Voices for VERITAS in Iraq
Dear Mrs. Clinton,
We are a delegation of nine U.S. Roman Catholic Sisters of the Dominican Order visiting Iraq in order to seek truth about the effects which the continued bombings and the U.N. sanctions are having on the Iraqi people. As you know, it is almost impossible to obtain information in the U.S. news about Iraq. As a result, most Americans are unaware of the devastating impact which shortages of food and medical supplies are having on this country and her innocent children. In writing this open letter to you, we have to give voice and visibility to the suffering we are witnessing in Iraq. It is our hope that your commitment to securing human rights for women and children will compel you to join us in our efforts to end the U.N. sanctions against Iraq. These sanctions violate every principle of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights. Far from its purpose of designing policies and programs to elevate the quality of human life, the U.N. through sanctions are burying the Iraqi people alive. As a Bishop here told us, "The sanctions are killing us and we will not live to see the end of them."
The infrastructural damage resulting from nine years of war and economic sanctions have left this once highly developed nation crippled and dying. Its capacity to produce oil under the U.N. Oil for Food Agreement is severely compromised. The result is shortages of medical oxygen, antibiotics, pain relief medicine, anesthesia, bandages, surgical gloves, and sterilization chemicals. The spread of disease is frightening. With water systems and sewer systems destroyed, there is widespread water borne disease. Children are dying at the rate of 5,000 per month from illnesses which could be cured with adequate health care and nutrition. Yesterday, we visited a children's hospital where severely underweight newborns struggled for breath and there was no oxygen available. We have witnessed the pallor of the many children who have been affected by the rise in leukemia. We have seen the tear filled and imploring eyes of the Iraqi mothers holding the limp and feverish bodies of their children as they stand in long lines awaiting an antibiotic which may never come. We have talked with nurses and doctors who have said that 80% of the birthing mothers are severely anemic and the maternal death rate is growing quickly. We have been deeply touched by the dedication of the Iraqi doctors and nurses who are committed to saving lives, but they ask us, "What have these children done to you to deserve this?" These children are suffering the consequences of our failures in diplomacy. Something must be done.
As members of an international Order of men and women, we Dominicans perceive ourselves as a FAMILY. Like every human family, we work hard to develop, heal and sustain relationships among us. One of the wonderful gifts Iraq has given this delegation has been the opportunity to meet our Dominican Iraqi Sisters and to deepen the relationship we share through our membership in the Dominican Order. The Iraqi people care deeply about FAMILY. Their warmth, generosity and concern for us are genuine and deeply moving. The sanctions have wounded Iraqi family life, forcing the migration of family members. As you know, the long-term effects of the forced fractures in family life will be extremely difficult to reverse.
The decision to journey to Iraq was made by each one of us in the context of prayer and discernment. We are aware of the possible consequences, which could await us. We also know that following the Gospel does have consequences. In disobeying Federal Law prohibiting U.S. citizens from visiting Iraq, we are asserting that no law can be obeyed if it functions to break the bonds of the human family.
Mrs. Clinton, it is clear to us that mercy must mediate reconciliation between the U.S. and Iraq. The violence of the sanctions is inhuman and immoral. Your courageous and continued advocacy for the human rights of women and children has inspired us to share our concerns with you. We hope you will share this letter with President Clinton and urge him to use his influence to end the sanctions against the Iraqi people. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to share our pictures and stories.
Jane Abell, OP, Houston, Texas Dominicans
Arlene Flaherty, OP, Blauvelt, New York Dominicans
Marilyn Foster, OP, Adrian, Michigan Dominicans
Zaida Gonzalez, OP, Amityville, New York Dominicans
Jackie Hudson, OP, Grand Rapids, Michigan Dominicans
Regina McKillip, OP, Sinsinawa, Wisconsin Dominicans
Ann Marie Rimmer, OP, Caldwell, New Jersey Dominicans
Agnes Schneider, OP, Racine, Wisconsin Dominicans A
nne Sullivan, OP Caldwell, New Jersey Dominicans
Taken from: IraqCoalitionFrames
The Houston Coalition to End the War against Iraq
An Open Letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton
From the U.S. Dominican Delegation in Iraq
Voices for VERITAS in Iraq