Protestors’ plea: Don’t attack Iraq

by Emily Babcock

The United States’ interests in Iraq are not worth fighting for, said a group of protesters Friday outside the Federal Building in Minneapolis.
About 250 people demonstrated against United States involvement in Iraq. Students from the Progressive Student Organization and the University-YW joined other local groups and citizens in a coalition to stop the country from going to war with Iraq.
Demonstrators also rallied against sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations eight years ago. The sanctions, which have banned most oil exports since 1990, were installed because Iraq refused to cooperate with the U.N. program to inspect and destroy its nuclear weapon capabilities.
“Hands off Iraq,” “’90s Holocaust,” “Wag the Dog” and “Iraqi Blood for U.S. Oil” were some examples of signs held by people on the sidewalks in front and to the side of the building.
“It says Minneapolis won’t tolerate war,” said J. Burger, a University College junior and member of the Progressive Student Organization.
Speakers at the rally focused on ending the sanctions on behalf of civilians and not intervening on behalf of U.S. oil interests.
“We need to say no to the profit machine,” said Burger, referring to the U.S. government.
“We want to send a strong signal that people are really being affected by sanctions,” said Molly Weissberg, an Institute of Technology junior. “For them, the war has never ended.”
Iraqi native Sami Rasouli, a member of the Iraqi Children’s Task Force, an organization that works with other groups to provide food and medical supplies to his homeland, said his organization will be active until the sanctions are lifted.
“I can’t sleep if people are dying or starving. It’s not civilized. A policy should be based on truth and justice for all,” Rasouli said.
The crowd clapped and cheered at the speakers’ messages that urged the U.S. government to stop searching for enemies and protecting oil and instead start researching alternative energy sources.
John Collins, a General College freshman and PSO member, said he chose to get involved because the public seemed ignorant about issues surrounding the involvement, like impact on civilians.
On Saturday, President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated warnings the countries would retaliate against Iraq if Saddam Hussein doesn’t comply with the U.N. resolutions.
“This is a man who has already compiled sufficient chemical and biological weapons to wipe out the world’s population. … He must be stopped,” Blair said.
–This article contains information from the Associated Press.