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Arrested in NYC for opposing sanctions on Iraq

August 31, 2001 | Page 2

NEW YORK--A dozen people were arrested on the steps of the U.S. mission to the United Nations (UN) in August for protesting deadly sanctions against Iraq.

The U.S. government has been the main supporter of a UN embargo on Iraq imposed before the 1991 Gulf War and maintained ever since.

Though supposedly designed to punish Saddam Hussein's regime, the sanctions--which block the import of critical goods like food, medical supplies and materials for purifying water--have had a devastating impact on ordinary Iraqis.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund, some 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of five die every month because of the sanctions.

Members of the group Voices in the Wilderness were in the midst of a fast to bring attention to this situation. On August 15, they brought a meal of cooked lentils and rice and asked mission staff members to join them and discuss the issue.

"We will also have with us untreated water from the East River," the group said in a statement. "We don't want to serve or drink it, but rather remind ourselves of how vulnerable Iraqi civilians are to water-borne disease."

Staffers called in New York cops--who held the activists for up to 10 hours and charged them with criminal trespass and obstruction. The activists have a trial date in late September.

It's time to stop this genocidal war on the Iraqi people. Lift the sanctions now!

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