Students rally in defiance of Iraqi sanctions

Editor’s note: The following statement was provided by the Progressive Student News Wire Services, and the Student Committee of the Iraq Action Coalition. The statement has been signed by over 120 university students from 73 campuses, from 24 states and from four countries.
The significance of the emergence of a nationwide campus movement around this issue is a newsworthy item. Through this effort, we have discovered campaigns and activities against the sanctions upon Iraq on many dozens of college campuses. The University of Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution calling for an end to the sanctions. On other campuses, similar efforts are being considered. Denis Halliday, Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly and Phyllis Bennis are touring the nation, speaking at dozens of student sponsored events against the United State’s policy toward Iraq. Demonstrations, post office actions where attempts are made to mail humanitarian supplies to Iraq and many other student activities are being carried out throughout the United States. Through this statement, there is the beginnings of a unified student movement against the sanctions.
Student call to action against U.S.- and U.N.-imposed sanctions upon Iraq
For more than a century, student movements have had an important place among the agents of social change. Students have a history of fighting for peace and justice. In the 1960s, students spurred debates in Congress about the war in Vietnam and led the protests for peace.
Students also struggled against discrimination and racism — both in the civil rights movement in the U.S. and in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa. Now, in the 1990s, there is another war we must end; another struggle for peace and justice in which we, as students, must make our voices heard.
For more than eight years, our government has been waging a silent war against the people of Iraq. This month, the U.S.-led sanctions will kill 4,500 infants and toddlers, according to UNICEF reports. Today, this policy will kill 250 people in Iraq, as it did yesterday … and as it will tomorrow. Since 1991, more than 1 million people have died due to the scarcity of food and medicine and the spread of water-borne diseases — all direct consequences of the sanctions.
Since 1991, U.N. agencies and independent human-rights organizations have been reporting on the devastating impact of the sanctions on human life in Iraq. Four years ago, UNICEF reported, “Sanctions are inhibiting the importation of spare parts, chemicals, reagents and the means of transportation required to provide water and sanitation services to the civilian population of Iraq. What has become increasingly clear is that no significant movement toward food security can be achieved so long as the embargo remains in place.”
And what is our government’s response? When asked on “60 Minutes” about the death of half a million children in Iraq — more children than died in Hiroshima — Madeline Albright responded, “We think the price is worth it.” We say NO! The death of one child is a death too many.
As Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Edward Herman and Edward Said recently stated in their national call for action, “The time has come for a call to action to people of conscience. We are past the point where silence is passive consent — when a crime reaches these proportions, silence is complicity.” We refuse to be silent in the face of this war.
We denounce the trade sanctions against the people of Iraq as immoral, illegitimate and contrary to fundamental principles of humanity and human rights. We demand that Congress and the president immediately end the ongoing sanctions war against the people of Iraq.
We support the University of Michigan’s Student Assembly which passed a resolution in January condemning the sanctions against the people of Iraq.
We call upon all students dedicated to peace to join the growing movement to end the war against Iraq.
It was the collective voice of the students that woke our nation to the horror of the Vietnam War. We must once again issue the wake-up call to the conscience of our nation.
Edward Qubain, [email protected], University of Texas-Austin
Todd Williams, [email protected], Fresno City College
Dennis Markatos, [email protected], University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Charles Michael Brown, [email protected], Western Washington University
Rania Masri, [email protected], 919-272-8685 or 919-848-4738.
Bob Witanek, [email protected], 908-281-7873 (voice or fax).
Will Youmans, [email protected], 734-827-1077.