Nine arrested for opposing sanctions against Iraq

June 10, 1997

By Voices In The Wilderness

1460 West Carmen Avenue

Chicago, IL 60640

tel. 773-784-8065 fax 773-784-8837


Chicago--On Tuesday, June 10, people in over 25 U.S. and foreign cities joined a witness opposing economic sanctions against Iraq. Thousands of leaflets were distributed, demanding a total lifting of the sanctions and stating support for Gulf War veteran Erik Gustafson who had just returned from Iraq. Gustafson and three others who traveled with Voices in the Wilderness defied UN/US sanctions by delivering medicine to suffering children.

In Washington, DC, U.S. Park Police arrested six people while they knelt in front of the White House. Approximately 20 children and adults held up pictures of sick Iraqi children, read scripture passages and told passersby about conditions in Iraq under sanctions. About 100 school children who came to tour the White House stopped to listen. One of the children shouted, "read it again," referring to the information being shared about Iraq.

To conclude the witness, Christian Peacemaker Team members Robert Naiman and Wendy Lehman, Catholic Workers Sue Frankel-Striet, Art Laffin and Joe McCullough, and Pax Christi worker Anne Tucker, created a small altar with flowers and a candle in front of the White House. As the group of six knelt and sang, US Park Police closed off the area and arrested them. They were held for five hours before being cited and released.

In New York, three members of the Catholic Worker community, Felton Davis, Carmen Trotta and Jeremy Schahill were arrested for holding pictures of sick Iraqi children near the UN entrance. They had joined a group who distributed leaflets and listened to a report from Barbara Lubin, co-ordinator of the Middle East Children's Alliance, who traveled with the Voices in the Wilderness delegation to Iraq.

Informational pickets, press briefings, congressional visits, and demonstrations were held in other locales.

Over one million Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. bombing and the sanctions. The delegation that just returned reports that the infrastructure is still in ruins and crucial food and medicine is either not allowed in, or there is not enough money to pay for it. The mortality rate for children under five has gone from 540 per month before the sanctions to the rate of 5,600 per month. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has claimed that the sanctions are "worth it."

Traveling with the sixth Voices in the Wilderness delegation to Iraq were: Mike Miles, Luck, WI; Richard McDowell, Akron, OH; Barbara Lubin, Berkley, CA; and Erik Gustafson, Madison, WI.

Voices in the Wilderness is a Chicago based campaign which sends delegations to Iraq, carrying medicines, in open and public violation of the UN/US sanctions.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, MI, will travel with the next delegation, scheduled to depart on September 1, 1997.