Peace Pledge Update 4 -April 16, 2002
In this update:
1. Iraq Events April 19 & 20 in Washington, D.C. Mobilization
2. Iraq Peace Pledge Update
3. The First Peace Pledge Turn-in
4. Working Towards a Great anti-sanctions coalition
5. Building Community: A Benefit Concert by Peggy Seeger
6. Iraq News Updates
1. Iraq Events April 19 & 20 in Washington, D.C. Mobilization
Thousand of students and other activists will be at the mobilization gathering support for the Iraq Peace Pledge in Washington D.C. on April 19 & 20. Join thousands of other peace activist nation-wide to protest the policies of the Administration against Iraq. Similar demonstrations are planned on the same day nationwide. To find out more about these events, please visit: http://www.a20stopthewar.org/. The Fellowship of Reconciliation plans to gather prior to the march on April 20. If you would like to join with National FOR members and related groups, please meet us at 10a.m at the North West Corner of 14th St. and Independence Ave. We will distribute copies of the Iraq Peace Pledge at that time, and we can use your help collecting signatures throughout the day! FOR is also planning a gathering after the march, in cooperation with The National Network to End the War in Iraq. Refreshments will be served at 5:00 and the Network will hold a discussion about current Iraq issues at 6:00p.m. The location is the Methodist Building at 100 Maryland Ave, NE, across from the Supreme Court- Union Station Metro (red line) or Capitol South Metro (blue/orange lines). For more information go to http://www.forusa.org or call (845) 358-4601. There are also other demonstrations in other parts of the country on the same day. To find out more about the list of events on April 20 in your area, please contact the local peace organization(s) or activists.
2. Iraq Peace Pledge Update
Representative Denis Kucinich (D-OH) entered the Campaign of Conscience Peace Pledge into the Congressional Record on Thursday March 21. We faced a five-page limit on the number of pages we could submit. In coordination with the Congressional office, we decided to feature the names from the state of Ohio and a list of how many people signed up from the other states. The full list ran more than 60 pages. To see the Peace Pledge in the Congressional Record on-line, visit the Thomas link below, go to the extension of remarks for March 21, and look at item 113. http://thomas.loc.gov/r107/r107.html
Peace Pledge Petition Available to Download
You can download a petition for ideal for tabling and local organizing on-line at http://www.forusa.org/Programs/Iraq/PeacePetition.pdf. I'd like to thank Angie Nichols and Peter Lems for designing the original version of the form. Petitions in MS-Word (Office97) and an RTF version of the petition are also available on the web.
3.The First peace Pledge Turn-in
We want to sincerely thank all those groups and individuals who responded to our call for March 25 turn-in by forming delegation to meet with their Congresspeople or Senators, sending copies of the Peace Pledge and the list of signatories to their elected officials, collecting more signatures and encouraging others to join the Peace Pledge Campaign. Here is a brief reports from some delegations:
· On March 25, the first day of Peace Pledge Turn-in, the Western Washington office of Fellowship of Reconciliation formed a delegation to visit the offices of both Washington Senators in US Congress (Senator Patty Murray (D) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D)) to express the deep concern of Peace Pledge signers (and many like-minded citizens) over US policies toward Iraq and asked for their support for a peaceful solution to the current crisis. The delegation included representatives from FOR, INOC (Interfaith Network of concerned for the People of Iraq), Washington Physicians for Social responsibility, Citizen Action, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism as well as a group of concerned citizens and was headed by Mike Yarrow, the Organizer of Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation.
