Protestors keep up pressure

Brian Close

More than 50 people marched through downtown Minneapolis Wednesday to mourn the deaths of Iraqi citizens and protest the United States’ involvement in sanctions against Iraq.
The march is the fourth protest sponsored by the Iraqi Peace Action Coalition, a group of organizations including the Progressive Student Organization and the University Young Women.
Protesters said the recent agreement between the United Nations and Iraq does not lessen the importance of removing sanctions.
“Now that an agreement has been reached, the sanctions don’t make any sense,” said Peter Frase, PSO member.
The march began at Peavey Plaza and concluded at the Federal Building, with a presentation at each end.
At the Federal Building, marchers read off a list of dead children as a man dressed as the Grim Reaper walked back and forth in front of eight makeshift coffins that had been carried along the route.
Anh Pham, a member of the UYW, said she felt the United States’ involvement was primarily motivated by the desire for control over the region’s oil resources.
“The sanctions put harshness on the people in hopes they blame it on their government,” she added.
Several people joined the parade as it progressed. In addition, organizers collected 50 signatures of people supporting their efforts.
However, not everyone who witnessed the march agreed with their mission.
“Removing the sanctions won’t stop the murder,” said Michael Reilly, who stopped to discuss the issue with participants. “The government is a dictatorship, and Saddam Hussein will use that money to strengthen his regime.”
Reilly said the United States needs to take a leadership role, and that sanctions are the only available method to erode support for the government in Iraq.
But others said the sanctions are causing the starvation of Iraqi civilians.
“It is every human’s right to live, and the sanctions go against every human right,” said Layla Asamarai, a member of the Muslim Student Association.
Protestor Mike Miles, who brought medicine to Iraq with a group called Voices of the Wilderness, said activists around the country were responsible for preventing air strikes against Iraq.
As the protest concluded, two speakers reiterated their commitment to the cause.
“We will not stop until you stop,” they said in tandem over the loudspeaker. “We will not stop, ever.”