruderhof Communities shared a song about the blockade, and urged everyone to work together -- to take a stand together -- against the injustice imposed on the people of Iraq, for only together can we succeed in lifting the blockade.

Additional statements were made by representatives of sponsoring organizations, including: Dr. Mohamad Mehdi (National Council of Islamic Affairs), Dr. Hani Awadallah (Civic Organization), Ramsey Clark (former US Attorney General, International Action Center), Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition), Felicity Arbuthnot (British Against Sanctions on Iraq Campaign), Yuriko Moto (Peace Suitors of Tokyo), and the well known doctor, author, and human rights leader, Dr. Nawal El Saadawi (Arab Women's Solidarity Association). Each of the speakers discussed the horrific impact of the blockade, and demanded the immediate end to the blockade. The blockade on the people of Iraq must be lifted, and the silence - by the media - must be broken.

The procession then began marching to the accompaniment of Chopin's Funeral march performed by five musicians. Two white horses led a black hearse carrying the casket of the unknown Iraqi child. Each child held a white carnation with a placard stating "Let the Children Live," "End the Sanctions on Iraq," "Save the Children of Iraq". Huge banners and posters demanding the end of the blockade were carried in the rally. Seven child-size coffins were carried by the adults and the children in the procession. The march proceeded down several blocks and chanted, all the while, "Kill the Sanctions, not the Child," "End the Blockade." Numerous people from the street joined the march in support of the cause.

The march was attended by more than 200 people, who kept the energy level consistently high. The demonstration was broadcast on CNN worldwide, Fox Channel 5, and New York 1, and was given press coverage by numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press.

After the march, an international delegation of human rights activists met with Mr. Ibrahim Fall, the assistant to the United Nations Secretary General, and representatives from the High Commission on Human Rights, the Legal Affairs of the Security Council, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Iraq Program. The delegation was led by Nawal El Saadawi and Sohair Soukkary (Arab Women's Solidarity Association), and included: Sara Flounders (International Action Center), Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition), Felicity Arbuthnot (British Against Sanctions on Iraq), Yuriko Moto (Peace Suitors of Tokyo), Walid Raboh (Arab Media Association of America), Mohamad Mehdi (National Council of Islamic Affairs), and Hani Awadallah (Civic Organization). Two members of the press accompanied the delegation: Samy Atwan (Freedom Newspaper) and Anisa Masoud (Arabic Press Association).

The delegation brought messages and letters from human rights organizations in approximately 100 cities worldwide where gatherings had been organized to reveal the horrendous impact of the blockade and to demand its immediate end. In clear terms, the international delegation conveyed their disappointment in the United Nations, and presented their stance, a stance supported by thousands worldwide: the blockade on the people of Iraq is a criminal act that has had genocidal effects on the people, especially the children; the blockade is a violation of the UN Charter; the blockade must be lifted immediately. As requested by the delegation, Mr. Ibrahim Fall promised to convey the delegation's message to the Secretary General who would then also convey them to the Security Council.

------------------------------------------

The Children's March to the UN was actively supported by the: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab American Civic Association, Arab Media Association of America, Arab Women's Solidarity Association, Arab Community Center, Australian Anti-Sanctions Committee, Australian Iraqi Friendship Association, Bridge to Baghdad (Italy), British Against Sanctions on Iraq Campaign, Bruderhof Communities, Committee in Support of Iraqi People, Fertile Crescent Society, Grandmothers for Peace International, Houston Fellowship of Reconciliation, Iraq Action Coalition, Iraqi American Cultural Society, Iraqi Babylon Committee, International Action Center, International Commission of Inquiry on Economic Sanctions (UK), International Relief Association, NY Lawyers Alliance for World Security, Palestinian American Congress, Palestine Education Committee, Peaceworks, Peace and Justice Work's Iraq Affinity Group, Peace Suitors of Tokyo, Spanish Campaign Against the Sanctions on Iraq, Voices in the Wilderness, Women for Mutual Security, Women Strike for Peace, and hundreds of individual human rights activists worldwide.

For more information on the July 1st demonstration, and on the plans for further campaigns against the blockade, contact: the Iraq Action Coalition at (919) 848 4738, fax at (919) 846 7422, or e-mail at IAC@leb.net, or contact the International Action Center at (212) 633 6646, fax at (212) 633 2889, or email at iacenter@iacenter.org.