· On April 1, National Fellowship of Reconciliation's Peace Pledge delegation visited New York House and Senator Offices on Capital Hill. Members of this delegation, headed by FOR's Ibrahim Ramey, presented briefing packets containing individual cover letters, copies of the 125 names of New Yorkers who signed the COC Peace Pledge, background analysis and information explaining CoC's position on sanctions and military violence directed against the Iraqi population, to Legislative Aides representing the following offices: Rep. Jose Serrano (Bronx), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Manhattan), Rep. Nita Lowey (Westchester), Rep. Steve Israel (Long Island), Rep. Major Owens (Brooklyn, NY), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
a.. In the Dallas Fort Worth area, the Dallas Peace Center's Iraq Committee worked extensively to stop the so-called 'war on terror' to spread to Iraq. In addition to calling on Congressional Reps in N. Texas, they formed a delegation to called on three major newspapers in Dallas/Fort Worth, area: The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Waco Tribune. As the result, so far two have written editorials favorable to the Peace movement
4. Working Towards a Greater Anti-Sanctions Coalition
Recently representatives of Epic, AFSC, FOR and Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center held a phone conference to start planning for Iraq work leading up to the fall elections. We had ideas for a large effort to get peace pledge endorsements during the rallies on April 20th, for several more peace pledge turn-ins as we build the numbers of participants beyond the 4,500 at present (perhaps the next turn-in could be in late May in time for the UN consideration of extending the Iraq sanctions), for lobby days in DC, for actions to bring the issue of Iraq dramatically to the candidates and the public during the fall campaign. We thought the campaign should include three tracks. 1) A material aid and educational component with presentations by people who have been to Iraq and persuasive spokespeople, and fund raising efforts for water projects in Iraq, 2) A consistent lobbying effort to bring an alternative view about the possibilities for peace with Iraq to our representatives, and 3) A direct action component including vigils, rallies and civil disobedience to dramatize the urgency of a change in policy. Careful planning should try to make sure that actions on any of these tracks support the other tracks rather that detracting from them. We hope that peace pledge endorsers and organizations that are working on the Iraq issue will share their ideas for actions they think will be effective. Write to Hossein Alizadeh at email@example.com and give us your ideas.
5. Building Community: A Benefit Concert by Peggy Seeger
Peggy Seeger: A Benefit for the Children in Iraq
Presented by Northampton Committee to Lift the Sanction in Iraq (April 5, 2002)
350 people attended a benefit concert by Peggy Seeger to raise much-needed funds for the Campaign of Conscience. The concert was sponsored by a number of valley justice organizations including the Northampton Committee to Lift the Sanctions and Stop the Bombing of Iraq and the Western Massachusetts Office of the AFSC. See the AFSC's local organizing page with a poster and other organizing ideas.
This is a wonderful template for mixing art, politics, the Campaign of Conscience, community building, and fundraising for Iraq.
A glimpse of the energy:
"The event was wonderful. Everyone loved Peggy Seeger. She gave us a rich evening filled with wise and thoughtful paragraphs from her notebook, and uplifting songs. We all felt great at the end of the evening. so relaxed and restored. We had a picket line out in front, 20 veterans protesting our raising money for Iraqi children. They said Saddam Hussein would get the money, not the children. Probably was first time we all had crossed a picket line. Claudia Leftko, gave a powerful talk about the sanctions and the children," says Frances Crowe.
6. Iraq News Update
Iraq and the Arab World
The Arab League summit in Beirut adopted a resolution on 28 March reiterating concerns about stability by stating Arab leaders' "total rejection of any attack on an Arab country, particularly Iraq." The resolution also called for the lifting of UN sanctions while stressing the need to respect all UN resolutions. The summit statement emphasized that the Arab world wants to see political solutions to the Iraq crisis within the UN framework. Existing UN resolutions on Iraq call for sanctions to be lifted on Iraq when Baghdad demonstrates through arms inspections that it has no more weapons of mass destruction. (Radio Free Europe's Iraq Report, 5 April 2002)
After recording Iraq's pledge to respect Kuwait, the Arab League unanimously opposed any U.S. attack and said that it would regard an assault on any Arab nation as a threat to each country's national security. The promise from Iraq marked the first time since the Persian Gulf War in 1991 that Hussein's government has acknowledged the independence of Kuwait. Kuwait's government pronounced itself 100% satisfied with the Arab non-aggression pact, and called on its news editors to tone down anti-Iraqi commentary. (Washington Post, March 30, 2002)
A meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group representing 57 countries and a fifth of humanity, resolved to oppose "any unilateral action taken against any Islamic country under the pretext of combating international terrorism." (The Economist, 06/04/2002)
Despite accusations by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam's financial compensation to the relatives of Palestinian suicide bombers inspires a "culture of political murder," Palestinians say the bombers are driven by a priceless thirst for revenge, religious zeal and dreams of glory - not greed. Furthermore, reports indicate that Saddam is not the only one giving money. Charities from Saudi Arabia and Qatar - both U.S. allies - pay money to families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, including suicide bombers. (AP, Apr 3, 2002)
