GULF WAR VETERAN DEFIES UN/US SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ

Forwarded by John Worrell

Date: 97-06-02 18:58:20

From: kkelly@igc.apc.org (Kathleen Kelly)

Voices In The Wilderness 1460 W. Carmen Chicago, IL 60640 E-mail: kkelly@igc.apc.org rmapes@shrike.depaul.edu

PRESS RELEASE

GULF WAR VETERAN DEFIES UN/US SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ

Chicago--In response to over 1 million deaths caused by UN/US imposed economic sanctions against Iraq, a US delegation, defying US law, entered Iraq on May 29 to deliver $15,000 in donated medicine. One member of the four-person delegation is a Gulf War veteran, who sees the trip as a way to begin reconciliation with the Iraqi people. Erik Gustafson, 26, is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He stated that "as a soldier I was taught that you do not kill civilians--that killing civilians is a war crime.. I returned from the Gulf War and learned that many thousands of civilians had been killed and that economic sanctions have caused the deaths of over 1/2 million children under age five. The Gulf War isn't over. It's not over for the 5,600 children who die each month because of the sanctions nor for the tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans who suffer from Gulf War syndrome. It's time to stop the suffering and death."

Mr. Gustafson risks 12 years in prison and over 1 million in fines for bringing desperately needed medicines to Iraq. Since early 1996, Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end the UN/US sanctions against Iraq, has organized six delegations to Iraq. The group nonviolently confronts the sanctions through public defiance. Other delegation members are Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children's Alliance, (Berkeley, CA); Rick McDowell from Akron, OH, a participant in two previous trips to Iraq; and Mike Miles from Luck, WI, who was jailed during the Gulf War for nonviolent protests at Ft. McCoy.

Upon return to the US, Gustafson, McDowell and Miles will hold a press conference at Chicago's Federal Building, Adams and Dearborn , June 10, at 11:00 a.m.. Ms. Lubin will join a press conference at the entrance to the UN, in New York, at 9:30 a.m., where the UN will vote on renewal of Resolution 986, the so called "oil for food" deal which many Iraqis wryly refer to as the "oil for nothing" deal. Supporters in at least twenty-one other cities in the US, the UK, Canada and Italy will also rally that day , calling for a complete lifting of the sanctions.

Mortality rates in Iraq continue to escalate. Iraq's Health Minister, Umeed Mubarak, said on May 9, 1997, that the mortality rate for children under five has gone from 540 deaths per month before the embargo to the current rate of 5,600 per month. Among children over five years of age and adults the rate of death from illness has climbed to 8,000 per month, again due to collapse of the health and sanitation systems. In early May, after visiting Iraq, UN Under-Secretary General Yasushi Akashi called conditions in hospitals "deplorable."

June 10 actions (informational pickets, demonstrations, visits to congressional representatives) will take place in the following cities(list in formation):

Akron, OH Contact: Greg Coleridge, American Friends Service Committee 330-253-7151

Rock Island, IL Contact: Chuck Quilty 309-786-0157

St. Petersburg/Tampa FL Contact: Susan Dayton 5501 28th Street North St. Petersburg FL 33714

Santa Cruz, CA Contact: Scott Kennedy Resource Center for Nonviolence evening event with candlelight vigil rcnv@mail.cruzio.com 408-423-1126

Rochester, NY Contact: Jan Bezila, Rochester Pax Christi 716-244-7439 (date to be announced)

Birmingham, AL Contact: Jim and Shelley Douglass Mary House Catholic Worker 205-323-6479

Austin, TX Susan Van Haitsma, Austin Society of Friends Meeting 452-1841 delegation to visit congressperson

Peoria, IL Contact: Peoria Area Peace Network Terry Brink 216 East Illinois Avenue, Apartment A Peoria, IL 61603

Chicago, IL 11:00 a.m. press conference at Federal Building Dearborn and Adams, with Erik Gustafson and other delegation members Contact: Voices in the Wilderness, 773-784-8065

St. Louis, MO Contact: Bill Ramsey, St. Louis American Friends Service Committee - evening event and candlelight vigil 314-271-2977

Milwaukee, WI Contact: Don Timmerman Casa Maria Catholic Worker House 414-344-5745

Houston, TX Contact: Ann Bragdon Houston Fellowship of Reconciliation 713-526-1556

Portland, OR Contact: Dan Handelman Portland Peace Works 503-236-3065

Seattle, WA Contact Bert Sacks Seattle FOR 206-548-9566

San Francisco Contact: Middle East Childrens Alliance Penny Rosenwasser Howard Levine 510-548-0542

New York, NY 9:30 a.m., UN Building, general entrance, Contact: Ruth Benn, War Resisters League, wrl@igc.apc.org Doug Hostetter, FOR, John Mahoney, AMEU; Felton Davis, Catholic Worker 212-777-9617

Columbia, MO Contact: David Finke

Worcester, MA Contact: Dave Maciewski, SS. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker, 508-753-3588

Toronto, CA Contact: Jo Connelly del Junco 416-461-3653

Sechelt, British Columbia, CA Contact: Roger Lagass roger_lagasse@sunshine.net

Napoli, Italy Contact: Gordon Poole Comitato Golfo per la Verita' sulla Guerra (Gulf Committee for the Truth About War) Guerra e Pace go.poole@agora.stm.it

London, morning demonstration in front of the Foreign Office Contact: Mil Rai, Arrow 011-44-181-444-1605