UN and Iraq
The United States and Russia reached agreement on a new international sanctions regime against Iraq similar to the British proposal know as Smart Sanctions. If approved by the Security Council, the new sanctions regime would revamp the oil-for-food program. After months of talks, Russia finally agreed to a "goods review list" of products that cannot be sold to Iraq without Security Council approval. (Washington Post, March 29, 2002) Earlier, in an attempt to win Moscow's agreement on sanctions, the US lifted blocks on more than $200 million worth of Russian contracts. The release of the contracts, described as a sweetener, secured Russia's approval - after a year of protest - of a list of goods that countries could sell to Iraq without violating sanctions. Washington, a member of the UN Sanctions Committee, is expected to release additional Russian contracts in the next few weeks, lifting the total value of the deal to nearly $750 million. (Financial Times, 03/04/2002)
A second meeting between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has been set for April 18-19, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. Sabri and Annan last held talks March 7 on the possible return of UN arms inspectors to Iraq and had agreed at the time to meet again in mid-April. Eckhard said then the meeting had also focused on problems dating from the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, such as missing persons and the return of Kuwaiti property, and that Annan found the talks "both frank and useful." (French News Agency, March 26, 2002)
The U.N. panel overseeing compensation to victims of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait released $995 million. The compensation fund currently receives 25 percent of the revenue Iraq earns through the sale of oil permitted by the U.N. Security Council. The payments bring to $14.8 billion the total that the commission has released to companies, governments and individuals who suffered losses from the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. (AP, Apr 4, 2002)
Syria, now a member of the United Nations Security Council, is defying the sanctions on Iraq by importing at least 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from its neighbor. US officials say this makes Damascus Iraq's single largest source of revenue outside the UN's oil-for-food program and earns Baghdad some US$1billion a year. (Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 April 2002)
The Bush Administration and Iraq
A State Department delegation met Iraqi Kurd leaders in the breakaway enclave of northern Iraq this week. The visit comes at a time when U.S. President George Bush has sounded increasingly belligerent toward Iraq, which he dubbed part of an "axis of evil." (Reuters, Thu Apr 4, 2002)
The US Air Force has begun preparations to move its Gulf headquarters from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, to bypass Saudi objections to military action against Iraq. Currently, because of Saudi sensitivities, planes from Kuwait are often used for retaliatory air strikes against Iraqi air defenses if the patrols are fired on. The Saudi regime also refused to allow the US to mount air raids over Afghanistan from the Prince Sultan base. There have also been unconfirmed reports, in the US press and from Iraqi opposition groups, of a quiet US military build up in Kuwait to between 25,000 and 35,000 troops. (The Guardian, March 27, 2002)
The Bush administration has set aside $5 million to bring Iraqi émigrés together in Europe to plan the governing of Iraq after the departure of President Saddam Hussein. The conference, expected to take place in May at a European venue yet to be decided, is separate from a gathering of former Iraqi military officers, which the main opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), plans to hold in Washington in April. (Reuters, Mar 26, 2002)
Iraq insisted its offer to receive a U.S. team to investigate the fate of an American pilot shot down during the 1991 Gulf War was serious. Earlier Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the offer as "propaganda." (Reuters, Mar 27, 2002)
UK Stance Toward Iraq
In a sign that London recognizes that open prosecution of a war against Iraq is politically impossible, the British government has indefinitely delayed publishing a dossier revealing damning evidence against Saddam Hussein. (The Guardian, April 1, 2002)
Britain's most senior general has secretly instructed regimental commanders to prepare for an invasion of Iraq this autumn. (Sunday telegraph, 31/03/2002)
In response to this growing pressure from the Labor party grassroots, Downing Street extended an olive branch to rebellious Labor backbenchers last night, promising that Tony Blair would not "sign on the dotted line" to support US-led military action against Iraq when he meets George W. Bush next weekend. According to the Prime Minister's official spokesman, Mr. Blair is to discuss three broad options with President Bush: military action, tighter sanctions on military imports, and putting pressure on Iraq for the return of UN weapons inspectors. (Financial Times UK, 2nd April 2002)
This update was written byHossein Alizadeh, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Peter Lems, American Friends Service Committee, with advice from Mike Yarrow, Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation, and others. Web posted May 1, 2002, by Jean Buskin, WWFOR, firstname.lastname@example.org.
back toWWFOR Iraq Interest Network page
Seattle Community Network
SCN Activism Menu